I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again.

I worked on Colin Powell’s speech supporting the invasion of Iraq 15 years ago. The Trump administration is doing the same thing today with Iran.


Comments: 227

  1. Unlike Colin Powell’s presentation on Saddam’s Iraq fifteen years ago, we know, indisputably, that Iran has pretty much developed nuclear weapons and, at best, merely awaits the ability as per its current agreement to fuel them – while it just as indisputably develops the rockets to deliver them when it has them. Powell’s presentation may have been speculative then, but Nikki Haley’s today is not. The author’s argument is premised largely on the retrospective understanding that they got it wrong on Saddam’s nuclear reality as opposed to his ambitions (although it’s probable that Bashar al-Assad’s original cache of poison gas CAME from Saddam). And Saddam had done his own fair bit of regional destabilizing with his invasion and annexation of Kuwait and the threatening of Saudi Arabia, of his gassing of the Kurds, his own people if not really “his” people, on missile strikes against Israel and others, and his regular and horrific other crimes on his own population. This was one very bad man who needed to be stopped.

    However, Iran is a lot more nuanced, in part because it’s apparently not a matter of one very bad man, because it brings religion to the fore as a central motivating factor, because its predations do not yet rise to the level of Saddam’s, and because of their proven nuclear potential.

  2. Iran just got rid off most of its refined uranium as part of the Obama deal. Iran has not invaded any of its neighbors. They are not going to attack us.
    We are the ones with thousands of nuclear weapons. We are the ones that have used them. We are the ones that overthrew their elected government. We are the ones that helped Saddam use chemical weapons against Iran. We are the ones that shot down an Iranian passenger jet, killing hundreds. We are the ones at almost perpetual war across the globe, with troops stationed in almost every country...
    Meanwhile Iran has the times as many people as Iraq, a better army, and far more defensible terrain.
    Why exactly would we want to spend more trillions and thousands of us lives to attack Iran?
    Oh, I forgot. Arms manufacturer and oil corporations profits.

  3. ..and Panama

  4. Israel and its partisans are the problem. As a wise man once said, "You tell me that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East. I tell you that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East."

    Iran has no nuclear weapons. The IAEA repeatedly confirms this.

  5. A further reminder that GOP'ers are the problem - His Unhinged Unraveling Unfitness is just today's Useful Idiot.

    Progressives need to constantly reiterate this point.

  6. "So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran."

    Worse, warmongering and warmaking are the only things Trump does that are treated as "Presidential" and given support in the media and in the DC Bubble.

    There is so much establishment support for wars that Trump finds a safe haven from attacks by pandering to those seeking war. See his missile attacks on Syria.

    Our problem is the national security state apparatus. That had strongly supported Hillary and her proposed SecDef Michèle Flournoy. Trump reaches out to them by doing this, and it is the one thing from him that is welcomed by the elite.

    These are the same people who gave us the Long War in Iraq and Afghanistan, then later in Syria and Libya, and will never end it if they can keep it going.

  7. Our problem is that Americans are addicted to media, and vote on the basis of what they see on TV commercials or the only "talk" broadcasts they can get in their swathe of the country.

  8. Mark, not the one thing. The billionaire tax give-away is the main thing. The war-making is second or maybe third behind eviscerating socially useful spending.

  9. Lockheed Martin stock was always a favorite of the 0.1% and LM alumni is everywhere in the Pentagon.

  10. Credit to Col. Wilkerson for having learned lessons, admitting errors and changing his thinking. This seems to be the hardest thing for any of us, especially those with a prominent public voice, to do these days.

  11. However, a little late wouldn't you say. Call it the Macnamara syndrome.

  12. To Matthew Rettig: Not only hard. Too little, too late. A tardy, little useful, confession. Consider the irony: “threats from countries determined to proliferate and develop weapons of mass destruction, the worse such threats become;” in truth, [America’s] threats . . . to proliferate and develop weapons of mass destruction, [in Col. Wilkerson’s correct logic] worsen such threats . . . . [To be defensive, we promise to be offensive.] Saddam Hussein was hanged. What leader will be hanged this time? Starting unwarranted, offensive wars is not treason? Treason is failing to applaud the president’s State of the Union.

  13. Sure, let's pat him on the back and send him on his way. Heck all they did was waste a few trillion dollars, break the Mideast, kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and change history for the worse. But he seems to feel bad about it so I'm good. Are you?

  14. Bush ran on an image of Mr. Honesty, the straight shooter. He was supposed to be a good ole boy, the kind of fellow you would like to have a beer with. At the time of his war conjuring, we were still reeling from 911 and plenty scared.

    Everyone knows that Trump is a pathological liar. Even the 35% that would fall on their swords for him probably know it, they just don't want to believe it. They even say don't listen to his words, just what's in his heart as a cover for his horrible lies and behavior.

    What is striking about the Trump push to war with Iran is that he thinks he can pull it off and fool us like Bush did. Won't happen. The people wont buy it.

    What we do have to fear is not Trump convincing us to go to war, but his using his executive powers to take us to war. That could most certainly happen. Trump isn't just a loose cannon on deck, he's the seventh fleet commanded by enraged monkeys.

    The difference this time is that the majority of the public will fight back as hard as possible and most Republicans in Congress will only buy into whatever cuts taxes and regulations for their big donors. Only the most extreme Republicans will push for war. Unfortunately there are far too many of them.

    The Russia investigation should keep Trump off balance and distracted enough to stave of war at least until Nov. when enough GOP fanatics can be voted out of office. The security of the world depends on it.

  15. "The difference this time is that the majority of the public will fight back as hard as possible and most Republicans in Congress will only buy into whatever cuts taxes and regulations for their big donors. Only the most extreme Republicans will push for war."
    Many of their big donors and buddies would make a bundle from a U.S. war with Iran, just as Bush's donors and buddies did.

  16. I agree with everything, except that he Russia investigation will keep has out of war. The closer we get to impeaching Trump, the more likely war becomes.

  17. The people will not buy it? They are buying. Congress is credulously buying everything Trump offers. You say they will not, but Congress is taking down the nation and thinks and prays to finish it off by November. You mystifyingly warn it does not matter because Trump is a problem; understatement of the century, sir. If correct, you would not have to say, “unfortunately the most extreme Republicans will push for war.” But you are not correct about buyers and sellers, and “unfortunate” is bewildering understatement.

  18. My recollection of General Powell’s presentation to the UN is that of a distinguished soldier reciting falsehoods about Saddam Hussein’s involvement in 9/11 that he was apparently unaware of. This account confirms that Powell was relying on the assurances of the CIA Director. My question at the time -- and now -- is why Powell did not attempt to verify the information on his own. The secretary of state is not supposed to be a robot. Acting as one not only ruined his reputation as a public servant but also contributed to the unjustified invasion of Iraq and the continuing destabilization of the entire Middle East.

  19. My recollection is of a decorated soldier promoted beyond his level of competence, and not only happy but proud to swap his personal reputation out of a misplaced sense of loyalty, or worse, to a band of war criminals.
    "When good men remain silent, evil reigns."

  20. Secretary of State C. Powell knew full well that what he was instructed to present to the United Nations was malarkey (he used another term). Powell is the classic example of the military bureaucrat who went along to get along. One does not get promoted to general in any army by being a contrarian.

  21. I recently read that Colin Powell declined to punish the responsible soldiers and officers in multiple instances, actually almost all instances brought to the top brass's attention, of massacres and torture in Vietnam.

  22. I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I came back from both places more cynical than when I left, as our political leaders failed us.
    We Americans need to devote more time to figuring out how to avoid wars, instead of getting suckered into conflicts that, for the most part, simply feed the defense-industrial complex and politicians' self-interest. Learning about the needs and desires of people in other countries is a start. Humans are human the world over.

  23. I'm so very sorry that Americans are as gullible as we are; I chalk it up to being such relatively young nation coupled with having such arrogance as only the immature do (Manifest Destiny, anyone?). Thank you for your service.

  24. Thank you for your service.

  25. yes, thank you Mike

  26. There is not an American who has not lost someone they loved in this never ending war. I appreciate reading the facts and the courage it took to write this piece. Unlike President Bush . Trump is looking to enrich himself and his family members from this war and a new war. Both he and Ms. Haley have no basic understanding of the world, she is a talking mouth piece of threats with no solutions. At this point I don't think the world believes anything we say. If this administration wanted to be a world leader in thinking they would not gut the department under Rex Tillerson and key departments. For my fellow writers, no one wants to have Americans killed in the Middle East, however we need to hear a plan and not threats, if y boy is going to die, I want to know what the mission is .

  27. People may feel guilty and frustrated over supporting the Iraq invasion fiasco, as many were following the Vietnam War. They will continue to defend the use of our military might in both instances, and may not be able to tell if they are being led along by a warmongers' nose ring, or supporting a truly just reason. It's a really good point that this piece makes, and Wilkerson was there. The only overkill I see happened after "shock and awe".

  28. Thanks to my old friend Col. Larry for his usual cogent and fact based analysis. He is not often seen or heard from in the media. I suspect he prefers that. It wasn't he ( nor General Powell) that were responsible for the debacle in Iraq. Trump will "use" people just like Cheney did. Be warned.

  29. Colin Powell is a tragic figure. He chose to play the soldier and be part of the team at a crucial moment when he needed to lead. He sacrificed his reputation for a war he could have prevented.

    Of course, plans to invade Iran are perennial. (I suppose plans to invade Iraq were, too.) Another weak president with a superficial grasp of geopolitics and history might well be persuaded to Shanghai the country into another terrible, less-than-pointless war.

    It's courageous of Mr. Wilkerson to admit his error and warn us. I only wish he and so many others had possessed more wisdom the first time.

  30. Tragic figures are not war crime perpetrators. Powell should be imprisoned for his participation for starting illegal war.

