Archives for: July 2012, 30
It's easier for me to avoid being angry with President Bush, to think of him as a patriot acting on wrong conviction, if I stay with my speculation that he cannot tell the truth about Iraq.
4000 American lives lost, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, the bewildering decision to allow bin Laden to escape at the Battle of Tora Bora, only made sense to me if my President was not telling me the truth, if, as former President, he still cannot say what happened.
I never bought most of the reasons for going into Iraq. Every expert was telling anyone who listened that chemical and biological weapons wouldn't work in missiles. Saddam had an air force that years ago, proved pretty effective at genocide. A country with any air defense at all would frustrate what was left of it. No fly zones pretty much eliminated even that remote threat.
There was the story that the Vice President told, and repeated and repeated, that background reports indicated was a very real administration concern. They believed there was a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq. Chemical and biological weapons would be shared with terrorists if we didn't stop it. But every report indicated that if two individuals could be found that would hate each other more than Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, it would take more than an earthly search. It wasn't personal, strictly religious. Saddam was quite secular, even hedonistic, and he refused to wipe out Shiite Muslims. bin Laden hated followers of the Shia sect of Islam more than he hated anything or anyone.
Nuclear weapons turned out to be the alarm button. It worked for me. When administration officials spoke of mushroom clouds over Manhattan, well, I had only been to Manhattan a couple of times, but I kind of liked having it around. Lots of people live there.
So nukes were a concern. In fact they were enough of a concern to make the invasion more than justified. Until they turned out to be the weakest link. Even the administration dropped that one. That's when they lost me. That's when I began to wonder what they were up to.
Why did the administration prevent the capture of or killing of Osama bin Laden, denying the support CIA operatives were begging them for? Why the invasion of Iraq?
A case can be made that top administration officials were pushing for invasion of Iraq well before 9/11, that they were simply waiting for the slightest excuse. Oil? Revenge? Humanitarian concerns? Pick your poison.
None of those poisons made enough sense to me to believe them.
My own speculation is that the original Cheney conviction, the administration belief that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks persisted. They dropped the public assertion because they had no evidence and they were not able to make a good public case. They invented other reasons. They were convinced Saddam was behind the attacks because they had been taught by two generations of cold war experience that state sponsorship was at the heart of revolutionary zeal. Saddam was responsible, and they were going to get him, even if they had to invent reasons to accomplish it.
If my speculation is right, there will never be an admission. Even patriotic reasons without evidence will not be sufficient to justify the damage to United States security.
My speculation is only that. I could be wrong.
In 2004, President Bush reiterated that the decision to invade was the right one. He acknowledged that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He picked out two exhaustive investigations, one conducted by David Kay, one following up by Charles Duelfer, as proving to him that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that there had been no weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in the years and months leading up to the invasion.
Everybody get that? I did. No weapons of mass destruction. He repeated in a later book that he was disappointed to find that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He said it again in television interviews. He said, though, that he had mistakenly believed there were, that intelligence existed that convinced him. It's just that the information was wrong.
History is always retrospective, written in the fullness of time. Today, pretty much everyone knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Investigations have proven it. President Bush says he is convinced. So we are left with possibilities.
The administration believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 attacks, couldn't get the evidence to make a good public case, but acted on it anyway. That is my speculation. A group of patriots acted on experience. They were tragically wrong and the country has paid horribly for it.
The administration acted out of humanitarian reasons. They thought invasion could be accomplished quickly and easily and the Iraqi people would be everlastingly grateful. They were tragically wrong and the country has paid horribly for it.
The administration acted out of less honorable reasons. Oil. Revenge. Something. They were tragically wrong and the country has paid horribly for it.
- The administration was convinced by bogus evidence that weapons of mass destruction existed, acted on that evidence, and were right to do it. That is the position articulated by President Bush and supporters of his administration. It does leave unanswered the lack of any means of using those weapons. So I don't quite believe it, but there is room for belief. The administration became convinced there was a legitimate threat and acted against it. They were tragically wrong and the country has paid horribly for it.
There are also the uninformed, the delusional. They either don't know of on-the-ground investigations, or they remain unconvinced by evidence. The Kay investigation, the Duelfer investigation, testimony by military and intelligence agencies, the subsequent Jay report of the US Senate, statements by President Bush and other Republican officials, and common sense, have no appeal to the dead-enders.
They would be of no concern except that they have managed to find their way into important Republican circles. One appeared on Fox news just this month to agree with Sean Hannity that the elusive weapons might have been shipped off to Syria. When Hannity insisted that is exactly what happened, he was met only with agreement. "It’s possible. It’s entirely possible."
Okay. You can always find some wacky I-Love-Lucy lovable character who believes something maniacal. Palins and Bachmanns, and Wests will always be with us. So will deranged Obama hating aging uncles. Everyone has them.
Shockingly, this person holds a very high position in the Romney campaign. Even more shocking, the opinion will probably help shape US policy if Mitt Romney takes office on January 20. There is a reason Mitt Romney can't fire him now, can't disregard his opinion, and can't ignore him as President.
The individual who still clings to the belief that the mythical weapons existed, and holds to the conspiracy theory, that Syria may now have them, is Mitt Romney himself.