We’ve had a lot of review and comment since things went to hell in Iraq this week. When something big happens, we take notice. Let’s remember our goal when we went into Iraq: establishment of a stable democracy friendly to the United States. Its success would spread democracy and Western values through the rest of the Middle East. We envisioned a similar role for Japan, in east Asia after 1945. Why could we not conquer Iraq, then shine democracy’s light over the entire Middle East?

It didn’t quite work out that way. Thank God Cheney’s heart lasted long enough to let him see the outcome of his pride. Not that he thinks he did anything wrong. Nevertheless, one takes some recompense from knowledge that folly, child of Cheney’s pride, revealed itself while he was still alive to see it.

Who could have imagined that things would turn out so wrong, you say? A lot of people imagined that. They were so sure of the disaster, they wrote passionately against the war in Iraq from the first moment Bush said in 2002 that he had a plan. He told an astonished nation that his plan was to conquer Iraq. Through adroit propaganda, he managed to make people think that Saddam Hussein was an actual enemy, someone who would attack us if we did not attack him first. The people who warned against this course of action became small and uninfluential under Cheney’s dark scowl.

I wrote two books on the subject, Ugly War and Soldier of Misfortune. Soldier of Misfortune is an interesting case, as I wrote it before I came to see the place of al Qaeda in U. S. propaganda. I wrote it before understanding the relationship between our destruction of the Twin Towers, and our destruction of Iraq. You can find both essays on the Books page of this site.

Just one thing is wrong with the argument in soldier of misfortune: it assumes that the government’s account of 9/11 is correct. It assumes that Al Qaeda was responsible for bringing down the twin towers. It argues that we should not fight in Iraq when our real enemy is Al Qaeda. The correct argument is: we should not fight in Iraq, when our real enemy is in Washington DC.