A Cautious Man
October 13, 2003
"Truth Will Out"
You've been hearing a new, revisionist spin on the reasons for war. "The President never said there was an imminent threat", is basically how it goes. The corollary is that anybody who now points out the lack of WMD is accused of disregarding the real reason we went to war. Basically, it's an interesting approach to shifting the burden on to the critics of the war. However, it is based entirely on finely parsing all of the President's statements, to interpret them to mean something very different from the clear intent, at the time they were uttered.

This is what the President said, in an address to the nation, on March 17, 2003:
"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

"The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

"The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other."
Later on in the speech, he said the following:
"Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq."
This was the vote which was sold, at the time, as a vote which would not lead to "imminent" war. The President added as follows:
"Yet, the only way to reduce the harm and duration of war is to apply the full force and might of our military, and we are prepared to do so. If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end. In desperation, he and terrorists groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible. And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed."
And, finally:
"We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities. "
All of this was in the President's speech describing the need for Hussein to get out immediately.

But today, we're told that nobody claimed there was an "imminent" threat. Well, I guess if you want to argue the meaning of each and every word, and show that they could be read to indicate a less-than-imminent threat, that's possible. But, at the time, and given the context and the clear intent, it is deceptive to claim that the American people were not told that war, immediate war, was the only way to safeguard our country. This would all be amusing, if it wasn't for the fact that these people are trying to deceive us about how they led the country into a war, a war that had to be initiated immediately, without any recourse to other options or approaches ("Up yours, France"; "Get lost, Pope").

I would say that it's like arguing over what the meaning of "is" is, but back in the Clinton years that was an argument about sex. This is one about death. So this is serious, and the folks who are trying fool people about what they did last spring should be ashamed of themselves.

I think Mr. Springsteen has said it best, during his concerts this past summer:
"The question of whether we were misled in the war with Iraq is neither a liberal or conservative question or Democratic or Republican question. It's an American question. And protecting the democracy we ask our sons and daughters to die for is our responsibility and it's our trust. And demanding accountability is our job as citizens. That's the American way so that truth will out."



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