So, a friend of mine (I won't mention names here!) and I have been having a friendly back-and-forth about the Presidential election, now just 11 days away! She's backing Kerry, and I obviously am supporting El Presidente! She's pushed Kerry thus far based on a woman's "right to choose" and on the grounds that she thinks gays should be able to wed.
Today's dig on W was a little different. It went like this, "W started a war under FALSE PRETENSES." I disagree, and so attempted to lay out my point. See if you agree...
False pretenses? Is that what this is all about, not “The wrong war at the wrong time,” but false pretenses? Make up your mind already!!!
See, there have been two fundamentally different critiques of the War. The first being that the war was unjust, and the second being that ultimately it was just, but that Bush led us in there for unjust reasons. Though you give rhetoric to imply the second argument, I’ll assume you mean that the war was wrong in general. However, since you’re mi amiga, I’ll touch on both.
To work backwards, as most of you Democrats think we Republicans do anyway, the assertion that Bush lied about the rationale for war factually just isn’t so. Exhibit A being Bush’s March 19 primetime speech from his desk in the Oval Office, announcing the beginning of American Forces going into Iraq:
Right up front, Bush began, “…at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, TO FREE ITS PEOPLE and to defend the world from grave danger.” He ended his address, “We will BRING FREEDOM TO OTHERS and we will prevail.” His premise and his conclusion both hit on the dual purpose of the invasion.
I could go do a search of all his speeches leading up to the war, and they’ll all show the same thing, that his argument was always that there were two reasons for the Invasion: the benefits of liberating an oppressed people, and the assurance of the safety of the American people.
But where did these arguments, these justifications - these “pretenses” if you will – come from? Were they strategies developed from W’s ranch in Texas, as some have suggested?
Well, actually no. Long before Bush even began his campaign for President, while he was still a lowly Governor from Texas, regime change in Iraq was the official policy of the United States Government.
Bill Clinton called Saddam, “the greatest threat to our security in the 21st Century.”
Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Advisor – quoting Clinton – said, “the best way to address the challenge Iraq poses is ‘through a government in Baghdad—a new government—that is committed to represent and respect its people, not repress them; that is committed to peace in the region.’”
Even Congress got into the action during the Clinton years, passing the Iraq Liberation Act, which read, “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”
As the Weekly Standard put it, “Clinton and Berger had suggested [regime change] might someday be necessary. For all the reasons that Berger had outlined, Saddam's regime itself was the problem, above and beyond his weapons capabilities. It was an obstacle to progress in the Middle East and the Arab world. It was a threat to the Iraqi people and to Iraq's neighbors. But a big part of the threat involved Saddam's absolute determination to arm himself with both conventional and unconventional weapons.”
Think about that – Bill Clinton agreed with President Bush.
And that was before September 11, which changed everything, and pushed all of this to the front burner. Things that before were to be considered necessary “someday,” suddenly became necessary sooner rather than later.
The Bush Doctrine stated clearly that the fight not only would be taken to the terrorists, but to nations that provide safe harbor to them as well.
Even just based on that, going into Iraq was justified, both rhetorically and as the next front of the War on Terror. The documentation of Saddam’s involvement with terror organizations is extensive. He provided them funding, gave them safe harbor, and met with leaders of various terror networks frequently. One of the Al-Qaeda leaders even was kept on Saddam’s payroll and lived in Baghdad.
But the reason for prioritizing Iraq as the second front of the War on Terror was different. Yes, there was a serious humanitarian benefit to freeing the Iraqi people. Yes, Saddam helped those who were plotting against us. But also, Saddam himself was a threat.
Before throwing mud at the President, keep in mind the evolving argument those of you on the left have used against the war. Based on the intelligence everyone at the time was using, the argument was that Bush was “rushing to war,” and that he should instead allow Hans Blix and his crew more time for inspections. Everyone agreed that they thought WMD existed, but argued about whether the war needed to be “rushed” into. The argument was expediency, not justification.
David Kay, who led an extensive investigation into Iraq’s WMD testified before Congress that, "All I can say is that among an extensive body of Iraqi scientists who are talking to us, they have said: The U.N. interviewed us; we did not tell them the truth, we did not show them this equipment, we did not talk about these programs; we couldn't do it as long as Saddam was in power. I suspect regardless of how long they had stayed, that attitude would have been the same."
In other words, Hans Blix could’ve built a house in Baghdad and stayed there searching for a dozen years, but while Saddam was in power, the truth was never going to come out.
And just what was that truth? That while the weapons may have been destroyed (or just have yet to be found); Saddam was in fact, actively maintaining the infrastructure to resume production of WMD as soon as he was free to do so. In the words of David Kay, “they maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing was illegal."
He went on to say that Iraq, "was in the early stages of renovating the [nuclear] program, building new buildings."
Kay concluded that, "they maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their programs."
As Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle said, "The threat posed by Saddam Hussein may not be imminent, but it is real, it is growing and it cannot be ignored."
Mi amiga, you’ve got to realize that before this campaign heated up – it was one of the few things both Democrats and Republicans agreed on, that Saddam had to go. John Kerry and John Edwards believed that liberating an oppressed people, combined with ridding America of a serious threat, were damned good reasons to go to war. They both voted as such.
But when Howard Dean started to kick both of their butts in the Primaries, their votes and their rhetoric both fundamentally changed. Edwards even went a step further than the President to say that Saddam posed an “imminent” threat to the United States. Bush on the other hand, when asked by Tim Russert if the war was “necessary,” paused for a minute and asked Russert to elaborate.
Bush’s thoughtfulness showed that he believed that the war may not have been necessary, but that it was justifiable, and in the interest of the United States to conduct. Bush was and is correct that necessity isn’t a prerequisite for justifiability. Was WWI necessary? Was the European aspect of WWII necessary? Was the Korean War? For that matter was the first Gulf War? Wars are based on a judgment of whether the benefit of action outweighs the costs of inaction, and in this case the benefits clearly were superior.
What you have to realize is that the Democrats agreed with the President’s goal, but disagreed with the speed with which he sought out to accomplish that goal…that is; they agreed right up until campaign season began…
At that point, both of the Johns took an anti-war stance, Kerry more so than Edwards. That fundamental change is what propelled Kerry to victory in the Primaries. It wasn’t a principled reason, as you can trace his arguments supporting the war right up until the time Dean looked like he was running away with the Primary. That’s one of many reasons that Kerry scares me. With something as serious as war and peace, Kerry is willing throw off a dozen years of voting and saying one thing, in order to win an election. That behavior is not befitting any politician, especially the Leader of the Free World.
Bush’s rhetoric and his execution of the War have remained constant. There has been very little change of his justification of the war that hasn’t been brought about by developments of the war itself. Kerry and Edwards however, go every which way based on what that morning’s polling shows them. If you believe what the Johns are saying today about Iraq being the WRONG WAR AT THE WRONG TIME, you should be blaming THEM for leading us into a war based on FALSE PRETENSES, not the President!