With the ten year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, journalists are out in force to proudly pat themselves on the back and offer flashbacks (oftentimes revisionist) of how wrong the Bush administration was about going to war, and how the whole endeavor was due to fail before it even began. If only those ignorant warmongers and the Bush administration had listened to the left-wing journalists! If they had the world would be a better place, the Middle East would be peaceful, and every rainfall would end with sunshine and a double rainbow.
As I was browsing the news on Twitter I noticed Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed posting a number of front pages of news outlets from the opening days of the Iraq War, occasionally going out of his way to point out various columnists or individuals who predicted the prevalence of weapons of mass destruction, and were later greatly shamed for their views.
I decided to ask him, as long as we’re remembering the start of the Iraq War, why not revisit the anti-war movement the media was trumpeting at the time?
.@buzzfeedandrew Can you put together a collage of anti-war protest front pages? I’m feeling sentimental for my “baby killer” Iraq War days.
— J.R. Salzman (@jrsalzman) March 20, 2013
To which he thoughtfully, emphatically, and eloquently replied:
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) March 20, 2013
Now to be fair, Andrew doesn’t owe me anything. I don’t know him, and the few times that I have tweeted him I used a heavy amount of snark to take jabs at perceived bias in his work. So if someone who has a routine of communicating via kidney jabs suddenly asked if I could do something for them, I’d probably have the same answer. But my question remained: where did the anti-war movement go?
Ten years ago at the start of the Iraq war the anti-war movement was so large that in February 2003 the New York Times said the following:
The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.
In New York on Saturday, a giant puppet depicting President Bush holding buckets of blood and oil towered over the cheering crowd that was pressed against police barricades near U.N. headquarters. The main demonstration stretched 20 blocks down First Avenue, and overflowed onto Second and Third avenues as more people tried to reach the rally.
So why is no one in the media talking about the anti-war movement? The problem is the anti-war movement has become the elephant in the room. During the Bush administration the anti-war movement was what the Occupy movement is now: an effective tool to bludgeon their ideological opponents with. There were almost daily headlines trumpeting the anti-war movement as the court of public opinion, where the Bush administration was being pronounced guilty, tone deaf to their cries and the societal upheaval their immoral actions caused. The anti-war movement was regular front-page news, and plastered all over TVs at dinnertime. Cindy Sheehan was a celebrity for camping outside the Bush ranch mourning the loss of her son killed in Iraq (with nothing more than his $250,000 SGLI payout and constant media to keep the poor woman company).
While we’re on the subject of the anti-war movement, when is the last time you read an article concerning the closing of Gitmo, that immoral symbol of America being a rogue torture state and an enemy of the free world? Here is what Senator Barack Obama had to say back in 2007:
“While we’re at it,” he said, “we’re going to close Guantanamo. And we’re going to restore habeas corpus. … We’re going to lead by example _ by not just word but by deed. That’s our vision for the future.”
That all changed when Senator Obama became President Obama and grabbed the reigns of many Bush policies. Instead of following through on his campaign promises to immediately pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars were continued. For many of the Bush-era policies surrounding the Patriot Act and drone strikes, they were actually increased in frequency or expanded.
So obviously when the media’s preferred man is in the White House, they don’t dare hold him to the same standard, hypocrisy be damned. Take for instance Rand Paul’s recent filibuster surrounding the use of drones strikes against American citizens on American soil. Instead of meeting it with open arms as simply an expansion of what they were railing against during the Bush years, many in the media actually chastised him for it. It seems like only yesterday the most reprehensible thing a President could do was get a wiretap without a warrant. My how the times changed.
In fact a search for “Iraq anti-war”on Google News brings up almost nothing of significance. The two articles I did find were one written by a member of the anti-war movement who is wondering the same thing I am, and the other is a gutter article by “make shit up” journalist Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic chastising conservatives for daring to say truthful things about the anti-war movement.
One Iraq War advocate, Glenn Reynolds*, said of Saddam Hussein that “the ‘anti-war’ movement is objectively on his side, and not neutral,” adding in a follow-up, “When your movement is the key tool of a nasty dictator it should give you pause, shouldn’t it?” Blogger Zach Barberathought similarly, advising readers of his pro-war site, “Don’t let the anti-war folks, as well as the French and Russians, tell you they are not on Saddam’s side. He knows they are.”
Was Glenn Reynolds correct? Of course he was. All one has to do is take a look at the anti-war protesters who traveled to Iraq to serve as human shields to protect brutal dictator Saddam Hussein.
Was the leftist media rooting for the other side or actually being objective? Since Andrew did not want help me out with my request, I decided to check into their archives and find out what kind of stuff they were publishing during the Bush Iraq War years. Buzzfeed was started in 2006, so I had to start there.
– Vote for President Bush? It’s because you’re mentally ill: New survey links support for Bush to mental illness. Hmm. This explains a lot.
– That poor mass-killer Saddam Hussein: People are responding empathetically to Saddam Hussein’s execution. Totally crestfallen over Saddam Hussein’s death? You’re not alone.
– The war on terror? All a big joke, so have a laugh: “Risk”-like boardgame parodying the War on Terror. The whole world has gone totally nuts, but now you can have some fun at its expense. Nuke your opponents, literally.
– That President Bush sure is a war monger: The President plots secret moves against Syria and Iran without Congressional consent.
– Iranian President Ahmadinejad sure is a handsome fellow: Despite his views on the Holocaust, gays and women, some people find Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hot
Sympathy for a brutal dictator? Check. Denigration of Bush voter’s intelligence? Check. Mocking the fight against violent extremists? Check. Bush is a war monger? Check. The last one is definitely my favorite. By that time in 2007 I was a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C. after losing my arm to an Iranian shape charge in Baghdad that was placed by an Iranian weapons expert (he was caught a couple weeks after). But that’s cool Buzzfeed, yuk it up. Perhaps my arm will magically grow back someday, and all my fellow soldiers who were killed by EFPs will be resurrected from the dead.
I didn’t need to check the archives to know their attitudes toward the war, voters, or the troops that fought, because I lived through it. It was outside the front gate at Walter Reed every Friday, and on the nightly news. I was one of the many who were told they were dying needlessly, killing civilians for oil, and whose deaths brought about a level of excitement in the media because they had another dead soldier to blame on President Bush.
And now you know why I will never, ever, forgive them.