The Hawks’ Hyperbole


The Iraq war began ten years ago this month. Fallows reflects on what the war taught us:

As I think about it this war and others the U.S. has contemplated or entered during my conscious life, I realize how strong is the recurrent pattern of threat inflation. Exactly once in the post-WW II era has the real threat been more ominous than officially portrayed. That was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the world really came within moments of nuclear destruction.

Otherwise: the “missile gap.” The Gulf of Tonkin. The overall scale of the Soviet menace. Iraq. In each case, the public soberly received official warnings about the imminent threat. In cold retrospect, those warnings were wrong — or contrived, or overblown, or misperceived. Official claims about the evils of these systems were many times justified. Claims about imminent threats were most of the times hyped.

Drum nods. And remember this when you are told Iran is going to nuke Israel imminently. On almost every previous occasion, we have been wrong, or lied to. Here’s another excruciating passage from my war-mongering phase ten years ago this week:

Chatting with a senior member of the administration this weekend, I felt a sense of relief. The president is adamant that Saddam will soon be gone. It will happen. The only option short of war will be Saddam’s exile, or death. I think Saddam understands this, which is why we suddenly have his desperate attempts to show superficial disarmament. But it isn’t enough. It cannot be enough. Maybe if he’d done it three months ago, we could have come to an agreement. But now the moment has passed. The permanent and transparent disarmament we need – the reassurance that the world deserves – cannot be accomplished while that duplicitous monster is in power. We should try for a second U.N. resolution, but we shouldn’t be too disheartened if we don’t get it. When you’re dealing with the likes of Chirac, there can be no secure agreement.

The post was titled: “The Relief Of Action.” The only silver lining is my hope for a second UN resolution. But it never came.