  31. Why has Colin Powell never come out as Wilkerson has, admitting that he misled the entire world on Iraq? Of course George Tenet and others misled Powell, but Powell failed to stop the invasion after his speech and after he must have realized that he had misled the world and that he had been misled. The UN weapons inspectors indicated after Powell's speech and before the invasion (remember the inspectors were kicked out by Bush because Bush was about to start bombing) that the inspectors had discovered that the all important supposed chemical weapons facility that was supposedly described to Powell by 'Curveball,' was in fact totally false with no evidence of chemical weapons manufacture. Why did Powell not right then and there announce to the world that he had been misled? was it because he knew that he was also was lying form the start? This discussion and shocking admission by Wilkerson should lead to a serious public discussion with Powell himself. After all, as Wilkerson admits, the Iraq invasion was falsely sold and it cost the world a fortune in blood and treasure, especially America. If ever there was a time for Congress and the media to investigate further, this is it. We should stop the institutional tendency surrounding the Pentagon in recent decades to lie and mislead America to war.

  32. I agree that if ever there were a time to investigate, that time is now. It would not have been possible under either the Bush or Obama admins, but for the same reasons, getting it done now with the Republicans in charge would be a big lift.
    I don't think Americans will ever be able to confront the idea that they are responsible for war crimes.

  33. The argument is that we are preparing for war with Iran in a similar fashion as the Bush administration prepared us for war against Iraq. I have argued that we are preparing for war against North Korea. It boils down to Trump having two choices to save his skin. Iran war prospects are bolstered in many ways by Trump's support of Egypt (Sunni) against Iran (Shiite). Iran has 80 million people in a hostile physical war environment. But, Iran or North Korea or both will mean little to a president who as a last resort seeks to unite the nation by war to save his presidency, i.e., himself. We face the tragedy of not only a constitutional crisis, trillions spent on war, but the prospect of nuclear war. Trump is quite a moral contrast to Jesus, Gandhi, and King.

  34. A suggested follow-up article would be an examination of why Americans are so gullible. I and my friends are not geniuses, but none of us believed the Gulf of Tonkin story, where it was said that tiny PT boats from the North attacked the American Fleet. None of us believed that the US was winning in Viet Nam based on Westmoorland's comparative body counts. That was just an echo of Douglas Haig in the Great War. None of us believed (and judging from the protests around the world) most people except Americans did not believe the stories about Iraq. None of us believe the story about Iran. Ever since the sinking of the Maine, the American public has tended to believe whatever their government declares and march to unnecessary wars.

  35. Reading this and other comments on this article has brought to my mind a possible answer to the question of why we are so gullible. When the first Europeans came to this country they were fleeing religious persecution and created small enclaves on the coast and seemed to make some attempt to get along with the indigenous people. Later, as more people came, they began to see "opportunity" in exploiting the land to enrich themselves. But first, they had to take over from those indigenous people. Always there was the rationalization that these native peoples were inferior and didn't deserve to have the land. So they were killed, especially when they fought back, and were driven further and further away. Our ancestors had no compunction about doing this, just as they had no problem exploiting other countries and even controlling in those countries (think origin of the term "banana republic") to line their pockets. Same with oil in the Middle East. Now we have billionaires (Adelson, Singer, et al) who expect Americans to sacrifice lives and wealth to defend Israel against the enemies it has helped to create. Since all of Trumps grandchildren are being raised in the Jewish faith (his son-in-law and both daughters-in-law are Jewish) it is not surprising that he leans hard in the direction of support for whatever Israel and its leaders want. And there are enough evangelicals and Mormons who also expect final days and the Resurrection to occur in Jerusalem.

  36. If the ultimate outcome of our invasion in Iraq was to create an even more unstable area, of the world, by all means, let's do it again. That war didn't lead to less terrorism, it created more. And if the people of the middle east fear the United States wants to take over their countries, why not reinforce that belief. And Bush fought the wars without ever paying for it. If we are going to go down that road again, the American people better recognize they will be kissing their tax breaks good bye. Not the wealthy, mind you, but once again those who need the money the most. The big gripe with Obama was he was too deliberative, "couldn't act" because he was paralyzed by the weight of the decision. Apparently the better way is to lower your head and run into the China shop wildly screaming and throwing your arms all over the place. If you didn't learn it just a few years ago, remember one thing: you break it, you own it. Trump , however, won't stand on the deck of an aircraft carrier proclaiming "Mission Accomplished". There's golf to be played.

  37. The author of this opinion knows that of which he speaks. The United States has been in a frothing state of constant war since 9/11, and much of that has been fomented by cooked intelligence, wildly exaggerated threats and an out-of-control spending spree over at the Pentagon.

    In truth, this condition goes back to the Vietnam conflict and even earlier. Our leaders , including Obama, just can't bring themselves to admit that Afghanistan is, has been, and always will be a losing proposition. But that pales in comparison with a war with Iran. And there are compelling differences that make it even more of a disastrous and ignorant "war of choice." The Iranian people are well-educated, modern in Middle Eastern comparisons, and capable of managing their own affairs. After all, they had come to Democratic governance in the 1950s, only to have it overthrown by oil interests with the considerable assistance of the CIA.

    Our United States needs an electorate educated enough to know and understand that we're spending far too much on war buildup, out-of-control intelligence agencies and populist-driven paranoia drawn cynically from 9/11 to the Trump "Muslim ban."

    Elsewhere in the comments this morning, Mr. Luettgen would have you believe that the Iran peril is totally different because he's seen it, and he claims to know. But what Mr. Wilkerson did in this article is hold the mirror up to our own bad judgement, and that has done nothing but blossom in the reign of Trump.

  38. Thank you, Brian. This is excellently coherent, factual, and sensible. It should get 100's of recommendations!

  39. Powell's speech not only significantly misled the country, but also destroyed his own chances for a further political career as the falsehoods underlying speech came to light. The whole push was based on preconceived ideas about Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his intent to carry war beyond his own borders.

    Although Iran may provide material support to some foreign groups, this does not exactly equate to fighting wars beyond its own borders. And please note that America is doing that every day. The only country that Iran currently threatens militarily is Israel. Israel is separated from Iran by Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Realistically the only means Iran would have to attack Israel would be with missiles or air power, and the Israelis can be expected to respond quite effectively in kind.

    But of course the Trump Administration is less about being realistic then the Bush Administration was, and is again dragging America into a Fog of War, a fog of our own making.

  40. Commenters here argue that many of us are too smart to buy Trump's hype intended to get us into a war with Iran, or possibly North Korea. Unfortunately, presidents' poll numbers seem to go up when they lead us into war. It's one of our more unfortunate traits as a population.

  41. Lawrence Wilkerson suggests that "we might be hopelessly naïve in thinking that the war would lead to democracy..."
    Agreed. In every instance. Perhaps Colin Powell might add his voice to this discussion and help to slow this rush to war with Iran.

  42. This statement:
    "And the American people have apparently become so accustomed to executive branch warmongering — approved almost unanimously by the Congress — that such actions are not significantly contested."
    Ignores real opposition to the author's previous efforts.

    Over 10 million people worldwide protested publicly against the invasion of Iraq, for the same reasons the author retrospectively cites.

    The problem is not a lack of opposition. The problem is the silencing of democratic participation.

  43. Yes you did! Where it not for Mr. Powell’s determined support for using force to tame Iran, a great many cogs wouldn’t have fallen into place.

    It has also often been pointed out that in addition to Powell, Congress voted to back war measures. Even during the 2016 presidential race, Clinton was chastised for voting yeah while serving in the Senate. While I was completely against the prospect of war, I believed that Sadam had to know we were ready to go to war were he not to comply to UN inspections. I didn’t actually believe Bush-Cheney would do it especially as UN inspections were working.

    Boy was I wrong and as such I agree that this could happen again.

  44. Just one more piece of evidence that we've lost a great deal of our rights as citizens to control our government. We won't get them back until we become responsibly involved participating in our government

  45. Our foray into Iraq have probably cost billions & accomplished nothing, much like the wars in Vietnam & Korea. What does it take to awaken America to the waste of treasure & more important, Lives, before they pressure their Congressmen to vote no.Iran is all we say it is, they are purveyors of terrorism throughout the Middle East, but so are the Sunni States that we support. This area is a Hotbed of Danger & may indeed be the center of the apocalypse, I say this as a secular observer, nat as a Religious Fanatic.

  46. Korea was a success. It keep the Kim Dynasty out of South Korea.

    Getting involved in a Sunni versus Shia fight is not in the US interest.

  47. I'll never understand why Colin Powell chose to make that speech. He was a Vietnam veteran and he knew how the Johnson administration had sold the Vietnam War and the consequences of that war.

    Mr. Wilkerson doesn't tell us why. He merely states; "I knew that was why he was chosen to make the presentation in the first place: his standing with the American people was more solid than any other member of the Bush administration." There are some important differences between Ms. Haley and Mr Powell and the foundation for their speeches.

    Nikki Haley does not have the gravitas Colin Powell had fifteen years ago. Colin Powell was the Secretary of State. Ms. Haley is the Ambassador to the United Nations. The Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, did not make the speech.

    Mr. Powell's speech was accorded credibility in part because of the precedent set by Adlai Stevenson's speech during the Cuban missile crisis. Stevenson's statements about Soviet missles in Cuba proved accurate and lent credibility to Mr. Powell's speech. Unfortunately, Mr. Powell statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proved to be inaccurate and misleading and did not lend any credibility to Ms. Haley.

    The test is whether the American public will believe Trump, Haley and crew. The events make me wonder whether Rex Tillerson will have a seat in the crew.

  48. Here's how we could have stopped the ludicrous Iraq War and coming Iran War:

    Reinstitute the military draft.

    As soon as middle class/suburban kids start dying for no reason other than filling the coffers of defense contractors, Trump (and the invertebrate GOP) will lose its middle class, soccer-Mom support.

