No public figure has clearly articulated the true lesson from the 10th anniversary of the disastrous Iraq War. That lesson is a matter of logic. In weighing the war’s costs and benefits, we reversed the burden of proof. The war’s proponents should have been presumed guilty until proven innocent. Instead, the Bush Administration reversed that proper criterion, generally supported by the national press in placing the burden on skeptics.
Vice President Dick Cheney’s response to the 9/11 Commission’s 2004 report featured an idiotic proof reversal. Investigating Cheney’s charge that Saddam Hussein was involved in initiating the 9/11 hijackings, the commission found no substantiating evidence. Cheney had claimed that prior to the attacks, Muhammed Atta, the attackers’ leader, had met with an Iraqi spy in Prague. In his “rebuttal,” Cheney admitted that it had never been proved that the alleged meeting had occurred. But he then noted that no one had proved that it had NOT occurred.
In his first book, “Innocents Abroad,” Mark Twain exploited the humor of a religious burden-of-proof reversal. Twain joked about how he knew he was standing on the exact spot where God had procured the clay for sculpting Adam. Explaining how he knew this theological fact, Twain wrote, “That Adam was formed of dirt procured in this spot is amply proven by the fact that in 6,000 years no man has been able to prove that the dirt was NOT procured here whereof he was made.”
Circular logic, another fallacy in which the premise is simply assumed instead of demonstrated in the conclusion, helps explain the Iraq War’s justification. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted, the Iraq War’s dissenters were generally ignored, or assumed irrelevant, by mainstream reporters, too timid to challenge the Bush Administration’s lies. They could not, however, ignore the stupefying incompetence with which the war was waged, as its cost and duration multiplied exponentially beyond the Bush-Cheney predictions.
Today, Iraq is closer to Iran than to the U.S. It’s an astonishing result, considered in the context of our active military aid for Saddam Hussein during Iraq’s eight-year, 1980s war with Iran. Bush-Cheney reversed this aspect of Reagan’s Middle-East foreign policy, which was much more concerned with Iran than Iraq.
In view of present fears about Iran’s thermonuclear weapons’ program, and Iraq’s evident friendship with Iran, can anyone (besides the egocentrically obdurate Cheney), seriously argue that the Iraq War was truly justified?
• C.W. (Bill) Griffin is a retired consulting engineer. He has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for more than 22 years.