It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke.
Do people not remember this stuff? George Bush got on television on October 7th, 2002 and told the entire country that Saddam Hussein was thinking of using “unmanned aerial vehicles” for “missions targeting the United States.”
Only a handful of news outlets at the time, most of them tiny Internet sites, bothered to point out that such “UAVs” had a range of about 300 miles, while Iraq was 6,000 miles from New York.
What was the plan – Iraqi frogmen swimming poison-filled drones onto Block Island?
This fantasy was silly when the scare story was Red Dawn and our enemy was the technologically advanced Soviet Union. But to have the president of the United States trot that one out about busted-down Iraq in a national address, and not have him immediately pilloried by the entire national press corps, was incredible.
The Iraq invasion was always an insane exercise in brainless jingoism that could only be intellectually justified after accepting a series of ludicrous suppositions.
First you had to accept a fictional implied connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Then you had to buy that this heavily-sanctioned secular dictator (and confirmed enemy of Islamic radicals) would be a likely sponsor of radical Islamic terror. Then after that you had to accept that Saddam even had the capability of supplying terrorists with weapons that could hurt us (the Bush administration’s analysts famously squinted so hard their faces turned inside out trying to see that one).
And then, after all that, you still had to buy that all of these factors together added up to a threat so imminent that it justified the immediate mass sacrifice of American and Iraqi lives.
It was absurd, a whole bunch of maybes piled on top of a perhaps and a theoretically possible or two.
The bulk of them hid behind the morons in our business, people like Tom Friedman and David Brooks and Jeffrey “I trusted the Germans” Goldberg, frontline pundits who were pushed forward to do the dirty work, the hardcore pom-pom stuff.
Many others, particularly the editors, quietly sat by and let lie after lie spill onto their papers’ pages, telling themselves that this wasn’t wrong or a mistake until years later, when we found out for sure the WMD thing was a canard.