  49. RickP,

    "In the Viet Nam era, there was a draft. It didn't stop the war. "

    It didn't stop the war, but it ended it. Vietnam was the first time in history, mostly thanks to TV, that the American people realized that they could end a pointless war, but only if they had it all on the line. A draft now, together with the wisdom of Vietnam, would be the most powerful deterrent to pointless wars.

  50. And extend the draft to women. Peace in our time.

  51. Concernicus,

    "even the military has said they are not interested in the draft"

    The senior career military (and defense officials) being against the draft is the strongest argument I can imagine to reinstitute it. I speak from experience on this.

  52. The American people are too shell-shocked from the histrionics of the GOP children running this country, they aren't paying attention. Trump has his choice of which war of opportunity he wants to pursue, Congress isn't going to stop him.

  53. Apart from trying to deflect the attention from the biased support for Israel and against anything to do with pro-Palestinian causes (some of whose indeed come from Iran, but also from Saudi backed sources), there seems to be another oil related reason for the warmongering against Iran.

    New war in the Middle East would raise oil prices, making oil companies in the US even more wealthier, and providing more benefits for the controversial fracking technology. And further it would allow US companies to do another 'oil-grab' like in Iraq after the 2003 invasion there.

    While the previous administration was trying to make the world safer, the Trump presidency endangers the world more and more. A war against Iran would be a huge mistake. One cannot win it, and it would only lead to a worse security situation in the Middle East primarily and the world as a whole. Perhaps even a third world war. God forbid ...

  54. Fracking and oil shale may cause Middle East wars, just for the price supports they need to survive. So much for "energy independence."

  55. I share your concern.

    I remember the run-up to the Iraq War well; there was virtually no opposition to the false narrative being touted by administration officials as to the need to invade Iraq; though I am not sure that there is anyone in the Trump administration with the reputation for integrity similar to Powell's who could persuade the American people of the necessity for war the way that Powell could.

    There is much written and said about how terrible the Trump administration is, but I agree that much less is said and written debunking the Republican narrative about Iran (and other subjects), and that has me worried about dejas-vu all over again.

    Will the neocons ride again? We'll see.

  56. I agree, with one caveat: there WAS opposition to the false narrative as to the need to invade Iraq, not from the Bush administration, but from the country's intelligence communities. Notwithstanding George Tenet. And it wasn't just opposition; it was a often a courageous refusal to hide the truth, in favor of a political agenda not reflective of actual facts. It does seem that now, even more obviously, we are walking down that road again.

  57. Teg Laer wrote "I remember the run-up to the Iraq War well; there was virtually no opposition to the false narrative being touted by administration officials as to the need to invade Iraq"

    Then your memory is terrible. The weekend before Bush's deadline & the beginning of "shock and awe" there were hundreds of thousands of people marching in cities across the country to demonstrate opposition to this war. Including me. Your post questions whether Americans were paying attention. Perhaps you should look in the mirror?

  58. There was a lot of opposition to the Iraq war but those voices were discounted as treasonous and terrorist sympathizers. Amazing how easy it is to brainwash people and forget what really happened.

  59. To his great credit, President Obama worked hard to reduce the power of those pushing for more and more military action. This led to not only a withdrawal of US Forces tied up in a slow bloodletting in Iraq, to preparing the Iraqis to ultimately defeat ISIS, and to realizing that we did not have strategic interests in Syria worth committing American forces.
    Why the American people tolerate the demagoguery built into calls for patriotic wars mystifies me. I watched Vietnam in person, and rarely met a soldier who understood why they were fighting and dying.
    On now ramping up nuclear weapons.

  60. "Regime change" is the favored modus operandi of the United States whenever the world doesn't accord with our version of reality...that is...everyone "kowtowing" to us. We've been doing it for years and the majority of Americans are OK with it because they don't really care or they figure they can't do anything about it anyway. Besides, it's somewhere else and it's happening to "others" and the oversight really belongs to Congress and "they know what's best". We never learn and we are content to let the war fighting machine and the MIC continue on its merry way. We've allowed the country to become militarized to an extent that would horrify the founding fathers and worship of the military has reached ridiculous levels. The expenditure on weapons is astronomical and it's never enough. We are the world's largest weapons supplier by far and our "defense" budget exceeds the next 8-10 countries combined. We are already fighting "forever wars" in the Middle East and now we are looking to pick a fight with an adversary who will bloody our nose in a way not seen since Korea...and that's another potential adversary that we are looking to take on. Many empires in the past have been taken down by the lack of hubris. We will be no different. It's past time for the truly patriotic American citizen to call a halt to this continued insanity. But, will we?

  61. The lack of hubris? I believe you meant excess.

  62. Yes, I corrected it but the comment got lost somewhere.

  63. If Trump's presidency should look shaky (a big if, because GOP enablers will overlook any malfeasance by him), expect him to act true to form by unleashing chaos: specifically war (what could be more chaotic?) Might be with Iran, or with N. Korea, or both simultaneously.

  64. I don't see any evidence in his comments, that Mr. Wilkerson accepts any personal responsibility for the false narrative he helped Colin Powell construct. It's all well and good that former officials come forward and tell the truth about public dishonesty after they leave office, but how about having public officials tell the truth while in office and deal with the repercussions resulting therefrom.

  65. Birch, Wilkerson has made such statements many, many times, and for nearly a decade and a half now. Just because you weren't listening does not mean he didn't say them.

  66. At that time, Colin Powell was the most respected voice in the Administration. The mistake he made was in not ever making the leap between four star general and civilian policy leader. The former ultimately follows orders; the latter resigns rather than give Americans what he knows is less than the truth. I'll never forgive him--and I'm a vet. Maybe BECAUSE I'm a vet.

  67. Lawrence Wilkerson resigned from the Bush administration and written extensively about his regret in the role he played for years already.

  68. Lawrence Wilkerson is correct and brave. Mr. Trump's constant distractions and lies will drown out Wilkerson. Will even PBS broadcast this?

    Realistically, Iran is a natural ally of the US, far more so that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Israel.

    The Iraq catastrophe was promoted by the "Project for a New American Century." The coming catastrophe against Iran is being promoted by the "Foundation for Defense of Democracy." Don't be fooled. These are the same people, they just changed their name. Read their names, look them up, then you will see whose side they are on. It is not the American side.

  69. Liked your comment, but PBS need not educate its viewing audience. PBS audience already aware of these facts and concerns because we read articles and comments like these and yours!

  70. Starting another war with either Iran or North Korea, will result most likely in a World War, especially if this administration decides to use limited nuclear power against either state. This administration is looking for a new war, and appears to be building their rationale for war with either state. This administration has castrated the State Department and the president has surrounded himself with generals; it has been preparing for war or exacerbating the risk of war since the administration took over.

  71. I hate articles like these--I hate them with a passion. The average citizen just cannot, if with integrity, comment on such a thing, be expected to make a decision, choose the right course.

    This is the problem in form of thought experiment: Pretend the American public is a classroom, everybody seated in class. Now two presenters stand before the class, let's call them the right and the left. These presenters stand before the class and present evidence for and against something outside the classroom, something which the people in the class cannot see, cannot examine for themselves, are allowed not to see the evidence for, and are not even privy to the methodology by which the evidence has been gathered or analyzed.

    In short, the people in the class are in the dark and are only faced with "presenters", people no one really knows as to reliability, as to what agenda this way or that they have. Worse, these presenters present each other as false, talk too much like lawyers, and the whole thing appears a criminal case with the people in class as jury.

    I hate arguments like these because our entire political/economic state is one of distrust, mutual accusations of incompetence and falsity, and there seems no real attempt at integrity and transparency of system. I think at heart Americans will do almost anything if it's right, but the political order makes it awful hard now to figure out the right thing to do. The average citizen can do little but self educate/use imagination.

  72. This would strike me as much more compelling if it had come with some contrition by the author for the admittedly use of cherry-picked evidence and unreasonably optimistic conclusions to sell the war....

  73. Trump and his team using the same playbook as the Bush/Cheney team seems no more than a play to enshrine Trump in as our Commander in Chief. In the meantime we have a war in Afghanistan that seems to have lost its purpose: What was it anyway?

    I suspect that Trump and his handlers believe that unless he starts a war, his longevity as POTUS is in question.

  74. A salient by-product of the incompetent Trump presidency is the apotheosis of President George Walker Bush, heretofore considered to be gold standard of disastrous presidents.

  75. Sorry, I meant "through hubris", not lack of it, because we have plenty.

  76. Another serious consequences for the perpetrators of this folly. And the consequences for that is what we are experiencing now. Alternative facts.

  77. Well, Lawrence, at least you can rest in comfort, knowing that we have a competent wartime President at the helm.

    Right?

    One thing you miss in your excellent column is that if America were to go to war with Iran, we wouldn't be facing just 80 million Iranians. Russia is a strong partner of Iran, and China depends on them for much of their oil imports. Attacking Iran would start a conflagration which America would not survive. Thinking otherwise is catastrophic ignorance.

    Iran also has a large middle class which wants to normalize relations with the US. Attacking Iran would erase any chance of that. Yes, their cleric rulers are regressive ideologues who hate the Great Satan. But we need to realize that our power and influence are limited. We can't go around the world giving countries bloody noses in the hopes that they would get in line with our vision of American hegemony. If we destroy the power structure of Iran the same way we did in Iraq, the vacuum we'd create would be ruinous for any hopes of peace in the mid East, and would be our death knell as a nation.

    Trump must not be allowed to take this course. The question is how to prevent him from doing so.

  78. Clearest response I’ve read. Thank you.

  79. Should the author, Mr. Powell and the entire Bush administration be tried and jailed for doing this to our country? They lied. They cost us untold American military lives, not to mention the civilians of Iran. The U.S. has been trillions in debt ever since, and that war has completely disrupted what was already a dysfunctional Middle East. My God, how can anyone look back on this and not see the criminality? And now Trump is threatening to do it again. The GOP should be held accountable for the fools it puts in power.

