Ten Years In

Lot of Iraq War retrospectives going on this week as we enter the tenth anniversary of the start of hostilities. I’ve just been laying low, for obvious reasons, and figure I will just repost what I wrote for the 5 year anniversary, because it will always be relevant:

I see that Andrew Sullivan was asked to list what he got wrong about Iraq for the five year anniversary of the invasion, and since I was as big a war booster as anyone, I thought I would list what I got wrong:


And I don’t say that to provide people with an easy way to beat up on me, but I do sort of have to face facts. I was wrong about everything.

I was wrong about the Doctrine of Pre-emptive warfare.
I was wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
I was wrong about Scott Ritter and the inspections.
I was wrong about the UN involvement in weapons inspections.
I was wrong about the containment sanctions.
I was wrong about the broader impact of the war on the Middle East.
I was wrong about this making us more safe.
I was wrong about the number of troops needed to stabilize Iraq.
I was wrong when I stated this administration had a clear plan for the aftermath.
I was wrong about securing the ammunition dumps.
I was wrong about the ease of bringing democracy to the Middle East.
I was wrong about dissolving the Iraqi army.
I was wrong about the looting being unimportant.
I was wrong that Bush/Cheney were competent.
I was wrong that we would be greeted as liberators.
I was wrong to make fun of the anti-war protestors.
I was wrong not to trust the dirty smelly hippies.

I mean, I could go down the list and continue on, but you get the point. I was wrong about EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. THING. It is amazing I could tie my shoes in 2001-2004. If you took all the wrongness I generated, put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals. I am not sure how I snapped out of it, but I think Abu Ghraib and the negative impact of the insurgency did sober me up a bit.

War should always be an absolute last resort, not just another option. I will never make the same mistakes again.

*** Update ***

Here is someone who got it right.

My gut instinct from now on regarding the use of force will be to say no. NO. You can tell me I’m just as doctrinaire as when I was a wingnut, just on the other side, but I don’t care. I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

185 replies
  1. 1
    Maude says:

    If CNN sees Chinese soldiers on CA soil, hold on. They tend to get it wrong and it will prolly be a parade of some sort.

  2. 2
    Punchy says:

    But if the Iraq War taught us anything, it conclusively showed you cannot run over a dog in an armored vehicle. Turning radii, sand, flea & tick medicine, and all that.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California

    I intend to greet them as liberators.

  4. 4
    👽 Martin says:

    Fair enough. You are pretty doctrinaire on the subject, but better to err on that side than the other.

  5. 5
    feral1 says:

    I can say that from the outside it looked like the torture is what really started to cause you to start to question the wingnut world view across the board.

  6. 6
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    That’s great, John. You’ve been a welcome voice for sanity since.

    Now, how about you, Thomas Friedman?

  7. 7
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    That’s great, John. You’ve been a welcome voice for sanity since.

    Now, how about you, Thomas Friedman?

  8. 8
    Redshirt says:

    I was right all along. But I don’t matter, so, meh!

    New Rules for Living: The Hippies are right!

  9. 9
    Bob2 says:

    It’s okay. You weren’t part of the fifth column at least.

    wait..that’s a bad thing isn’t it.

    Seriously, instead of what they got wrong. I wish they would say what they learned, because clearly very few of them learned the right lessons.

  10. 10
    👽 Martin says:

    @Punchy: You can run over a dog – the problem is that you can’t see said dog from where the driver sits and intend to hit it.

    This PSA brought to you by Yellow Power Ranger, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Tonka, and the letter ‘F’.

  11. 11
    maya says:

    Here’s someone else with a ten years-after hangover.

    Cheney and Bush better think cremation. Anything else would be unsanitary.

  12. 12
    c u n d gulag says:

    I was living in Chapel Hill, NC, while all of this run-up to the Iraq BS was going on, and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, or cry.

    This was before I really got involved with commenting on blags. I had only very shortly before started reading them.
    But it was the period of time when I stopped relying on the NY Times, and instead on the local McClatchy (then Knight Ridder) paper out of Raleigh.
    They weren’t part of the DC Village mindset, and didn’t interview everyone inside the Village to get information, and pass it off as “news.”
    And so, instead of inbred “news,” I got a more realistic appraisal of what was going on, and what could happen.
    And so, because of Knight Ridder, and the few Liberal blogs I had discovered by then, I knew the NY Times, the WaPo, and almost everyone on TV news was full of sh*t.

    There were three points where I was sure the Bush Administration had “jumped-the-shark,” and people would ‘see the light:’
    -The ‘smoking gun as a mushroom cloud,’ line.
    I laughed!
    WAAAY over the top, kids!
    -The little, itsy-bitsy Iraqi airplanes, dispensing clouds of pure evil, all across the US.
    I laughed again!!
    Surely, no one bought THAT BS?
    -Then, the TV news coverage of people Saran-wrapping their homes, like THAT was going to save people from the itsy-bitsy Iraqi airplanes, dispensing clouds of pure evil, all across the US.
    I laughed again!!!
    Surely THAT was SOOOOOO FAR over the top, that the whole house of lies, would topple!
    People couldn’t be stupid enough to forget that, no matter how many times you wrapped your home in plastic, you still needed Oxygen, and the wrapping wouldn’t stop Anthrax, or some chemical or biological aerosol agent, no matter how much you were told it would, if there was enough of it, and/or you were close to it. And if it could, you’d have been dead a long time from Oxygen deprivation.
    But, TV news kept propelling the propaganda, and no matter how many times I pointed out the absurdity of what was going on to other people, we went right on into Iraq, a country that had as much to do with 9/11, since it was a secular Muslim country, as China did with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    It’s as if, after December 7th, 1941, the Roosevelt Administration looked to attack China, and justified it by saying, “Hey, they got slanted-eyes, too, don’t they? And the Opium will pay for the invasion!”

    And then, Afghanistan being bad enough, when we went into Iraq.
    I cried.
    And I’ve been crying ever since.

    I did my part to help right things, as much as I could.
    Shortly after the war started, I became a lead anti-war, anti-torture, anti-rendition, organizer in Fayetteville, NC (home of Fort Bragg), after my job took me to that city.
    I don’t know what good that accomplished, but at least I wasn’t home, sitting on my fat ass, watching TV news, and crying.

    The whole Bush Adminstration should be tried for War Crimes.

    And any of the MSM pro-war “journalists” and pundits, should lose their jobs now, since they shouldnt have held onto them for much longer than it took to discover that there were NO WMD, and that they’d been suckered and used.

    But, sadly, that’ll never happen.

    Tragically, “Bush’s Folly” will go unpunished.

  13. 13
    Bob2 says:

    @👽 Martin:
    You know the original American yellow power ranger died in a car accident right? :(

    I’d say Charles Johnson is the other one who changed his mind the strongest, but the rest kept looking for ways out of saying they were wrong, even Sullivan.

  14. 14
    dr. bloor says:

    I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

    I look forward to Candy and Poppy talking about how hard it is for the Chinese boys to have their promising lives disrupted by invading the US.

  15. 15
    Redshirt says:

    Agree or disagree? What worries me is that structurally, we’re worse off today than we were back then. Sure Obama is keeping the forces of insanity somewhat at bay, but our political infrastructure seems worse than ever – given CU money, and te general state of the Republican Party.

    FSM help us all if the Repukes ever regain all the levers of power. We’ll be doomed.

  16. 16
    dmbeaster says:

    Keep yelling about what a mistake it was cause the jerks responsible are working full time to make such wars legitimate

  17. 17
    elmo says:

    I was wrong too, and just as vocally and comprehensively as John. Dead wrong. Completely, incontrovertibly, disgustingly wrong. So wrong, in fact, that having come to the realization of how completely wrong I was, I have lost all faith in my own judgment except for one subject.
    I know that I am deeply, deeply stupid. That at least I’m confident about.

  18. 18
    👽 Martin says:


    I’d say Charles Johnson is the other one who changed his mind the strongest

    That’s only because Charles went so far to the stupid side that any reversal was going to be huge. Credit for the reversal, but damn did he do a lot of damage along the way.

  19. 19
    justsomeguy says:

    “My gut instinct from now on regarding the use of force will be to say no. NO”

    It is a shame that – due to a combination of (mis-)education, youthful testosterone (for males), indoctrination, and humanly inherent instinctive tribalism – each generation has to learn this lesson anew.

