I sent an email to KUOW's Steve Scherr this morning in response to his program featuring journalist Mark Danner. Danner was discussing his new book Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War.
Danner spoke about the failure of the media to challenge the Bush II Administration's false pretenses for going to war in Iraq. He also critiqued support for the war by journalists such as Christopher Hitchens, who failed to challenge the duplicity of the Bush Administration. The prominent example of this duplicity was that key administration officials called Saddam Hussein a bloodthirsty criminal worthy of being deposed because of his attacks on his own people and his use of gas against Iranians in the 1980s. However, many of these same officials (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) were members of the Reagan Administration who allowed such things to happen by, at the very least, not confronting the issue directly at the time.
Within this context, Danner stated that the falsehoods Bush II officials used to get us involved in this current war in Iraq show an unprecedented example of untruth used both to influence domestic politics and to achieve imperial goals. However, this isn't unprecedented at all in the history of the U.S.
The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 and the Spanish American War of 1898-1899 were both pushed by presidents, were both debated hotly, and have both been shown to have been started under false pretenses for political and economic reasons.*
I would conclude that the U.S. has a long history in starting such wars. Sadly.
* Other examples of U.S. military interventions for reasons of empire can be found here.