Tag Archives: Iraq War

Who lost Iraq?

Who lost Iraq? Two views:

Fareed Zacharia says that first, above all, Nouri Al-Maliki lost it.

The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable because, in fact, it happened before. From 2003 onward, Iraq faced a Sunni insurgency that was finally tamped down by Gen. David Petraeus, who said explicitly at the time that the core element of his strategy was political, bringing Sunni tribes and militias into the fold. The surge’s success, he often noted, bought time for a real power-sharing deal in Iraq that would bring the Sunnis into the structure of the government. . .

But how did Maliki come to be prime minister of Iraq? He was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called “the worst war plan in American history” — the administration needed to find local allies. It quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves — to disband the army, dismantle the bureaucracy [Moe: thank you Paul Bremmer you creep] and purge Sunnis in general — might have been more consequential than the invasion itself.

Dexter Filkins, noting among other things that the border between Iraq and Syria has been erased, names three causes: 1) the Syrian war, and 2)  Al-Maliki, whose thuggery since the US withdrawal (which itself was necessitated in part by his absolute refusal to sign the usual Status of Forces Agreement to provide legal protections to remaining US Troops), and 3) . . .

Which brings us to the third reason. When the Americans invaded, in March, 2003, they destroyed the Iraqi state—its military, its bureaucracy, its police force, and most everything else that might hold a country together. They spent the next nine years trying to build a state to replace the one they crushed. By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job . . .

Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq.

So Bush broke it and Obama left before it was finished (I’m surprised that Filkins beleives we could ever actually ‘finish’ it). By the way, Filkins is a war correspondent of the ‘old school’ and spent years in Iraq during the war and his book about that time, The Forever War, is just stunning.

 

Bill Keller wins – meet the new Joe Lieberman

The once (and never-again-please-I-beg-you) Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, steps up to speak out about Syria:

As a rule, I admire President Obama’s cool calculation in foreign policy . . . frankly I’ve shared his hesitation about Syria, in part because*, during an earlier column-writing interlude at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.

*Good old Bill, predictable fellow that he is, still thinks it’s all about him. (The whole sorry thing is here.)

Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.

Now, here we go . . .

But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.

Looks like he got over that gun-shyness thing just in time for Sock It To Me: Chapter II. I think John McCain and Ms. Graham should have the guy over for a few cocktails and high fives.

Whoops, how could I have forgotten this one?

In previous posts on this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I failed to mention the Prince of Darkness, Richard Perle. He called early, often and urgently for us to send our young people to die in Iraq. By the time Bush got into office, Perle  was on the official Iraq War Marketing Team. On The Dish, Andrew Sullivan reminded us and quotes Pearle in an interview ten years on:

Montagne: Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?

Perle: I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done with the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.

s-PERLE-largePerle was an early member of PNAC  calling for a ‘new American Century” and the removal of Saddam.

From David Corn in Mother Jones:

Perle began calling for war in Iraq nanoseconds after September 11. He told CNN, “Even if we cannot prove to the standard that we enjoy in our own civil society they are involved, we do know, for example, that Saddam Hussein has ties to Osama bin Laden. That can be documented.” In 2002, he suggested a war against Iraq would be a cakewalk: “It isn’t going to be over in 24 hours, but it isn’t going to be months either.” He asserted Saddam was “working feverishly to acquire nuclear weapons.” He claimed the post-invasion reconstruction in Iraq would be self-financing. He got everything wrong.

And still he said: “You can’t a decade later go back and say we shouldn’t have done that.”

Maybe he can’t. We can.

By the way, Sullivan himself was an early and ardent supporter of the Iraq invasion. He’s been tripping all over himself in the last recent years saying he was wrong and apologizing for that. But my oh my how he did once love that war. He proved it by damning – over and over again in strong language – those who would dare oppose the war likening such opposition to anti-Semitism and calls for American defeat. He wasn’t just wrong – as he admits – he nearly called the left traitors.

And like many at the time – and right up to today – he claimed that opposing the war was equivalent to morally condoning Saddam’s record of human right abuses.

