Can you imagine the right wing’s reaction to President Barrack Obama donning a flight suit and then landing in a Navy jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier for the purposes of political theater?
That’s what George W. Bush did ten years ago this month, just weeks after he ordered the invasion of Iraq.
These are the kind of teachable moments we, as informed citizens, need to pay attention to. We should not forget or excuse them, but study and learn from them.
Beneath a White House-produced sign declaring “Mission Accomplished,” with the 2004 re-election campaign cameras rolling, Bush announced an “end of major combat operations,” telling Americans ,"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
“…I just died, and I said my God, it's too conclusive,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would later tell Bob Woodward.
In 2009, Bush admitted, "… putting 'Mission Accomplished' on an aircraft carrier was a mistake.”
Major combat operations weren’t over. In fact, things in Iraq were just heating up as Bush was prancing around in his flight suit on the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln. They would culminate in a decade-long war of choice, a misadventure of historic proportions that cost the lives of 4,500 Americans and more than $1 trillion.
Worse, the Muslim world saw the slaughter of their co-religionists, more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, and reacted with outrage and contempt for America.
Bush’s Iraq debacle didn’t keep America safe; it further endangered America, radicalizing even more Muslims like the Boston bombers.
We also know from confirmed extemporaneous accounts that Bush was looking for any excuse to invade Iraq and overthrow its brutal tyrant, Saddam Hussein, perhaps because Saddam plotted to assassinate Bush’s father.
"After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad at one time," Bush smirked in 2007.
Other than Bush’s personal vendetta, there was no reason to invade Iraq, yet the administration worked feverishly in the run up to the war to sell Congress and Americans on the supposed threat Saddam posed; WMD “mushroom clouds” and all that B.S.
Anybody looking closely and paying attention at the time – people like Sen. Barrack Obama - knew Saddam was a danger only to the unfortunate people of Iraq, a garden variety dictator, just one of many blood-soaked tyrants around the world.
Question: If America was going to take Saddam out, why not all the others?
Answer: Saddam was the one sitting on one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
Now, the same conservatives who cheered for the Iraq invasion, who promised speedy victory, who said we’d be greeted as liberators, that Iraqi oil would pay for the war are demanding another war of choice, this time in Syria.
Ten years after “Mission Accomplished,” we have another teachable moment for America.
Are you paying attention?