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The Iraqi in Bush’s ear admits errors in judgment

April 10th, 2013
11:22 AM ET

By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti, CNN

Ten years ago this week Baghdad fell. It had been a scant three weeks since the United States had invaded Iraq.

The world watched as jubilant Iraqis and U.S. Marines tore down a giant bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. The image was played over and over again all over the world. In the United States, it was taken as a sign of victory. The world later find out that images weren’t all that met the eye. For example, some accounts later claimed that the crowd was made up largely of troops and journalists, not every-day Iraqis.

But then, as now, the toppling of Saddam's statue remains the perfect metaphor: Perception did not match reality. A war the U.S. thought it had easily won instead dragged on for another decade, killing thousands of American forces and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

After years of death and destruction, the majority of Iraqis, today, say they don't think democracy can work.

The American people thought it would be a quick and clean war because that's what their leaders told them. And those leaders were citing assurances from prominent Iraqi exiles to back up their case.

One of those exiles was Brandeis professor, Kanan Makiya. Just days before the invasion, then-Vice President Dick Cheney cited Makiya as one of the people who led him to believe that U.S. troops would be “greeted as liberators.” 

Ten years later, Makiya believes Iraqis are indeed better off without that brutal dictator, but he now admits to errors of judgment about just how the war would turn out.

“It's unfolding inside Iraq, at the moment in bad ways, but tomorrow very well it may not be in bad ways,” Makiya told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Makiya does not think the picture is as bleak as some paint it and cites the success of Iraqi Kurdistan – an northern region where security improved and the economy has flourished.

But could Makiya look at the parents of a dead American soldier and say the war was worth it?

“The truth is I can't. I would have to lower my eyes and just be quiet, be ashamed,” he said. “But at the same time, I can't say that for the people in Iraq in general. I think the picture is very different for Iraqis coming out of the Saddam era than it is for the rest of the world.”

The war may not have been worth it for Americans, but Makiya still clings to the sense that it is was a victory for the Iraqi people, despite the continued insecurity.

He hoped for democracy to flourish; while that may be a just cause, many believe he was naïve and was out of touch with Iraq at the time of the invasion.

“I made errors of judgment,” Makiya admitted. “My judgments were, in part, based upon the hope that things would turn out differently.”

Though Makiya is quick to point out that he cautioned that Shiite rule could result in a period of retaliation.

“I made those warnings. As it turned out, the Shiite political class put in power by American force of arms on April 10th, 2003, did behave selfishly, did think only of themselves and even began to lose the very idea of Iraq,” he said.

Despite some of the misgivings he has about how the Iraq War turned out, Makiya says the world should intervene in Syria for moral and strategic reasons.

“It's a simple matter here: Intervention to reduce the killing,” he said. “Or at least decreasing the killing will help increase the chances of a stable Syria surviving.”

In the shadow of the Iraq war he admits intervention poses many dangers.
“I'm not even sure the United States should do it. I hope the Turks will do it, frankly,” he said. “Everything is fraught with danger in the Middle East today.”

Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Haadh

    Wowza !! How Simple it is for Mr.Makiya while we suffer here with a tremendous loss...

    April 10, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • jogeechacha

      Try the pig bush for genocide and war crimes against humanity.try him at the hague

      April 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
      • MIchael

        I'd rather do it in DC in the public square at high noon...with Cheney and Wolfowitz beside him. Executions to follow shortly after the trial.

        April 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  2. Kurt

    "An error of judgment" ?? Every European knew that this war had to be avoided. The body count is horrific, just google the data. The USA destroyed a country, and one that had precious archeological treasures. They did not care that it had no link with 9/11. They just wanted to attack, so badly, eager to believe every lie of the government, and dismissing any critic as "not patriotic". Indeed, GW Bush should be tried. Maybe his father too, remember the Kuwaiti incubator baby hoax ?

    April 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • jogeechacha

      Not forgetting CNN coverage and lies.

      April 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
    • Taylor

      US did what they had to do, how else do you keep petrol prices down

      April 10, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  3. yoda9999

    why can't arabs solve their own problems?

    April 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Dr. Husain

      Because US is not in this arrangement.

      April 10, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • coderjones

      the quick and dirty answer is religion itself
      – religion blinds and subjugates them, as do most religions
      – but in the context of your question, these folks have believed so fervently, that they've never come out of the stone age - at least the general populous, their royal family lives as one would imagine royalty does ..... again, their beliefs still actually allow for such a thing as royalty ..... which by definition, subjugates their people in another way .... With all that confinement, rhetoric and heat – it's makes me wonder why violence is tolerated at all

      April 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply
    • MIchael

      Because they are Arabs?