This lazy form of moral equivalence is not rare among the radical left in this country. But it is based on a profound moral abdication: the refusal to see that a Stalinist dictatorship that murders its own civilians, that sends its troops into battle with a gun pointed at their heads, that executes POWs, that stores and harbors chemical weapons, that defies 12 years of U.N. disarmament demands, that has twice declared war against its neighbors, and that provides a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes, is not the moral equivalent of the United States under President George W. Bush. There is, in fact, no comparison whatever. That is not jingoism or blind patriotism or propaganda. It is the simple undeniable truth. And once the left starts equating legitimate acts of war to defang and depose a deadly dictator with unprovoked terrorist attacks on civilians, it has lost its mind, not to speak of its soul.

Really? Sullivan never apologized for that part. Here’s his March 2003 archive; lots of nasty stuff.

As I said below about Wolfowitz, the ones who got it wrong still occupy positions of influence. They may be scorned on this tenth anniversary, but mostly they’re in the background making money and calling always for more war, war, war. It’s what they do.

Ready.Fire.Aim. Yield? 190,000 dead; $2.2 trillion; ten years

And so it began ten years ago tomorrow.

This week Brown University (another bastion of liberal lies and anyway, it’s un-American since it was founded before the American Revolution) published a comprehensive study of the costs – in blood and treasure – of our adventurous invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq. (The full report is here. It’s broken down by subject – dollars, lives, politics etc.)

According to the report, the war has killed at least 190,000 people, including
men and women in uniform, contractors, and civilians and will cost the United
States $2.2 trillion.

Among the group’s main findings:

  • More than 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence in Iraq have been civilians — an estimated 134,000. This number does not account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher.
  • The Iraq War will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion. Because the Iraq war appropriations were funded by borrowing, cumulative interest through 2053 could amount to more than $3.9 trillion.
  • Th $2.2 trillion figure includes care for veterans who were injured in the war in Iraq, which will cost the United States almost $500 billion through 2053.
  • The total of U.S. service members killed in Iraq is 4,488. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors have died as well, a number often under-reported.
  • Terrorism in Iraq increased dramatically as a result of the invasion and tactics and fighters were exported to Syria and other neighboring countries.
  • Iraq’s health care infrastructure remains devastated from sanctions and war. More than half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients are forced to seek health care outside the country.
  • The $60 billion spent on reconstruction for Iraq has not gone to rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, health care, and water treatment systems, but primarily to the military and police. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has found massive fraud, waste, and abuse of reconstruction funds.

Dont know if they touch on this, but neither electricity nor oil production has reached pre-war levels yet. And there is that business of Iraq now being a Shia ruled country aligned with Iran. But Cheney et al got their blood. So there’s that.

Cheney still keepin’ it classy

chickenhawk-cheney-billboardPure patriot is our Dick – these comments from a former Vice President will serve so well the interests of The United States out in the wider world. Thanks for having our back you creep.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.

Right. Because you didn’t tear the military to shreds with two wars over a decade –  unless soldier suicides don’t count. And it doesn’t count that the military is overwhelmed with caring for those with traumatic head injuries. Or that we became so desperate for new cannon fodder that the Army lowered standards to accept felons. Mr. “I had other priorities” went on:

 “The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

 Cheney, a Wyoming native, said it was vital to the nation’s national security that “good folks” hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.

Like Rumsfeld, who Bush wanted to fire but was continually blocked by Cheney.

 “Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” he said.

Like I said, keeping it classy.

Hi.

Much been happening around here? I just took a quick look at activity stats and it seems I’ve some catching up to do. Perhaps you’ve noticed the unbloggy bug is going around (election season withdrawal?); I got hit hard but am getting back up on my feet.

One thing I did observe over these recent days is that poor old Grampa McCain  is still railing at anyone and everyone to ‘get off my lawn!’.

But the Sunday gasbags must like that;  he remains the reigning champion for appearances at those (sooo tired) secular services –  I believe it’s 88 times on Meet the Press alone.

I think the old dear needs people to believe that Vietnam Iraq was a necessary and just war.

