We have been here before… an accelerating crescendo of drumbeats for war emanating from the current Administration while facts remain murky, evidence is lacking, denials and doubts abound, and motives are anything but transparent. Americans may be excused, if not forgiven, for forgetting how the United States annexed Puerto Rico, the Philippine archipelago, Guam, the Spanish islands of the West Indies, and treacherously assumed control of Cuba following the 1898 Spanish-American War. Part of that drumbeat was reaction to the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor in February of that year killing 260 sailors. But despite claims that a Spanish mine had exploded near the powder magazine, subsequent investigations concluded that the explosion was accidental.
In 1964, a doctored account of the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” released by the White House of Lyndon Johnson, provided a case for an aggressive act by a North Vietnamese gunboat, when in fact, the gunboat had been fired on first by the U.S.S. Maddox. The “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” passed in August, 1964, repeated the lie, including a wholly fictitious “second attack,” paving the way for the Vietnam War. The resolution was repealed in 1971, despite White House pressure, when it was far too late. But the Adoption of the War Powers Resolution in 1973, over Nixon’s veto, requires the President to consult with Congress in regard to decisions involving U.S. forces in hostilities or imminent hostilities, a limitation which is still in effect.
This did not prevent the gross manipulation of fact and outright “misinformation” on the part of the second Bush administration in 2002 leading up to the “Iraq Resolution” passed by Congress in October of that year. There followed the bombardment and invasion of a country that had no role, as had been alleged before the U.N. and the American public, in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, had no connection with Al Qaeda, no nuclear arms program, and had decommissioned its “weapons of mass destruction” years earlier.
Hundreds of thousands of deaths later, including over 3,800 U.S. military personnel, more than a trillion dollars of lost “treasure,” and after unimaginable suffering by civilian populations, the turmoil in Iraq is far from over. The involvement of Iran, its neighbor, in efforts to influence reconstruction of a nation that had waged an 8-year war against it two decades earlier (with American support of Saddam Hussein’s forces), was inevitable and has led to increased chaos and the threat of another war in the Middle East.
Have we learned anything from such misadventures? From the sound of the drums, not much. But the answer to that question is probably blowing in the wind. Yes, we have been here before.