PoliticsNation | March 19, 2013
>>> thanks, chris. and thanks to you for tuning in. tonight's lead, ten years after the start of the iraq war , too many on the right still don't get it. ten years ago tonight president bush announced the u.s. had started bombing iraq . he did this despite the millions of us who marched in the streets demanding that he stop beating the drums of war. the bush administration sold the war using the worst kinds of falsehoods and fearmongering.
>> but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud .
>> the checks alleged that the attacker met in prague with a senior iraqi intelligence official.
>> iraq recently sought significant quantities of uranium from africa.
>> bush and his crew misled america about virtually every aspect of this war.
>> my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.
>> we're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.
>> in the battle of iraq , the united states and our allies have prevailed.
>> mission accomplished turned into a national tragedy. with unimaginable costs. nearly 4,500 americans were killed in the war. over 32,000 americans were wounded. left maimed or crippled by bush's war. in 2002 before the war began, a young state senator named barack obama came out to oppose the invasion of iraq . at a time when few politicians on the left were showing that kind of courage. when he was running for president a few years later, he promised to end the iraq war , and in 2011 , he did.
>> as president, i want us to fight on the right battlefield. and what that means is getting out of iraq .
>> the long war in iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. across america , our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families. today, i can say that our troops in iraq will definitely be home for the holidays .
>> our troops are home. the iraq war is over. but today too many republicans haven't learned the lessons of this tragedy. dick cheney himself says he has no regrets.
>> it is a wartime situation. it was more important to be successful than it was to be loved. if i had to do it over again, i would do it in a minute.
>> and here's what a new republican congressman, a veteran considered a rising star in the party, said just last week.
>> are we fighting too many wars? and i would say no. we're fighting one war. and it's a war against radical islamic jihad. final question is, can we afford this war? the answer is yes, we can afford it.
>> he's wrong. the truth is, we are fighting too many wars. and we can't afford any more. every dollar spent on a bomb in iraq was a dollar not spent here at home. a dollar not spent on books for our children. a dollar not spent on food for the hungry or medicine for the sick. we spent ten years trying to build a nation in iraq . it's time to do some nation building here at home. joining me now is former democratic congressman, patrick murphy . he was the first iraq war veteran to serve in congress. and richard wolffe , msnbc.com executive editor. thank you both for joining me.
>> thanks, reverend.
>> congressman, you served there. what are your thoughts tonight about this war that bush and cheney led us into?
>> well, reverend, it still breaks my heart. the fact is, when i was there ten years ago, i lost 19 men in my unit.
>> 19 men in my unit. of the almost 4,500 we lost total. not one person in the bush administration has been held accountable. not one. they haven't even apologized. i mean, it was one of the biggest strategic catastrophes in our nation's history. our troops did an amazing e ining job. they did the job they could do. but they were shorthanded. the american public was misled in this war. they completely said it was about 9/11, a connection. then they said it was about weapons of mass destruction . neither of which was true. neither of which our own intelligence agency said it wasn't true. you know i served on the intelligence committee in the congress.
>> i wanted you to walk through that slowly. you were in the intelligence committee . the intelligence was saying it is not true in terms of weapons of mass destruction . they went ahead anyway. 4,500 of our men and women lost their lives. and mr. cheney says i have no regrets.
>> right. of course, that's mr. cheney who when it was his generation's war in vietnam got four deferments and said i had better things to do. but it was my generation who was serving when he was really quick to get us in wars that were unnecessary and had no connection to 9/11 and afghanistan.
>> now, richard , i think that when i talked about the fearmongering, in the aftermath of 9/11, people were absolutely on edge.
>> sure, they were.
>> absolutely nervous. so you could understand people being misled. and some of us that were out early against this war were looked upon with great disdain.
>> but here we are today ten years later, and you still have senators like mccain and graham who today are saying that we should be part of the same kind of policy in syria . let me show you what they said. the provision of arms to vetted syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against assad's aircraft and scud missile batteries on the ground and the establishment of safe zones inside syria to protect civilians and opposition groups. ten years after the start of iraq war , they're rattling the sabers again.
>> right. so we've got to put this into a bit of context here. because syria , look, there isn't iraq or nothing.
