John B. Judis, one of the most intellectually principled writers and thinkers I have ever worked with, was right before the war, and now tries to understand how almost all of Washington, including myself, fell for it. He names names at TNR (the dissenters) and recalls the silenced dissent of many in the CIA and military. Money quote:
My own experience after Powell’s speech bears out the tremendous power that an administration, bent on deception, can have over public opinion, especially when it comes to foreign policy. And when the dissenters in the CIA, military, and State Department are silenced, the public—not to mention, journalists—has little recourse in deciding whether to support what the administration wants to do. Those months before the Iraq war testify to the importance of letting the public have full access to information before making decisions about war and peace. And that lesson should be heeded before we rush into still another war in the Middle East.
It’s a good sign TNR ran this piece. It’s glasnost over there. David Corn follows up with another damning recollection: on this day, ten years ago, an article appeared in the Washington Post, titled “Bush Clings to Dubious Allegations About Iraq.” It was by Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank. Over to David:
That last article … is particularly noteworthy. It began:
As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged—and in some cases disproved— by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.
This story appeared on page A13 of the newspaper.
I was an integral part of the problem. I drank deeply of the neocon Kool-Aid. I was also, clearly countering the trauma of 9/11 by embracing a policy that somewhere in my psyche seemed the only appropriate response to the magnitude of the offense. Prudence, skepticism left me. I’d backed Bush in 2000. I knew Rummy as a friend. And my critical faculties were swamped by fear. These are not excuses. These are simply part of my attempt to understand how wrong I was – and why.
(Photo: Smoke covers the presidential palace compound in Baghdad 21 March 2003 during a massive US-led air raid on the Iraqi capital. Smoke billowed from a number of targeted sites, including one of President Saddam Hussein’s palaces, an AFP correspondent said. By Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images.)