‘Hi, I’m Uncle Sam and I’m a War-oholic’

'NSA surveillance proliferates in a context that goes well beyond spying.' (Image: Public domain)

It was the summer of 2002. The Bush
administration’s top officials knew that they were going into Iraq in a big
way. They were then in planning mode, but waiting until fall to launch
their full-throttle campaign to persuade Congress and the American people to
back them. As White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who oversaw the
selling of the invasion, put it at the time, “From a marketing
point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”

For them, it was a complete no-brainer.
The U.S. military against Saddam Hussein’s rickety army? It would be,
as a neocon supporter put it, a “cakewalk.” In
fact, they were already thinking about where to turn next. As the insider
quip of the pre-invasion months had it,
“Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”
One key figure, however, had his doubts. According to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, Secretary of State
Colin Powell offered this warning to the president: “You are going to be
the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations,
and problems. You’ll own it all.” Woodward noted as well that
“privately, Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this
the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.”

In fact, Pottery Barn had no such rule,
but what might be thought of as the Powell rule turned out to be on the mark
in ways even he couldn’t have imagined. Once things began to go desperately
wrong, there was, of course, no way to roll back the invasion and “ownership”
of Iraq would prove to be inheritable. The next president, who came to
power in part by opposing the war and swore that, once in the Oval Office, he’d
end it and get the U.S. military out for good, is now the less-than-proud owner of Iraq War 3.0. And if ever
there was a nation that was broken, it’s Iraq.


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