  20. 20

    You rarely — almost never — see a proper mea culpa.

    Good on you, John.

  21. 21
    Trollhattan says:

    Recall being hinky about the whole affair, and was probably almost certainly affected too much by Blair and Powell, who had me CONVINCED our first troop wave would be traveling through clouds of CX.

    Definitely didn’t trust supergenuis Dubya, nor Cheney nor Rummy, nor Condi, as I was completely pissed at them for the Tora Bora fuckup. So why did I more or less believe Blair & Powell?

    Workmate at the time from India insisted it was a sham and that we were being set up by Pakistan, which I’m sure was in part true. Also, too, nobody could answer my #1 question: Why are we doing Iran this massive favor?

    I still wonder about that one.

  22. 22
    Bob2 says:

    @👽 Martin:
    Oh I’m fully aware of this. I hated hated hated hated LGF.
    Sometimes I go see what the Freepers are up to also for a sad laugh. I’m surprised that site still exists.

    I didn’t even want them to vote Bush Jr. in and had the longest arguments of my life back in college about how incompetent he was going to be.

    The responses from friends came back as “he’ll have good cabinet and staff” or after being argued down to nothing on everything else….”he’s anti-abortion”

    My first introduction to sullivan, mcardle, balloonjuice, glenn reynolds, powerlineblog, charles johnson, etc. was one of hatred and sadness. I wrote a college paper on how political blogging was doomed to the echo chamber.

    Hell, I remember when they attacked Markos Moulitsas for complaining about Blackwater mercenaries because he said he wasn’t going to grieve over mercs. He’ll never ever get an apology for that. I wasn’t really a Kossack, but if you said anything against the war, you got run through the slime machine like Scott Ritter did.

    I still remember more about that time period in blogs than I really want to. Bush’s election really depressed me. Like Krugman, I couldn’t believe that the media were just repeating bald-faced lies from Bush.

  23. 23
    Redshirt says:

    @Doc Sportello: OT – Awesome name! I’m reading that book right now. Lighten’ one up in your honor.

  24. 24
    Ted & Hellen says:

    You can tell me I’m just as doctrinaire as when I was a wingnut, just on the other side, but I don’t care.

    This is not exactly the problem, John.

    More specifically you went from fomenting an echo chamber Republican Bushbot blog to fomenting an echo chamber Establishment Democratic Blog. Do do either immediately damages credibility.

    There is no LAW requiring you to join a fucking tribe. None at all.

  25. 25
    teh_splotch says:

    John – I started reading BJ somewhere around 2009-ish, so I was completely unaware of your Warbloggin’ pro-Bush days. I just read through a bit of your March 2003 posts and my head almost exploded…could you point me to the day/week/month when you started to make the switch over to “our” side? I’d be curious to read some of those posts. Thanks!

  26. 26
    Bob2 says:

    Btw, the cult of civility still exists. You’ll notice being consistently rude to people means you won’t be linked by big political blogs even if you’re right on everything.

    It’s a really bad blindspot.

  27. 27
    Jon says:

    I was never categorically opposed to the abstract notion of invading Iraq. I’m sure I changed my mind all the time as the propaganda rolled in.

    But in the concrete particulars, I always, always wanted them to capture and kill Osama bin Laden before we started invading “the axis of evil” in detail. I assumed at the time that there were serious efforts underway to do so, and that the apparent difficulty required a lot of manpower, so I couldn’t see taking away from that to attack Iraq.

    So, I was wrong on a lot of the particulars, but I think I was right about that. The fact that history will record that we were on our way out of Iraq before we captured Bin Laden will make future people think we were completely stupid, even if they don’t hate us for being vicious. We couldn’t even be vicious correctly.

  28. 28
    geg6 says:

    It’s because you can write stuff like this, John, that you are one of the few I’ve forgiven for being an idiot all those years ago. In fact, you may be the only one I have totally forgiven. After all, it’s why I couldn’t vote for Hilary back in 2008 and I always liked her and would have been ecstatic to have a woman president. When and if she ever articulates something like this, I’ll completely forgive her.

    Sadly, given all the alternatives I expect to have, I’ll probably have to vote for her in 2016, but I’ll always have that niggling doubt about her judgment in the back of my mind.

  29. 29
    c u n d gulag says:

    Also too:
    Powerful, POWEFUL, anti-war letter written to Bush and Cheney by a dying vet:


    Today is the 10th anniversary of “Bush’s Worst Folly,” when he and his band of arrogant, greedy incompetent imbeciles, got us involved in a needless war and occupation of a country that had as much to do with 9/11/01, as China did to 12/7/41.

    This vet will bel be dead soon.

    The miasmatic collection of morons who are responsible for his death, and the death of thousands of American troops, scores of thousands of American troops crippled, both physically and mentally, with who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s dead, and how many millions displaced, will continue to enjoy life.

    In a just world, they’d be spending the rest of their days either at the Hague, or, better yet, caring for all of the wounded – but sadly, their only skill is in creating dead and wounded people, not caring for them.

    So, The Hague, it should be – at hard labor – until the second they die.

    And then, buried in unmarked graves – or preferrably, cremated – with their ashes mixed with molten glass, cooled, and then buried deep in the earth, so that their toxic remains won’t pollute anything near them.

  30. 30

    Good for you JC.

    I, lamentably, used 9/11 as an excuse to tack to starboard but call myself an independent. Looking back I was disillusioned due to working on an election for a D candidate and I was terribly naive. Only lasted until around early 2004 for me but during that time I swallowed the lies whole. SADFACE.

  31. 31
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    … if you put it together and compacted it and processed it, there would be enough concentrated stupid to fuel three hundred years of Weekly Standard journals.

    This is just brilliant. I LOL’d

  32. 32
    PeakVT says:

    @Trollhattan: Because the neocon fever-dream imagined that Iran and other “anti-American” regimes would fall like dominoes once Saddam was removed.

  33. 33
    Beauzeaux says:

    It gives me only a little bit of pleasure to say I was right about all those points and so was my 80-year-old uncle. At the time, I was completely flummoxed by all the support for the Iraq war. It was like “What are all these people seeing that I’m not seeing? Well, I still don’t see it so fuck ’em.”

    My uncle and (equally elderly) aunt were virtually shunned by their Nevada neighbors. But they were right and the 110th Chairborne was wrong. Some of them still are.

    Maybe it’s my advanced age. I actually remember Korea. And I started actively protesting the Vietnam war in 1964. Maybe being lied to for decades and decades has some bearing on my refusal to jump on ANY war wagon.

  34. 34
    Betty Cracker says:

    I stayed home sick the day the Iraq invasion began, and I really was sick too — sick about what was happening, sick of feeling helpless to do anything about it.

    I remember sitting on the floor watching fucking CNN cover the invasion as if it were a monster truck rally and playing with my then-four year old, hoping to god the country would be in a saner place by the time she got old enough to be directly affected by it.

  35. 35
    Jon says:

    @PeakVT: Sort of. I think the real plan was to just invade Iran next. If you’re assuming Iran won’t be there to support the shia in the south, it makes the whole thing seem less complex.

  36. 36
    Haydnseek says:

    John, John, John….you don’t have to do this. Self-flagellation doesn’t help. Providing this forum does. We’ve all been wrong about important things. We just didn’t have a blog, so not many people could call us on it. Have a nice Scotch and a good dinner. You deserve it.

  37. 37
    El Cid says:

    A huge problem is that many people, especially the most publicly influential ones, don’t know or care about the difference between a good argument about the likely effects of one or another proposed action or policy and metaphors and historical analogies and catch phrases and such.

    And this happens each and every time a U.S. administration gears up to wage war on a new enemy, and all the major influence peddlers go right along, and get excited, and want to join in, and punish and ostracize the doubters.

    Every time. Every single time.

    And it will happen again the next time, too. Whether or not the new forms of communication and news-seeking and organization spun out of the US’ elite march to destroy the Iraqi nation-state will counter-balance that will be the test.

  38. 38
    raven says:

    As much as I hate to do it, I was just like John and Pat Lang was right.

  39. 39
    geg6 says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    Yup, me too. I cried uncontrollably for days and days. And got into gigantic emo fights with almost everyone I knew. If I wasn’t crying, I was screaming.