Fuel to fire, or, how to incite the opposition

I like Michael Moore. He has been the  authentic artistic voice of the abandoned industrial cities of the mid-West and has grown into a successful and talented film maker and provocateur. I like him. And we need provocateurs always, but as a film director might concede, timing is everything.

Moore did no favors today for Chuck Hagel nor for the likely contentious confirmation battle to come once Obama, as expected, nominates Hagel for Sec Def. Moore penned a column for The Huffington Post. Here’s a bit:

But what you probably haven’t seen — because everyone has forgotten — is that back in 2007, Chuck Hagel went totally crazy and told the truth about our invasion of Iraq. Here’s what he said:

“People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are. They talk about America’s national interest. What the hell do you think they’re talking about? We’re not there for figs.”

Hagel was and is a brave and pretty honest guy. He shares many of the qualities that make people like Chris Christie – candid, fearless. But Moore’s is a voice that inflames the right and when he stands up publicly for Chuck Hagel, I fear he makes the coming battle even  more difficult because we may now expect an even louder torrent of outrage from the usual suspects.

I’m reminded of a single line of movie dialogue from the 90’s. The film was The American President (one of my favorite films and in many ways a perfect movie). As the prez, Michael Douglas says “And we’re gonna get the guns. If we have to go door to door, we’ll get the guns.”

That probably didn’t help either.

“Fridays at the Pentagon”

Here is a story for Memorial Day – a wonderful and tender story (it’s still linkable here). I came to be familiar with the author, Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, in the early days of the Iraq war via Eric Alterman’s blog  Altercation, then housed at Media Matters, where Bateman was a frequent contributor and where this story first appeared around 2005.

So for Memorial Day 2012, as Eric used to say: “here’s Bateman”:

“It is 110 yards from the ‘E’ ring to the ‘A’ ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

“This hallway, more than any other, is the ‘Army’ hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

“A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

“Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden … yet.

“Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier’s chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

“Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

“11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. ‘My hands hurt.’ Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway — 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

“They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

“These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

Thief of Baghdad

POSTED BY ORHAN

Several times a day what I read in the news makes me want to throw up, but this sentence on MSN took me way beyond the dry heaves to something I can only call brainpuke, the involuntary expulsion of ideas so vile that they and sanity cannot be retained by the mind simultaneously. Here we see the media in action, already manufacturing the “Iraq War” that will be inscribed in the history books:

President Barack Obama meets Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Monday, marking America’s exit from a war launched in a aerial “shock and awe” assault that went on to deeply wound both nations.

The notion of some sort of equivalence or mutuality of suffering between Iraq and the United States–some kind of shared pain experienced by both sides in this war, or even that it can be called a “war”: it was an invasion and occupation, on a false pretext, and it laid waste to a nation that had done nothing to ours; almost 5000 US soldiers dead, compared to between 100,000 and a million Iraqis; millions of internal and external refugees, infrastructure ravaged, cities reduced to rubble, children playing in streets strewn with depleted uranium, civil society extinguished, civil war continuing to rage–should be beyond the conceivable and the civilized; yet it’s what we need to believe and so we do, safely ensconced in our sense of moral certitude.

Hail to the chief

POSTED BY ORHAN

Despite the media hoopla and the Obama administration’s braggadocio surrounding the troop exit from Iraq, the US planned to maintain troops in the country indefinitely. The only reason for the withdrawal is that the Iraqi government refused to grant future immunity to US troops.

It was a slick move by Maliki, and demonstrates Obama’s lack of negotiating skills, even when he’s holding the big stick. He should have asked George W. Bush for advice.

In any event, only a neocon could be unhappy with the outcome: US troops out of Iraq.

Meet the new boss

POSTED BY ORHAN

According to today’s BBC, “an Iraqi judicial committee has issued an arrest warrant for the mainly Shia Arab country’s Sunni Arab Vice-President, Tariq al-Hashemi. The warrant was issued under anti-terrorism laws…”

The main Sunni political party is now boycotting the cabinet and accuses Shia Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of “monopolizing power”.

