Reprinted from Consortium News
Billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
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At first I thought it hopeful (albeit ironic) that Saturday's Republican presidential debate happened in the "Peace Center" in Greenville, South Carolina. I thought perhaps the location would have a positive effect. But no -- as witnessed by the raucous booing of Donald Trump's few comments about the folly of the Iraq War and about ways to bring other conflicts to an end. [video and transcript]
Though people say Trump is loud and bombastic, the discerning listener also might note that Trump actually has been critical of U.S. militarism for some time, regarding Russia, Syria, Iraq and North Korea. On those topics, I don't think Trump has been loud and bombastic enough.
Trump: "You fight ISIS first. Right now you have Russia, you have Iran, you have them with Assad and you have them with Syria. You have to knock out ISIS. " You can't fight two wars at one time."
But, of course, to some of the U.S. Establishment, two wars at a time is slacking off. They want more than two wars at once.
Trump continued: "We shoulda never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. ... The World Trade Center came down (BOOING) during the reign [of President George W. Bush]. He kept us safe?"
And, if anyone noticed, even as the auditorium packed of moneyed interests booed Trump, the tracker at the bottom of the screen went up for him. Trump's rivals met his truth-telling with more ridiculousness and lies.
Jeb Bush described Trump's attacks as "blood sport" against the Bush family. Yet, given the subject matter at hand -- his brother's appetite for illegal war and failure in his responsibility to protect the U.S. public -- Jeb's comment was, to put it mildly, ironic.
Then Bush appealed to the values of his family, which, evidence would show, includes hands quite drenched in blood.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich's reaction on Iraq WMDs was to appeal to former Secretary of State Colin Powell's credibility, which has been a late night TV joke for over a decade. Kasich also claimed that the U.S. got into a civil war, which is wrong -- the U.S. invasion helped foster the sectarian violence. And no, Kasich, the borders of the Mideast were not "drawn after World War I by Westerners who didn't understand what was happening there"; they were drawn by Westerners who wanted to divide and rule and who understood quite well how to achieve that aim, which has remained the actual goal of Western interventions to this day.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was perhaps the most priceless deceiver on the state, declaring falsely that "Saddam Hussein was in violation of UN resolutions, in open violation, and the world wouldn't do anything about it." That, of course, is a total lie, as was confirmed by investigations after the U.S. occupation showing that Iraq had destroyed its WMD in the 1990s as Hussein's government informed the United Nations in fall 2002.
The actual history is that Iraq had disarmed and the Bush-43 administration did everything it could to prevent the UN from verifying that disarmament so that the draconian sanctions would continue on Iraq indefinitely and could lead to a "regime change" war. [See my time line: accuracy.org/iraq.]
But many Republican candidates and neoconservative ideologues don't want to give up the false history. The worthies at the Weekly Standard now write: "Interviewers should press Trump on this: What evidence does Trump have that George W. Bush and his top advisers knowingly lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? How many other government officials does Trump believe were in on the deception? What does Trump believe would have been the point of such a lie, since the truth would soon come out?"
In fact, it's quite provable that the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMDs before the invasion. I know, I helped document such lies at the Institute for Public Accuracy, where I work, before the 2003 invasion:
In October, 2002, John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War, noted: "Recently, Bush cited an IAEA report that Iraq was 'six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need.' The IAEA responded that not only was there no new report, 'there's never been a report' asserting that Iraq was six months away from constructing a nuclear weapon."
That's just the tip of the iceberg of what was knowable at the time. See other such news releases from before the invasion: "White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit" and "Bush's War Case: Fiction vs. Facts at Accuracy.org/bush" and "U.S. Credibility Problems" and "Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight."