A Cautious Man
November 15, 2005
"The American Way So That Truth Will Out"
The discussion continues, about who may have been a little too aggressive when trying to get the Iraq invasion to happen. A lot of people are writing much more informative things about President Bush’s current “It’s Not My Fault Tour – 2005”. This is my two cents’ worth.

Yesterday, the President gave another speech, on a military base in Alaska, attacking his critics. He’s revisiting old lines from past speeches, poor guy – he really needs a new writer. Interestingly enough, as he travels around arguing that people are rewriting history by claiming that he was misleading people about Iraq – he’s, well, rewriting history and misleading people. For example, this is how he describes the start of the war -
After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein a final chance to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, ordering him to disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. When he refused, we had a choice: Do we take the word of a madman and forget the lessons of September the 11th, or do we take action to defend our country? Given that choice, I will defend America every time.
As pointed out here before, the reason the U.N. weapons inspectors ultimately left Iraq was that President Bush was about to launch a war to, well, enforce the inspections (or something like that). As reported by Fox News on the eve of war -
U.N. weapons inspectors climbed aboard a plane and pulled out of Iraq on Tuesday after President Bush issued a final ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to step down or face war. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday ordered all U.N. inspectors and support staff, humanitarian workers and U.N. observers along the Iraq-Kuwait border to evacuate Iraq after U.S. threats to launch war.

After failing to secure U.N. authorization to use force to disarm Iraq, Bush gave Saddam 48 hours to step down or face war in a speech Monday night.

U.N. weapons inspectors arrived in Baghdad for the first time in four years on Nov. 27, 2002, and resumed inspections two days later. During four months of inspections, arms experts traveled the length of the country hunting for banned weapons of mass destruction.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix has said that during those inspections, inspectors never found any "smoking gun."
At another point in his speech yesterday, the President said he can respect those who disagreed with him all along, and decried those whom he said were playing politics with the war -
Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagreed with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible.
As has also been discussed here before, the President did not have that same respect for different opinions, and he played politics with war, when he was trying to badger the Congress into giving him authority to invade, if he so chose. As he said in response to a question in September of 2002 -
Q Mr. President, thank you. Are you concerned that Democrats in Congress don't want a vote there until after U.N. action? …

THE PRESIDENT: … And the first part of the question was, Democrats waiting for the U.N. to act? I can't imagine an elected United States -- elected member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying, I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision. It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States. If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.

And so I -- we'll see. My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as quickly as possible. It's in our national interests that we do so. I don't imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, gosh, I think I'm going to wait for some resolution. He's a threat that we must deal with as quickly as possible.
So, let’s re-cap. The inspectors were in Iraq, and the President decided to invade anyway, based on a resolution which he obtained from Congress in the middle of the 2002 elections. Yesterday, the President repeated that his decision to invade was authorized by that Congressional action -
Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war, but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people. Leaders in my administration and members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence on Iraq, and reached the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein was a threat.
But, the decision to invade, even though there were inspectors on the ground in Iraq, was the President’s alone. The Congress was irresponsible in giving him the authority to make that final decision to go to war, requiring only that he send a letter saying that he thought it was necessary to invade -
March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.


Did you catch that? The President said based on information available to him, only some of which he provided to Congress, it was time to invade. And, we all know how true either (1) or (2) turned out to be.

So, should everyone say, "Okay, Mr. President, we'll stop asking questions"? Don't think so. As noted here before, maybe the best response to anyone, who opposes looking into how America stumbled into this war, is a statement from Mr. Springsteen on his tour a couple of years ago -
"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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