VIDEO: The Other Heroes of the Iraq War

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A decade after the US invasion of Iraq, there is a growing consensus that the Iraq war was a colossal and costly failure, paid for with the lives of millions of innocent Iraqi civilians, and thousands of American service men and women.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be widespread agreement that nothing could have been done to prevent the war in the first place.

The courageous and electrifying pre-war stands of political leaders like Senator Robert Byrd (above) and Representative Barbara Lee (see video clip below), the millions of people around the world who protested the war before a single bomb was even dropped on Baghdad, the testimony of UN weapons inspectors who warned that there were no WMD in Iraq, the thousands of pages written by progressive journalists detailing the deceptions of the Bush administration’s propaganda campaign – these realities have received little to no attention in mainstream news coverage of the 10th anniversary over the past few days … or what little coverage there has been.

But as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted in a recent blog post, none of this should come as a surprise:

Why does there seem to be so little coverage [of the 10th anniversary]? Well, it’s not hard to think of a reason: a lot of people behaved badly in the run-up to that war, and many though not all people in the news media behaved especially badly. It’s hard now to recall the atmosphere of the time, but there was both an overpowering force of conventional wisdom — all the Very Serious People were for war, don’t you know, and if you were against you were by definition flaky — and a strong current of fear. To come out against the war, let alone to suggest that the Bush administration was deliberately misleading the nation into war, looked all too likely to be a career-ending stance. And there were all too few profiles in courage.

The war, then, was a big test — a test of your ability to cut through a fog of propaganda, but also a test of your moral and to some extent personal courage. And a lot of people in the media failed.

This is an old pattern. In one war after another, the US news media have served as an echo chamber for government propaganda before wars, only to fall silent after them.

As this clip featuring Norman Solomon from the documentary War Made Easy reminds us, this has not only allowed the media to avoid taking responsibility for their failures. It has also had the effect of marginalizing those who had the courage to stand up – often at great personal and professional risk – and tell the truth.

Ten years after the American people were lied into yet another devastating and unnecessary war, here’s to the courage and wisdom of the flaky ones.