On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes spoke to Sen. Chris Murphy of the Foreign Relations Committee to about the conflict between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza following the devastating terrorist attacks by Hamas over the weekend.
While speaking of President Biden’s pledge to provide military aid and the unwavering support of the United States to Israel, Hayes drew a parallel to the United Kingdom’s unquestioned support support of the US ahead of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and asked if such support could lead to “incredible amounts of misery and civilian death in Gaza.”
Watch the full clip at the top of the page.
Hayes said to Murphy, “I can only speak to my experience as an American journalist covering American policy through the years. You know, I remember in the run-up to the Iraq war, the UK said, you know, Europe, Tony Blair’s government said, ‘You’re our ally and we stand four-square behind you and what you think you have to do.’”
“And that proved to be catastrophic, strategically, for the country, for the region. I think there’s concerns some have expressed that the US says to the Israeli government, ‘Do whatever you have to do, whatever,’ and that that will, perhaps, abet massive strategic miscalculations or incredible amounts of misery and civilian death in Gaza.”
In response, Murphy answered, “Well, listen. Right now, the focus is on accountability, finding out who is missing, who is being held hostage, and understanding what the American interest is here.”
“But of course, we expect the Israelis to act proportionally,” he continued. “And we will give them as much assistance as is necessary to find and target Hamas without any unnecessary casualties, but Hamas is going to nestle itself in civilian neighborhoods.”
Biden has been heralded by many as delivering a complete condemnation of the violent acts carried out by many members of Hamas over the past four days. In his speech, he promised in part, “We will make sure the Jewish and democratic state of Israel can defend itself today, tomorrow — as we always have.”
In response, former US ambassador to Israel Michael Oren tweeted, “President Biden’s speech was the most passionately pro-Israel in history. The president stood four-square behind the Jewish state and the Jewish people and unequivocally against terror and anti-Semitism, and pledged the power of the US to our defense. Our people will always remember and cherish this speech and the man who delivered it.”
Biden’s speech was delivered after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Israeli troops he “released all restraints” on them. Gallant also said, “You will have the ability to change the reality here. You have seen the prices [being paid], and you will get to see the change. Hamas wanted a change in Gaza, it will change 180 degrees from what it thought. They will regret this moment, Gaza will never return to what it was.”
For those who might not remember the events of 20 years ago, what Hayes was referring back to is a pledge to President George W. Bush made by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, that “I will be with you, whatever.” Notably he made this pledge against the advice of his advisers.
The war in Iraq began on March 19, 2003, when the United States launched the unprovoked invasion. Saddam Hussein was captured on Dec. 13, 2003, but the war lasted until 2011, by which time public opinion had fully turned against it.
The origins of the war are myriad, but beginning with his 2002 State of the Union speech, Bush spent most of the year leading up to the invasion of Iraq on a public relations campaign aimed at convincing the American public, which was still dealing with the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction and that the country had close ties to al-Qaida, who had launched the attacks. Neither of these claims were true.
Later investigations ultimately concluded that there “was no factual basis” for either claim and that the Bush administration deliberately “blurred the lines between Iraq and 9/11.”
As for Blair, in July, 2016 John Chilcot found that Blair ignored warnings about joining the US in the war and ignored contrary political advice, instead relying on his own feelings. He also found that Blair exaggerated the threat Iraq posed, especially claims that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction.
Though he denied Chilcot’s findings, Blair later said throwing in with the Bush administration’s war efforts was the “hardest, most momentous, most agonizing decision” he had ever made. He added, “For all of this, I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever know or believe.”
Among the sorrier things that happened as a direct result of the war, the U.S. Army engaged in the torture of prisoners, astonishing war crimes were inflicted on Iraqi civilians, and the financial cost ended up being more than $3 trillion. Even so, the full human cost of the war for Americans, Iraqis, and American allies is still unknown.