Meanwhile Danny Schechter reports, “Maliki has dipped into Saddam’s playbook by deploying his own secret police and military to round up hundreds of former Baathist supporters…A US think-tank documenting his crackdown is saying that Maliki is primarily concerned with his own survival.” Sort of like, uh, Saddam Hussein. And, like Saddam, “he too uses his son, Ahmad, to evict US firms from the Green Zone in Baghdad and do his father’s forceful bidding. And human rights groups are criticizing him for running secret jails, imprisoning journalists and critics, and firing 100 professors from a university in Saddam’s old hometown of Tikrit.”

Schecter continues, “With Maliki now terrorizing his own enemies, often in the name of questionable “plots” to overthrow him, Iraq will remain volatile. Bear in mind that after all these years, the Iraqis are still suffering from a broken electricity system as well as serious food and medical shortages.”

Welcome home. Welcome home.

Iraq, part deux?

Remember “Kurdistan:, that region spanning northern Iraq and eastern Turkey that has. for decades, sought independence? Iraq might have allowed it to happen were it not for a dispute over Tikrit, an important oil city. But Turkey was never going to allow it to happen.

I was just visiting my friend Mac at Talk and Politics, and guess what?

After the Kurdish PKK killed 26 Turkish security forces this week – Turkey has now launched a big military operation into Northern Iraq with 22 battalions with air support.

For the U.S., I think this is going to be ‘rock and hard place’. Our presence there, despite the drawdown of combat troops, remains murky. From wikipedia:

In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”[87][88][89] Beginning September 1, 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn.” The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops are now designated as “advise and assist brigades” assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary.

UPDATE: Obama just announced that all US troops, not just combat troops, will be out of Iraq by the end of this year. That’s really interesting.

War news is great this week!

Yeah for us!! We’re getting those numbers up in Afghanistan; that must mean we’re trying harder, yes?  August is now the month with the very mostest US troop fatalities in The Forever War*.

But that’s not all – this new report from the Wartime Contracting Commission chronicles the $60 billion we’ve wasted over the last ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A staggering $12 million squandered every day for the last 10 years — that was among the findings the Wartime Contracting Commission uncovered in more than two years of investigating war-related spending since 2001.

Good news all around and there’s even more! Today is the 329th day of the tenth year of the war in Afghanistan.  Think that’s all? Wait for it . . . . only 6 more days till the eleventh year!

Records falling everywhere in WarWorld. USA! USA! USA!

Blind over Iraq

In my father’s final years his macular degeneration progressed to the point that he was no longer able to read. When that happened, we signed up with a remarkable books-on-tape program offered by the socialist Library of Congress; a special tape player was shipped to him along with a thick socialist catalogue of book titles with detailed descriptions from which to choose. This catalogue of new books came every two months. For a few years, he and I went over each issue together, choosing his reading for the next two months. Eventually I did it alone. “You know what I like” he said. I placed his orders on the socialist organization’s website and the tapes began arriving immediately. Each title came in a rigid plastic case, which we faithfully dropped back in the socialist mailbox for return as soon as it was were finished.

Besides books – history, religion, fiction, true crime – there were news magazine in his mail very week and The New York Times weekly summary of the news. (His secret pleasure was People magazine and until this moment no one but me ever knew that.)

His favorite newspaper, the twice monthly National Catholic Reporter, was not avialble on tape. So I began to read it to him.

That how it came to be that I – the most secular of people – became such a fan of NCR that I made sure the subscription was redirected to me after his death. It offers fresh and thoughtful perspective on global issue. So, like I said, I’m a fan.

The April 29 issue has a powerful editorial on our forgotten war in Iraq. It’s not online, so no easy cut and paste or linkie. Here’s an edited summary with the gist of it:

. . . the Iraq war is as real today for millions of displaced Iraqis as it was the evening we launched cruise missiles over Bagdad . . . in this country of only 30 million people up to two million of them – the best and brightest – have fled to Jordan and Syria. Most will never return. Another two million have been uprooted internally . . .these mostly impoverished millions scramble for basic necessities – jobs, apartments, food, health care. It’s as if the residents of New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania had to leave and go to Canada.

