This piece was reprinted by OpEd News with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.The omnipresent World War II-era posters with the words "Loose Lips Sink Ships" served as a warning to members of the U.S. military to take heed lest they divulge information that could tip off the enemy and result in defeat in battle.
I believe we need a new poster, because loose lips can also sink whole countries -- including our own.
This is a lesson that members of Congress and Washington's media honchos should have learned from the disastrous invasion of Iraq; especially the ones whose lips helped President George W. Bush portray Saddam Hussein as a monster bristling with "weapons of mass destruction."
In that time frame, of course, cooperating with Bush was "the smart play" for one's career, even for many Democrats and liberal opinion leaders. But those politicians and pundits now should share responsibility for having allowed Bush to mislead the nation into a war that has maimed and killed thousands of American soldiers, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, with millions more driven from their homes into fetid refugee camps. The complicit lawmakers also helped sail the American ship of state into a vast iceberg of debt.
In Washington, however, holding such powerful people accountable has become what former White House counsel and then Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, would call "quaint" or "obsolete" -- like adhering to the Geneva Conventions.
But wait; unless our Constitution has been relegated to the same status, we do have a chance every two years to make a judgment about politicians, whether they should continue to represent us or be driven from office. (Sadly, there's less public leverage over the fate of pundits.)
Recently I have been looking on in disbelief as some of the same Democrats (and media personalities) who helped grease the skids for the unnecessary, unprovoked attack on Iraq, are doing a reprise -- changing the script from Iraq to Iran.
The same kind of macho language (by no means limited to testosterone-laden men) is coming from lips of lawmakers who think that hyping the "threat" from Iran will position them well in winning an election (or perhaps buy some street cred with some campaign funders or the media mainstream).
"Real Men Go to Tehran!'
Think back seven years and recall the Blackwater-style bravado from the lips of neoconservatives like Donald Rumsfeld's crony Kenneth Adelman -- the fellow who assured us all that Iraq would be a "cakewalk."
Even as this proved to be a fantasy, his neoconservative colleagues were beating their breasts like Tarzan and setting their eyes on Iran. The neocon joke at the time questioned what the next target should be Syria or Iran? with the punch line, "Real men go to Tehran!"
Then and today, however, it was not just Tarzans who were spoiling for a fight in the Middle East, but some Janes--in particular, Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who was a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of the Iraq invasion.
From her position on the Intelligence Committee, Harman was better positioned than most of her colleagues to know that Bush was hyping or inventing the evidence of Iraq's alleged WMD, but she still joined the stampede to war. Inventing evidence? Sadly true.
After the invasion and an exhaustive bipartisan investigation, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that the Bush/Cheney administration "presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent."
Back in 2003, however, it would have taken some political courage to call out Bush and his team on their flimsy "evidence" or their outright lies. Career-wise, there was plenty of upside and no discernable downside to go along.
But why am I reprising this history now, you ask? Because it turns out Jane and some of the Tarzans are at it again, hyping the "threat" from Iran, where "real men" -- and apparently some "real women" -- still want to go.Speaking on the House floor on April 22, Harman said:
"I am often asked to name those countries I think pose the greatest threat to the security of our country and the world. My answer every time is Iran, Iran, Iran. Given its myopic obsession with the destruction of Israel and its implacable, duplicitous march toward a nuclear weapons capability, in my view no other country comes close."
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