Presidential Hopefuls “Mistaken” on Iraq

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Presidential Hopefuls “Mistaken” on Iraq

Activist Stacy Bannerman with Richard N. Perle, a former neo-con Bush adviser, in 2007's PBS “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom.”

The Iraq war was many things, but it was not was a mistake, as the current cluster of presidential hopefuls are claiming . Taking a wrong exit off the interstate is a mistake. Taking a wrong premise and turning it into the biggest foreign policy bloodbath in modern American history is political psychopathology. Missing a credit card payment is a mistake. Putting the human cost of war on the backs of less than one percent of the population and kicking the obscenely bloated financial football of billions of dollars in war bills down the road for future generations to pay is moral bankruptcy.

Politicians who perpetuate the myth that the war—a war that has burdened the families of the fallen with a lifetime of purposeless, unnecessary loss—was a mistake are committing a sort of socially sanctioned sadism. Sentencing the hundreds of thousands of warriors wounded for a falsehood to live the rest of their lives missing parts of their bodies, minds, and souls is justice only in the courtroom of hell. Consigning the caregivers (mostly wives and mothers) and children of those injured veterans to sadder, sicker, shorter lives due the proven mental and physical health consequences of providing that care, and the profoundly detrimental impact of the transgenerational transmission of combat trauma, is abject evidence that their lives do not, in fact, matter.

Having nearly lost my own life as the collateral damage of living with and caring for a two-time Iraq war veteran with severe PTSD, a mild TBI, and physical injuries that have worsened, not improved, over time to the point where he is now in constant pain and has difficulty walking, I know whereof I speak. But then, I knew what I was talking about when I began protesting the war in Iraq in 2003 as a charter Board member of Military Families Speak Out . This country’s political leaders played a deadly game of Russian roulette with the truth, and it was our loved ones, our families, and ultimately, our lives that took the bullet for a war based on lies. The war in Iraq has destroyed every single thing I loved in this world. Every single thing.

So when I hear the people who are setting their sights on being the next POTUS calling that war a mistake, I question whether they are qualified to become candidates. Because the war in Iraq was not a mistake. It was a betrayal of the public trust. It was a breach of the contract America has with the men and women in uniform and the families who support them. It was an abdication of this country’s democratic responsibility to conduct due diligence prior to declaring war. It was a moral failure of the highest order, and a violation of who we have claimed ourselves to be as a Christian nation. The war in Iraq was a war crime. It was not a mistake. To call it a mistake is to deflect responsibility and further fortify the foundation of lies that built the faulty case for war. To call it a mistake means that my very recently ex-husband, my marriage, my health, my home, my future, and my security were decimated because someone couldn’t read a road map, and forgot to pay the bills. We’ve had that person in The White House before; let’s not make the mistake of giving them the keys to the Oval Office, or the war car, again.

Stacy Bannerman

Stacy Bannerman is the author of Homefront 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars (2015), and When the War Came Home (2006). She was a charter board member of Military Families Speak Out, has testified before Congress three times, and spearheaded the passage of two bills. Her website is

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