March 23, 2023

Honesty Is The Best Policy

By Glenn

While honesty is the best policy, it doesn’t always make the best politics.  Twenty years ago, President George W. Bush lied about Iraq.  The invasion made conservatives happy but was a disaster for America, Iraq and the entire Middle East.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice told America and the World that Saddam Hussein was a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden.  Bin Laden’s terrorists had killed thousands of Americas on 9/11. 

The Bush Administration had invaded Afghanistan to get Bin Laden.  They couldn’t get the job done.  US intelligence agents found him hiding in the mountains of Tora Bora, but President Bush ordered American resources to focus on Saddam Hussein in Iraq instead.

Bush and his team justified this shift in focus by fabricating a vague case based on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hussein was a familiar face to American voters since the first Gulf War under President George H. W. Bush.  After defeating Iraq in Kuwait, the Elder Bush ruled out an invasion of Iraq and regime change.

The Elder Bush knew the truth and told it to the American people.  Invading Iraq would have been a strategic disaster.  The US had no justification for the invasion.  Iraqis would resent the invasion. America’s allies would renounce the invasion.

This wise statesman was trained in international diplomacy.  He crafted an international sanction regime to check Hussein and an international inspection regime to make sure Iraq didn’t pose a threat to its neighbors.  The system was not perfect, but it worked to keep Hussein in check.

We know it worked because United Nation inspectors warned the American public before the war.  The UN told the truth.  Hans Blix, a Swedish diplomat and Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported that he found no WMD in Iraq.

The younger Bush team would not listen to the truth about WMD.  On February 3, Collin Powell, the US Secretary of State, told the UN that Hussein had a sophisticated WMD program.  French diplomats reviewed the evidence and compared it to their own.  France, America’s oldest ally, refused to believe the lies.

Vice President Dick Cheney persisted.  Liberals warned the public of the looming disaster.  Iraq would be a quagmire similar to Vietnam.  On March 16 Cheney told the American people “Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

The US invasion of Iraq began three days later. To no one’s surprise, American troops quickly overwhelmed the Iraqi military.  US forces, however, couldn’t find the WMD.   Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, continued to lie, “We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”

These lies not only cost millions of Iraqi lives, the war cost the lives of American service men and women.  It diverted much needed resources from the hunt for al-Qa’ida.  Osama Bin Laden escaped justice until President Barack Obama redirected troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

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