In Explaining Iraq War, WMD Hoax Becomes a Footnote

The Washington Post‘s Scott Wilson has a piece (12/13/11) looking back on the Iraq War, where he writes of the “arc of the American experience in Iraq” being “from hope to barbarity, from swaggering invasion to quiet departure.”

When it comes to the rationale for the entire war, things get a bit fuzzy. Like we pointed out recently about CBS Evening News, the main driver of the invasion–the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction–is reduced to something like a footnote:

The premise was contested from the start, a new doctrine of preemptive war tailored to an era in which stateless militants could batter the once-distant United States with the everyday tools of modern society–commercial jets as missiles, cellphones as triggers, trucks as bombs.

The neoconservatives at the Pentagon and in the West Wing argued that the invasion of Iraq was necessary. Hussein, the longtime U.S. nemesis who once tried to kill then-President Bush’s father, was openly encouraging Palestinian militancy at a time when Hamas was blowing up cafes and pizzerias in Jerusalem. A model of democracy in the Middle East–imposed by the U.S. military–would inspire change in its neighbors or frighten them into reform.

Besides, Hussein had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people in the Anfal campaign against the Kurds, and in the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War to put down a Shiite rebellion that the United States failed to support after pledging to do so–a broken promise that helped fill the mass graves of Hilla, south of Baghdad. And he supposedly had an arsenal of some of the world’s nastiest weapons that had to be found and destroyed before they ended up with Al-Qaeda.

In this bizarre re-telling, Saddam Hussein’s support for Hamas and a plot to kill George H. W. Bush seem to matter more than the bogus stories about Iraq’s WMDs. Perhaps all you can say about this is that it makes a certain kind of sense for the U.S. government and elite media to want people to forget the falsehoods that launched the war.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.