  80. They are war criminals under the Nuremberg principles established by the victors after WWII. But principles don't apply to those in power. The Democrats will do nothing to hold Republicans accountable under U.S. law because the Democrats are guilty of breaking those same laws themselves.

    The "international community" can only give lip service to accountability because they have no real power to prosecute. The ICC and some individual countries (most notably Malaysia) have made some noise about U.S. war crimes and have mentioned Bush and Cheney and members of their regime (as well as Obama and his regime for that matter).

    Even if the aforementioned personages were to be successfully prosecuted, it still leaves the real power - to which those people are mere puppets - in place. Though it hopefully would have the effect of "sending a message" and perhaps discouraging others from prostrating themselves in the interest of power.

  81. Of course its worth remembering that although billions - and possibly trillions - were spent someone got the money.

  82. Let’s not forget who puts the lying, thieving GOP there - American voters.

  83. I'm not sure what to make of Mr. Wilkerson's belated admission of lying. Lying by omission, lying by selection, and lying by declaration.
    Yet nowhere does he apologize for the thousands dead and the despair brought to the region.
    Yes, it is scary that our memory is so short that only 15 year the same lie might lead us into another war. Scarier though, is that our incessant blood-lust seems to be based on the arrogance of a belief in our own superiority.
    When will we ask ourselves why it is that the US should be the only nation with influence and standing. Until the day we start treating others like equals they will continue to fight us.

  84. The most dangerous element in this mess is the absence of public awareness. The media are paying scant attention to Trump's overt hostility towards Iran. The public therefore doesn't recognize the overall intention. As far as foreign policy is concerned, everyone is looking at North Korea. Trump is undoubtedly playing a very dangerous game in Asia right now. However, if Iran is the true goal, the administration is playing their hand with skillful understatement.

    Colin Powell was at least well publicized as he made the disastrous case for Iraq. On Iran, we're hear crickets coming from the press right now. When was the last time anyone heard a story on Nikki Haley's day-to-day business at the UN? This is an easy scenario for the Trump administration to slow-walk the US into a massive war. There won't be any grand tank invasion in Iran. You probably won't even know our troops are dying there until they're dead.

  85. “With China, Russia and North Korea all presenting vastly more formidable challenges to America and its allies than Iran, one has to wonder where team Trump gets its idea [that Iran is such a huge threat that toppling its regime seems like a smart thing for Americans to sacrifice more of their blood and treasure on]”.

    One wonders indeed. Wilkerson names some names, such as the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” and its billionaire donors such as Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer. FDD and its ilk were referred to as the “JINSA crowd” in Colin Powell’s autobiography. As Wilkerson notes, “they have made clear what their goals are with Iran.” But Wilkerson does not try to explain why such groups play up a threat from Iran, or exactly why such groups believe the threat is worthy of the US going to war over, or exactly how Donald Trump has come to be so influenced by their thinking.

    If we are to avoid a sad repeat of the same mistakes made in 2003, those are important questions to come to grips with.

    Unfortunately the corporate media is too busy obsessing over claims that Russia has meddled in our politics and that Russia and Putin have some some sort of malign influence over Donald Trump personally. Meanwhile the really critical meddling and influence may be coming from an entirely different direction. Wilkerson knows it but does not name that name.

    As George Orwell famously said, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle".

    20180205 0757 ET

  86. Troubling indeed. Wilkerson may consider speaking out in front of cameras, since most Americans won't read his piece. Perhaps he could get Powell to join him. Not to mention Rice.

    Trump is terribly ill prepared and, simply, dangerous. And those in Washington who prefer to avoid his wrath tend not to question his so-called logic.

  87. Condolezza Rice has been as big a disappointment as Wilkerson and Powell. However, she never pretended to be a good, reasonable, thoughtful person. Different from Powell.

  88. Colin Powell is the tragic character of our time. He faced a heroic moment and flinched. I’ve wondered for years why. Was it his mistaken understanding that chain of command superseded every other consideration? Why did his duty to the Constitution not stop him from carrying out Cheney’s agenda?
    The only explanations I’ve found plausible were that there was personal risk, threat to his family, perhaps. The other possibility was some piece of the intelligence puzzle that has still not been revealed.
    That Powell walks around as a free man today and there has never been any story of threat or scandal regarding his family, the former reason is improbable.
    Your insider glimpse makes the missing intel piece even less plausible, too.
    I wonder if you realize now how much of a tragedy it was that you participated in. You helped deprive us of a leader who might have put this country on a better course. That address to the United Nations was the public prostitution of Colin Powell. A terrible loss.

  89. At the time a large portion of our country was not swayed by this false intelligence presented by obvious liars. Only most of the republicans and the military industrial complex wanted war. Cheney made billions from his big idea. Here we go again. Maybe Trump and family are heavily invested in the war machine so will profit there also. Barron better get ready for the draft.

  90. If Barron is lucky (a) Congress would never resume the draft which would put their offspring at risk, and (b) he has inherited his dad’s bone spurs.

  91. Don't worry about Barron's eligibility for the draft. The return of the draft is extremely unlikely. And even if that does happen, bone spur deferments are genetic.

  92. Rich boys rarely go to war. Especially not the son of the perpetrator.

  93. The most striking thing about out this article is the authors cavalier attitude about aiding Colin Powell in writing his speech which misled the American public in insisting that military action against Iraq was absolutely necessary while admitting that it resulted in vast destruction and deaths and destabilized the region. No apologies...just doing my job.

  94. Niall: Did Powell and the author know that the intelligence provided to them, and that ultimately misled the public, was false/misleading? Or did the administration take advantage of Gen. Powell's sterling reputation and feed him garbage that he sincerely believed? Gen. Powell eventually distanced himself from the Bush administration and felt betrayed, didn't he?

  95. Exactly! Wilkerson shouldn’t be walking the streets smelling the sweet air of freedom. For his participation in these crimes which have caused such unimaginable amounts of suffering and destruction, he should be in the lock up peering through the bars.

  96. It seems that even now people somehow avoid confrontation with the obfuscation which is pervasive as regards U.S. foreign policy. "Harks back to the C.I.A. ..." avoids the fact that ten years prior to the Iraq debacle, U.S. Naval Intelligence was able to pass information to this writer that " We are going to go into Iraq, depose Saddam Hussein, and take their oil, because we will need it for a war with China in twenty years." He went on to express great admiration for the Bushes, likening them to the Adamses. All this was planned well in advance by all of the intelligence agencies, which do, in fact, constitute a "deep state" which is characterized by mendacity, subversion of other countries' governments, and a whole host of other subterfuges which mask the naked aggressive nature of the people who pull the strings to set these puppets moving in the desired direction. If there is an end to their profligate underhandedness and blind obsequiousness to obsolete doctrines, it might not be too far hence.

  97. There is an old adage, "it's never too late (unless it's too late)". Thanks for setting the record straight 16 years after the facts were fabricated and war was raged (for horrible reasons we really can't fathom).

  98. The reasons are not difficult to understand. The .1% saw great opportunities, and Gen. Powell was "only following orders".

    t

  99. "war was raged (for horrible reasons we really can't fathom)."

    Not so. Many of us had a clear understanding of the Neocon reasoning for war in Iraq (and anywhere else). Dick Cheney took care of Haliburton as their ex-CEO and the MIC was in high cotton with their economic windfall. None of those folks gave a rats kiester about the thousands of boys who did not come home. I hope Karma is in store for all of them.

  100. One reason that we can hypothesize( and I think the most obvious) is that Bush and those around him knew the old axiom that you can't change leaders in the middle of a war (an idiotic extension of "you can't change horses in mid stream" so starting one would assure reelection. "What fools we mortals be."
    OK , now tell me that I'm way too cynical.

  101. I remember watching Powell's testimony and thinking that the administration had picked the right man for the job. It s also the day that I lost my respect for Colin Powell and I have never gotten it back. He allowed himself to be used to start a war that killed Americans who did not have to die--not to mention the deaths of Iraqis. He carried the water for a knowingly dishonest assessment. It is still shameful.

  102. Fully agree.

  103. I, too, remember watching Colin Powell's presentation. I watched with disbelief that anyone of his stature would present such obviously bogus information. One has to wonder what Trump's base will feel when they discover the jobs that Mr. Trump promised will only be found in the Middle East or Asia.

  104. I agree. I have thought since then that Colin Powell must be wandering the earth trying to figure out where he left his self respect. When people reach positions giving them power over the lives of millions of other people, they have a responsibility to at the very least be honest. Such people are often in the position of making the best decisions they can with the information they have available at the time. That was not the case with Secretary Powell who must have known at the time that he was lying to the American people to justify a war that has cost them, and millions of other people dearly. There is no excusing his decision to lie. What he should have done is resigned, and done it loudly, telling the truth on the way out the door. He might have saved many families the losses they have suffered. People in Congress should take note and avoid the mistake of pleasing the boss rather than doing the right thing.

  105. This is supposed to be the reasonable voice of the establishment- the one that brought us endless wars, torture, Isis, refugees, FISA and the Patriot Act. All of you should be in jail not in the editorial pages.

  106. If you want to learn from history, you have to listen to the criminals, the liars, the ambitious and the hypocrites. They all have a hand in their devastating decisions that they never actually pay any price for. I think that's why we create a god. Not for guidance, but for vengence

  107. I believe in the virtue of repentance. Anyway it takes a thief to catch a thief.

  108. Mr. Wilkerson writes: "So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran."

    As Mr. Wilkerson undoubtedly knows, the news organizations are swamped because they have so many false narratives to refute! Moreover, while it is clear Mr. Trump has every intention of launching a war, it is unclear to this voter exactly WHERE he wants to do so. Iran is one target, but so is Korea, so is Syria, and so, it seems, is Russia. Mr. Trump has a nuclear arsenal at his disposal and seems to think that the failure to use the weapons we have is a waste of taxpayers money. That, more than anything, makes me fearful of his presidency.

