Monday, July 17, 2006

With the Benefit of Intelligence

In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world -- and we will not allow it. (Applause.) This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country -- and America will not permit it. The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away. The danger must be confronted.
- President Bush discusses the future of Iraq, 27/02/03
I actually want to quote something else from that speech but the above just gives it a little context. It still astonishes me to see people defending the reasons for war as if they'd somehow been justified. Bush was unequivocal: Saddam is "building and hiding" WMD, he said. Desperate clutching at the rusty and decayed remnants of Saddam's pre-Gulf War One chemical weapons stockpiles aside, it's now clear that Bush was wrong. It is now clear that his justification for war was based on an unsubstantiated allegation which he presented as fact. It is further clear that the reason why the allegation was unsubstantiated was because it wasn't true.

The reason why I keep bringing this up is easy to explain. Democracy, if it means anything at all, means the ability to bring to account leaders who manipulate and misrepresent a situation in order to win support for a war of choice. And to have these same leaders present themselves as defenders of democracy is, well, beyond my ability to put into words. Drawing a line under that would be like drawing a line under democracy itself. Not for me thanks. Democracy is flawed but it's not worth giving up on just yet.

Anyway, what I really want quote is Bush's vision of the future in the Middle East region after the invasion of Iraq. The following also comes from the same speech Bush made in the February before the war.
Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. (Applause.) The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated. (Applause.)

Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will be in a better position to choose new leaders. (Applause.) True leaders who strive for peace; true leaders who faithfully serve the people. A Palestinian state must be a reformed and peaceful state that abandons forever the use of terror. (Applause.)

For its part, the new government of Israel -- as the terror threat is removed and security improves -- will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state -- (applause) -- and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. (Applause.) And the Arab states will be expected to meet their responsibilities to oppose terrorism, to support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, and state clearly they will live in peace with Israel. (Applause.)

The United States and other nations are working on a road map for peace. We are setting out the necessary conditions for progress toward the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. It is the commitment of our government -- and my personal commitment -- to implement the road map and to reach that goal. Old patterns of conflict in the Middle East can be broken, if all concerned will let go of bitterness, hatred, and violence, and get on with the serious work of economic development, and political reform, and reconciliation. America will seize every opportunity in pursuit of peace. And the end of the present regime in Iraq would create such an opportunity. (Applause.)
Where would you even start to analyse something like that? The end of the present regime in Iraq was going to present an opportunity for peace. I think it's fair to say that things are not exactly going according to plan.

Of course, it's easy to predict what's going to happen after it happens. But then, in August '02...
Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President (through translator): I said to the U.S. administration if you harm the Iraqi people while the Palestinians are still suffering, it would only fuel the anger of the Arabs. No leader in the Arab world would be able to stop people expressing anger at such a move.

Marwan Muasher, Jordanian Foreign Minister: I think, you know, the opposition to the war has been throughout the entire world, and not just the Arab region. And I think that the United States needs to listen to its Arab allies, not because of any support for, you know, the Iraqi regime, but because as I said, a war against Iraq is going to be harmful to the interests of the region.

Dick Cheney: Some have argued that to oppose Saddam Hussein would cause even greater troubles in that part of the world and interfere with the larger war against terror. I believe the opposite is true. Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the entire region.
Hindsight, eh? It's a wonderful thing.

I was going to quote a whole list of people of various nationalities and persuasions warning that the invasion would likely lead to a destabilisation of the region but I'm sure I don't need to. And Dick has conveniently pointed out that the argument was put forward and rejected by the administration long before the war.

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1 comment:

Friendly Fire said...

Great post CH, as usual.

Steve Clemons reckons it's A BAD IDEA sending a huge target to rescue US citizens from being killed by their greatest ally.

But there are players on all sides of this conflict that may find a floating, slow, and poorly defended elephant of a ship too tempting of a target. Real or contrived, any potential attack would look like a Hezbollah attack.