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Iraq War

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Fifteen years ago last week, the U.S. invasion of Iraq began. It was to be beyond glorious. It was to signal the start of an unprecedented new era in which a single imperial superpower, left alone on the planet, would organize more or less everything to its own taste for the first time in history... Read More
Here’s a thoroughly humdrum figure from the post-9/11 world: this February an estimated 1,294 people were killed in Iraq and another 266 wounded, including ISIS militants, numerous civilians, Iraqi security forces, Kurds, and Turks. Few of them died in major combat, just low-level incidents, suicide bombings, and bodies found in mass graves. And keep in... Read More
A Trip Down Memory Lane, Pentagon-Style
If you’re in the mood, would you consider taking a walk with me and, while we’re at it, thinking a little about America’s wars? Nothing particularly ambitious, mind you, just -- if you’re up for it -- a stroll to the corner. Now, admittedly, there’s a small catch here. Where exactly is that corner? I... Read More
If I were to pick a single decision by an American president and his team in this century as our own August 1914, I would choose the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. Of course, in that era of the “sole superpower,” there were no other great powers (as in the World War... Read More
Who even remembers that, back in September 2002, Lawrence Lindsey, then President George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser, offered an upper limit estimate on the cost of a future war in Iraq at $100 billion to $200 billion? He also suggested that the “successful prosecution” of such a war “would be good for the economy.”... Read More
Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, a former businessman who had helped run companies into the ground, he was widely considered ill-prepared for the presidency, out of his depth, a lightweight in a heavyweight world. Still, having won the Republican nomination and then a uniquely contested election, once in the Oval Office... Read More
David Petraeus Finally Answers His Own Question
It took 14 years, but now we have an answer. It was March 2003, the invasion of Iraq was underway, and Major General David Petraeus was in command of the 101st Airborne Division heading for the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Rick Atkinson, Washington Post journalist and military historian, was accompanying him. Six days into a lightning... Read More
You would barely know it, living in this country, but the essence of modern warfare is what our military tends to call “collateral damage”: the killing or wounding of civilians, not combatants. The Global War on Terror -- more than 15 years later a no-name set of conflicts still spreading across the Greater Middle East,... Read More
Every now and then something lodges in your memory and seems to haunt you forever. In my case, it was a comment Newsweek attributed to an unnamed senior British official “close to the Bush team” before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad,” he said. “Real men want to go... Read More
In her first interview since President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence and she was released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Chelsea Manning explained to Nightline co-anchor Juju Chang why she leaked documents about America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We're getting all this information from all these different sources and it's just... Read More
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
It’s true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad -- the “mission accomplished” debacle of 2003 and the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre -- were at least noted in passing in... Read More
How the Invasion of Iraq Came Home
If you want to know where President Donald Trump came from, if you want to trace the long winding road (or escalator) that brought him to the Oval Office, don’t look to reality TV or Twitter or even the rise of the alt-right. Look someplace far more improbable: Iraq. Donald Trump may have been born... Read More
Every now and then, I think back to the millions of people who turned out in this country and across the globe in early 2003 to protest the coming invasion of Iraq. Until the recent Women’s March against Donald Trump, that may have been the largest set of demonstrations in American history or, at the... Read More
On February 15, 2003, an almost unimaginable 13-plus years ago, I took part in a court-banned antiwar march in New York City. The police, it turned out, couldn’t stop us (though they could, in various ways, pen us in). Depending on whether you believed the police or the demonstration's organizers, I was one of either... Read More
The third time around, the Pentagon evidently wants to do it right -- truly right -- this time. What other explanation could there be for dispatching 12 generals to Iraq (one for every 416 American troops estimated to be on the ground in that country, according to Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast). And keep... Read More
It was a large banner and its message was clear. It read: “Mission Accomplished,” and no, I don’t mean the classic “mission accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln under which, on May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush proudly proclaimed (to the derision of critics ever since) that “major combat operations in Iraq have... Read More
Who even remembers the moment in mid-February 2003, almost 13 years ago, when millions of people across this country and the planet turned out in an antiwar moment unique in history? It was aimed at stopping a conflict that had yet to begin. Those demonstrators, myself included, were trying to put pressure on the administration... Read More
Am I the only person who still remembers how Pentagon officials spoke of the major military bases already on the drawing boards as the invasion of Iraq ended in April 2003? It was taboo back then to refer to those future installations as “permanent bases.” No one wanted to mouth anything that had such an... Read More
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Let’s begin with the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills, Iraqi oil money held in the U.S. The Bush administration began flying it into Baghdad on C-130s soon after U.S. troops entered that city in April 2003. Essentially dumped into the void that had once been the Iraqi state, at least $1.2 to $1.6 billion... Read More
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Body Counts, Drones, and “Collateral Damage” (aka “Bug Splat”)
In the twenty-first-century world of drone warfare, one question with two aspects reigns supreme: Who counts? In Washington, the answers are the same: We don’t count and they don’t count. The Obama administration has adamantly refused to count. Not a body. In fact, for a long time, American officials associated with Washington’s drone assassination campaigns... Read More
The post-9/11 moment offered them their main chance to transform their dreams into reality and they seized it by the throat. They wanted to “take the gloves off.” They were convinced that the presidency had been shackled by Congress in the Watergate era and that it was their destiny to remove the chains. They believed... Read More
So many years and wars later, it’s easy to forget what a total television hit the first Gulf War of 1991 was. Just in case you no longer remember -- and why should you? -- that was the war that was to bury America’s defeat in Vietnam forever and signal the arrival of the greatest... Read More
Lost Dreams, Lost Armies, Jihadi States, and the Arc of Instability
As Iraq was unraveling last week and the possible outlines of the first jihadist state in modern history were coming into view, I remembered this nugget from the summer of 2002. At the time, journalist Ron Suskind had a meeting with “a senior advisor” to President George W. Bush (later identified as Karl Rove). Here’s... Read More
Call me human. It turns out that I’m no better at predicting the future than the rest of humanity. If as a species we were any good at it, right now I would undoubtedly be zipping through the gloriously spired skies over my hometown, New York City, my jet pack strapped to my back, just... Read More
Tom Engelhardt
About Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tomdispatch.com is the sideline that ate his life. Before that he worked as an editor at Pacific News Service in the early 1970s, and, these last three decades, as an editor in book publishing. For 15 years, he was Senior Editor at Pantheon Books where he edited and published award-winning works ranging from Art Spiegelman's Maus and John Dower's War Without Mercy to Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy. He is now Consulting Editor at Metropolitan Books, as well as co-founder and co-editor of Metropolitan's The American Empire Project. Many of the authors whose books he has edited and published over the years now write for Tomdispatch.com. He is married to Nancy J. Garrity, a therapist, and has two children, Maggie and Will.

His new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books), has just been published.


Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower