Disinformation on Iraq war's origins

Posted: Monday, July 09, 2007

Marc Ormsby's June 26 Letter to the Editor assigning blame to Democrats for the war begins with misinformation in the first sentence and goes on to build its case on that false foundation.

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He begins: "On October 10, 2002, the House of Representatives voted 296 for the war, 133 against." In fact, neither Democrats nor Republicans were voting "for" or "against" the war. Rather, the vote was to authorize the President's use of force if Saddam Hussein refused to give up his weapons of mass destruction.

At the time, President Bush was pretending to negotiate with Saddam Hussein over weapons inspections. The rationale for the vote was that without the threat of force, the president could not make Saddam comply with U.S. demands. As is now becoming clear from British intelligence reports and the small amount of information that has escaped the Bush Administration's secrecy, the Bush Administration had already decided to go to war and the negotiations about WMD inspections were a sham designed to give America an excuse to invade.

As the vote neared, the Republicans orchestrated a wide-ranging propaganda campaign to smear anyone who didn't vote in favor of authorization as, at best, undercutting the President, and, at worst, as traitorous and weak. In the background was scary propaganda and trumped-up intelligence reports about WMDs. Many legislators who voted for the authorization of force were afraid of being further isolated by this fear campaign. Others, to their shame, were eager to latch on to the fake patriotism that accompanies the inception of every war, no matter how venal or worthless that war is. No one wanted to hamstring the president if he was negotiating in good faith. Those Democrats (and moderate Republicans) who voted "yes" are responsible for letting themselves be manipulated, but not for starting the war.

Ormsby is deluding himself if he thinks the Iraq war is anything but a Right Wing Republican project. It was conceived by Republicans, promoted by Republicans, lied about by Republicans and profited from by Republicans. Having made a bloody mess of Iraq, they now seek to sully the Democrats with distortions like the one in Ormsby's letter, hoping to convince us that all politicians are equally bad. Statements that John Kerry "can't decide what he voted for," or "Harry Reid ... voted for the war but now he's against it," come straight from talk radio and right-wing commentary, and have no basis in fact whatsoever.

Politicians will stop lying when voters like Ormsby punish them for lying. As long as "conservatives" can be tricked into voting for a bad candidate simply because they hate "liberals" or "ultraliberals," that day will be a long time coming.

Stuart Cohen

Juneau

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