    Thank FSM for the anti-war marches. If I hadn’t had those to channel all that bad energy into something, even if it was something futile, I don’t know what I’d have done.

  40. 40
    Trollhattan says:


    Jeez, I think you’re right about that meme–I’ve mentally quashed it. Somebody should interview the Shah to find what how he thinks about the Iraq war ten years later. Oh, wait.

  41. 41
    Cacti says:

    And because you were a blind partisan about Iraq, you’ll never forgive Obama for the way Bush let you down.


  42. 42
    Rock says:

    I think your current gut reaction is sane.

    My gut reaction to being told I should get in my car and drive it into the side of a building at 180 MpH is to just say no. It’s doctrinaire, but it’s possible that my mind could be changed with evidence of a very, very, very, very extraordinary circumstance.

  43. 43
    Haydnseek says:

    @geg6: Yes. This.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    My gut instinct from now on regarding the use of force will be to say no. NO. You can tell me I’m just as doctrinaire as when I was a wingnut, just on the other side, but I don’t care. I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

    How many wars in our history were actually worth fighting? World War Two is the gold standard. Civil War, yes. Revolution, yes. 1812?

    Mexican War, definitely not. Spanish-American war, definitely not.

    Not actually sure about World War One. It was stupid of the Europeans to start it, but from an American point of view, intervening to tilt the balance of power in the Allies’ favor wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, if you assume that the alternative is a Europe – and, by extension, world – dominated by the Central Powers would’ve been a bad thing. But then you can use the same logic to justify the entire Cold War… and a lot of that shit (certainly Southeast Asia and Central America) was most definitely not worth it.

    Just curious what other people think. I’d ask “when is it okay to go to war, and why?” but that gets pretty hypothetical, which is why I’m asking what people think of actual historical examples.

  45. 45
    maya says:


    So why did I more or less believe Blair & Powell?

    Can’t answer that for you, but it was Powell’s performance at the UN that convinced me that something was dreadfully wrong with our “evidence”. Specifically, Powell showing the photo of what was supposed to be Saddam’s mobile chemical weapons producing truck. It looked very much like a six-bi with a canvas top. Who the hell would be carrying and filling chemical weapons in that type of vehicle except suicidal idiots? It would also be a danger to anyone – oh, like the Republican Guard troops – that were near it. Totally hokey.

    Turns out it was a helium producing truck for barrage balloons, or something like that, that was sold to Iraq years before by the British, who, apparently, were not able to clear the mystery up before the invasion. Yeah, Powell and Blair. What a vaudeville act.

  46. 46
    Chyron HR says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Translation: “I preferred this site back when it attacked Democrats from the right instead of attacking Republicans from the left.”

  47. 47
    gogol's wife says:


    I trusted Blair too. Powell, not so much. The others, not at all. But Blair really got to me.

  48. 48
    PeakVT says:

    @Trollhattan: First example from teh Goog.

  49. 49
    The Truffle says:

    You were at least flexible and willing to consider that your original assumptions were wrong. That is a whole lot more than can be said for most of the war cheerleaders on the right.

    My bullshit detector went off the minute President Cheney and his faux-cowboy sidekick started talking about war with Iraq. It’s cold comfort to have been proven right all along, after the so-called “right” spent years smearing anyone bold enough to tell the truth (and some of those truth-tellers were conservatives, mind you).

  50. 50
    Redshirt says:

    @gogol’s wife: It wasn’t obvious to you he really was “Bush’s Poodle” at the time?

    During the buildup, I watched French news. What a different perspective – OMG! The truth! As opposed to ALL American media.

    Cassandra was right! No one listened, alas.

  51. 51
    Cacti says:


    Not actually sure about World War One. It was stupid of the Europeans to start it, but from an American point of view, intervening to tilt the balance of power in the Allies’ favor wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, if you assume that the alternative is a Europe – and, by extension, world – dominated by the Central Powers would’ve been a bad thing.

    Our intervention in WWI only served to lay the groundwork for a more destructive war less than 25 years later. WWI was a conflict to determine who was top dog among the European imperialist powers. There were no good guys to speak of.

  52. 52
    r€nato says:

    you were forgiven long ago but thanks for re-posting that, John.

    Now if only Judith Miller would fess up, we’d know that we’d gotten somewhere with our so-called liberal media.

  53. 53
    fuckwit says:

    @justsomeguy: We are just apes with highly dextrous thumbs.

    It fascinates me that so many intellectuals are shocked, shocked– and thoroughly baffled– when confronted with humans behaving in ways that are totally predictable and normal for apes with highly dextrous thumbs– and nuclear weapons. This is all normal primate behavior.

    We are primates. We live to fuck. We like to fuck, a lot. We also are territorial and tribal, and we like to fight a lot too– the males more violently than the females, but both can be just as viciously territorial. And, we fight more violently we they don’t have enough opportunity to fuck instead, or when we are crowded together, etc.

    So where’s the mystery here?

    You take a bunch of primates. You don’t allow them to fuck freely and openly. You make them compete with each other, not just for sex, but to survive, and crowd them together in cities, suburbs, and hour-long traffic jams every day. Then you give them FA/18’s and nuclear weapons, etc. And television, and radio, too.

    Really, what the fuck did you think was going to happen? Nothing could possibly go wrong!

    Once I understood that humans are primates, and really understood it, deeply, then it explained everything about human behavior, my own included, and politics, and the general social condition of the world.

    The challenge is to evolve past the primate stage, but it will take millions more years, and we have to do it consciously (as Bill Hicks said, “We have to evolve ideas”), and with full admission and acceptance of our primate nature. We can do better, for sure, but this is what we’ve got to work with, and denying reality will not help us.

  54. 54
    El Cid says:

    I’d be amazed if we ever began to see publicly prominent and worthwhile intellectual (i.e., facts, evidence, evaluation, logical reasoning and questioning) efforts to address 2 questions in the face of any of these moves to do the next major military intervention:

    (1) What is actually being proposed? Who is to do what, how will it be implemented, where, and so forth, and what is the actual historical record and institutional capabilities in the here and now for this actor to do what is being claimed?

    (2) What are the most likely predictable outcomes of this or that suggested intervention?

    We don’t even do that in this society. It ends up being enough for someone to say that ‘something’ has to be done, we got to ‘do something’, or ‘take him out’, or some such.

    Could anyone capable of addressing questions like that still look themselves in the mirror after arguing that in the U.S. government there was the personnel, administrative and organizational ability (and specifically under the Bush Jr. administraion) to take over and reconstruct an authoritarian 3rd world nation with a partially developed infrastructure and replace it with functioning democratic and stable institutions?

    Well, no problem, they wouldn’t need to, because all you’d have to do is do some hand-waving about what the U.S. presumably did in Japan in WWII, and rest comfortably knowing that no one will be so gross as to push you too much on whether or not the analogy applies or if any of the capacities in place then exist now.

    We accept the sorts of pathetic bullshitting (including the worst type, the self-bought) when it comes to what our government claims it can do to an entire population on the other side of the planet that we’d like to believe we’d never accept in someone asking for us to loan him money for an awesome brilliant entrepreneurial idea for which he demonstrates no known or theoretical capacity to carry out.

  55. 55
    kc says:


    What you said.

  56. 56

    The only reason…the ONLY reason I am willing to forgive anyone who supported the Iraq war is because my brother came home safe, healthy and without any long lasting affects from Iraq.

    I was called unpatriotic, stupid and names I choose not to repeat, many by my own family, for believing this was an unjust war.

    Thank god for the Red Cross, where I volunteered the year my brother was away. If I wasn’t going to sleep…barely breathe…all that time, at least I was able to help others during that time.

    And Yahoo will always have my thanks, because with their systems I was able to keep track of my brother, do face-to-face chats with him and always know when he was home from a mission.

    10 years and I am still not over any of it. And I remember all the families who were not as lucky as I am, their brothers, fathers, sisters, husbands, wives and children did not come home.

  57. 57
    Highway Rob says:

    @elmo: As I raise my glass in salute, smile grimly, drain the glass, and resume comtemplating the bartop.