  109. His ego needs a war. He too will be used as a tool by the neocons, they are still in charge.

  110. YES, bring back the draft. Best idea for NOT going to war for trump.

  111. The Iceman Cometh along with Emperor Trump, and if Americans value their lives, it might be wise to stand in unison, and give him a round of applause. Hail, to Our Commander-in-Chief!

  112. Why do we continue to create enemies when it's better to have friends? Can our economy not survive without spending on Endless War? Why do presidents continue to have us bogged down in the war in Afghanistan? How much do we spend each day on that and our other wars of choice?

  113. We still have wars because "Human Nature" doesn't change. The strongest human emotions, greed, power, lust, domination remain in our psyches. Trump is a perfect example of a static man whose brain hasn't evolved in those area I've mentioned. President Eisenhower's farewell address is one of the best speeches made by an outgoing President. He foretold us of the perils our nation would face. Readers would do well to familiarize themselves with his "Farewell Address," His ability to view our nation's situation as a leader of the free world in terms of power and influence and the critical issues our nation would face certainly were prescient. For instance, he mentioned that "America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.” Glimpses of his deep understanding and fear of our nation becoming a warring machine are evident in the following quotes, "But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions" and finally, "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." Unfortunately, we are falling into every trap he warned us about.

  114. Well certainly the comment from article does follow the old school teacher rule about smacking the kid next to the main bully.
    Kinda scary about Iran's battle status unless lessons were vastly learned and improved during the Iraq situation. Sort of remember it took an extra burst of forces and a top Marine officer to finally bring some order at the end.
    But them we must deal with military's curse of looking to past wars....
    Only this war with Iran — a country of almost 80 million people, whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain makes it a far greater challenge than Iraq — would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs.

  115. As a former military man, Secretary Powell valued the chain of command above all else, and he served at the pleasure of the President. If the President told him what to do, he would do it. Blame the Bush administration for the debacle in Iraq. Powell was just doing his job as he viewed it.

  116. Powell wasn't serving in the military when he did his infamous presentation of lies and phony intel to the UN. An honorable person, a patriot, would have refused to make that presentation and resigned.

  117. The SoS is not in the military chain of command. Powell deserves as much blame as Bush and Cheney.

  118. Perhaps we should be paradoxically encouraged by the analogy that Wilkerson draws between this administration's rhetoric on Iran and the Bush administration's words and actions on Iraq in 2003. Bush and his enablers at least had the appearance of being experienced and thoughtful stewards of the nation's interests, and were thus able to persuade Americans to support the disastrous Iraq invasion.

    Trump, Haley, Tillotson et al are laughably ill-qualified at their jobs and will - hopefully - find it harder to make a credible case for war. Someone characterized Trump's immigration policy as "malevolence tempered by incompetence"; may this incompetence extend to tempering the administration's bellicosity towards Iran and North Korea.

  119. Israel and Saudi Arabia want a war with Iran for their own geopolitical benefit. Russia is happy soft-pushing for another American foreign policy debacle. Big oil stands to benefit hugely from uncertainty raising prices and from taking cheap Iranian oil off the global markets. And Trump wants a distraction, as well as dreaming of boosted polling from a rally-around-the-flag moment.

    There's no "if" here, only "when"....

  120. While I agree with Lawrence Wilkerson that we are being set up for another war in the Middle East, I am even more terrified at the President's attacks on North Korea and his hints that using nuclear weapons is an acceptable option. By including this rocket-rattling in his state of the union address, he put us all on warning that he feels no restrictions on their use.

  121. I remember Colin Powell's presentation 15 years ago. I was shocked by it. I was of the strong opinion that we should let the UN's investigations in Iraq conclude before we made any decisions to use aggression. They were looking for weapons of mass destruction. As it turns out, no one ever found any evidence of them in Iraq, as we would have learned if we had simply waited for the UN to do its job.

    I had a lot of respect for Colin Powell at that time and his words shook my confidence. If Powell agreed with the Bush administration's conclusions about Iraq, I thought, then there must be something there. It still seemed like it was worth waiting to make sure before we sent soldiers in. I went to protests against the war, to no avail.

    Sadly, I lost all respect for Colin Powell. What a tragedy it was to hurry into war.

  122. The 2003 war was sadly not the last and unlikely the first time that an administration blatantly cashed in the credibility of the few competent and honorable people on its payroll to sell an agenda that could not stand on its own merits.

  123. Can anyone believe that one of the major parties nominated someone for president who actually voted for the 2003 war?

    All mistakes are not created equal, and a dumb war is about as bad as it gets. Why this was not disqualify is a mystery, as is why it is not often discussed as a reason for the 2016 election result. Perhaps the enormous human toll and the lack of wiggle room to rationalize voting for this war make people avoid confronting this "inconvenient truth".

    We seem to have formed a national habit of avoidable wars that have severe political consequences years later. In addition to the obvious human and economic toll, this has eroded both trust in government at home and our qualitative military advantage abroad. It is a great habit to break.

  124. A chilling column on the parallels between the Trump campaign to go to war with Iran and the Bush/Cheney/Powell successful campaign 15 years ago to lead our country into the Iraq war on lies.

    Not mentioned is Condoleezza Rice's inflammatory "mushroom cloud" comment: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

    Also not mentioned is the fact that access to cheap Mideast oil factored into the the Bush/Cheney/Powell campaign to go to war with Iraq.

    Also not mentioned is the fact that our entry into and prolonging of the 20-year Vietnam War was also based on lies (and secrecy).

    Not sure what to call politicians and their enablers (the majority of whom avoided military service) who send American kids to a war on a lie (and at a crippling expense to the taxpayers). But "patriots," "statesmen," "heroes" seems not to fit the bill.

    America deserves better.

  125. It is not patriotic to stand united behind liars.

    Loser politicians start wars to unify people behind them and silence opposition: for example: for example: Nixon and Vietnam; W and Iraq; Dumpkin and....the rest of the world.

    Plus, the military wants to go to war in order to rationalize their existence, and Dumpkin loves the generals.

  126. The Trump Administration is trying to make Trumpy a 'war president' and keep him in office. That worked for Dubya, but hopefully will not work for Trump.

    If Congress goes along with this farce, we need to elect better representatives. As it works now, all congresspeople spend 1/2 their day fundraising. That does not bode well for their ability to a good job.

  127. The most absurd thing about all this is that Trump already IS a war president, as the 2 wars Bush/Cheney started are still going on under his watch.

  128. Do you ever feel like we are in some non-fiction fantasy narrative. Trump is the power hungry, uncontrollable villain. When angry he randomly throws bolts of lightning destroying his followers and enemies alike. His minions and sycophants slavishly praise and appease him to keep him happy. However, the opposite happens. He grows in anger and hatred and disdain not trusting the motives of his supporters.

    Meanwhile, the sly men about him plot and plan to take control by egging on the fears of the master. The story goes awry because the people and other nations within the fantasy have been abused, threatened and starved to such an extent that war becomes the only satisfying outlet for the emotions and fears the villain has cultivated.

    This particular story is just in book 2 of the series. The uplifting conclusion is many plot twists ahead.

    The theme of this part of the series is the military has infiltrated the executive branch and is directing the behind the scenes events. They may mean well but planning for war is all they know. Those with historic knowledge, foresight and philosophical thought have warned about blurring the lines between civilians and professional soldiers.

    How will this end. Will the heroes arrive in this part of the cycle. Will they be unassuming or like the blazing sun. When all hope fails...

  129. Don't know about heroes, but the blazing sun -"Brighter than a thousand suns" seems more likely given the current supine Congress .

  130. Let's hope the heroes are us and that "us" vote in the 2018 elections. Or is that just too humdrum/retro? A Democratically controlled Congress could do a lot of good, even if it could not by itself impeach the Troll.

  131. It is not too humdrum/retro and would be great, but it may be too late.

  132. By not understanding history better we are indeed at risk at repeating it. The Trump administration is at high risk of getting us into a war whether it it is in Iran or with North Korea because our State Department is a shadow of its former self and the concept of diplomacy is undervalued.

  133. To the corrupted souls and decrepit minds of the administration, this is not a risk but an opportunity. Sick, I know.

  134. i can't be the only American wondering how well President 'W' and his advisors sleep at night 10+years after all the terrible carnage America and her allies of the 'willing,' rained onto Baghdad as we promoted nights of 'shock and awe'! Do our leaders and their families continue to regard the maimed innocents of our 'war of choice' as 'enemies'?
    The American Culture regards 'W's war as ancient history -I'm somewhat heartened to read Mr.Wilkerson's analysis -i encourage Mr. Wilkerson and others responsible for the war against Saddam to continue to speak out, to warn, especially Republicans and those pron to think war to be the answer to evil, that this war is very much responsible for the creation of ISIS and the continuation of the endless 'War on Terror.'

  135. They don't care. They're fabulously wealthy and live in gated enclaves with people of their ilk.

  136. I was hoping that Wilkerson would tell us that he and Powell were so very sorry for giving a patina of truth to the war hawks lies and for playing a part in America's worst foreign policy disaster in living memory.
    Iran has enough internal problems with severe drought, corruption and an economy in shambles that the rational policy is to keep the treaty and for patience.
    The consequences of a war with Iran would be ten times as bad as our mistake war with Iraq caused.

  137. "rational policy"??
    This is the Trump administration....so, no.

  138. Regarding Powell being sorry: My wife and I very carefully watched Powell's body language in making his UN "weapons of mass destruction" speech. We both concluded that he was fully aware of the lie he was stating. Although Powell may have later expressed regret at "bad intel" he used to sell the war, I do not believe that he has ever confessed that he was lying.

  139. There's a big difference between the Iraq run-up and the plan for Iran; at least in Iraq, the government had a reasonable plan to win the war.

    Iran is a country with over 80 million people, twice as many as Iraq, and although lately it seems there may be some loss of support of the regime among secular Iranians, a country under threat tends to pull together.

