Bush lied, and people died.
Perhaps that is the most common phrase used in reference to the second Iraq War, a war that many Americans believe we were tricked into by a vengeful Republican President with a mind for payback and a taste for blood.
He knew that we would feel compelled to act if someone found Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, so he convinced us they were there in order to justify going to war. When it became clear that such weapons weren’t there, it was too late and we had to finish what we started. But it was really all about oil and about punishing Hussein for picking on his Daddy.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that argument from either a liberal or a strict Ron-Paul-esque Libertarian, well, I wouldn’t need two part-time jobs to pay for Obamacare and the family zoo membership.
But there are two things wrong with that argument. All right, there are a lot more than two things wrong with that argument. But for the sake of brevity, two is all you’re getting today.
First: that argument assumes that the existence of WMDs in Iraq is the only legitimate reason for us to have entered into a second war with Iraq. Based on the speech then President George W. Bush gave before the UN – the very same speech during which he supposedly lied about the existence of WMDs – he noted the fact that Saddam Hussein had been violating the terms of the peace accord almost daily, and that such violations had begun before the ink on that agreement was even dry.
And let’s not even mention the fact that when Osama Bin Laden took credit for the 9/11 attacks, Hussein not only cheered him on, but told the world that he would hide Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq from American forces.
The reality is that, based on the UN’s own standards and Saddam Hussein’s persistent violations, Bush was not wrong to go to war with Iraq – he was wrong for not doing it sooner. And furthermore, former President Bill Clinton was wrong for ignoring Hussein’s actions for the entirety of his time in office.
And second: as more and more intelligence comes to light, it becomes exceedingly likely that the WMDs President Bush mentioned did in fact exist.
If they did exist, the only question that remains is why the President did not make that knowledge public. He could have vindicated himself and eviscerated the media, but he did not do it. Why?
The possibilities are numerous, but here are is one major concern:
If our soldiers found any WMDs at all, they probably – wisely - operated under the assumption that there were more somewhere. Announcing their findings up to that point might have vindicated the president in the eyes of some Americans but could easily have caused a panic and inspired enemies to put any remaining weapons to good use before they were found as well.
And if such weapons had been put to use, would they have attacked American bases? European cities? Would they have wiped Israel off the map?
Ultimately I believe that George W. Bush was right when he said that history would judge his time as President. Today it looks as though history will judge him as a man willing to be vilified in the press and crucified in the court of public opinion if it meant saving lives and preserving the integrity of the mission.