“Anyone seeking to understand what has become the central conundrum of the Iraq war—how it is that so many highly accomplished, experienced, and intelligent officials came together to make such monumental, consequential, and, above all, obvious mistakes, mistakes that much of the government knew very well at the time were mistakes . . .”—Mark Danner, “Iraq: The War of the Imagination,” New York Review of Books, December 21, 2006
“As has always been the case, the only option for the United States in Iraq is victory. Yet more than ever before, the real responsibility for victory rests with the Iraqis themselves.”—Unsigned Editorial, “Victory Plan: Iraqi government must take charge,” The Daily Oklahoman, December 2, 2006
The Daily Oklahoman has failed Oklahomans miserably by not providing comprehensive commentary of the Iraq War, a debacle that will go down in history as perhaps the worst presidential deception ever.
The newspaper’s editorial board needs to immediately issue a mea culpa about its radical pro-war position and then allow alternative views on its opinion pages. By keeping readers oblivious to the war’s facts and by framing the war with the propagandistic rhetoric of President George Bush on its editorial pages, the newspaper duped thousands of Oklahomans.
What the newspaper will not give its readers is the type of information contained in a recent article by Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books. Danner outlines mistake after mistake (these mistakes have been recorded here on Okie Funk) made by the Bush administration in regards to the war. Here are some of them:
(1) The administration exaggerated claims (I would say “lied) about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Danner writes, “Anyone wanting to answer the question of ‘how we began’ in Iraq has to confront the monumental fact that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, invaded Iraq with no particular and specific idea of what it was going to do there, and then must try to explain how this could have happened.”
(2) The administration did not plan for the postwar security of the country. (The country’s security would have obviously required a much larger commitment of American troops and an overall plan.)
(3) By removing Baathists (these people were from Hussein’s political party, the Baath Party) from government positions, the administration created a sense that an educated professional segment of people would not be allowed to participate in the new Iraq. They were summarily judged on a collective level. This pushed many qualified people out of critical jobs related to the Iraq infrastructure.
(4) By abolishing the Iraqi military, it sent thousands of trained military men underground. The Iraqi army did not fight the Americans, but its soldiers were punished anyway. These men now form the Iraqi insurgency. Segments of this insurgency are now engaged in a civil war with Shiite militias, the powerful of which are operated by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is the most powerful person in the country right now. They also attack American soldiers, of course, on a consistent basis.
(5) The Iraq War and the resulting Iraq Civil War has resulted in a huge loss of credibility for American interests in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.
Approximately 2,888 American soldiers have been killed in the war and 21,572 have been wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the bloodbath, according to some experts.
Paul Bremer was head of the Coalition Provision Authority in Iraq from May 11, 2003 to June 29, 2004. He reported to the Department of Defense. This is how Danner describes the morass created by Bremer and the Bush administration after the initial invasion of the country:
“One can make arguments for a ‘deep de-Baathification’ of Iraq. One can make arguments also for dismantling the Iraqi army. It is hard, though, to make an argument that such steps did not stand in dramatic and irresolvable contradiction to the Pentagon's plan to withdraw all but 30,000 American troops from Iraq within a few months. With no Iraqi army, with all Baath Party members thrown out of the ministries and the agencies of government, with all of Saddam's formidable security forces summarily sacked—and with all of these forces transformed into sworn enemies of the American occupation—who precisely was going to keep order in Iraq? And who was going to build that "new and fresh army" that Bremer was talking about?”
The actual death and casualty toll and the botched decisions made by the Bush administration do not appear in The Oklahoman’s editorials about the war. Certainly, the newspaper can exercise its right to be a conservative toady to one of the most corrupt presidential administration in the country’s history, but as a monopoly newspaper it does owe its readers realism when it comes to issues such as war.
In its most recent editorial about the war (“Victory Plan: Iraqi government must take charge,” December 2, 2006), The Oklahoman puts all responsibility for Iraq on the most recent government there. It does not refer to the growing American death toll or the daily carnage there. It does not even offer one clue that there is great division over the war in the country and that those who oppose the Bush’s administration’s folly now far outnumber those who support it.
The American public no longer supports Bush’s war, and many prominent leaders are now weighing in with their interpretations of the administration’s mistakes. For the sake of Oklahoma’s citizens, Okie Funk calls on the newspaper to offer different points of view about the war. The Oklahoman was wrong about the war; others were right. The newspaper needs to apologize for its one-side commentary that was absolutely wrong and then come clean about Bush’s mistakes or at least allow debate about the issues. The newspaper intentionally strives to keep a segment of Oklahomans ignorant about the world around them by not allowing diverse voices about the war on its editorial page. How else can you describe it?