Back then, our national fears came color-coded.
It was the week of March 18, 2003, and again the national terror alert system had been upgraded from yellow to orange. Since its inception shortly after 9/11, the national threat meter had been bouncing back and forth between the two colors, often for reasons that often avoided a clear rule. But this time, the upgrade made sense. We had just invaded Iraq.
"The alert system's lack of nuance has some state and local officials questioning its utility," Siobhan Gorman, a National Journal reporter, wrote on the development. Many would come to make a similar criticism of the Bush administration's evaluation of the Iraqi threat.
National Journal, like the rest of the media, was trying to make sense of the fog of war. While the press is now criticized for not acting as a strong watchdog during this time (by not thoroughly vetting the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction), journalists were getting a sense of how this invasion would, for better or for worse, define the decade and the Bush presidency.
Reading through these 10-year-old articles now, it is clear there were no simple answers to the farthest-reaching questions.
If Saddam Falls, What's Next?
"Dictators don't fall softly," wrote Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. and Corine Hegland, in the March 22, 2003, National Journal, sensing the potential for protracted war.
Who will rule Iraq after Saddam? The bitter debate usually focuses on who is to be on top — will it be a U.S. military administrator, a civilian, or an international figure linked to the United Nations?