We all know the Republican Party is absolutely shameless, and most of the time that shamelessness is rightfully met with derision and hostility. But every once in a while, the utter lack of Republican shame on certain issues is so incredible, you can only stand back with your head tilted and mouth agape in stupefied admiration.
Such is the case with the ongoing GOP-authored episode of I told youso about the issue which posterity has completely vindicated them so much — the Iraq war?
Yes, the same party that created the biggest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, which was based on the false pretense that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, is, at this very moment, thundering down verbal blows on the Obama administration with righteous fury for supposedly allowing Iraqi cities to fall into the hands of al Qaeda-affiliated militants.
Politico has a very helpful roundup of GOP thinking — if it can be called that — on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, which Republicans sent down this road in the first place. Erstwhile warmonger and national curmudgeon Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) boldly declared, “Everybody in [President Obama’s] security team, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ought to be replaced.”
Later, McCain lamented the lack of residual U.S. forces in Iraq, while bizarrely and falsely claiming that after his “surge” of U.S. troops sent to Iraq in 2007, the U.S. “had literally no casualties.”
His longtime partner-in-warmongering, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered this solution: “There is no scenario where we can stop the bleeding in Iraq without American air power. It is my worst fear come true. If the president is willing to adjust his policies, I’m willing to help him.”
Then there’s Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), “It’s a desperate situation. It’s moving quickly. It appears to me that the chickens are coming home to roost for our policy of not leaving anybody there to be a stabilizing force.”
And Speaker John Boehner asked, “What’s the president doing? Taking a nap?”
Given these, it’s obvious that Republicans have no memory of anything that occurred before January 20, 2009.
Let me help them with a couple of important points.
The first is that, despite this narrative of Obama withdrawing the last American forces from Iraq prematurely, he was simply implementing the Status of Forces Agreement signed in 2008 by George W. Bush and the Iraqi government. Obama would have kept soldiers there had Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to shield them from Iraqi law.
The second point is that Republicans are in no position to offer advice on Iraq, or really foreign policy general given their compulsive penchant for making the wrong decision at virtually every possible turn. They have created a monster, and while there’s a conversation to be had about whether Iraq should be allowed to be overrun, the arrogance and condescension with which the GOP is offering policy prescriptions on Iraq’s security is absolutely ridiculous when considered in context.
Remember, in 2002 the Bush administration began making a case for war with Iraq, which, the public was told, had weapons of mass destruction. The public was also told that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda, which had just carried out the most devastating attack on U.S. soil since the British torched Washington in 1814. The fear-mongering over a weak country like Iraq with a ragtag army with embarrassingly obsolete weaponry reached such hysterical levels that Phil Donohue was essentially fired from MSNBC for being anti-war. From a cultural perspective, it was a scary time in America, where speaking out against military action on television elicited frothy-mouthed Republican retorts questioning the patriotism and even allegiance of those who would oppose such a noble cause. Under different circumstances, things could’ve easily gotten very ugly, and authoritarian, in no time.
You know what happened after that. The U.S. invaded and found no weapons of mass destruction. There were more than 30,000 U.S. casualties including some 4,500 dead, not to mention the deaths of more than 100,000 Iraqis. An entire war based on a lie told by the very people who are now explaining all the reasons why military action is needed once again. And who knows? Maybe they’ll get what they want.
After all, the third time’s a charm.