In his uniquely respectful approach to disagreements Hussein Ibish claims we lied when we said he supported the US wars on Iraq. He then proceeded to offer several links which he seems to believe demonstrate his opposition to the first war on Iraq, the subsequent sanctions, and finally, the 2003 invasion. We took the time to go through all of them, and we did not find a single instance of Ibish condemning any war on Iraq. Ibish did offer some polite criticism, all of which was based on US national interests, and restricted to the strictly defined Washington parameters of acceptable discourse.
Surprisingly, in one link Ibish offered he seemed to suggest that the problem with the first war on Iraq is that the US did not “liberate” the country. In other words, did not invade and occupy Iraq and remove the legitimate regime back in 1991 (see page 19) which is what happened 12 years later.
So what was Ibish’s actual position on the 2003 Anglo-American invasion?
Ibish described the war as unnecessary, a blunder, a burden on the US, and costly. His main criticism appears to be it did not serve US imperial interests. He points to several reasons why “from an American point of view” the war “was not worth it.” The costs of the war were enormous, he says, referring to financial cost to the US and the American soldiers that died in the invasion and subsequent occupation. The war also cost the United States dearly politically and diplomatically, undermined American global leadership exposing the limitations of American power, and feeding into an unfair global, and for Arabs even chauvinistic, narrative about American arrogance. It also strengthened Iran as a regional power. Ibish’s mild criticism of the sanctions were also framed, not in legal, moral, or humanitarian terms, but rather as not conducive to US imperial interests.
Not only did Ibish fail to condemn any war, but he was also involved in events that honored those directly responsible for prosecuting the wars. After the 1991 destruction of Iraq, when Ibish was associated with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), but not yet its communications director, the ADC invited Colin Powell, by that time infamous for the “highway of death”, to a banquet. Ibish was among those that gave him a standing ovation. By the time of the Anglo-American invasion of 2003 Ibish and his friend Ziad Asali had moved on from the ADC and opened their own shop, the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). Ibish and Asali invited Tony Blair to an ATFP banquet and gave him a standing ovation.
Not once does Ibish condemn the 20-year US war on Iraq as an immoral, unprovoked act of aggression that led to the death of over two million Iraqis and devastated an entire nation. Not once did Ibish call for the arrest and prosecution of those responsible. Instead, he honored them in the collective name of the Arab-American community. Yet Ibish wants us to believe his excessively polite criticism based on US imperial interests amounts to opposition to war, even if he subsequently gives the the war criminals a standing ovation.