"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
-- George McGovern, World War II veteran, U.S. representative and senator, presidential candidate, 1922-2012
Ten years ago this week, the Bush-Cheney White House launched an invasion of Iraq on bogus claims that the small nation possessed horror weapons and was in bed with terrorists who would use those weapons on Americans. The White House said Iraqis would greet U.S. troops as liberators, and Iraq's oil wealth would repay military costs of U.S. taxpayers. All these reasons for the war proved untrue.
The tragic Iraq war killed 4,486 young American soldiers, plus an estimated 3,400 U.S. contractors, plus more than 100,000 Iraqis, and left more than 100,000 Americans wounded. The Costs of War Project says ultimate U.S. taxpayer expense will grow to $3.9 trillion by 2053.
Sadly, it turned out the preemptive attack was pointless, because no horror weapons or link to terrorists existed.
While Republican President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were clamoring for the invasion, only a few Democratic voices objected.
The late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., delivered blistering floor speeches calling the war stampede a colossal blunder. Then-Illinois state senator Barack Obama denounced the impending attack. Our Charleston Gazette wrote repeatedly that Washington should simply let U.N. inspectors search in Iraq for the supposed weapons. We said America shouldn't attack a small nation that had done nothing to the United States.
But patriotic fervor after the 2001 terrorist strike impelled Congress to endorse the invasion -- which became one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history.
A few years ago, investigative reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn wrote Hubris, a book outlining how the Bush-Cheney White House falsified and exaggerated intelligence reports about Iraq to induce Americans to support the invasion.
Now MSNBC has updated the book into a documentary first televised last month, and scheduled to be aired again tonight.
"Hubris: Selling the Iraq War" features various national intelligence officers who say they were baffled when Bush and Cheney made frightening declarations they knew to be unverified or wildly exaggerated. It tells how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other White House insiders sought to contrive excuses to justify "decapitation" of Iraq's government.
An MSNBC promotion says the show documents "the lies that started the war."History will record that the Bush-Cheney administration misled America into waging a tragic war on untrue grounds -- a war that easily could have been avoided. We can't imagine a worse evil that could be committed by politicians.