Why is the media committed to the lie that Bush went it ‘alone’ in Iraq?

posted at 1:41 pm on September 3, 2014 by Noah Rothman

In spite the Islamic State’s ritualistic beheadings of American citizens, President Barack Obama remains committed to addressing the threat posed by ISIS by internationalizing the response.

“If we are joined by the international community,” Obama said on Wednesday, “we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

“The question is going to be making sure we’ve got the right strategy but also making sure we’ve got the international will to do it,” he added. “And what we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.”

This is a laudable goal, but only to the point that it does not justify passivity or inaction. Too many in the media are, however, consumed with celebrating the idea of multilateralism for its own sake as part of a philosophical rejection of an idea of the Bush-era. And it is only an idea.

26 days after the September 11 attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom commenced in Afghanistan. The campaign to oust the Taliban from power, rid the region of al-Qaeda, and build a sustainable post-war Afghan government eventually involved 58 nations, many of them non-NATO members. In Iraq, 45 nations joined the United States in the March, 2003 mission to oust Saddam Hussein from control in Baghdad. By April, Angola and Ukraine had committed to joining the mission, raising the total number of coalition countries including the United States to 48.

Traditional American allies like Canada, France, and Germany objected to the Iraq War and refused to participate in initial combat operations. The United Nations, too, declined to sanction the campaign to change the regime in Iraq. This gave birth to the prevalent myth that the United States engaged in a unilateral operation in that Mesopotamian nation.

This is powerful lore, and it is enjoying new life as commentators and politicians and seek to defend Obama’s strained efforts to justify an indirect response to what his White House has determined are “terrorist” attacks on the United States.

“As devastated as we ALL are by these tragic beheadings, we cannot allow this to turn into a ‘go it alone’ foreign policy in Iraq,” Huffington Post commentator and university professor Marc Lamont Hill wrote.

“What needs to be asserted is a kind of muscular multilateralism,” The Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon said on CNN on Wednesday. “That it’s not the U.S. going it alone, as with the Bush years with unilateralism.”

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman said America’s post-9/11 approach to the international environment as characterized by George W. Bush’s “fire, ready, aim” strategy.

“If we know anything from history, a unilateral action as we did in Iraq will put us in a quagmire for years – a decade plus,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) declared on Sunday on MSNBC. His factually challenged assertion was not corrected.

There is no question that the months-long run-up to the Iraq War was plagued by diplomatic bungles, and that is an experience which none should be eager to repeat. It is, however, nothing less than revisionist history to suggest America acted unilaterally in Iraq.

Moreover, Barack Obama has approved of his own military actions against sovereign states in his time as commander-in-chief. Each time, he was backed by a coalition of nations far smaller than those which supported America in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Libya in 2011, 18 nations including NATO member states took part in air combat operations aimed at halting Tripoli’s execution of a campaign against anti-government insurgents. In Iraq, at the invitation of Baghdad, the U.S. Air Force joined British, French, and Australian forces in dropping humanitarian aid over the areas besieged by ISIS troops. But the execution of air strikes on ISIS targets surrounding strategic areas of Iraq like the cities of Baghdad, Erbil and the Mosul dam began as a unilateral American mission and remains one to this day.

Why is this so hard to admit? Why does the liberal shibboleth regarding America’s “go-it-alone” approach to the Iraq War take precedence over the truth? Why is the media so committed to this vacuous idea that they would allow the propagation of an abject lie? Bush may not have championed multilateralism in his rhetoric, but he did practice it. Obama, meanwhile, has taken the opposite approach.

Whatever the Iraq War’s faults, and there were many, it was not a unilateral mission by the United States. Those who continue to cling to this false claim are merely professing an article of faith; one belonging to an increasingly beleaguered church.


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Comment pages: 1 2

One day, years from now, history books will be written that suggest that the common wisdom about Bush was wrong, that the War in Iraq, wisely or not, was never JUST about WMDs, and that there was plenty of reason to believe Saddam had them and intended to use them, anyway.

It will, of course, be called “revisionist history.”

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 3, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Considering that 99% of “historians” are registered Democrats, that’s about right.

Before he died, the Dean Wormer of American “historians”, Artie Schlesinger, equated Chimpy Bush’s 2003 Congress-sanctioned liberation of Iraq to the 1941 Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Del Dolemonte on September 3, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Screw every one of these liars where they breathe…

dpduq on September 3, 2014 at 10:50 PM

Why is this so hard to admit? Why does the liberal shibboleth regarding America’s “go-it-alone” approach to the Iraq War take precedence over the truth? Why is the media so committed to this vacuous idea that they would allow the propagation of an abject lie?

These are all rhetorical questions, right? :)

Theophile on September 3, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Well, it was their chosen narrative to cut the limb behind him.

flataffect on September 4, 2014 at 4:48 AM

And in the case of the Iraq War, it was “Cowboy lying us into a war.” Before the Iraq War, they kept demanding Bush give them ONE good reason. He would give them several. They would say, “We only want ONE good reason.”

The Collective tends to exhibit this behavior in response to just about every subject.

For instance, they claim that Republicans have no alternative to ObamaCare, and demand that they produce an alternative before criticizing it.

You cant then produce a link to the comprehensive list of Republican ObamaCare alterntatives that RedState.com produced, and they won’t even acknoledge it. They’ll simply respond by repeating their discredited rhetoric.

Letists are entirely ineducable.

Star Bird on September 4, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Well, in regard to WMDs, I have some more stories that I’m apparently not allowed to post any more links to, so here’s the rest of them:

CNN: 500 tons of uranium shipped from Iraq, Pentagon says 7/7/2008

CBS: U.S. Secretly Takes Yellowcake From Iraq 7/5/2008

NY Times: Yellowcake removed from Iraq nuclear site

BBC: 1988: Thousands die in Halabja gas attack

But here’s the most interesting one.

Hot Air: ISIS captures chemical-weapons plant in Iraq 6/20/2014

How could ISIS capture one of Hussein’s chemical-weapons plant, if it didn’t exist according to liberal intelligentsia?

Star Bird on September 4, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Maybe it’s time to “shrink Obama’s sphere of influence to a manageable problem.”
Elect GOP majority to U.S. Senate.

—Pundit Pete

PunditPete on September 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Comment pages: 1 2