Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President: Peter Van Buren

When I was a kid, three presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie.

I was a teenager during the Cold War, and several presidents told us we needed to create massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, garrison the world, invade Cuba, fight in odd little places and use the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments and replace them with dictators, or the Russians would destroy us. We believed. It was a lie.

When I was in college our president told us that we needed to fight in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua or the Sandinistas would come to the United States. He told us Managua was closer to Washington DC than LA was. He told us we needed to fight in Lebanon, Grenada and Libya to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.

When I was a little older our president told us how evil Saddam Hussein was, how his soldiers bayoneted babies in Kuwait. He told us Saddam was a threat to America. He told us we needed to invade Panama to oust a dictator to protect America. We believed. It was a lie.

The next president told us we had to fight terrorists in Somalia, as well as bomb Iraq, to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.

The one after him told us that because a group of Saudis from a group loosely tied to Afghanistan attacked us on 9/11, we needed to occupy that country and destroy the Taliban, who had not attacked us, for our own safety. The Taliban are still there. But we believed. It was a lie.

After that we were told that Saddam Hussein threatened every one of us with weapons of mass destruction, that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud, that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda. We believed. It was a lie.

In 2011 the president and his secretary of state told us we needed regime change in Libya, to protect us from an evil dictator. We believed. It was a lie.

In August 2014 the same president told us we needed to intervene again in Iraq, on a humanitarian mission to save the Yazidis. No boots on the ground, a simple act of humanness that only the United States could conduct, and then leave. We believed. It was a lie.

Now we are told by that same president that Americans will again fight on the ground in Iraq, and Syria, and that Americans have and will die. He says that this is necessary to protect us, because if we do not defeat Islamic State over there, they will come here, to what we now call without shame or irony The Homeland.

We want to believe, Mr. President. We want to know it is not a lie.

So please address us, explain why what you are doing in Iraq is different than everything listed above. Tell us why we should believe you – this time – because history says you lie.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

12 thoughts on “Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President: Peter Van Buren”

  1. There was also that whole bit about arming the Mujahideen or the Soviets would get us. Rambo III is kinda awkward nowadays, doncha think?
    Also, arming Saddam in the first place…

  2. I don't really care to hear more lies from Obama so it's just as well he keeps his big, lying, pie hole shut.

    1. Clearly there are just too many Brads around infesting with a political domestic politics partisan message to spew. We should suspect that it has nothing in the least to do with being antiwar and everything to do with Obama hate. Which may or may not be fine in it's place, but this isn't the place. It's much too harmful to the common cause here on

      luv from Canada.

      1. Oh Don, we've gotta stop meeting like this….

        The sad, harsh, reality is that Obama has more than proven himself to being a lying sack of war criminal and calling him out on that simple fact hardly amounts to partisan Obama hate. It simply amounts to basic, unfiltered honesty which is precisely what is all about. Just take it from me, this sites resident Marxist muckraker, this sh*t's got nothing to do with left or right or black or white. It's about keeping it real.

        So I'm gonna have to side with Brads of this world and respectfully ask you to check yourself.

        luv from Pennsylvania.

        1. I hope you got some enjoyment out of posting that comrade, because I got a hell of a lot of enjoyment hearing you scream out your denial.

          Sorry comrade but it's always the same story. It's all Obama hate with you this time and the next president will be xxxxx hate to a lesser degree with a "white" Dem president.


          xxxxx love and kudos for the next Repub president who gets it going in Iran and Syria.

          It's about proven track records comrade. They have a habit of sticking to you like shit to a blanket until you finally demonstrate otherwise. You're on probation but without the benefit of the doubt!

          1. What the hell is it with you and race bating? Have I or anyone here given you any reason to believe our opinions have anything to do with what color the president happens to be? Your the only one fixated with this sh*t. Your the only one with a problem.

            If you can't except the reality that a black president is just as capable of being a crook as a white one, which Obama has more then proven, then your the f**king racist and you have no place on

            comrade hermit out! Drop the microphone.

  3. Brad, it's not just Obama it's wilsonfdrtrumanikejfklbjtrickiedickfordcarterreaganbushclintonbush.

    1. Mark, you need to tell them that it's Obama too. It can't be just assumed that they understand.
      And fwiw, your list may be a bit too complicated for some?

      luv from B.C., Canada.

  4. Grenada is probably the most ludicrous "threat" the US ever "had" to extinguish. Little Grenada, with a population of just over 100,000 people was supposed to be a threat to the biggest military empire the earth has ever known. It would be downright comical if we hadn't killed so many poor people on that glorified miniature golf coarse. All because Maurice Bishop and a handful of his buddies had a dream to lift there tiny nation from poverty without the "help" of American crony capitalism.

    Imperialism truly is the most savage form of mental illness and the more things change the more they stay the same. Obama-Reagan tomato-tomato. It's kinda gross being an American sometimes.

Comments are closed.