Four Historians, Four Years Ago

On March 17, 2003, President Bush gave his now famous 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. That night, Jim Lehrer interviewed four historians on this edition of Newshour regarding the decision to invade Iraq. The transcript reveals very different opinions, including serious doubts about the war. Below are brief exerpts from the four experts.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD – Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
“I actually think that in a way just as the stock markets have been going up as it looks like the crisis is going to be resolved quickly that probably we took much more damage in the run-up to war than we’ll take in the war itself.”

DIANE KUNZ – Diplomatic historian, formerly at Yale
“I think what’s interesting to remember is that what President Bush is doing is building on Wilsonian principles. Woodrow Wilson taking the United States into war in 1917 said, “We are going to war, we will expend our blood and treasure in order to safeguard principles.”

ROBERT DALLEK – Boston University:
“I think people who support him (Bush) find confirmation in his language and in his words. And I think we’re going to see in this country and around the world an explosion of tension and division over what the United States is doing.”

HOWARD ZINN – Professor Emeritus, author of People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.)
“…the one thing that is missing in so much of the discussion is that we are going to kill a lot of people in this operation. It’s all well and good to talk about the promise of a different Iraq, a democratic and free Iraq, a promise which is very dubious considering the history of the United States.

It’s a history in which it has not been very good at creating democracy, a history in which it has rather supported dictatorships around the world, but we are going to kill — and think of it this way — we talk about Saddam Hussein and what he’s doing to the people of Iraq — we are going to kill the victims of Saddam Hussein. The civilians of Baghdad are going to be living under terrorism.”

Thanks again to Howard Zinn for his insight, wisdom, and humanity.

Cross-posted from Sustainable Middle Class Blog

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4 Responses to Four Historians, Four Years Ago

  1. John

    Thanks for posting this. Looking back it’s hard not to say what have we done and when will it stop. So maddening. So damn freaking maddening!

  2. mbk says:

    Nice selection of quotes there, John. Thanks.
    Cleaning out old papers last night, I found an old New York published in Sept 2002, marking the first anniversary of 9/11. And I was surprised to see how even insightful analysts like David Remnick and (! this amazed me) Hendrik Hertzberg were still giving some credibility to the Bush View of the Middle East. No wonder we got in this mess; no wonder Bush still had a 51% approval rating at the time of the Nov 2004 election. Too many of us werer still in shock over 9/11, and the Bushies exploited this shamefully. (But American citizens share the blame, as they allowed themselves to be conned)

  3. The one that really kills me is the remark by Walter Russell Mead suggesting a stock market rally could be interpreted as an indicator of quick success in Iraq. This from a senior fellow at the CFR. God help us.

  4. Great post John. Howard Zinn knew what was going to happen.