The United States invaded Iraq twenty years ago. The commemorations of this inauspicious time have been muted and largely resigned to editorial pages. James Fallows remembers:
Part of today’s convenient, hazy memory emerges as: Yes, what a rough time that was. Everybody believed the propaganda. Wasn’t that too bad. If only we had known! That is a destructive way to understand the Iraq years, because not everybody believed the propaganda. Many people tried their best to stop the war.
I’m not even talking about the hundreds of thousands of Americans (and many others around the world) who took to the streets in protests. Nor the leaders of most of the traditional U.S. allies, who formally opposed the decision to invade. With the egregious exception of Tony Blair.
I despised everything about this time in history — the illegitimate president, his psychopath of a vice president and cabinet full of gleeful, ghoulish neocons; the fear and weaponization of that fear; the disdain of my own country. It was all a precursor to a Republican party that’s only taken the slack they were given by a docile public, shaken institutions, and cowed media to become the authoritarian farce they are today. I despise the warmongering party of Bush and Cheney no less than the populist white supremacists that rally around Trump.
I was a journalist at the time of the invasion, pulling long hours in newsrooms where coverage was 24/7. I was nowhere near the war but still the coverage leading up to and then after the invasion was relentless — I wouldn’t exactly recommend the experience! Still, it’s vital that time be remembered authentically. The podcast Slow Burn captured the chaos and confusion and mendacity of the run-up to the war. Spencer Ackerman’s Reign of Terror is an account of how the Bush/Cheney war on terror reshaped America beyond just the response to 9/11 and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to where we are today.