Replaying the Iraq War’s Greatest Hits, Five Years On

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It’s been five years since we headed down the rabbit hole to Iraq. Reflecting on this milestone while visiting Baghdad a couple of days ago, Dick Cheney declared that “we’ve come a long way” since the days of “Mission Accomplished,” describing the war as “a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavor.” Which in the topsy-turvy, up-is-down world of Iraqspeak means that we are still horribly, gut-wrenchingly screwed.

To commemorate the war’s fifth birthday, here’s a brief collection of some of Mother Jones’ coverage of the challenges and difficulties of the past few years. Or, as the vice president might put it, the Iraq War’s greatest hits:

• Before 2003, Iraq had no ties to Al Qaeda. Now it’s a terrorist breeding ground and distraction from the war on terror—the one that was against the Al Qaeda that existed before we created the new one in Iraq.

• Remember how Ahmad Chalabi conned the White House into invading Iraq? Suckers. Hard-nosed journalists would have never fallen for his crap. Oh wait—they did.

• So maybe it was a bad idea to take the soldiers involved in prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and send them to run prisons in Iraq.

• But then, the highest-ranking officer to be tried for the abuses at Abu Ghraib was let off with a slap on the wrist. Clearly, there’s nothing more to see here.

• Hey, Senator McCain—we know that it’s hard to keep track of that Sunni-Shia thing. Our “Iraq for Dummies” handbook can help.

• The good news: More GIs are surviving their combat wounds than ever before. The bad news: More than 3,900 have died. And more than 4,600 have suffered serious head or brain injuries; more than 1,300 are amputees.

• Saddam’s WMDs were nonexistent, but he did have real, live weapons researchers whom the U.S. let slip slip through the cracks. Just promise you’ll keep that nefarious know-how to yourselves, guys!

• Public service announcement: Getting out of Iraq is gonna be ugly any way you slice it.

• So many lies, so little time—lies about WMDs, lies about progress on the ground, lies about torture. We’ve been collecting them in our “Lie By Lie” timeline—years of official mendacity at your fingertips!

No doubt the hits will keep coming in the year ahead. By next March, Cheney will have moved on, but no matter who occupies the White House, the U.S. will will have spent another year in Iraq.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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