June 20, 2019
By Harold Meyerson | Jun 20, 2019
Iran War Justification: Repurposing an Old Lie. It’s not just Donald Trump’s ongoing rants about Hillary Clinton’s emails—which featured prominently in his declaration of candidacy for re-election earlier this week in Orlando—that suggest a president and administration waging the battles of yore. Now, their rationalizations for going to war against Iran are the same spurious ones that the George W. Bush administration used to justify going to war against Iraq in 2003. Just as the Bushies claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime was conspiring with al-Qaeda, so the Trumpettes are arguing that the Ayatollah’s regime is also conspiring with al-Qaeda.
Those with fond memories of how we got ourselves stuck in Iraq for well over a decade will recall that on 9-11, Bush started insisting Iraq was behind the attack, though it was clear that the culprit was al-Qaeda. Undeterred, the Bushniks and their friends in the media insisted that al-Qaeda and Iraq had been in cahoots. Number-one media friend was New York Times columnist William Safire, who wrote close to two dozen columns insisting that an Iraqi official had taken lunch with an al-Qaeda official in Prague before the attacks, though his claim was soon disproved, and no evidence of Iraqi-al Qaeda ties has turned up in the 17 years since.
Today, there are even more elemental reasons why an al-Qaeda-Iran alliance is improbable. Al-Qaeda is a fundamentalist Sunni organization that views Shiites as apostates and infidels, and Iran happens to be a Shiite theocracy. Al Qaeda has its roots in Saudi Arabia, which is Iran’s mortal enemy.
Still, since the al-Qaeda lie helped push us into a war once, that’s two reasons why the Trumpistas probably are invoking it: First, it helped produce the policy that its spinners sought, and second, it was a lie—both good things in the universe of Donald Trump.