Dangerous Path of Iraq & Ruin

Douglas Murray


March 9, 2023 | 9:33 p.m

The Al Rasheed Hotel in downtown Baghdad is guarded against looters by the US military in 2003. MICHAEL MACOR/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

A teacher friend of mine has a useful exercise at the beginning of each year.

She asks all students to tell their first political memory.

The exercise is less for them than for them.

Because every year comes a great reminder of how quickly time flies and memories are forgotten.

An example is that there are fully sentient, walking and talking Americans who have absolutely no memory of 9/11.

They have little appreciation for the mood in this country after that day and less understanding of why America acted the way it did in the aftermath.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war, some of it will be revisited.

I wish we could put it in clearer perspective.

Many young Americans did not experience 9/11 or have no personal memories of the day. AFP via Getty Images

It all seems so obvious in hindsight. Iraq, like Afghanistan, turned out to be a swamp.

It turned out that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, despite intelligence estimates from the US, UK, Germany and many other countries that claimed he did.

As a result, many people are now saying that we got caught in two types of quicksand and came out with no show footage.

Age of mass panic

But at the time—as many readers will recall—none of this seemed clear.

Not only had we lost 3,000 Americans, the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon and more, but other things were making us nervous.

There was the sniper from Washington.

There was the anthrax scare.

In a moment after 9/11, it seemed as if the entire top echelon of the US government had come under biological weapons attack.

Saddam Hussein’s regime was one of the few regimes on earth that had shown a willingness to use chemical weapons, not least against its own people.

US soldiers patrol west of Kabul, Afghanistan.AP

Twenty years ago nobody knew where the next attack would come from or if there would be one.

Now everyone can sit back and relax knowing that such an attack has never happened again.

Certainly not on the order of 9/11.

But we didn’t know that at the time, and the absence of further attacks was not inevitable.

They had to be prevented.

As a result, America seemed to me then like a great giant awakened from its slumber anxious to find anyone who had even the remotest connection to the horrors of that time.

Because of the way the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought, we can all now make our own excuses through the chaos.

But the results can still be felt.

Obviously in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But also here at home.

The failure of the Iraq intervention turned public opinion and a generation of new policymakers away from the idea of ​​foreign intervention.

One of the reasons John McCain defaulted in 2008 was not just because he was a foreign policy figure during the financial crisis, but because he was a foreign policy figure in the first place.

A villager walks past the rubble of houses destroyed in Russia’s overnight missile attack, AP

Talk of taking on Iran next was not a popular position in 2008 with Iraq in tatters.

When the Syrian civil war broke out, there was even less desire for American forces to intervene.

At the time of the Ukraine war there was political unanimity to support Ukraine but no public or political interest in engaging militarily.

In fact, some of those who cheer Iraq most are now among the people most opposed to American military interventions abroad.

And in large part, it’s the American right that has made the switch.

Twenty years ago, the American left dominated the anti-war movement.

One of the questions they endlessly asked was who stopped America from going around the world and spreading its values.

Didn’t they know how corrupt and terrible America was?

Today, this is an argument heard more frequently from the American right.

Cpl. Edward Chin of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment covers the face of a statue of Saddam Hussein with an American flag.AP

It is the American right that is saying, in Congress and elsewhere, that America is so corrupt on an institutional and societal level that we can do no good in the world.

It’s not the only switch around.

Consider how the secret services are perceived today.

Twenty years ago it was the domestic left that spat out the names of the CIA, FBI and NSA.

Today, largely because of the behavior of these agencies in Iraq, but also later in the Trump years, it is conservatives who display the most open contempt for the intelligence community.

Just a decade ago it was the left that extolled the virtues of leakers or “whistleblowers” ​​like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

Today, its most prominent supporters are the American right.

Twenty years ago, the American left mocking America’s military leadership.

Many people who supported the Iraq invasion are now opposed to American military intervention abroad. MICHAEL MACOR/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

Today the taunts come from the anti-wake right.

To an extent we probably haven’t realized yet, Iraq has turned upside down not only politics in Iraq, but politics in America as well.

It spread doubt and mistrust of our institutions, our competence and our virtues as a nation.

A rethink was necessary.

Twenty years later, there were many lessons to be learned from Iraq.

But American withdrawal from the world should not be one of them.

How Fauci killed faith in science

Speaking of the loss of trust in institutions, has anyone suffered a sharper decline than the idea of ​​”scientific consensus”?

Three years ago, most of us listened dutifully as Anthony Fauci and others told us about a new respiratory disease.

I doubt we would listen today.

That’s thanks in large part to Fauci himself.

dr Anthony Fauci accused Dr. Robert Redfield for lying to Congress when he claimed he was “shutted out” by him from internal debates about the origins of COVID-19.AP

Just this week, former CDC chief Dr. Robert Redfield claims he told Fauci in early 2020 that Covid was likely the result of a lab leak.

Fauci promptly froze Redfield.

Additionally, Redfield says that Fauci funded the experiments that cause Covid and then knowingly made a false claim of scientific consensus.

These are incredibly serious allegations, and Fauci had better have an explanation.

From the looks of it, I suspect he’ll keep stonewalling.

Just one reason why we could have an Ebola outbreak in America tomorrow and Fauci wouldn’t be able to stop one in ten Americans from going about our daily lives.

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