    Is there a plan?

  140. reasonable plan to win the war - but lose the peace.
    they told us " few weeks, maybe months" They also told us 50-60 billion
    there was no plan aside from creating a war so bush could win re-election

  141. "So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran."
    Why?

    This failure is indicative of the general failure of the old press as that necessary fourth branch of democracy. And that failure without the emergence of a new reliable information and reporting structure simply means American democracy is going to die, if it hasn't already.

  142. Remember that, since 1996, there has been a thriving industry of right-wing propaganda for the sole purpose of creating an alternative, false narrative. Had all media outlets functioned on the principle of objectivity, Trump would not have become POTUS.

  143. It should be fairly obvious that Trump's next move to fend off the Russia investigation will be to provoke a significant conflict.

  144. Right out of the Republican playbook. Can't get those approval ratings above 40 percent? Then invade a country on a false pretense.

    I have always argued - and still do - that the only reason we went to war with Iraq was because Hussein propped up an attempt on the elder Bush's life on a visit to Kuwait in 1993. Had he not done that, thousands of Americans, and millions of Iraqis, would still be alive, and the Islamic State would be nothing more than a group of ignorant Arabs banished to a cave for their backward beliefs.

  145. Yet more evidence that retired military have no business in influential civilian positions. What is it about Mr. Wilkerson's conscience that still does not allow him to say, "I'm so very sorry" for his part in the death and destruction of the Iraq war?

  146. One of the only sane voices from then, he's trying to impart history as a warning that only a few zealots with dark motives can lead an entire nation to a war of choice. He's a hero for doing so. There is no saving people like yourself who can't be reasoned with. But I applaud him in his efforts to prevent others from swallowing the Kool-Aid, as you so willingly already have done.

  147. All too true. But, as a Vietnam-era veteran, I thought the Vietnam deception was the lesson that couldn't be forgotten or repeated in my lifetime. How wrong I was. It's tragic. We never seem to learn. Bush was determined to invade Iraq regardless of the world community, the Joint Chiefs and wisdom of his father's spokesmen all pleading for sanity. But it didn't matter to Bush/Cheney that unlike prior to Vietnam there were massive protests in America.
    Bush got his war and generations yet to be born will pay with their life-blood and treasure for his destabilization of the whole region in a Forever War. The lies that Bush/Cheney used to deceive us about Saddam have given rise to Donald Trump’s weaponized lies that he and the GOP are using to attack our own government in addition to restarting a nuclear arms race with careless taunts of North Korea and Iran aided by far right propaganda of a toxic Fox News and talk radio. War mongers divide and conquer.
    America has taken a road that goes on forever and a war that never ends. The Vietnam Memorial will eventually have a companion with an endless list of names and the grief that goes with them.

  148. After the Saigon airlift, and then especially Carter was elected, I thought -- "Well, they'll never be able to lie to us again. That nonsense is over."

    It was as though I thought the line in The Who song had come to be. "We won't get fooled again."

    Ha!

    Oh, and I have some luxury real estate I bought that turned out to be in the middle of a swamp, if anyone's interested.

  149. No more memorial walls will be built, unless they decide to inscribe names on the intermittent sections of border wall that get built. Beyond that, we will be too jaded and too broke.

  150. thank you for your service and your eloquence, Mr Tyne..

  151. I am less worried today.

    The US is broke and we can't afford to go to war in Iran and the American people are a lot less apt to buy into war after Iraq.

    Not to say Republicans taking campaign contributions from the military industrial complex could declare war but seems a lot less likely today.

    On the other hand, Republicans taking campaign contributions from the military industrial complex will try to a big increase of arms contracts without going to war.

    Which we can't afford either.

  152. The republicans could easily drain Social Security and Medicare to fund a war.

  153. If the US is broke - the playbook for the last 100 years has been to go to war. There is no better economic catalyst than a wartime economy. Sadly.

  154. we can't afford it? the GOP breaks the bank every time they have to ability. They have under every GOP president since the civil war.
    When they break the econ their masters pick up the pieces on the cheap.
    this is a perfect time for a war.
    And if you think the American people were stupid then - they're twice as dense now

  155. As long as most Americans continue to swoon over all things military, insisting that serving is the highest form of heroism, and equating patriotism with readiness to kill and die, we ate like pit bulls on leashes, straining for the masters to point us to our next victims, ever eager to discard all judgment and reason for the opportunity to be "strong" and "winners". It's a national moral sickness.

  156. Fabulous insight by someone who is aware of our present state of affairs.
    My congratulation to you for writing such comment which to most uneducated and unversed people in our modus operandi would be considered inflammatory.
    In reality it is a kind and benevolent interpretation of how how sick government operates.

  157. Here in my part of climate ravaged California (drought, fires, floods, mudslides), our heroes are not military warriors, but all the first responders, all the utility repairers, and generous volunteers who have and continue to work hard to repair areas, like my neighborhood, that literally look like a bomb blast took place.

    My daughter was flooded in Houston this past year, my friends in Florida lost their crop to an unprecedented freeze, and so on. We may not need wars anymore to destroy life on earth.

  158. Thank you for this excellent point.

  159. We're a very different, war-weary country than we were when the Bush junta lied us into a war they couldn't win. Today we've got the most unpopular, untrusted "President" in American history, a massive opioid crisis, a deeply uneven "recovery" that's passed far too many people by, a crumbling infrastructure, massive debt (thanks largely to Bush's costly, unwindable wars), and a populace that simply doesn't trust the government anymore. If Trump wants to roll the dice on another war to bolster his illegitimate regime, he's gonna ignite a tinderbox of revolt that could immolate whatever's left of this failing nation.

  160. I hope you're right

  161. You dangerously overlook the power of a "unified" government--especially THESE Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the cabinet--and THEN there's Trump. This Republican Congress would march us to war wherever Trump wanted to go, and there would be nothing the Democrats or the rest of us could do to stop it.

  162. Sure. But we've got a spineless GOP running Congress (which is mostly ignoring the laundry list you provide). So it matters not that the President is untrusted by a large portion of the country. He commands the loyalty of his party and its leaders, which (in case you didn't notice) still holds a majority..

  163. While Trump has become the latest vehicle to sow these seeds of war their architects lie elsewhere. They are embedded in the Defense Department and the now vast array of intelligence agencies.

    The are part of the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against. Now sixty years later these corporate giants feed on the nearly 700 billion dollars a year we spend deploying the American military around the world.

    And while Mr. Wilkerson didn't say it, I will. The Foundation for Defense of Democracy is simply a front for AIPAC and another vehicle for Benjamin Netanyahu to manipulate American policy for his strategic goals.

    And here it's important to separate the goals of his right wing coalition from those of the state of Israel. Most Israeli's have no desire for more war in the Middle East and certainly not one that might have Iranian rockets falling on tel Aviv.

    But there are right wing elements in the Netanyahu government and in ours that believe that the US must continue the neocon march for regime change throughout the region. Iran was on the list in 2003 and they remain on the list today.

    For the right amount of money or power there are no lack of sycophants, like Nikkie Haley willing to gin up yet another war. They are long on accusations and short on facts and lacking in basic humanity.

    But they know a compliant and lazy press will not challenge them. Let's hope that some do challenge and we don't go down this road to tragedy again.

  164. Col. Wilkerson , who knew the workings of the Pentagon during and in the lead up to the Iraq war ( its Office of Special Plans and the Defense Intelligence Agency ) - lays it out for us.

    One of the subtext here and spelled out more clearly in Col. Wilkerson on line comments is how Israel drives our policy and war making in the Middle East . It's proxies , Adelson , Singer and others use their millions , nay, billions to influence policy , congress and votes . Thank you Col. Wilkerson

  165. Thank you for the pertinent review and needed insight into the "fake news" coming from our President who in my judgment seems more intent upon his personal agenda than governing the nation with peace and prosperity for all as a dominant agenda.

  166. Col. Wilkerson and Sec. Powell should still be serving their sentences of incarceration at the New Spandau Prison for the lies they used to start a war. That they, their president, and the generals who ordered the killings of so many people are free verifies the complete corruption of the United States by military power. Until war crimes perpetrators like Wilkerson, Powell, W. Bush, and their obedient generals are punished by the rule of law, America will continue to be a terrorist state.

  167. "Until war crimes perpetrators like Wilkerson, Powell, W. Bush, and their obedient generals are punished by the rule of law, America will continue to be a terrorist state."

    Lock 'em up!

    Tom Mcmahon

  168. Iran is being chased for benefit of Israel. So the neocons are making a lot of noise in the background. Beware!
    We should be more worried about Pakistan's nuclear weapons, and should have a solid plan in case their militant government or terrorists get close to the bombs.
    Our need to have an enemy all the time harms us more than we think. Alas, it's national psyche, and is not about to change.

  169. Thank you for this valuable lesson. How you ever redeem your earlier mistake, I don't know, I don't think you can. But saying, look at what I've wrought is a beginning. Mankind does big ambitious things and those things have consequences. Your's fell on the wrong side of honesty with devastating consequences. I don't happen to believe in a god, but there are those that have that faith and I'll say, I hope god can find some mercy on you.

  170. We are having a very troubling investigation in America because we think that the Russians interfered with our election. And we are planning a "regime change" again in another country. There is clearly a pattern here. The republicans seem to not care if the Putin crowd helped elect Trump and they are all on board with destroying country after country in the Mid East to put a puppet in place that would be "pro west". Democracy doesn't really matter to them. Putin's puppet in America and our puppet in Iran.

  171. Initiating a war with Iran plays into the Trump agenda in oh so many ways. The question is whether a craven Congress will continue to go along and, more importantly, will a gullible American public fail to learn from history by once more succumbing to fear and failing to demand a more reality-based strategy from their fake president and his “advisors.”

  172. Worth noting, too, that Iran’s increased power and influence in the region is an unintended consequence of our invasion of Iraq.