  58. 58
    dy says:

    The difference between you, John, and all the other people who trumpeted the war is that not only have you admitted (repeatedly) your mistakes, you re-examined your worldview. I have yet to see a similar re-examination on the part of Sullivan, Friedman, Brooks, even HRC. And certainly not the Weekly Standard folk. But if you got the biggest single issue of our time wrong, and not just kind of wrong-oh-we-all-were-misled, but totally freaking wrong and were instrumental in spreading a viewpoint’s popularity, you owe to us all to publicly re-examine ALL of your opinions and really have some critical reflection. And preferably, either 1. change your views or 2. stop writing/talking/etc. You’re the only one I know of who took option 1, and I’m still waiting for most of the war-clowns to take option 2.

  59. 59
    Redshirt says:

    @El Cid: How many Vietnam mea culpas have there been? I can’t recall many. Iraq in comparison is just a “military excursion”.

  60. 60
    Arm The Homeless says:

    @raven: I was introduced to Pat through Juan Cole, but since I was simply a kid with the personal motivation not to be drafted into this stupid war, I was written off by my family as my cousin signed up to go fight the ‘towel heads’ and show us all what a real man does when his nation calls.

    We never discussed what has happened since then, but I can tell you that my immediate family doesn’t buy into the jingoistic BS my dad has been well known for. Hell, he even voted for Obama in 2008. Or at least that’s what he told us.

  61. 61
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    As large and as powerful as we are, we should never be allowed to pre-emptive anything. The other side should have to prove they are crazy enough to attack.

  62. 62
    MomSense says:

    I am still pissed about Reagan lying to us about the Iranians gassing the Iraqi Kurds when apparently we knew the whole time that Hussein had the Kurds gassed.

    Does anyone else remember this?. I was in high school at the time–but Reagan definitely addressed the nation about it–they even zoomed right in with a close up on him as he talked about it.

    Then in the run up to the latest Iraq war, part of the case that was made was Saddam gassing the Kurds as evidence that he would do it again.

    So which President was lying and why didn’t the journalists even bother to clarify????

  63. 63
    Davo says:

    John, my Dad is your age and he hasn’t moved one fucking iota on any issue in 20 years. The phrase “I was wrong” would never, in a million fucking years, come forth from his lips. And this is typical for conservatives now from all I can gather.

    Kudos to you. A little humility, empathy and self-reflection would go a long damn way in this country. But then if our conservative friends engaged in those antics…lol.. well they’d cease to be modern day conservatives..

  64. 64
    Trollhattan says:


    Yup, there it is. And whilst we’re srolling down memory lanealley of considerable hell, I give you the Gray Lady’s William Saffire: The burden of proof has shifted to those still grimly in denial.

    Two blockbuster magazine articles last week revealed evidence that Saddam’s spy agency and top Qaeda operatives certainly were in frequent contact for a decade, and that there is renewed reason to suspect an Iraqi spymaster in Prague may have helped finance the 9/11 attacks.

    On weeklystandard.com, you can find chunks of a 16-page letter by Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, responding to a Senate Intelligence Committee request for evidence of Saddam-bin Laden collaboration. Fifty specific instances from C.I.A., N.S.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon files are described, many from ”sensitive reporting” never made public.

    The Defense Department acknowledged the Oct. 27 letter included a classified annex of ”raw reports or products” of U.S. intelligence agencies on ”the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” cautioning that it ”drew no conclusions.” But with so much connective tissue exposed — some the result of ”custodial interviews” of prisoners — the burden of proof has shifted to those still grimly in denial.

    Remember how anti-liberation politicians and journalists pooh-poohed Colin Powell’s February 2003 speech to the U.N. about the presence in Iraq of a Qaeda associate, identified in this space as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Powell’s assertion had this ”sensitive reporting” basis: ”As of Oct. 2002 al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city.”
    Deniers derogate as ”cherry picking” Feith’s intelligence summary available to senators: ”The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, al Ani, on several occasions. During one of those meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS [Iraq Intelligence Service] finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.”

    If true, that would implicate Saddam’s regime in the murder of 3,000 Americans. Though the C.I.A. can confirm two Atta trips to Prague, in 1994 and 2000, it cannot confirm the two other visits the Czechs reported, including one on April 9, 2001, with Saddam’s top European agent, al-Ani, then vice consul in Prague. C.I.A. chief George Tenet testified that the meeting reported by the Czech service was ”possible,” but the F.B.I. floated hints that car rental records showed Atta to be traveling between Virginia and Florida that week.


  65. 65
    Delia says:

    I was almost convinced by Powell’s performance. But at the time I was in email correspondence with a Brit who directed me to the evidence that smashed Powell’s assertions to pieces. He also convinced me that Blair was a lying SOB long before most Americans realized that fact.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Self-defense in the case of an attack or a UN and/or NATO endorsement. A real one, not the half-assed shit the Bush Administration cooked up.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @TaMara (BHF): I still have people pissed off at me over the FIRST gulf war. :)

  69. 69
    Martin says:

    This, John, is why I prioritize your blog. Being wrong and being willing to face the facts can be a very difficult thing, and I admire you for it more than those who never swayed.

  70. 70
    Chris says:


    I’m not old enough to remember that, but I am old enough to remember the furious “SADDAM GASSED HIS OWN PEOPLE! Don’t you CARE! OMG you love Saddam! YOU LOVE SADDAM!” accusations thrown at anyone who didn’t support the invasion…

    … by the EXACT. SAME. PEOPLE who covered up that particular war crime FOR Saddam at the time when it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Even by their standards, that’s fucking sick.

  71. 71
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    I was wrong in trusting that W and his spokescritters were being honest. My late FIL, a Korean War vet, refused to believe Powell simply because in his experience All Generals Lie, All The Time. I’ve now taken that lesson to heart.

    I was wrong in believing, honestly believing, that if we invaded and Saddam didn’t have any WMDs there would be hell to pay.

    I was wrong in trusting that W and Rummy and Dickie and Paulie all knew what the fuck they were doing.

  72. 72
    Kip the Wonder Rat says:

    Never believed anything Bushco said about ANYTHING. Who recalls Cheney’s first large action? Remember when he had closed-door meetings with Oil Co. at the very, very beginning of our eight long years of misery? Remember the leaked maps of the ME showing a carved up Iraq?

    It was all right there.

    Of course, it helped if one had a working knowledge of PNAC and all of their misguided antics. Those were separate, if linked, reasons to disbelief anything the spews from their mouths.

  73. 73
    Loviatar says:

    I was all set to write a snide post thanking John on behalf of Cindy Sheehan and all the mothers, fathers, family members and friends of those lost in Iraq, but I decided that I couldn’t put my anger in their mouths.


    What I can do is point out that John hasn’t changed one iota since his “conversion” a few years ago. He is still an authoritarian tool. Its just so happens that he is a authoritarian tool for “our” side now, so a lot of so called Democrats rush to agree with his pronouncements.

    Tell me am I the only one who sees so much fail in this statement from a supposedly highly educated man.

    My gut instinct from now on regarding the use of force will be to say no. NO. You can tell me I’m just as doctrinaire as when I was a wingnut, just on the other side, but I don’t care. I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

    How has he changed. He is still a tool.

  74. 74
    MomSense says:


    “… by the EXACT. SAME. PEOPLE who covered up that particular war crime FOR Saddam at the time when it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Even by their standards, that’s fucking sick.”

    And some of those same fucking sick people sold weapons to them knowing that he gassed his own people but using the Reagan lie as a pretense to try and weaken Iran!!

    There are pictures of Chaney and Rummy visiting Iraq after Saddam killed the Kurds. I hate them–the whole sociopathic lot of them.

  75. 75
    JPL says:

    Lindsey Graham celebrated the anniversary of the Iraq War by discussing the need for troops on the ground in Syria. It’s time for him to gather his rifles and head on over.

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kip the Wonder Rat:

    a working knowledge of PNAC and all of their misguided antics.

    Oil Prices going up? Invade Iraq. Oil Prices going down? Invade Iraq. Instability in central Africa? Invade Iraq. Indigestion? Invade Iraq.

    That PNAC?

  77. 77
    PopeRatzy says:

    All the people reading Knight-Ridder newspapers back then knew the war was complete bullshit. The problem was Knight-Ridder did not have a paper in NY or DC so the “Very Important People” didn’t get to read the fact checking by Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel.

    Those two deserved a Pulitzer.

