DEBATE over America's war with Iraq is not ending.
It is really just beginning, as the news out of
Iraq continues to illustrate. Eight US soldiers
died in weekend fighting and two helicopter crashes
in Iraq. According to The New York Times, the
Defense Department has identified 506 American
service members who have died since the start
of the war. The demand for direct elections by
a powerful Shi'ite cleric is delaying the drafting
of an interim constitution for Iraq; the controversy
disrupts the entire timetable for a transfer of
power by the United States to an Iraqi government.
most politically damaging of all, David Kay, the
former head of the US weapons search in Iraq,
said he resigned because Pentagon and CIA officials
no longer considered the weapons search -- America's
chief justification for war -- a priority. As
of the time of his resignation, Kay said, "We
had found no actual large weapons stockpiles and
no indication of a production process that would
have produced such stockpiles."
response, White House spokesman Scott McClellan,
said: "The Iraq Survey Group's work is ongoing,
and it is important that they complete their work.
The truth will come out."
truth will come out. Some of it already has.
days in, and it was about Iraq," writes Ron Suskind
in "The Price of Loyalty," a book based on what
appears to be meticulous note-keeping by President
Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill.
early chapter describes a meeting of Jan. 30,
2001, 10 days after Bush's inauguration, with
the newly sworn in president and the principals
of the National Security Council. CIA Director
George Tenet brings a photograph of a factory
that he says intelligence officials believe might
be "a plant that produces either chemical or biological
materials for weapons manufacture." Pressed by
O'Neill for evidence, however, Tenet acknowledges
there is "no confirming intelligence" as to the
materials being produced.
truth matters today, tomorrow, and on Election
Day. The presidential candidate who criticized
nation-building is now a president trying to build
a new nation in Iraq, using the flesh and blood
of American soldiers as his foundation. Face it,
America: These men and women were sent on a mission
that was conceived before the terrorist attack
of Sept. 11, 2001. Indeed, its outline was being
officially sketched at least eight months before,
according to O'Neill's records. It was not mission
accomplished when George W. Bush made his famous
landing on an aircraft carrier in May 2003, and
it may not be mission accomplished for a long
long as the debate over war continues, the various
positions on war taken by Democrats should matter,
Lieberman's position is clear: He voted for Bush's
war, supports Bush's war now. Dennis Kucinich's
position is also clear; He voted against Bush's
war and wants to bring the troops home now. John
Kerry and John Edwards voted for the resolution
that authorized war (not for a "process," as Kerry
said in Sunday night's "60 Minutes" debate) but
against the money Bush sought to fund it. Howard
Dean was first and strongest in voicing opposition
to war; he made it a campaign issue for Democrats
but he never had to actually vote. Wesley Clark's
rhetoric is now strongly antiwar, but he has taken
past positions, in writing, in favor of Bush's
debate will continue as long as Americans die
in Iraq and as long as Iraq remains unsettled.
The capture of Saddam Hussein does not change
that. Neither does the view that the world is
better off with the Iraqi dictator out of the
spider hole. The end does not justify the means.
war, now ours, seems far from over. For America,
the march on Baghdad crystallizes a critical debate
over foreign policy and domestic priorities. All
the pledges by Democrats to refocus spending and
energy on education, health care, and the environment
mean little as long as the country's attention,
its flesh and blood, and its money are trained
take it to Bush in the upcoming election, the
Democratic nominee must be willing to ask: Why
did you mislead the American people, Mr. President?
Why did you mislead me?
Posted: February 3, 2004