The effects of war linger far beyond the battlefields of conflict. It took 20 years to settle the two million Vietnamese ‘boat people’. That war had complex roots, but the roots of the Iraq war are traceable right to the Bush White House. The United States then, carries unique responsibility for the displaced Iraqis. We cannot shirk our moral responsibility.

This is as good a time as any to mention that we’re in the ninth year of the war in Iraq and today is the 213th day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan. We’ve spent $1.2 trillion and lost 6000 troops. Casualty numbers are enormous as well.

Must admit, the lady can turn a phrase

UPDATED BELOW: Maureen Dowd today on Paul Wolfowitz, who is impatient for us to get involved in Libya (and getting time on all the news shows to say so).

Iraq? It'll be a cakewalk.

  “You would think that a major architect of the disastrous wars and interminable occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture.”
 
UPDATE: Well, they’re all crawling back out from under the woodwork. Seems young Billy Kristol, legacy neo-con and  professional chicken-hawk also thinks we ought to go at it. To wit:

“I think at this point you probably have to do more than a no-fly zone. You probably have to tell Qaddafi he has to stop his movement east and that we are going to use assets to stop him from slaughtering people as he moves east across the country. We might take out his ships in the Mediterranean. We might take out tanks and artillery.”

So Bill, you enlisting this time?
 

Don’t bother me with details dammit!

Shock n' Awe! This is more fun than those boring old weapons inspections!

Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has a book to sell, so he’s left his hidey-hole to appear on the teevee again and tell us all about the Iraq War.
The Washington Post Fact Checker took issue with this exchange last week on Good Morning America:

George Stephanopoulos: “But you had inspectors in the country [Iraq]. Why was it necessary to invade–”
Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld: Saddam Hussein “had thrown them out about the second or third or fourth time.”

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the timeline as we marched into Iraq knows that Mr. Rumsfeld is lying here. (I could say ‘obfuscating’ or ‘fabricating’ or ‘dissembling’ – I believe these are the words our media prefer, ‘lying’ being so, well, so succinct. So it’s just not done my dear – unless of course you’re Rep. Joe Wilson and then you can call  the President of the United States a liar in front of the whole world.)

Or maybe the old fellow really doesn’t know what happened in that war he led.

From the Fact Checker:

2002-2003 inspections

The departure of the inspectors in 2003 is much more clear-cut: They wanted to keep looking for weapons of mass destruction and reported that Iraq was showing increasing cooperation. But the Bush administration clearly had its own timetable for military action.

From November 2002 through February 2003, the inspection teams conducted more than 760 inspections of 500 sites. Hans Blix, who headed what had been renamed UNMOVIC, reported there was no evidence of active chemical or biological weapons programs or stockpiles.

The IAEA reported no evidence of any kind of reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In a March 2003 appearance before the Security Council, then-IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei (now active in the Egyptian protests) went even further, directly disputing key pieces of evidence that the American administration had touted in its case for war.

Blix, in his memoir “Disarming Iraq,” notes that in early March he began getting warnings from senior U.S. and British officials about the safety of the inspectors. Then the company that supplied helicopters for the teams withdrew its equipment from Iraq.

The inspections ended quickly. On March 17, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the inspectors would be withdrawn. A day later, they left the country. On March 19, the U.S.-led invasion began, without explicit authority from the Security Council. (The Arms Control Association has another timeline, while the Congressional Research Service has an excellent report on the inspections.)

No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.

Prescience

Here is the very definition of the word.

From Byrd’s March 13 speech just before the Iraq war:
“ If the United States leads the charge to war in the Persian Gulf, we may get lucky and achieve a rapid victory. But then we will face a second war: a war to win the peace in Iraq. This war will last many years and will surely cost hundreds of billions of dollars. In light of this enormous task, it would be a great mistake to expect that this will be a replay of the 1991 war. The stakes are much higher in this conflict.[62]

And six days later, after Bush ordered the invasion:
“ Today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination.[63]

Wonder if the troops in Afghanistan remember all that. Actually, they’re probably too busy fighting on this 263rd day of the ninth year of their war.

March 19, 2003

Almost missed this. George Bush launched  Shock and Awe seven years ago today. About 4500 Americans ago.