  78. 78
    Suffern ACE says:

    Honestly, beyond the hopeless wish for introspection, circumspection, whatever kind of spection you want, what I would like one of these bozo’s to do is act like they understand what went wrong. I think John’s “knee jerk” against any and all “interventions” or “invasions” or “occupations” and what have you, is the best we are going to hope for. But it really doesn’t matter WHY we went to war. We’ll go to war again someday and since I doubt we’ll prevent it from happening, it would be a nice to think that TPTB studied these two wars and learned how to set up a country so that next time our elites collectively lose their minds and decide to invade somewhere, it doesn’t take 6-8 years before someone seems to notice that we’re not winning or doing anyting that would allow us to leave.

  79. 79
    Kip the Wonder Rat says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yep, that PNAC.

  80. 80
    stickler says:

    @Chris: I think WWI was deeply problematic, too. On the one hand, without the USA getting involved the Germans probably would have won, and a Central Powers-dominated Europe could have been a very bad thing indeed. On the other hand, in that circumstance a certain corporal probably remains a ranting yahoo in Bavaria, selling picture postcards for a living, and we don’t have WWII. And say what you will about the Kaiser, he was no Hitler.

    But the USA was involved long before 1917 – selling weapons, food, and clothing to the Allies and JP Morgan arranging Wall Street finance. Which is why we got involved. How you keep US banksters and industrialists from doing that for profit, in the American political system of 1914-18, is hard to see. If Wilson couldn’t control their behavior, himself something of a trustbuster and suspicious of the big banks as he was, who could?

  81. 81
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

    And this is how the whole “defense” thing is actually supposed to work.

  82. 82
    Amir Khalid says:

    Explain me something: I remember that a lot of the pre-invasion talk was about how Iraq’s oil would pay America’s costs for the war. How was that legal, and if so how was it supposed to work?

  83. 83
    kabiddle says:

    mea culpas are great. still does not undo what a thinking person knew when we watched towers being blown up. all that had to be done was look at the cast of characters. that is the thing that must be taken to bed at night and woken up with in the morning.

    dirty hippie

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: I would argue that it wasn’t legal, but the way it was supposed to work was essentially looting.

  85. 85
    JPL says:

    @Amir Khalid: They were going to give it to us for repayment. It does cost a lot of money to destroy a country.

  86. 86
    Ash Can says:

    @elmo: No one who learns from their mistakes is stupid.

  87. 87

    @Cacti: And because you were a blind partisan about Iraq, you’ll never forgive Obama for the way Bush let you down.

    Who are you talking to?

  88. 88
    Mike G says:

    I’ll need to see CNN copy of of Chinese troops on the coast of California before I ever support another war.

    I live near the coast, and I wouldn’t even trust CNN to tell me.

    But I’ll let you guys know first if I see anything.

  89. 89
    rda909 says:

    It’s cool John since you seem to show humility on how you approach most anything, which is healthy. So many other former Republicans who claim to be liberal now, still spend so much time sanctimoniously talking down and shouting down us life-long liberals, who have been correct on so many of these issues, even though they now claim to be on our side. The Ed Schultz’s, Cenk’s Ariana’s and so on are so pouty and angry still it really doesn’t seem as if they are any different. You’d think it might click in their heads at some point that maybe they could learn a little something from those who were correct, when they were fantastically wrong, but I guess that’s asking too much of those people.

    And you know who else was correct all along?!!?

    I know, I know…DROOOOOOOONZ! All that legislatin’ and checks-and-balances and all that is not very hard. He just has to bully pulpit that shit, right? Never mind the over 200K troop reduction (likely down to nil by 2014) and dramatic decrease in civilian/troop death since he took office…NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THOSE WHO WERE WRONG TO BEGIN WITH!!! That’s what former Republican Schultz is always droning on about at least…

  90. 90
    scav says:

    Blair. Never trusted him and when he seamlessly switched from following Clinto about to following Shrub about with puppy dog eyes, he lost all credibility as a possible source of outside information. . . Didn’t trust the leaders, didn’t trust their logic (what little there was) and the bulk of the ‘mercans around seemed to have gone stark raving bonks. Not a happy time.

  91. 91
    Delia says:


    I’m not sure the Central Powers would have emerged as clear victors if the US hadn’t entered the Great War. Certainly they managed to settle the Russian Front in their favor. But the Western Front was still mired down and the British maintained a blockade in the North Sea that had the civilian German population starving. It seems to me it could well have ended in a sort of luckless draw with uncertain consequences for everyone.

  92. 92
    dance around in your bones says:

    Tweety’s doing this exact title on his show “Iraq: Ten Years In”.

    Not sure my BP can take it. It just makes me pissed off all over again.

    eta: the clips, I mean. of Cheny, Bush, Kristol, Rumsfeld, ad nauseum.

    he has Michael Isikoff and David Corn on who wrote the book Hubris.

  93. 93
    evap says:

    I was living in Spain (on sabbatical for a year) at the time and remember watching the news on the tv and crying. I was desperately wishing to be back home with my friends and family (who were all as horrified by the war and against it as I was).

    The Spanish people were almost all against the war (something like 90% did not want to get involved), but their government got involved anyway. There were protests and demonstrations everywhere and the university I was visiting shut down for a day for a “teach-in” and demonstrations. I was shocked that in a so-called democracy, the government decided to get involved in the mess without the support of the voters. (They paid later when most of them were voted out of office.)

    I still have a flyer I kept posted on the wall in my office — No a la guerra! — as a reminder of those times.

  94. 94
    Violet says:

    @dance around in your bones:
    Don’t watch it. Play with the grandkids, watch a sitcom rerun or Wheel of Fortune, read a book, go for a walk. Just walk away. No need to hurt yourself by subjecting yourself to Tweety’s remembrances of codpieces past.

  95. 95
    rda909 says:

    @Suffern ACE: Probably correct that “we” will someday, but we can certainly hold it off as long as possible by electing better people to Congress and as President.

    I don’t see President Obama starting anything in the next few years, and I can’t imagine President Elizabeth Warren starting any wars in her 8 years as President after him. Everything starts by winning elections. (President Hillary Clinton…that’s another story though…)

  96. 96
    dr. bloor says:

    @Betty Cracker: Oh, I remember that scene with my then-four-year-old son. Canada? New Zealand? Where else? Cuz there was no fucking way my kid was going to get conscripted to do the bidding of those sociopathic ghouls.

  97. 97
    Schlemizel says:

    there is one difference between JC & L’il Andy. The next time the wingnut corp demands we start killing brown people L’il Andy will fall in line and cheer on the deaths of a few thousand more. JC is capable of growth as a human being, L’il Andy is a fucking sociopath who will say or do whatever he thinks will feather his nest.

  98. 98
    dr. bloor says:


    (President Hillary Clinton…that’s another story though…)

    Honestly interested–what’s the evidence for this? She just served a term as Obama’s SoS, and there were never any indications or even rumors (that I can recall) about substantive policy differences between them. Where do you think she would she be more inclined to go than Obama or Warren?

  99. 99
    I am not a kook says:

    @Mike G: Yeah me too. You know, there are so many people with Chinese roots and genetics around here that it wouldn’t take much to turn around an impressionable CNN moron.

    Speaking of which, anybody remember how Bushies had a hard on for blustering and kicking sand at China’s face when they came into office? When they turned their lonely eyes at Iraq they may have saved us from an even worse fuckup. Entertain this counterfactual: Osama bin Laden saved us from war with China.

  100. 100
    I am not a kook says:

    @Mike G: Yeah me too. You know, there are so many people with Chinese roots and genetics around here that it wouldn’t take much to turn around an impressionable CNN moron.

    Speaking of which, anybody remember how Bushies had a hard on for blustering and kicking sand at China’s face when they came into office? When they turned their lonely eyes at Iraq they may have saved us from an even worse fuckup. Entertain this counterfactual: Osama bin Laden saved us from war with China.

  101. 101
    Trollhattan says:


    And there it is. Sully’s “apology” ends with more than a little self-puffery. Yes, I was excitable and over-reacted. The only solace is that I was a pillar of calm and prudence compared with the people running the country.

    “Solace” instead of “succor” but basically, All About Andy All of the Time.

