Comparing Public Support

Some of the articles analyzing the potential military strike against Syria feature a polling chart showing that support for invading Iraq in 2003 stood at around 59 percent while support for a strike against Syria is maybe in the high 30s, or something like that. This is surely good news. The public has been properly chastened after the disastrous war in Iraq. These numbers are not evidence of us becoming unreasonably timid or isolationist, but rather that we're a bit wiser now.

What isn't mentioned in these pieces is that the support for the Iraq War was based on four falsehoods that the Bush administration actively promoted: 1) that Hussein had ties to 9-11 (preposterous, but accepted by millions); 2) that Hussein had WMDs that he was prepared to unleash on the US at any moment (Condi Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud"); 3) that the war would last only a few weeks or maybe a few months (as Rumsfeld put it); and 4) that the war would be paid for by oil money and would cost maybe 50 billion dollars. (Eric Shineski was fired for suggesting a cost of 200 billion. As we know now, it has easily topped one trillion.) If these things were better understood, support for the war would have been much, much lower, though some support would have remained out of a desire to get revenge on somebody.

The Bush people sold us the war like you sell a defective used car. Shame on us for not kicking the tires and looking under the hood. I'm glad Obama has put this to Congress and that the American people are more skeptical now about what could be achieved by bombing.


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