As US troops left Iraq, Mitt Romney gave his retrospective analysis this week. Tommy Christopher reports in Mediaite on the Fox News interview.
“Well, if we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction,” Romney said, “if somehow we had been given that information, obviously we would not have gone in.”
Todd replied, “You don’t think we would have gone in?”
“Of course not,” Romney said, adding that the UN had “put forward resolutions authorizing this type of action.”
I thought of the incurious nominal leader of our country at that critical juncture, and how actual control of our government fell to less responsible personalities. One meeting seems iconic, a perfect illustration.
Kanan Makiya was no friend of Saddam Hussein. He was a prominent member of the Iraq opposition and eventually fled into exile. As much as anyone, he prayed for United States intervention in Iraq. He became a favorite of neo-Conservatives. In January of 2003, he and two associates were invited to the White House to meet with President Bush. They pressed the case for invasion. They expressed optimism about the ease of invasion. They found a willing audience in President Bush.
Makiya's account of that meeting was backed up through separate sources by reporter George Packer, who later reported extensively on the war preparations, and by former Ambassador to Croasia, Peter Galbraith. Galbraith was famed for uncovering evidence, in the 1980s and 90s, of Saddam's atrocities in gassing civilian Kurds. He became an advisor to the provisional Kurdish authority.
President Bush was puzzled as his three visitors explained that there were differences between Shiites and Sunnis. Iraq was mostly Shiite, but ruled by the minority Sunnis through Saddam Hussein. The mutual hatred and potential for violence was palpable. The three men explained to the President again, and again. The sectarian divide would be an important factor in the occupation of Iraq after the invasion. President Bush remained befuddled. “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”
Conservatives point out that President Bush surely had advisors who knew such basics. And they are correct. In fact, speechwriters for the President had included this line in his 2002 presentation to the United Nations.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.
President Bush may have been ignorant of basic facts, but his administration was not.
And ordinary citizens were taken in. Like, well, me.
I was not convinced by arguments about chemical or biological weapons. Everything I read, everything, indicated little danger to any country with even a backward airforce. Missile delivery would harmlessly burn up payloads, with much expense for the aggressor. So most of the debate was nonsense.
It was mushroom clouds that brought me over. We could not allow a madman to acquire nuclear weapons, and it appeared that was exactly what was about to happen. That turned out to be untrue.
Then I supported the invasion retrospectively because my President sincerely, though mistakenly, believed Saddam was about to get nuclear weapons on the basis of bad intelligence. That also turned out to be untrue. At very least the administration knew nuclear weapons were not a possibility. President Bush himself? He was stuck on those Sunnis and Shiites who should have all been Muslim.
A few conservative friends argue, weakly I think, that there were many reasons for invading Iraq. Nuclear weapons were simply the tip. To me, to many Americans, this was the closing argument, the clincher. This was not a lie. It was the lie.
So did President Bush lie to us?
When President Bush testified before the 9/11 commission, his biggest demand was that he be accompanied by his Vice President. A standing comment here was that the President amazed the members of the commission with his ability to talk while Vice President Cheney drank water.
There was some minor fluff this week over millions of email messages still missing from the Bush administration. What I found confirming was that the epicenter of lost documents, the black hole into which records disappeared without a trace, was not the White House itself. It was not the Department of Defense or the Justice Department. It was the office of the Vice President.
Welcome to the office of the acting President, the one who knew his Shia from a hole in a ground.
Trackback address for this post
No feedback yet
Leave a comment
|« Coverage of GOP Embarrassment Halted in Mid-Sentence||Debating an Empty Chair in Missouri »|