  102. 102
    Ash Can says:

    I wasn’t paying very close attention to the news or reading blogs ten years ago, but I did think then that invading Iraq was a shitty idea, and that Bush and his cronies were going to some pretty ridiculous lengths to trump up an excuse to invade. I’ll also admit that when Colin Powell took the case for invading Iraq to the UN (I didn’t see his presentation, only heard bits and pieces about it after the fact), I thought, “Well, he’s the one person in that whole administration who I have even a modicum of trust in and respect for, so if he’s on board with this, hopefully it will turn out OK.” Trusting that guy was a mistake I won’t ever make again.

  103. 103
    Cacti says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    Who are you talking to?

    The blog’s proprietor.

  104. 104
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Violet: That’s darn good advice.

    I have a book my mom left me called Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife so maybe I’ll read that instead. eta: it’s about NDE’s.

    Really, I watched a video “Top 10 George W. Bush Moments” on YouTube recently and I wanted to smash my laptop into itty bitty pieces.

  105. 105
    Roy G. says:

    Mea Culpas are welcome, but they’re not enough. The people who did this literally made out like bandits. In addition to the money we pissed away in Iraq, the US has spent more money on the Homeland (In)Security Agency than it did for the New Deal, and for what?

    Look Backward, not forward. I think forensic accounting would be a nice way to help balance the budget deficit.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    It’s funny how this anniversary brings back the visceral anger that I felt back then. Not so much at the Bush Admin; I distrusted them from the get-go. Instead, it was a big chunk of my fellow citizens who pissed me off. People who threw around terms like traitor and coward, because I hadn’t bought into their interpretation of something. I have heard and accepted the mea culpas and apologies that have come my way over time. But I still have remembered. And I have wondered about their judgment.

  107. 107
    Redshirt says:

    @I am not a kook: I remember. The spy plane went down in China and they took it and the Bushies were all “Argle Bargle America First!” and then 9/11 happened and China was forgotten, except for their role as creditor.

    It’s an interesting “what if” – if no 9/11, we’d have a world war centered in Asia. Not sure if that’s how it would’ve played out, but it’s possible, given the Bushies incompetent bombastity.

  108. 108
    rda909 says:

    @dr. bloor: Everything she did and said at that time while Senator from the great state of New York. When she could’ve tried to do something to stop the insanity, plus the fact that she helped found and run the DLC and their decades of pushing Republican-lite policies in every arena. Obama and Biden rejected the DLC. I think we know how Warren would side on those issues.

  109. 109
    Redshirt says:

    @dance around in your bones: I’ll summarize it based on all the various “Books of the Dead”: Follow the light.

  110. 110

    The Chinese have landed, John. They’re wearing cameras around their necks.

  111. 111
    MomSense says:

    Hillary did vote for the Iraq War Authorization for Use of Force and she also voted for the Lieberman neo con resolution in support of attacking Iran’s Revokutionary Guard-incursions into Iran to disrupt Revolutionary Guard. It was promoted as a way to stop them from helping to train insurgents but it was an asinine idea.

  112. 112
    MikeJ says:


    I remember. The spy plane went down in China and they took it and the Bushies were all “Argle Bargle America First!” and then 9/11 happened and China was forgotten, except for their role as creditor.

    I rmember China holding the crew and Bush apologizing. Bush wasn’t going to start a war with China. He might have used them as a convenient excuse for a military build up, but he never wanted a war that would be difficult. And sadly he really was dumb enough to think occupying the middle east would be easy.

  113. 113

    I’m glad you saw reason, Cole. There’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.

    @Omnes Omnibus: So. Much. This. I felt like I was inside a hivemind that I had no idea how to escape. It was horrifying.

    ETA: Has it really been ten years? So much fucking waste. It’s just…sad.

  114. 114
    Fort Geek says:


    After all, it’s why I couldn’t vote for Hilary back in 2008 and I always liked her and would have been ecstatic to have a woman president. When and if she ever articulates something like this, I’ll completely forgive her.

    This. I’m not usually a single-issue voter, but this (as a single issue) was, in the words of Handsome Joe, a big effin’ deal. It’ll be enough to keep me from supporting her in 2016, too.

  115. 115
    dance around in your bones says:


    Thanks, Redshirt. Been there, done that, many years ago. Tibetan Book of the Dead; my kid had an NDE when she popped an aneurysm in her brain.

    I think the idea Violet had was for me to distract myself with a book instead of watching Tweety, just to keep my blood pressure under control. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, maybe the Property Brothers are in order! Nice to look at, anyway.

  116. 116
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I remember starting to get into commenting on blogs with the particular objective of pointing out, then cutting up, weaselly, willfully misleading bullshit from officialdom like “weapons of mass destruction related program activities.”

  117. 117
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    I applaud you, John.

    Besides being a veteran who invested skin in the game, you realized you were mistaken and you apologized for it in public, refusing to hide behind lame and offensive chickenhawk rationalizations.

    In my dictionary, that makes you a mensch.

    The empty talking heads in our media could learn a lot from your example, but they won’t.

  118. 118
    lojasmo says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Take it to email, buck-o, since you and John evidently have a blazing correspondence there. He certainly doesn’t bother responding to you here. Wonder why that is.

  119. 119
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    weapons of mass destruction related program activities.

    Like the guy who swept up at the warehouse where they used to keep the chemical weapons Reagan sold them in the 80s? Those kind of activities?

    Fuck, by background, training, and inclination, I tend to be a liberal interventionist. I could have been persuadable if the messengers hadn’t been such obviously dishonest pricks salivating to invade a country that had terrain suitable for heavy armored units. But they were and they lied so badly. Add in that the fucking French who have never seen a war they didn’t want to get into were looking the situation and saying wait a minute. Oh, yeah, and Hans Blix. Why the fuck would he lie? I could go on and on….

  120. 120
    Redshirt says:

    @dance around in your bones: Read Thomas Pynchon’s last book, “Inherent Vice”. Right up your alley.

  121. 121
    dr. bloor says:

    @rda909: Im aware of her record as a senator. She had a lot of company with those votes and policies; I doubt most of her colleagues would pursue the same policies toward the same ends at this point in time. Not sure why everyone assumes she would. If nothing else, she theoretically would have had the four most miserable years of her life as SoS advocating for ideas that went nowhere with this administration.

  122. 122
    may says:

    We were “dirty, f***ing, hippies” waving our signs in the rain ten years ago. Not “smelly.”
    My daughter had me make a sign with Ferdinand on it.
    Ferdinand smelling a flower.
    I am still crying.

    It is so good to have you with us John.
    Flowers are always preferable.
    They smell good usually.

  123. 123
    BethanyAnne says:

    I thought at the time that starting an optional war in the Middle East was the dumbest possible thing to do. I do see lots of people saying they aren’t pacifists in all situations. I guess I am. I’m a Unitarian, and I’m a bit more warlike than my fellows. Which means that it’s barely almost possible to get me to support a war. Sorta. Maybe. Prolly not. I just think its the wrong approach. And I think that the overwhelming majority of us decide our support for a policy and then come up with reasons. I know I do. Rational? Humans? Lol

  124. 124
    dance around in your bones says:


    Read it! Plus he dedicated it to Richard Fariña (Been Down so Long It Looks Like Up To me) – I remember calling a college radio station and asking for a Richard and Mimi Fariña song (I was all of maybe 14) and the DJ said he had never heard of them.

    I said “What kind of a DJ has never heard of Richard and Mimi Fariña?!” and he hung up on me.

    Anyway, now you can Google them and find a bunch of their music, no DJ’s involved.

  125. 125
    SteveinSC says:

    I was right from the beginning and I am proud to say it. I was right starting from the first fucking time the words Iraq and Saddam Hussein were mentioned. And I still think this has been the lowest point for the US in history. I said at the time that the only way to start the cleansing of this blood-stain was to hang Dick Cheney and send George Bush permanently to a lunatic asylum for the criminally insane.

    And please, someone, strangle Michael O’Hanlon to death with Chris Matthews’ tongue.

  126. 126
    lojasmo says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    The first gulf war led me to go through the process of obtaining C.O status and dismissal from the US army reserves.

    The second one I knew was bullshit from the get-go.