  173. For a country non-too successful in winning wars since 1945, the U.S. sure does like to wage a lot of unnecessary wars. Though perhaps not considered unnecessary for that which Ike long ago warned us about. But our current looney-tunes president, and his thirty-something, never-once-served, list of sycophant advisors, wouldn't understand that warning even if it was beating them over the head.

  174. Nice assessment by someone who was very close to major players who drummed up evidence against Iraq. I was disappointed that he gave no explanation of the motives which drove Bush/Cheney to plot war against Iraq.

  175. The one positive outcome of the misbegotten Iraq War is that the American people are absolutely opposed to any conventional ground forces (other than special ops) in the Middle East. We grew sick of all the body bags and funerals.

    It was exactly this sentiment which elected Obama in 2008. Despite all the pressure from the war hawks, he stuck to his guns throughout his entire 8-year term and refused to send ground troops on any foreign policy adventures. Even Trump chided Bush for the Iraq War.

    And then there is Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, 17 years and counting.

    We are all war-weary. There is simply no appetite among the American people for any more wars.

  176. I was a witness to this "event." I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I guess it was, in the end, when I finally grew up. I remember those photographs and Powell's presentation. After my colleagues and I filed our stories, we got into a discussion -- argument, really -- about what we had witnessed. My two colleagues didn't believe a word or the photographs demonstrating the hidden weapons of mass destruction. I countered that this was Colin Powell, the US secretary of state; the US has a formidable intelligence apparatus that must be more believable than the UN weapons inspectors. A few months later I apologized to my colleagues. They were right and I was wrong. Soon after, I attended a press conference given by an Iraqi opposition leader who claimed he was the one who put the US in touch with the operative who provided the intelligence for the Powell photographs. Deeply humiliated by my nativity, I apologized to my colleagues a second time for that February day..

  177. Good for you for owning your mistake. While I agree with what Mr. Wilkerson is saying in his piece, and appreciate his pointing out past errors, I kept waiting for the apology that turned out to be only inherent

  178. Our only hope is to boycott all GOP candidates running for all offices nationwide and vote for "the other." We no longer have a loyal GOP except to Trump first!

  179. This piece makes a great point; unfortunately, it's written by someone who performed at least one major piece of work that is utterly discredited, i.e., trying to rationalize our then-impending Iraq invasion. Back in 2002-03, it was obvious that the Bush administration had fabricated its rationale for invading Iraq (because the principals gave too many explanations of the reasons, and the explanations were inconsistent), that the rationale was flawed no matter what anyone said about it (a connection between a Baathist regime in a Shiite country and a bunch of hijackers who were Saudi Sunnis?), deluded (the Iraqi populace is going to welcome infidel invaders like we were liberating Paris from the Germans in 1944?), unnecessary (even if there had been WMD, a stricter inspections regime - with real teeth - would have sufficed), and strategically unsound (we're going to take and hold a land the size of California with a force of 140,000??). I wrote as much to my Republican Congressman months before we invaded and in response received a form letter press release that merely recited the party line. Good job there, Brownie.

  180. How could the Nunes memo not come up in this context? False, misleading and incomplete information designed to deceive and confuse.
    Perhaps Nunes, like WIlkerson, believes he is doing a service to his country. That deception in service of a greater good is essential (the Straussian belief) because the people cannot be trusted with the truth. Perhaps in 15 years Nunes will write an Op-Ed in this paper explaining away his deceit.
    At Nuremberg, people like this were tried for war crimes. That is the precedent that needs repeating, not the Powell deception.

  181. I was among the millions of people who actually did NOT believe it but were drowned out by the lies, which were largely unquestioned by major media outlets. Do we need to be reminded of how intensely frustrated and angry we were? Thanks a lot Mr. Wilkerson, johnny-come-lately 15 years. Did anybody among the decision-makers and enablers of same ever suffer as much as all the others who did because of this disaster? Nope--they, like the people responsible for the subsequent financial disaster in 2008, just live in retirement luxury. Hideous.

  182. Bush’s administration misjudged the consequences of invading Iraq. It was clear that Iraq’s military could be defeated quickly, even if chemical or biological weapons were used by the Iraqi forces. But the idea that with Hussein gone all would just become right was the flaw in the plan which doomed it. It was the result of arrogance in the Bush administration about how effective American power was in deciding the outcome of endeavors which it undertook. The current situations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan were never expected. Trump’s administration probably cannot be expected to avoid the same mistakes with respect to any serious disagreements with any foreign countries.

  183. What this op-ed fails to address in a glaring way is this: why were the policy makers and politicians so anxious to go to war with Iraq in the first place? (Why are we in Vietnam, in other words.) What's the deal?

    Was that war, like others, mainly conducted to please defense contractors, give generals and other bosses experience and enrich those who supply the military? Hey, speak up! I'd like to know now before the US goes off on another misadventure and squander our national wealth and the lives and well being of our soldiers. With three trillion dollars, we could make sure every high school graduate has the best college education the world has ever seen or make those kids suffer.

    One of the purposes of going to war, in Iraq or anywhere else on an optional basis, is to demonstrate American willingness to use force. We have been trying to show American "resolve" in hundreds of ways over the last 70 years and it is getting tiresome.

    I would suggest we need to take policy and war making out of the hands of Ivy League and service academy graduates and put them in the hands of people with some common sense and who know the horrid cost of war in blood, dying and suffering. Perhaps we would then be more reluctant to even consider "optional" wars. In fact, a great country like the USA should never engage in any war conflict that isn't absolutely necessary on unshakable grounds.

  184. Couldn't have said it better. This piece is only half the story. What are the motivations for selling war? Why do people go along with it? What were the feelings of those in the insider circle, then and now? Yes, speak up!

  185. Thank you, Mr. Wilkerson. Your words are of course correct, but we have to face the fact that our elected officials from both parties have been bought and paid for by those for whom war is the most profitable business in our nation. Too many Congressmen and women have abandoned the notion of serving their constituents, and they are serving the people Eisenhower warned us about. This will not end until we have campaign finance reform and term limits. As it stands, Congress will continue to serve those who pay their election campaigns at the expense of those whose children and grandchildren are sent to die for their profits.

  186. But, James, if you're congressman X, and part of weapons system Y is being built in your district by your constituents, how loudly are you going to rail against it? This is a problem for every region in the country. The bloated DOD budget is more addictive than fentanyl. Just try getting off it.

  187. The one person who could have stopped the whole thing in its tracks was Colin Powell, by declaring the push for war with Iraq to be a sham and a tragedy in the making, and resigning.
    And he knew it! He sold out his great reputation as a hero and honest military expert to go along with Cheney and Bush and the rest. Why?
    To remain a member of the club. The payoff? He gets to retire and has been making millions of dollars giving speeches and writing books.
    How does he sleep knowing he sent thousands of his beloved American soldiers to their deaths?

  188. Paulyams, Tony Blair, the English Prime Minister at the time, deserves equal or greater blame. He also knew the justification for invading Iraq was a sham, but he put on his leash and followed the Bush regime obediently.

    Both Powell and Blair will never live down that mistake.

  189. General Powell has permanently damaged our Republic.

  190. Yes, I lost all respect for that man after his UN speech.

  191. Thanks for your mea culpa Mr. Wilkerson, but what we really need is for Colin Powell to address your story in a way that will convince Americans of the danger this path to war presents. You would be doing the world a great service if you used your influence to convince him he needs to take a stand.

  192. Secretary Powell will only speak once GHWB passes. At that time he will be free to unload his soul.

  193. I agree with Ms Hartman, it is time for Colin Powell to back up Wilkerson. Colin Powell is a revered American whose words will get close attention by the public; now is the time for him to come to the aid of his country.

  194. The Constitution grants Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.

    I understand some circumstances require us to flexibly interpret this arrangement. Quick military action may be necessary to safeguard the nation. Congressional authorization short of a declaration of war seems sufficient to me in a circumstance such as the first Gulf War, fought to achieve a defined limited objective under legitimate international auspices.

    I can see that the nuclear age makes declarations of war more dangerous.

    But a preventive war of choice initiated after a period during which the arguable reasons for the war are packaged and sold to the public would seem to be the kind of war for which prudence requires strict adherence to the constitutional arrangement.

    Let the military prepare for imminent threats. If the president learns of an imminent threat let the president act to prevent it. Otherwise, in circumstances such as Vietnam, the recent war in Iraq, or preventive war with Iran, let the Congress debate and decide the matter as the Constitution requires.

    Congress can practice for this awesome responsibility by beginning again to exercise its other responsibilities under the processes that were once customarily used for the purpose.

  195. Problem is that Congress has always punted on the declaration of war. Hence the 'police action' in Vietnam, and the 'authorization of military force' in Iraq. Congress needs to grow up and assert its constitutional power and forcibly BLOCK any military action over a certain level or on certain countries. Until they do, they basically empower the president to do whatever he wants.

  196. Thank you, Mr. Wilkerson, for fessing up. However, that does not change the fact that you helped spread false information that has done unbelievable harm to millions of people around the world and particularly in the Middle East.

    Your duty now - to OUR United States of America - is to persuade those who are now trying to destroy us and the world again using OUR U.S. taxpayer treasure and OUR national identity to STOP NOW while there is time.

    You say, "So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran." WE THE PEOPLE DEMAND that you, Colin Powell and others who sold the world the Iraq scam make it your primary goal to force the press/media to sound the alarm BEFORE The Con Don and his Robber Baron brethren can start WW3.

    NOW is the time. NOW may be the only time.

  197. Anybody here old enough to remember how long it took Robert McNamara to admit his mistakes, lies and "policy" that created and sustained the folly of Vietnam? About 30 years...and he was a wiz kid. Now it only takes 15 years to recognize the next Vietnam in this country's future...but since WWII that's what we do, who we are: the war country. And all in the name of democracy.

