Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Read that back to me

In today's Chicago Tribune is an opinion article purporting to assess the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq. (Yes, they are rehashing what was said back in 2002 and early 2003.)

It's really not a bad article – so long as they are actually quoting Bush and members of his administration.

Then it comes to this jarring end:

But by stripping its rhetoric about Iraq and Al Qaeda of the ambiguity in the intel data, the White House exaggerated this argument for war.

Bush synthesized a better argument, properly invoking Sept. 11, during an Oct. 6, 2004, campaign stop in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He said that given the dictator's prior use of illicit weapons, his record of aggression, his hatred for the U.S. and his identification by Democratic and Republican administrations as a terror sponsor, "There was a risk--a real risk--that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons, or materials, or information, to terrorist networks. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take."

That argument, before the war, would have lacked the impact of implying that Iraq played a role in attacking America. It would, though, have had the virtue of being true.
Not a word in the quoted statements of Bush and his administration implied “that Iraq played a role in attacking America.” Only their own columnist’s words refer to such an implication:

The Bush administration did not, before or after the war, accuse Iraq of perpetrating Al Qaeda's deadliest assault. In fact, on Sept. 18, 2003, Bush told reporters, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with Sept. 11." But as Tribune columnist Steve Chapman wrote, that was too little too late: "At a news conference shortly before the campaign in Iraq began, Bush invoked the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, no fewer than eight times. That was enough to foster the widespread impression that we were launching a retaliatory attack, not a pre-emptive one."

Their columnist took the mere mention of September 11th to be implying an Iraqi role in the attack, but the transcript of the press conference shows his impression to be false.

Here’s one interesting little excerpt from that press conference:

“Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes. He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists -- terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people.”

Ironic, isn’t it? That was the President making the very same argument that the Tribune claims was not, but should have been made before the invasion. The press conference was on March 6, 2003, which places it roughly two weeks before the invasion of Iraq.

Maybe there is a "hard-wired" problem in the brains of Bush critics. They cannot see the words they've quoted. Perhaps they should try having someone read the words aloud to them, just to find out whether they can hear the arguments they favor when the arguments are made by Bush.


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