  127. 127
    moderateindy says:

    Perhaps I was fortunate, because I had a friend that worked for a gov’t watchdog entity that sent me stuff about PNAC not too long after 9/11 and told me to wait for the drumbeats to start for an invasion of Iraq, coupled with hearing a talk show on radio, (a moderately conservative show) that had on an expert that explained how little chance there was of Al Qaeda and Hussein working together because one saw the other as a secular infidel, but more importantly Hussein saw AQ as an actual threat to his power. Those things helped me look much more closely and critically at the arguments for the war with Iraq, and see how much “evidence” seemed more like propaganda. But the one thing that always bugged the crap out of me was how any logical person could look at the doctrine of preemptive war, and not conclude that it was sheer folly. It’s just so blatantly obvious from a purely pragmatic standpoint that such a policy is completely unsustainable; that you have to judge the competence of anyone that advocated for it. Remember that they weren’t just talking about Iraq, but the idea that we should, and could, invade any country we perceived as a threat. Seriously, how far did they think that policy could go? And yet Bushco was avidly pushing that as the new paradigm. It just made me realize how little actual thinking or analysis the American people do about anything, if something so blatantly stupid was so easily consumed an regurgitated by so many, about a subject that was as important as taking the country to war.

  128. 128
    weaselone says:


    Which explains why it was a coalition of urban hellhole dwellers and horny college students who drove us to war despite the cries of protest from the rural residents and the elderly who just wanted to collect their Social Security checks. Oh, wait. That’s not how it happened. Support for the war was essentially inversely related to population density and directly proportional to calendar age.

  129. 129
    srv says:


    I Wuz Wrong

    Not to pick at the wound, but you missed something John. You didn’t apologize to the French.

    I remember A LOT of French bashing.

  130. 130
    Chris says:


    He might have used them as a convenient excuse for a military build up

    The trouble with military buildups is that they take on a life of their own.

    Start an arms race with China, and from your POV, it might just be a way to shovel $$$ to defense contractors. But the Chinese see it and at least on some level, they have to take it seriously and react in some way (and it’s not like they don’t have their own hawks who see a political advantage in militant rhetoric and their own military-industrial complex eager for more money). We see them reacting, and we freak out even more, if only because of the mouth-breathers on Fox… lather, rinse, repeat.

    I’m sure Bush had no intention of seriously starting another cold war or anything. But then, I don’t think he intended for all the consequences that happened in Iraq either – he just didn’t care enough to think about the consequences.

  131. 131
    Redshirt says:

    @dance around in your bones: Did you like it? Also, you’re cool as all get out!

  132. 132
    Redshirt says:

    @srv: “Freedom Fries” might be looked upon in retrospective as the nadir of America.

  133. 133
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @srv: @Redshirt: I got a lot of French wine inexpensively back then. “You’re going to pour that out? Here, let me get rid of it for you.”

  134. 134
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Deleted duplicate.

  135. 135
    BC says:

    I found the blogs – Atrios and Daily Kos – because i couldn’t believe what the mainstream media was peddling. Somewhere online I read that the aluminum tubes could not be used for processing uranium, they were the wrong kind, and was flummoxed a year later when that was used as proof of a nuclear program by the Bush Administration. I stayed home from work to watch Colin Powell’s presentation at the UN and again was flummoxed that the coverage in the newspapers did not include any of Hans Blix’ interjections. When Bush said that Saddam had tossed the inspectors and not let them back in, but I knew better but the Denver Post did not, them I just gave up on the professional newsgathering apparatus in the country and kept with the blogs. My letters to editor opposing the Iraq war were never published. Oh – and I was Peace Corps community development volunteer and I knew the “nation building” shit was just that since they did not have stable country to do it right.

  136. 136
    Redshirt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Stupid sheeple!

    I mentioned elsewhere on the blog earlier I was lucky enough to have cable tv in 2002-2003 and on that cable was an international channel that showed direct feeds from different countries during the day. From 7-8 they showed the nightly news from France with subtitles in English. I watched almost every night. It was amazing to compare/contrast with the American media at the same time.

  137. 137
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Redshirt: Well, yes, I did!

    It was lot easier to read than Gravity’s Rainbow :)

  138. 138
    Trollhattan says:

    Peter Turnley is an excellent photographer. Here is his Iraq war recollection. Do give it a look; it transcends mere words.


  139. 139
    MomSense says:

    @dance around in your bones:


    I want to set something on fire. How did that happen to us???

  140. 140
    Redshirt says:

    @dance around in your bones: Hell yes. My second favorite Pynchon novel now, behind Lot 49. Both benefit immensely from brevity.

  141. 141
    Colleen says:

    Dear Mr. Cole,
    I began reading you when you came to your senses. I too was sucked in by the fear at first. I came to my senses a few years before you did but it doesn’t matter. No more war, that is the important thing. Forgive yourself and keep doing what you’ve been doing. I have some wonderful friends who stood by my momentary madness and forgave me. I have since forgiven myself and do what I can to help try and steer our congress and president in what I believe to be the right direction. Keep posting those contact numbers for the D.C. crowd, it matters, a lot. We can do this thing all together. Take care of yourself and love to the critters too!

  142. 142
    Johnnybuck says:

    Seriously? enriching uranium in semi-trailers? Ignoring Hans Blix repeated statements that they found no evidence of WMD? Fuel tubes? Seriously?

    I never doubted for a second we were going to war, we’re a bloodthirsty lot, but anybody who could believed that nuclear weapons could be manufactured on moving “laboratories” is either profoundly stupid, or spoiling for a fight… or both.

    For fuck’s sake, this regime stole an election before our very eyes, why would anybody believe anything they had to say. Colin Powell was disgraced the moment he signed on.

    I hope it makes you feel better John, I really do, but frankly you were part of a legion of enablers that foisted this nightmare on our country. Sorry don’t cut it..

  143. 143
    AndoChronic says:

    Even though I did join the military during the Iraqi War 2.0, I protested it heavily prior and during my enlistment. It’s funny to have been literally physically threatened, for not sucking G.W. & Co.’s balls enough, by the same uneducated knuckle dragging rubes who are now saying, “why didn’t you speak up or say something before”. FUCK YOU knuckle dragging rube America!

  144. 144
    gnomedad says:


    “Freedom Fries” might be looked upon in retrospective as the nadir of America.

    The thinking behind which is, alas, preserved in the National Museum of Stupid known as the Tea Republican Party.

  145. 145
    Julia Grey says:

    @Bob2: Like Krugman, I couldn’t believe that the media were just repeating bald-faced lies from Bush.

    Look, the media always want something INTERESTING to happen. Nothing is more exciting nor give more opportunities to more people for career advancement than a real, live shootin’ war…especially one that starts with a freakin “shock and awe” style INVASION!


    It was simply not in the best interests of anyone in the media to try to apply the brakes. They all wanted it to happen because of all the great opportunities it would open up for THEM.

    Hmmm. I wonder how Ashleigh Banfield is feeling during this anniversary week?

  146. 146
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    John, the way I figure it is this: if there really does need to be a war, if it really is to protect us, people will get the war. Nothing you or I can do will stop it. So, just saying “no”, regardless of right or wrong, isn’t hurting anything. And we need people who say “no” to counter the blood thirsty and team-spirit folks who will shout “hell yes!”

  147. 147
    MikeBoyScout says:


    In the world where power and opinions seem all too often unaccountable, your mea culpa repeat stands out.

    And, I think, more importantly you’ve learned. You’ve learned that the use of force brings death and often times needless death.

    You’re not “doctrinaire”. You’re wise.

  148. 148
    dance around in your bones says:


    Heck if I know. I thought the guy was a dumbfuck from the get-go and could never understand why anybody else thought any differently.

    @Redshirt: Yeah, with Pynchon brevity has its virtues. Though once one got through Gravity’s Rainbow it was quite memorable.

    Ok, my grandkids have just smeared raspberries all through the playroom, my daughter is steam-cleaning the rug, I just picked oranges from the tree outside with the littlest guy, and now they are are running through the house screaming “fuck!fuck!fuck!” just because they can and their Mommy can’t hear them.

    Hell, I ain’t gonna tell.

  149. 149
    Maude says:

    If you ever have a hankering for a Jack Russell Terrier, I know of one for you. She is adorable.

  150. 150
    lojasmo says:


    OH jesus. Give it a rest. I’m not a huge fan of Clinton, but to surmise she would just “start some wars” is asinine.

  151. 151
    Donut says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    It’s so NICE of YOU to decide these things for EVERYONE.

    After all, what matters are YOUR values and beliefs.

    If other people disagree with YOU, that is certainly THEIR PROBLEM to address, but they are so LUCKY to have YOUR guidance.