  198. Mr. Wilkerson, I am deeply grateful to you for your courage, honesty and humaneness. I am absolutely opposed to war and am deeply distressed over the continual American threats of war. Know I am with you, Mr. Wilkerson.

  199. DO NOT GIVE WILKERSON THANKS OR CREDIT. He is partially responsible for the loss, instability, and decreased American standing in the international community. He knew what he was doing then, and did it anyway. It is unforgiveable when you consider the human loss alone. But he also gave away trust and security. I will not allow my son to join the armed services because of what Wilkerson and others do to create a "false choice" for war. His life is too valuable to give up for their selfishness.

  200. I appreciate the rare willingness to face past mistakes. One caveat is that Hillary was a steadfast supporter of Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also spearheaded the war in Libya. Obama put active combat troops in Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere. Consider the possibility that Trump and his supporters have less appetite to pay for more of these mistakes. Also consider that Democrats' favorite Republicans are John McCain and Lindsay Graham, ardent Trump critics, who have always been hungry for more wars.

  201. Clinton's decision-making was crucial in the decision to change the regime in Libya. See Cooper, Helene; Myers, Steven Lee (March 18, 2011). "Obama Takes Hard Line With Libya After Shift by Clinton". The New York Times.

    I know Obama didn't call the forces in Somalia and Syria "combat forces," but that is what they are, as has been extensively reported by the Washington Post and others. They were actively involved in air and ground combat.

    Hillary also advocated maximum surge in Afghanistan when she was Secretary of State, and this was a point of disagreement with some in the administration.

    I'll also add that I'm not a Trump voter, and I'm not saying he will not make bad decisions as well. I'm just someone who is interested in facts more than partisan allegiances.

  202. I agree with you about partisanship, so why was my comment representative of something wrong? I was pointing out that many of our political leaders, including Bush, Obama and Hillary, have made bad decisions, regardless of political party.

  203. Given the disastrous consequences of the Iraq War, I found it difficult to believe that Hillary and Obama decided to go to war in so many countries. And I know Libya isn't in the news as much as the others, but it is and was truly a disaster.

    I'm not making any predictions about the Trump presidency, but I know if he "wants desperately to be a War President," he could have done it already, as did his predecessors.

  204. There have been people pushing for war with Iran for a decade.

  205. I think that our politicians should work to protect us from Trump and his complete lack of understanding about how government works, how diplomacy works, and how reality works. Why? Because no matter how careful some people are all it takes is one mistake, by Trump or by one of his woefully inadequate cabinet members, to set off a war that may have irreversible consequences for everyone.

    Thanks for recounting the history of how we came to be involved in Iraq. Let's hope that we can avoid a similar mistake with Iran, Korea, and every other country that Trump seems to despise.

  206. Hellava time for a mea culpa, buddy.

  207. You can fool some of the people some of the time. Here we go again with revisionist history. Mr. Wilkerson, what is your agenda? The truth certainly isn't it. You've "cherry-picked" your mea culpa to resonate with the readership of the NYT while leaving out all the substance. You make accusations and claims without providing evidence. You hit hot-buttons to enflame your targets so they take the bait without questioning the substance, or lack thereof. Powell offered not one, but twelve reasons to go to war in Iraq. The Left like to crow about "no WMDs," showing their complete ignorance because there were WMDs. If you don't believe it, look up Halabja (March 16, 1988), where Saddam used poison gas to kill over 3,000 people.

    It is despicable the lengths which the Left have gone to to rewrite history to suit their needs and political aspirations. I do not have a clue what your motives are or what you hope to gain with this Op-Ed piece, but shame on you sir.

  208. I can’t keep up with Trump....North Korea a few weeks ago, Iran currently..... both? The world? The scariest thing though, seriously? That there were enough Americans who voted for him and that along with (or scarier still, without him rigging the election) and that they still support him! Now that terrifies me.....

  209. He's critical of Trump trying to sell us on a war like he and Powell did but makes no apology??? What kind of world is he living in?

  210. Republicans always want to re-fight the last war...

    The reason the rhetoric about the threat of Iran mirrors so closely the rhetoric about Iraq is that the motivator is the same: Israel. Neither Iraq nor Iran posed a credible threat to the U.S. - unless you understand that Israel is regarded by the GOP as American territory (much more so than, for example, Puerto Rico...)

  211. A similar mea culpa from Colin Powell would carry even greater weight in stalling Trump's plans for war with Iran.

  212. It seems like the Trump Administration is looking to go to war with just about anybody (ex. North Korea) in order to get the attention off the Russia investigation.

  213. Better Late than never? Maybe for Mr Wilkerson and Mr Powell, but not me. Robert McNamara also, late in life, recanted his errors in supporting the military's build up in Viet Nam. For those of us who knew...Absolutely KNEW...those wars were tainted with foolishness and poor planning and seeded catastrophe this too little too late approach only causes more pain. Hope it makes you feel better Mr Wilkerson. Mr Powell was once a hero and role model. Not anymore.

  214. Is our only hope against going to war with Iran a united Congress against this made-up and would be disastrous war?

    Or will Europe united against this war keep us boxed in the awful corner that trump has put us in?

    Trump and his cronies have to be thrown out soon. The Mueller train must speed faster down that track.

  215. Mr. Wilkerson is an astute observer of Amrrican military folly in the Middle East. It's clear that the Trump Administration has forged an alliance with Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia with Iran as their adversary. Howevet, with all the other issues clogging the news from the Russia investigation to the much more ominous policy of giving nuclear-armed North Kprea a "bloody nose," the oxygen has been taken from the Iran situation. It's certainly worrisome, but the drumbeat of war seems to have been delayed by these other more imminent threats.

  216. So a deceiver owns up to his mistakes that cost trillions, killed tens of thousands, and destabilized an entire region at a time when he can shift attention to someone else most easily. I'd say that's about par for the course for someone with the disposition of Wilkerson.

  217. Well said, but more simply put, Presidents often have used conflict in this case with Iran or North Korea is part of a re-election strategy. American voters just need to be more aggressive in standing up to the politicians and put an end to this senseless and evil strategy.

  218. We could invade Iran, but not China or Russia. That's where they get their ideas from: bullies seek easy targets to feel tough.

  219. So rare to read such an articulate piece opposed to war (unnecessary war). Mr Wilkerson points out basic truths: intelligence is often( if not always) politicized and therefore we should adopt IF Stone's dictum that "all governments lie" but also "all secret services lie" as was clear in the Bush administration. So Trump is a dangerous liar who could start a war with Iran but only because the war mongers are numerous and not only in the GOP. But the secret services and the so-called "adults" in the WH are not all opposed to what would be a war in which the Saudis and the Israelis fight to the last American. War with Iran would be an American suicide and the triumph of China. It seems more and more war mongers are actually working for Chinese hegemony (even when they argue China & Russia are enemies). So thanks for this piece and thanks Mr Wilkerson for your voice of sanity.

  220. I cried wolf once, so you have to believe me this time.

  221. History will show Colin Powell was the pivotal person for the US going to war in Iraq for manufactured and bogus claims. And no amount of back pedaling or contrition will change that fact.

  222. There was only one reason I (grudgingly) supported the war in Iraq, and that is because of the speech that Colin Powell gave to the UN and because of his (then) sterling reputation. The only way this article could be more persuasive is if it were authored by Colin Powell himself, and delivered together with a genuine apology.

    I think that the Bush/Cheney (or is it the Cheney/Bush) administration will go down in history as the the administration responsible for initiating the slow and steady decline of the United States.

    Before Bush Jr's Iraq war, Iran and Iraq were roughly equal in military strength and economic power, and fought each other to a standstill. Now that we have so weakened Iraq, Iran has emerged as a dominant and disruptive power in the ME. For this horrible (intentional) mistake, Cheney and Bush Jr deserve our everlasting scorn and derision.

  223. "With China, Russia and North Korea all presenting vastly more formidable challenges to America and its allies than Iran, one has to wonder where team Trump gets its ideas."

    The US Middle East (ME) policy is not formulated in Washington; it is formulated in Jerusalem. That is where "team Trump gets its ideas." That should also explain why Mr. Trump has assigned Mr. Kushner to look after "peace in ME", effectively cutting off the State Department in general, and Mr. Tillerson in particular, from any involvement in ME policies.

    The war with Iraq was championed by two organization, PNAC and IASPS, well before September 2001. These same organizations are now pushing for Trump Administration to start a war against Iran.

    Founded in 1997 by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, PNAC (Project for New American Century) members included Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Bolton, Libby, Abrams and Wurmser. It was the main neocon lobby, with oil company ties, that urged Iraq's invasion.

    IASPS (Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies) is an Israel-based think tank with an office in Washington, D.C. Its members include Dave Wurmser, Doug Feith, Chuck Fairbanks and Richard Perle. In 1996, Perle - who became Rumsfeld’s chairman of defense policy board - authored a policy document "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" for Netanyahu, in which he advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare.

  224. "So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran. " Another chilling similarity between this effort and Bush's 2003 war campaign. The press did not do its job then, and it's not doing it now.

  225. It sure would be nice to hear from General Powell himself on this, as well. I remain aghast that he has not properly set the record straight on this incident and many others with which he was complicit during his service to the George W. Bush administration. It would also be nice if he would lend his voice to that of John McCain in criticizing the Trump destruction of our democracy. These are two men that I believed were above the fray. Only McCain is showing the courage of conviction. Not nearly enough has been heard from Powell.

  226. Being a wartime president is the only way that Trump could be reelected. Carl Rove understood this in '04 and so pulled hard for his part of the perfect storm of GOP requirements that a war against Saddam Hussein fulfilled, along with Bush family bragging rights, revenge for failing to change Iraq after the first Gulf War (Cheney et alii), and a U.S. military establishment bellicose and deeply humiliated after utterly failing to protect not only the civilian population of the U.S. but their own headquarters, the Pentagon, in spite of over an hour's warning time. It was the Grey Lady's darkest hour too, sorry.