The American People: You Fooled Us Once…

You know what they say:  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

The American people have learned the hard way that U.S. politicians in both political parties, and the generals and defense contractors they work for, will do almost anything to keep the defense dollars flowing.

That includes deliberately lying to the American people about things like Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

If there is a sense of déjà vu overwhelming the country at the moment, it’s because the drum beats of war against Syria sound eerily similar to the drum beats of war against Iraq.

The big difference, however, is that Saddam Hussein was likely a far greater mass murderer than Assad… and George Bush actually went out of his way to persuade virtually all of our allies, and almost every Democrat in Congress including Hillary Clinton, to go along with his military adventure.

The one person he couldn’t persuade was the pope:  Pope John Paul II remained steadfastly opposed to the attack on Saddam Hussein… just as Pope Francis today is steadfastly opposed to escalating a civil war into a wider regional conflict that could engulf the entire Middle East.

The reason is simple:  Under international law and the principles of just war theory, there is zero justification for the U.S. government to attack a sovereign country in the midst of a civil war… especially when both sides in the conflict have been accused of horrendous atrocities.

1.  It is not an act of self-defense;

2.  There is no reasonable expectation of success;

3.  All other means of putting an end to hostilities have not been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

4.   The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to a new war in the Middle East; and.

5.  There is a very strong likelihood that an attack against Syria will produce evils graver than the evil to be eliminated.

Concerning the last criterion, proportionality, Pope John Paul was surely prescient.

Observers disagree about the numbers, but the number of Iraqis killed in the Iraq War ranges from 110,000 (Associated Press) to as high as 600,000 (the Lancet).  The Iraq Body Count Project estimates between 110,937and 121,227 civilian deaths.

trap 2That’s an awful lot of “collateral damage,” as the generals like to call children blown to bits by cruise missiles and drones.

On a purely practical level, moreover, lobbing a few cruise missiles at Syrian targets won’t have any significant impact on the war itself.  If anything, it will only strengthen Assad’s position.  It’s purely political theatre, an act designed for Obama to “save face” after he imprudently declared a “line in the sand.”

That’s why critics rightly suspect that the cruise missiles will be only the first stage… and that, despite Obama’s promises to the contrary, the cruise missiles will inevitably be followed by American “boots on the ground.”

Well, no more U.S. teenagers should die so Obama can act like a tough guy.

As Time Magazine put it, Obama was elected, in part, to put an end to the era of perpetual warfare that George Bush and the neo-cons foisted upon the American people.

Yet now Obama has morphed into the Assassin-in-Chief who believes that his status as commander of U.S. forces gives him the right to execute without trial anyone, anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens, the CIA deems maybe a possible terrorist.

No, the American people are finally waking up.

Just as they have been outraged to discover the almost pathological spying the U.S. government conducts on its own citizens, so, too, they are no longer willing to give the politicians and generals the benefit of the doubt when it comes to war.

They are asking hard questions this time… and the politicians and generals don’t have ready answers.


image: shutterstock

Robert Hutchinson


Robert Hutchinson studied philosophy as an undergraduate, moved to Israel to study Hebrew and earned an M.A. degree in Biblical studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible. He blogs at

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  • John

    Agreed, Robert. This is deja vu all over again! However, just watch the pols push it through! God help us with these maniacs in charge!

  • pnyikos

    The irony of Obama’s saber-rattling, after having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, should not be lost on anyone. The Nobel committee awarded the prize on frivolous grounds to begin with, and if they have no regrets about it now, the situation may soon be summed up by the slogan in George Orwell’s _1984_: “War is Peace.”

  • Amy Mitchell

    I agree with the general sentiment of this article and only wish to make a slight but significant correction. There were WMD in Iraq, and since the proof of their destruction is missing, perhaps they still exist. One of the many hypothesis to explain their absence from Iraq after the invasion was that they were sent into Syria.

    I don’t think any action against Syria by the USA is just at this time as they have never attacked us, or threatened us with attack.

  • JimmyChonga

    Seems that if this nation is required to pull the trigger on Syria, it will be to save the ego of our little man-child president.

  • jim8107

    I don’t agree with an attack on Syria – not wise. And I don’t support the assertion by this author of lying about WMD in Iraq. Mistaken perhaps, yes. Next I suppose that 9-11 was an inside job? So much “loose change.” I mean this assertion is rather appalling. And on these matters, I tend to discount to a degree, albeit respectfully, the opinion of Popes, bishops and priests who seem to have so much difficulty handling the job that Christ has actually tasked them for – governance of the Church. They don’t have access to the intelligence that the various civilian governments do, and the catechism is rather clear that ultimate responsibility for military actions lies with the state.

    As a Catholic who has served in uniform who is frequently irritated by the clueless who have not, I consider everyone who sincerely seeks to to serve their country, whether in uniform or in the necessary business of defense to have been insulted by this assertion. I don’t support him, and I don’t support CE for allowing this assertion on their site. Mr. Hutchinson, you need to consider how much damage you did to your argument by your opening. The argument about Syria is reasonably sound, but your opening stinks. Sorry Amy, but a slight correction just won’t do.

  • Rosemary58

    The context for the attack on Saddam Hussein was quite different from the one we see regarding Syria. However, due to the circumstances of 9/11, we were understandably in a panic mode. Even the most wonderful people can fall into that category.
    I would disagree that, as craven as some public officials can be, they allowed thousands of Americans to die and/or put their lives at severe risk for a lie. If you believe that, you should say it. If you really believe that, you should pursue action against those persons. Form a committee, protest, name names.

