Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Iraq Invasion: What it Feels like to be Ahead of Your Time

This is what it feels like to be a decade ahead of your time. 

Look at that crowd; all those smug looks, smirking at the loudmouth fat guy. Listen to all that booing. Wasn't Hollywood supposed to the bastion of bleeding heart liberals?

The real question is: how many of us could have stood there on that stage and said the same things at that time? Keep in mind, Michael Moore was receiving death threats for voicing his opinions on the war. Wouldn't it have been easier and safer to remain silent?

That's not what some people in Lansing Michigan thought. Truth couldn't wait until it became popular.  Four days before the invasion of Iraq.

From Michigan to Jamestown, New York. March 19, 2003- the day of the invasion. But if you listen to their objections, they now seem right on the money.


On that same day in Seattle, there too people demonstrated against Bush's plan to go to war. As far as the mainstream media was concerned, images of bombs raining down on Baghdad were more enthralling than "peace-niks."

In the days after the bombing of key targets had begun, there were further protests around the country. 

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In the run-up to the war, Phil Donahue had been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's policy. And for speaking out, Donahue paid the price. Documents prove that MSNBC decided to fire the legendary television host because he was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” and provided “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” 
Read that last line carefully.

Because their competitors- meaning Fox News and CNN, presumably- were promoting the war, they considered any questioning of the wisdom of the Bush administration to be part of a liberal anti-war agenda? 

As far as trying to match their flag-waving competitors, is that really what we look for in a news organization? Consensus opinion?  Besides, while it might be true that CNN and Fox News were in support of the war, the same could not be said of news organizations outside of the US.  The BBC was openly critical of the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bush Administration's reasons for invasion. 
Why not call it what it was: weakness and cowardice on the part of MSNBC executives.

Okay, fast forward a couple of years after the invasion. 
By now, things were definitely not going as well as Fox News had predicted before the invasion. Surprising to Rumsfeld, there was no welcoming committee throwing flowers in the faces of coalition forces. No Munchkins dancing in celebration. More importantly, there were no WMDs, no chemical weapons, no mobile chem-factories. 
By that time, you would think It would have been easier to question what had happened and what was still happening in Iraq. 
Here is an exchange between Phil Donahue and Bill O'Reilly.

As we see, O'Reilly uses ever kind of bullying tactic he can think of against Phil Donahue. But Phil didn't let this kind of unprofessional behavior intimidate him. He coolly reminds O'Reilly that he is not so easy as target as one of his other guests. 
Could you have stood up to that threatening behavior, complete with shouts and finger pointing? I doubt I could have. 

Still today, people who watch only Fox News believe that there was some kind of connection between the 911 attacks and Saddam Hussein, despite the fact there was never any evidence for that idea. They probably believe that it was all about fighting terrorism and not about oil. They may even tell you it was a just war, that the world is a safer place. That it was worth the lives of  4,486 U.S. soldiers, of at least one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians and three trillion dollars. Yet looking at Iraq today, it is hard to see any democracy and stability in the nation we "built" there. 

In fact, many historians- who deal with hindsight visions- consider it a colossal blunder, an expensive and easily-avoidable fiasco.
Yet nobody has dared to hold Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity or Roger Ailes accountable for their non-stop promotion of an illegal and immoral war. Nobody has called upon CNN to give its own excuses. (Instead, the only prosecutions have involved Bradley Manning, who tried to reveal the true situation about what was happening.)

In 2011, as the troops were being prepared to leave Iraq, a Washington Post poll found that 62% of all Americans thought the war had not been worth the fighting. However, back when Moore made his speech at the Academy awards ceremony, when the protesters gathered in Jamestown, Seattle and Michigan and so many other places around the country and the world, American opinion was enthusiastically in favor of the war. A full 72% approved of the decision to use military force in Iraq, according to a study by Pew Research. 

The only thing, the small glimmer of hope was that at least there were people who were strong enough to stand up and said No. 

Even if nobody was listening.
So what is Michael Moore saying today? Well, he wants to know why ex-president George W. Bush and former Vice-president Dick Cheney have not been prosecuted for war crimes. 
It's a good question.

But I wonder if anybody is listening.