There is a tendency to look back on the George W Bush years with a certain amount of nostalgia. He might have been awful but at least he wasn’t Trump. But is that really true? This week is the 16th anniversary of the Iraq War and I think it shows that nothing has really changed.
From mid-2002 to roughly mid-2003, I was working at home. So I spent a lot of time listening to NPR. Now I know what conservatives think, “NPR?! That’s leftist radio!” But you know what a conservative’s definition of “leftist” is: “not far right.” The truth is that NPR is the most middle-of-the-road, Milquetoast news you can find.
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, there was no pushback. When Dick Cheney when on The News Hour to quote stories in The New York Times that he had planted, it was allowed without a hint of skepticism.
So the only thing I was being “told” was that this Saddam Hussein guy was really dangerous and maybe we should go to war. But somehow, that was not my takeaway.
The Iraq War Lie
From no later than September 2002, it was clear to me that the Bush administration was going to war with Iraq. And all “news” was just a propaganda effort to sell it.
There was absolutely no question of what was coming. This fact has made me angry at liberals who supported the war. How could they have known?! By paying the smallest amount of attention.
But here’s the thing: we know that George W Bush lied us into war. And we know that Dick Cheney did too. As did the “oh so respectable” Condoleezza Rice. And “reasonable” Colin Powell.
How are any of these people worse than Donald Trump? The answer most people will give is that they didn’t lie about everything. But that doesn’t make sense. These supposedly respectable Republicans lied about the single most important policy issue of their time. And while Trump probably does have a mental defect that doesn’t allow him to know what the truth really is, these people don’t have that excuse.
It’s like I’ve often said: a racist is not as bad as a non-racist who uses racism to gain power. These people lied because they thought their personal interests were more important than the rights of other countries.
Lies Then, Lies Now
Donald Trump has done many reprehensible things. But he hasn’t caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians — yet. But that’s not my point.
What we know about the Iraq War is that the US intelligence services didn’t believe that Iraq was any kind of threat. So George W Bush and his enablers just made up their own intelligence.
We know Colin Powell was lying when he told the UN, “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” (Compare this to the opening of Plan 9 From Outer Space, “We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer.” It’s chilling!)
Same as It Ever Was
Republicans had no respect for the truth then and they have none now. It’s not surprising that they should have selected a leader who appears to not even know the difference between fact and what he wants to believe.
Nor is it surprising that the American people would make such a man president. Americans have been fed a delusional diet of American exceptionalism for decades. Generally speaking, we can’t recognize the truth. We still think we support democracy because our media titans tell us that Saudi Arabia is modernizing and is much better than Venezuela where they have ridiculous things like internationally-monitored free elections.
The Republican Party will back anyone — and I do mean anyone — who will deliver the only things the party cares about: tax cuts and deregulation. There is no difference between George W Bush and Donald Trump — other than that the former is more evil and the latter is more stupid.