How the Iraq war changed US politics and helped elect Trump 2023

Twenty years ago, while serving as a Pentagon desk officer, Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski became aware of a new, classified entity named the Office of Special Programs.

The OSP was established to generate the type of intelligence the Bush administration desired regarding Iraq’s mass destruction weapons. Kwiatkowski, at 42 years old, witnessed the terrible war’s inception firsthand.

She remarked, “I had a great deal of confidence in my superiors, believing that they must be in their positions for a reason, that they must be knowledgeable and powerful, and all of these other fairytale-like qualities, but I’ve learned that there are inept individuals in very high places.”

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Kwiatkowski is a farmer, part-time college lecturer, and occasional political candidate on the libertarian fringe of the Republican party. She claims she was rather sceptical about war and politics until she joined the Near East and South Asia division of the Pentagon in 2002. Yet witnessing the subversion of American administration firsthand profoundly increased her disillusionment.

Kwiatkowski stated, “There’s a crisis of faith in this country.” “As always, when there are crises of religion, populist leaders emerge, and Trump’s ascent was undoubtedly a response to a crisis of faith. It will be fascinating to watch what occurs next, given that Americans have far less to be proud of than we believe.”

In general, she feels that the Iraq war has ingrained Americans with a healthy skepticism towards what the establishment tells them, but not nearly enough.

She remarked, “I could walk into Walmart right now and question everyone about WMD in Iraq, and at least three out of ten people would swear it’s real.” Our public messaging in this country is of the highest quality.

According to surveys conducted over the previous two decades, sentiments about foreign policy have remained rather steady. When the Chicago Council on Global Affairs questioned Americans in 2002 and 2021 if “it is best for the future of the country if we play an active role in foreign affairs or if we remain out of world affairs,” 71% in 2002 and 64% in 2021 favored engagement.

In a broader sense, the invasion of Iraq coincided with a decline in popular confidence in the government, which had only momentarily recovered from its post-Vietnam slump following the September 11 attacks. Pew Research Center poll results indicate that the post-Iraq depression is deeper and more permanent.

John Zogby, an additional American pollster, remarked, “It communicated to young people in particular that the government cannot be trusted.” It was also said that although the US military is the greatest in the world, it has severe limitations and cannot impose its will even on lesser nations.

He continued, “Americans will go to battle, but they want their conflicts to be brief and to have a constructive impact.”

There are still U.S. troops engaged in anti-terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria. The Authorization to Use Military Force that Congress first gave to the Bush administration prior to the 2003 invasion has not been rescinded by the Senate, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have referenced it to support activities in the region.

Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who uncovered security flaws prior to the 9/11 attacks, issued an open letter to the FBI director in March 2003, predicting a “flood of terrorism” as a result of the Iraq War. She claims that nobody has been held accountable for the tragic errors after twenty years.

Rowley stated, “I believe the greatest threat is that their propaganda was so effective that people like Bush and Cheney have been rehabilitated.” Even the left has accepted Bush and Cheney.

The terrible errors made leading up to and during the Iraq war did not result in any resignations, and neither George W. Bush nor his vice president, Dick Cheney – nor any other senior official who argued for the war and then oversaw a disastrous occupation – were ever held accountable by a commission or tribunal.

But, the taint of Iraq may have altered the path of American politics by crippling its supporters.

Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, stated, “In some respects, you might say that Iraq is what contributed to Obama being president as opposed to Hillary Clinton.” I believe Obama would not have won the 2008 Democratic primary if Hillary had not backed the war.

The conflict also created a rift among the Republican party, increasing an anti-intervention element that finally won the presidency with Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.

According to Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East and military scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, George W. Bush and his former vice president were marginalized inside their own party as a result of their low-key resistance to some of the excesses of the Trump administration.

“The system penalized those individuals. Pollack stated, “If you were a Bushie or a neocon, you are no longer welcome at the party.” I would say there has been a great deal of responsibility, but in the typical American manner.

Traditional conservatives with less radical domestic social stances as Maga Republicans were excluded. The Bush administration’s scorn for Democrats and any dissent fueled the war push, but it also accelerated the fanaticism that led to the election of Donald Trump and the 6 January uprising.

Pollack stated, “It is quite difficult to determine how much Iraq was responsible for this, but it does appear to me that Iraq played a significant role in worsening our polarization.”

Pollack is a former CIA analyst and Democrat who supported the invasion because he believed the facts regarding Saddam Hussein’s Weapons and supported the humanitarian justification for removing a dictator.

Pollack joked that he is the only one to have apologized since the incident. A few other experts, such as the conservative writer Max Boot, have also expressed regret, but there have been no public statements of regret from former top officials who made the catastrophic judgments. This is one of the significant ways in which the United States has not yet properly accounted for the war.

Pollack, who has remained in contact with various members of the Bush administration for a future book on the United States and Iraq, stated that some express private remorse for particular decisions and actions, while others remain unrepentant.

“I have been told directly, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t alter a thing. I’d do everything exactly the same if I had to do it all over again,’ which I find astonishing, he stated. “I cannot imagine looking back on American behavior throughout this era without misgivings.”

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