Opinion (James Zogby): Iraq war was lost even before it began
The war in Iraq was lost even before it began, for one important reason: the Bush Administration did not consider it important to earn the trust and support of the public. In the lead-up to the fighting in Iraq, the Bush Administration did not tell the American people the truth about why we were invading Iraq, or what would be the expected costs and consequences that would result from that action. Instead, they relied on hype and created myths to justify the war.
In this context, it is important to recall all of the myths the Administration developed to sell the war - and not just the fudged intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and the supposed connection to the attacks of September 11, 2001. In speeches and debates, advocates for the war downplayed its costs and consequences. We were told it would be quick and relatively painless: a massive show "shock and awe" followed by a few weeks of fighting and maybe a few more months to clean up. One Pentagon official estimated: 90,000 troops, 6 months and a few billion dollars - Iraqi oil revenue funding the reconstruction effort.
After victories in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and the war in the Balkans 1996-1999, this was the kind of high tech war that Americans had come to expect, with limited U.S. casualties and minimal "collateral damage."
At the same time we were told that U.S. forces would overthrow the dictator and his hated regime, be greeted as liberators (in an image designed to invoke images from World War II), and preside as midwife to the birth of a fledgling democracy that could serve as a "beacon for the entire Middle East."
Our early polling, at Zogby International, showed how important these myths were for U.S. public support.
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