      April 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Reply
    • Ibrahim

      It is a cultural and religious problem.
      They hate people of the book Jews and Christians.
      End time every Jew will be killed.Infidels have no chance.
      Then there is this difference of Shia, Sunni,Alawi, druze etc etc........ It is a never ending war.
      US and Europe get involved thinking they are smart but they can never be of any help.
      Bush Sr and Bush Jr are criminals in their eyes. Saddam invading Kuwait etc etc in not an issue.
      With Millions of $ pumped in for Islamic PR big media is on their side. Bush & Blair will be for ever vilified.

      April 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  4. Timme62

    Of course it was not worth it. The men & women of the armed forces have my total support in the job they do, however, they and the rest of the country were lied to repeatedly by the Bush administration. Sonny boy wanted to one up his daddy by winning a war. Bush senior even said in his book there would never be a winner if we went to war.

    April 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  5. ttt

    A very shining example of the hypocrasy of the Western World. It is hard to beleive that Bush and Blare are not in The Hague.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • Corporatism at its finest

      Well, it's simple. The sole purpose of the Iraq War was to fork over TRILLIONS of Tax Payer money to Halliburton to provide services they simply didn't provide. Cheney and Bush were connected to that company. In his last term, an addition to a law was snuck in somewhere which legally cleared Cheney and Bush of any wrong doings.

      April 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  6. rumsfeld009

    Most people in USA and in Iraq know as bad as Saddam Hussain was. It was better for Iraq than G W BIUSH war.

    April 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  7. rumsfeld009

    G W Bush war on Iraq was an unnecessary war. A waited war.

    April 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  8. Q

    Let’s be honest here, the rest of his bloody cabinet had the perfect excuse, we are going to get Saddam down & look for the arms of mass destruction.
    1. – They got Saddam.
    2.- Were are the Arms of Mass Destruction?
    3.- They broke a Country (Iraq) in to pieces, they did no leave any of normal government & it’s going to cost the American people million & millions of Dlls for 50 years to come.
    How can you tell the American soldiers that were there, “Hey all was a big mistake “sorry.
    How can you tell the thousands of innocent people that got kill & are still getting kill for It.?
    Bring George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld & Condoleezza Rice to trial for crimes against humanity & let’s have peace.

    April 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  9. carlos aponte

    Something wrong w/ video about bush ear on Irak was it on purpose..

    April 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  10. Ibrahim

    Saddam was evil.
    US did a good thing by removing him
    What the US did not know waxs Muslim countries cannot be democratic. They have to follow the shariah
    Watch the Arab spring countries Pharaoh Morsi is in Egypt. Libya, Turkey and others are in line.
    Christians and other minorities in these Arab countries were butchered for centuries now it will start again.
    Leftist Media and Muslim Brotherhood alliance in the US is even more dangerous.
    In 15 to 25 years time US will lose its power.

    April 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  11. Ibrahim

    This is a cultural and religious problem no one in the world can solve it except GOD ALMIGHTY.
    Arab PR Dollars are smartly spent on big media.
    With all visible problems like Bombay 26/11, Bali, Baslan, Kosovo etc etc they are shown as victims.
    Nobody speaks about the thousand of Muslims killed by Muslims in Arab and Islamic countries for Jihad.

    April 10, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  12. Ben Edwards

    It would be great if CNN admitted that they didn't bother to do any fact-checking when they regurgitated the WMD lie to the American public, straight from the propaganda office in the DoD.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      I agree. The mass-media played a significant role in making this illegal and un-necessary war possible.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:51 am | Reply
  13. T-roy

    400,000 Iraqi civilians dead and 5000 usd solders dead.

    The Hague and the War Crimes courts were set up to try people like Makiya.

    April 10, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      >>The Hague and the War Crimes courts were set up to try people like Makiya.

      and Bush & his cohorts.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
  14. Frank Oliver

    Now they put the blame and the responsibility on ONE Iraki!!! How coward can a failedAmerican politician only be! You are criminals and as such have to be traeted.

    April 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  15. truth

    Democracy in the western context has no total universal acceptance. this is the point American scouts have missed.

    April 11, 2013 at 7:01 am | Reply
  16. mohamed ahbib

    a dont now spak inglensh s spak frensh

    April 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  17. Naluthara

    I have some advice for the leaders of the civilised world. Now that we have pinpointed the person who lead the world to a disastrous war, let us prosecute KANAN MAKIYA for war crimes!. He should be punished because he misled otherwise peaceful people like DICK CHINEY.

    April 13, 2013 at 4:14 am | Reply
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