>> iraq has to be put into its context. john mccain and lindsey graham were two of the cheerleaders even before bush came in, right? there was a whole group of them in the senate saying we needed to invade iraq . along the way when they realized there were no weapons of mass destruction , when they realized this was a complete quagmire, the thing they said it would never be, what they actually said was toent worry about it because we've got another rationale here. we're going to spread democracy. remember? freedom on the march? this is a language they don't understand. culture they don't understand. where having a large foreign invasion has a long and sad track record of failure. now, that's not to say it cannot be done. you know, look at the different kind of model that this administration took when it came to libya. right? we can actually help people on the ground and do so in a way that does not jeopardize american lives and can respect the culture. if you're going to push democracy it needs to come from people on the ground. so i don't think --
>> and we haven't even talked about the amount of lives of the iraqi people that were lost.
>> right. so there are other ways that america has to stay engaged in the world, promote democracy, including in the arab and the muslim world , where we are dealing with jihadi syria . there may be a very strong humanitarian case. but it most definitely isn't the iraq model. the first step for people like john mccain is to admit and to understand how they went wrong and why they went wrong. america cannot introduce democracy at the point of a gun.
>> and to continue to try to do it even now. that's why i brought it up. i want to go back to you, congressman, because you brought up about former vice president cheney getting four deferments and not fighting in vietnam. but sending your generation to war in iraq . there was a new documentary about him. i want you to look at this exchange that he had with the interviewer in the documentary.
>> what do you consider your main fault?
>> my main fault. well, i don't spend a lot of time thinking about my faults, i guess would be the answer.
>> now, i don't want to go back to our views on cheney . when you mention your generation, in this new generation of concerns, do you think they see cheney 's faults, or are they overlooking it and they're ready to go into syria or wherever and the same kind of attitude that cheney had?
>> you're right. the new generation of republicans and the ones who served, they think dick cheney 's a hero. and that's what gives me such great discomfort. it's like we didn't learn our lesson from vietnam or iraq . and it's like richard said, it has to be organic. we all want democracy everywhere. but it has to be organic. we can't go around starting unnecessary wars. it's like you said, reverend. when you have john mccain and lindsey graham cheerleading for us to go and bomb iran, for us to be in syria and when our own military experts, if you know, the general -- the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is general martin dempsey . i served under him in iraq . he has said we got to be careful before we send arms and put our men in harm's way in syria , because it is a syria war. it's hezbollah versus hamas. neither of which are friendly to us.
>> again, richard , saying we don't understand the culture, when you look back ten years ago tonight, was we went into this, look at the costs. $1.7 trillion.
>> benefits owed to war veterans , $490 billion. i mean, how can republicans who put this war on a credit card now say we need to tighten our belt and cut programs for the poor and working class ?
>> that's a great point. you know, the bush administration fired the economic adviser who said that the iraq war would cost about $100 billion. because they thought it was too much. they got it wrong about iraq . they also said, by the way, the iraq that had been invaded by america would become an ally against iran. they got that wrong, too. it's not just about the cost. strategic judgments were wrong. when dick cheney says it's more important to be successful than to be liked, he wasn't successful. his premise failed. from the beginning it failed. in the middle it failed and in the end.
>> he certainly wasn't successful, and i'm not sure he's liked.
>> when you talk about the costs, by the way, a lot of those costs are being bourn on the back of our reverends. just after sequestration happened they just cut over 330,000 veterans, current members of our military right now, they just cut their benefits when it comes to tuition assistance.
>> after they sent them to war. they cut and they hit their families, scholarships for children of troops who died in iraq or afghanistan. 38% cut up to $2,134 less per scholarship. that's the thanks they get.
>> in a situation that was totally unfounded. i'm going to have to leave it there. congressman murphy, richard wolffe , thanks for your time tonight.
>>> ahead, something happened today that nobody could have predicted a year ago. how is rand paul helping the obama agenda?
>>> and big news on the gun safety fight today. a major development that we really need to talk about.
>>> plus, a civil war of epic proportions is unfolding inside the republican party . and rush limbaugh is on fire.
>>> one more thing before we go to break today. on the tenth anniversary of the iraq war , i think it's important we look back on the history that was chronicled in a war zone . something that has always struck me are the photos taken by samantha appleton. she covered the first three years of the war for "the new yorker" magazine and "time" magazine. and in my mind, very few have captured what came out of her camera. and her work. no one better than samantha. her images are some of the most memorable and searing snapshots. we've got more on why it's a day to remember, especially our brave men and women who fought