As we approach the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it is important to remember those who were responsible for that tragic and unnecessary war.
Prior to joining the USF faculty, I was a research fellow at the Institute for Global Security Studies specializing in the study of non-conventional weapons in the Middle East. From my investigations there and subsequent research while at USF, I had concluded — as did many other independent strategic analysts — that the Bush administration’s claims in 2002 that Iraq had somehow reconstituted vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons were false.
This was a serious question at that time because Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed possession of “weapons of mass destruction” was the primary reason the Bush administration insisted it was necessary for the United States to invade and occupy Iraq, a war that resulted in the loss of nearly 4500 American lives, many thousands of permanently wounded veterans, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, more than a one trillion additional dollars to the national debt, and an unprecedented increase in anti-American extremism.
Wanting to try to prevent this illegal and unnecessary war, I contacted the office of our local Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi that fall, recognizing that—as the powerful Democratic leader of the House of Representatives—she could influence the debate I let them know of my desire to meet with her and share my research which raised serious questions about the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s alleged chemical and biological weapons capabilities.
They told me that would not be possible, so I asked for a meeting with her chief of staff. Or her foreign policy advisors. Or her district director here in San Francisco.
Every one of them refused.
A couple months later, as the debate about whether the United States should invade Iraq was growing, Pelosi appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and told the host Tim Russert that “Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There’s no question about that.”
This highly-publicized statement not only set back the burgeoning anti-war movement but negated the important political advantage the Democrats would have otherwise had when, following the U.S. conquest of that oil-rich country, no chemical and biological weapons were ever found.
I have never received an explanation as to why no one on Pelosi’s staff was willing to meet with me and consider the evidence I wanted to share with them. Indeed, to this day, though I communicate regularly with several other members of Congress and their top staffers who solicit my advice on security matters related to the Middle East, Pelosi’s district director and other top staff members still refuse to set up an appointment with me or even return my calls.
Perhaps, when it comes to the Middle East, Pelosi is like her Republican counterparts who refuse to meet with scientists about climate change in that she doesn’t want the facts to get in the way of her prejudices. Perhaps she has been influenced by right-wing groups which have falsely accused me of being “anti-American” and “an apologist for terrorists” for periodically raising critical questions about certain aspects of U.S. Middle East policy. Perhaps she does not think that the University of San Francisco is prestigious enough an institution to bother taking seriously the research of its faculty.
Whatever the reasons, it is disappointing that the Democratic Party would choose someone like that to be their leader in Congress and that the people of San Francisco keep re-electing someone so willfully ignorant.