    When will they ever GET it?

    Definitely YOU cannot UNDERSTAND how others’ thoughts and opinions might differ from YOURS, but YOU most indubitably are KIND enough to ENLIGHTEN everyone around YOU.


    Did YOU die on the cross for nothing! I think not!

  152. 152
    Ted & Hellen says:


    You a little touchy about something, Jism?

    Envious? Jealous or something?

  153. 153
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Chris: The Cold War a bad idea? The hot parts of it sure, Viet Nam in particular, but the oppression inside the Warsaw pact was genuine and something that the USSR at least claimed to be interested in spreading.

    They exaggerated their capabilities, and the exaggerations had willing believers on this side of the Iron Curtain, to be sure.

    Fortunately, we (mostly) just held steady, and eventually economic decline and being tired of oppressing each other brought USSR down. This would make me more confident, except that we seem to be determined to run our own economy into the ground while locking up lots of our fellow citizens.

  154. 154
    Redshirt says:

    @Donut: Nice reply, but why bother? The shitstain is 99% pure troll and is thus feeding off such comments.

    I assume at all times T&H is posting in his shit-encrusted clothing, as he’s long since given up personal hygiene in favor of “contrarianism”. Use this image the next time you feel like replying to the wastoid.

    Hmm. A T&H post disappeared. Are Dead painting sales no longer sufficient to absolve pure trolling?

  155. 155
    SamR says:

    @Punchy: Sometimes there’s so much stupid you forget some of it, I had forgotten the right’s anti-Beauchamp crusade. Thanks for the reminder, I think.

  156. 156
    Ted & Hellen says:


    Please adjust your meds.

  157. 157
    Ted & Hellen says:


    T&H post disappeared. Are Dead painting sales no longer sufficient to absolve pure trolling?

    I tried to edit it and it went to moderation, but thanks for playing.

    Ask Cole about the Little Feat painting he commissioned from me.

  158. 158
    dance around in your bones says:

    Nobody’s listening to T&H. Well, at least I’m not.

  159. 159
    rda909 says:

    @lojasmo: If there weren’t this obsessive push in the entire mainstream media and places such Huffington Post to anoint Hillary from the day President Obama was re-elected, thereby diminishing his incredible accomplishment, as they’ve been doing incessantly since he beat her in 2008, then believe me, I wouldn’t be thinking about her at all.

    But now with all that, and her deciding to stoke all that noise even more with her gay marriage announcement the other day, I think it’s important to remind voters of her record since the media seems intent on starting the “inevitable Hillary” machine again. I don’t think she can win a national election and if she decides to run, I think much of the progress made by the Obama Admin will be undone because a Republican will become President if she became the Democratic nominee, so I’m going to do what I can to make sure the media and her team of Mark Penn, Lanny Davis, James Carville and the others don’t try to steamroller her over us once again. As someone detailed above, her voting record on foreign policy/military use is rather disturbing, so no, it’s “asinine” to make sure people don’t forget. When she was SOS, she ultimately reported to President Obama.

  160. 160
    rda909 says:

    @rda909: heh. “it’s NOT asinine…” that is…

  161. 161
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Regarding Hillary: Does anyone really think it’s a good idea to be handing the presidency to various members of family dynasties, be it the Bushes, the Clintons, the Kennedies, or whatever?

    Really? The only Dem we’ve got available just happens to be the wife of a former president? In a country of 300 million?

    This is not healthy. This is not OK.

    Plus, of course, there’s that whole little Iraq War thing…

  162. 162
    Ted & Hellen says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    Nobody’s listening to T&H. Well, at least I’m not.

    Butchya are, Dance, ya ARE listening to me.

    That’s why you typed your feeble comment.

    Now eat this rat!

  163. 163
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Look, I un-pied you for about 2 seconds because I had a feeling you were replying to me.

    As usual, your reply was useless, boring, and totally self-involved.

    So, back to the pie-filter you go!

  164. 164
    LT says:

    I probably said thanks five years ago, John – but thanks. You’re a good man.

  165. 165
    Chris says:

    @Scamp Dog:

    Sorry, I wasn’t very clear in the initial post. “A lot of that shit” was bad, but no, the Cold War itself isn’t something I disagree with.

    Interestingly, George F. Kennan specifically said afterwards that he’d meant his model to be applied to containing the Soviet Union in Europe and that it would be a mistake to try to extrapolate some sort of universal grand strategy from it. Not that anyone listened.

  166. 166
    Porlock Junior says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    “What kind of a DJ has never heard of Richard and Mimi Fariña?!”

    Weren’t you the hip one – says he, enviously.

    I was fond of their work when I got to know it, probably a couple years after your incident, at a more advanced age, and of course long after Richard was no more. (I have rarely been accused of being hip.) And in honor of this long political thread, I’ll quote,

    Oh the falcon
    is a pretty bird.
    Wonders as she flies.
    She asks us easy questions,
    We tell her easy lies.

  167. 167
    Porlock Junior says:

    @Redshirt: I did like it just a year or two later when the congressbeing who coined the phrase recanted publicly.

    Definitely earned himself a place in this discussion.

  168. 168
    dance around in your bones says:

    @Porlock Junior:

    I don’t know exactly why I was aware of Richard and Mimi Fariña? My parents used to take us to lots of folk concerts at the University of New Mexico, plus I was a rather precocious teenager, to say the least.

    The only cool radio stations to listen to back in the day were the late night college FM stations.

    Mainline Prosperity Blues. Lots more at the link.

  169. 169
    Donut says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    I’ve never taken any medications stronger than antibiotics, son.

    You, on the other hand, Jesus, are in serious need of some fucking Xanax.

  170. 170
    dance around in your bones says:

    Joy Round My Brain Careless Love

    Bold Marauder

    Now, y’all go out and find yer own damn links :)

    eta: Pete Seeger is in there as well.

  171. 171
    dance around in your bones says:

    Ok, maybe one more:

    House Un-American Activity Blues Activity Dream.

    This may have been the first song I heard by them.

  172. 172
    LT says:

    @Porlock Junior: Is “Dance around in your bones” from Baby Gramps? Neurons firing…

    NEVER MOND: Waits.

    EDIT II: He didn’t write it, just to note. From the 1930s?

  173. 173
    dance around in your bones says:


    Here’s where I got it from :)

    eta: had a friend who collected 78’s

  174. 174
    dance around in your bones says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    Reply to myself: On further googling around I realized it was this version.

    Why this is important, I have no idea.

  175. 175
    LT says:

    @dance around in your bones: Oh, it’s important!

    The video was better.

  176. 176
    Slaughter says:

    I was dead-set against the war from the get-go. Lost a friend of 30 years over it when he called me a peace-puke traitor. Facts proved me right, but he would never admit it.

  177. 177
    dance around in your bones says:

    @LT: I agree.

    I’ve had that song on tape for years (recorded from the original 78). Then recorded it to cd, now it’s easy to find on the YouTube. But it’s been stuck in my brain forever.

    Hence, the nym. (I used to be licensed to kill time, but after my husband died it seemed fitting to dance around in your bones).

  178. 178
    Batocchio says:

    This remains the best mea culpa on Iraq I’ve seen. You’ve got honesty and guts, Cole.

  179. 179
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Chris: gotcha! Thanks for the clarification.

  180. 180
    LT says:

    @dance around in your bones: Hrm. You’re alright, DAIYB, you’re alright.


  181. 181
    dance around in your bones says:

    @LT: As say in ‘ol Mexico, ¡Salud!

    (I feel like Sally Field just about now :)

  182. 182


    Btw, the cult of civility still exists. You’ll notice being consistently rude to people means you won’t be linked by big political blogs even if you’re right on everything.

    Oh noes.

  183. 183
    Bob2 says:

    lol @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Lol Sarah. I get you, but it’s a problem when people who are actively wrong ignore people who are right.

    I mean, part of the problem was that the Bush/Rove operation gave media lots of free food/drinks and access and Gore didn’t. It’s amazing how much positive coverage you can get from media if you feed them.

  184. 184

    […] — and a shitload of the media. And way-not many in journalism have repented like John Cole at Balloon Juice – the best example of righting the […]

  185. 185

    […] is unfair (at least to John Cole), but I don’t care. They lost nothing by being wrong, suffered no consequences for whooping […]

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