    Yes, Americans are waking up – to empty wallets.

  • Jackie

    Well Mr. Hutchinson – for all your academic degrees – you missed the lesson on name calling weakens your position. While I agree that we ought not in any way interfere with Syria – neither with money, weapons or military strikes – your article hardly provides a sound reason for it. Mostly because you spend so much of it calling people names and claiming to know their intentions and, apparently, the state of their soul.

    Like Jim8107 – I am a Catholic who served in the Army, am the daughter of a Marine Corps pilot and the mother of an active duty soldier. My family served to safeguard your right to free speech – it’s unfortunate it was so poorly thought out and written, with 4th grade name calling and zero information on the military and how the US Military goes out of it’s way to prevent or reduce civilian casualties.

    And Catholic Exchange should be embarrassed to print such a poorly written and reasoned piece.

  • Howard M Ccomber

    Bear in mind that the majority of civilian casualties in the Iraq and Afghan wars were the result of secular violence: SUNNI/SHIA/Shiite/Taliban. The US military service member has been under the strictist rules of engagement ever issued by a nation. Secondly, President Bush had congretional approval, and open news sources speculate that the WMD in Iraq found its way to Syria. While no mas piles were found, traces of WMD existed. Look back in time when Iraq attacked the Kurds in the north, and Iran to the East. Tens of thousands were killed, and we did NOTHING. How is this different? The President is a muslim and will not openly admit to it. He was raised in Indonesia and attended a Madras Schooling, while his father was off fighting Jihad in SOmalia and other African states.
    The peice that this article fails to discern is the infighting among the tribes within the stated boundaries. Sunni, Shia, and Shi-ite conflicts have been around for a very long time. The other side of this is the fact that Iran has introduced rhetoric that may have an impact on decision makers. The bottom line is that this is a civil war and the last time the Americans got involved a fanatical element was apointed to power, and the Ambasador and his team were killed resulting in two countries in qaos. The US does not belong in this engagement.

  • Howard M Ccomber

    I failed to mention that Prayer, holding or showing a Bible, Cross, Rosary is punishable by courts martial in the US Military. Who is the evil dooer? Where does it stem from?

  • kirk

    Mr Hutchinson-
    Your heading “Fooled us once….” tells me that you are too young to remember WW2. The American people, and it’s polititions, wanted to do just what they are saying now, “Stay out of (Syria…etc).” It was not our problem, saving a few Jews were not worth our becoming involved because we were not being threatened. We could sit in our comfortable homes, sipping tea, watching our children play and go on as if there were nothing in the world that could possibly harm us. I love our Pope Francis, but he says to solve this by peace talks – it is never an option to stop the carnage with bombs or troops.
    Well, i’d like to ask you, Pope Francis, and all your readers two questions, “Do you think Hitler’s plans for world domination and eradication of the Jews would have been stopped with a few peace talks? Would Japan have thought twice about bombing our Pacific Fleet? What would our world have been like if Hitler had won that war?
    Again, “Fooled us once…” – boils down to how old you are and what you remember (or have studied) of American History.
    And Assad is no better than Hitler.

  • Mark Duch

    Ah, but there is a celestial teapot on the opposite side of the moon!

  • DavyJB

    Not sure how any reasonable person, let alone Catholic, could possibly disagree with the assertion that Mr Hutchinson makes – getting involved in Syria’s civil war is completely unjustified on several levels. Very clear, very concise, no military expertise needed here.
    Our soldiers do what they are told to do, and we should always honor and uphold them with the greatest support and respect that they deserve. Avoiding unnecesary wars is just as much to protect their lives as it is for the lives (or livelyhood) of those they protect in our country.

  • ColeVish

    Why are we so reluctant to look at Jesus and the saints? Violence is never the highest or most fruitful road… Death cannot stop death. Why not rather be wronged?

  • Chris

    As a former service member and a current defense contractor NOT interested in having anything to do with Syria, I believe I can speak for many others in my industry in saying this article is complete nonsense and I am embarrassed for CE for publishing this.

  • paengsdelrosario

    You must not have served in the US Military.

  • Twoms

    I agree with both of you. I especially dislike the way that this
    author attributes all civilian deaths to U.S. action, when in fact we
    all know three vital things happened in that theater:

    That the Iraqis placed their air defense in residential neighborhoods, including on top of residential buildings.
    What goes up, must come down.
    Iraqi people themselves almost immediately engaged in religious civil
    war (fueled greatly by influxes from Iran and other places) that
    accounted for the majority of those casualties.

    People like Mr
    Hutchinson will repeat platitudes such as this, and perhaps even that
    “the victor writes the history” (a misleading and often untrue saying,
    if there ever was one – the proof being this here lie), until the
    general public believes it to be the truth.

  • Twoms

    Those trucks streaming over the border into Syria were the first thing I thought of when I heard of a chemical attack there.

  • Twoms

    Further, the Australian weapons inspector was convinced and relayed in personal circles – imparted to a close personal friend – that not only were there weapons there (no, no, he and others were told, you can’t go in there!), they were working on “really scary stuff” and “the U.S. needs to get in there, right now”.

  • Twoms

    I don’t hear much disagreement about not getting involved in Syria – but a lot of exceptions to the rest of his rubbish.

  • DavyJB

    The first casualty of any war is the truth. To make the assertion that our government lied, whether it was with good intentions or not, about certain facts regarding the Iraq war, is at the very least arguable. President Bush eventually made a statement that he was wrong about WMD’s in Iraq.

    This takes nothing away from your tremendous service to the country. It only takes the elite government decision makers to task.