for the record, since the record is in considerable
peril. These are Orwellian days, my friends, as
the Bush administration attempts to either shove
the history of the second gulf war down the memory
hole or to rewrite it entirely.
a firm grip on actual historical fact, all of
it easily within our imperfect memories, is not
that easy amid the swirling storms of misinformation,
misremembering and misstatement. But because the
war itself stands as a monument to what happens
when we let ourselves get stampeded by a chorus
of disinformation, let's draw the line right now.
to the large American team that spent hundreds
of millions of dollars looking for Iraqi weapons
of mass destruction, there aren't any and have
not been any since 1991.
President Bush and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman
of the Senate Intelligence Committee, now claim
that Saddam Hussein provoked this war by refusing
to allow United Nations weapons inspectors into
his country. That is not true.
said Sunday: "I had no choice when I looked at
the intelligence....The evidence we have discovered
this far says we had no choice."
week, CIA director George Tenet said intelligence
analysts never told the White House "that Iraq
posed an imminent threat."
start with the absurd quibble over the word imminent.
word was, in fact, used by three administration
spokesmen to describe the Iraqi threat, while
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld variously described it as "immediate,"
"urgent," "serious and growing," "terrible," "real
and dangerous," "significant," "grave," "serious
and mounting," "the unique and urgent threat,"
"no question of the threat," "most dangerous threat
of our time," "a threat of unique urgency," "much
graver than anybody could possibly have imagined,"
and so forth and so on.
could we can that issue?
second emerging thesis of defense by the administration
in light of no weapons is, as chief U.S. weapons
inspector David Kay said, "We were all wrong."
in fact, we weren't all wrong.
said Sunday, "The international community thought
he had weapons." Actually, the United Nations
and the International Atomic Energy Agency both
repeatedly told the administration there was no
evidence that Iraq had WMDs.
the war, Rumsfeld claimed not only that Iraq had
WMD but that "we know where they are." U.N. inspectors
began openly complaining that U.S. tips on WMD
were "garbage upon garbage."
Blix, head of the U.N. inspections team, had a
crew of 250 people from 60 nations -- including
about 100 U.N. inspectors -- on the ground in
Iraq, and the United States thwarted efforts to
double the size of his team. You may recall that
during this period, the administration repeatedly
dismissed the United Nations as incompetent and
containment had worked.
does the "everybody thought they had WMD" argument
wash on the domestic front. Perhaps the administration
thought peaceniks could be ignored, but you will
recall that this was a war opposed by an extraordinary
number of generals.
them was retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, who has extensive
experience in the Middle East and who said, "We
are about to do something that will ignite a fuse
in this region that we will rue the day we ever
started." After listening to Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz at a conference, Zinni said, "In
other words, we are going to go to war over another
that man the Cassandra Award for being right in
Gen. John J. Sheehan was equally blunt. Any serving
general who got out of line, like Army Chief of
Staff Eric Shinseki, was openly dissed by the
the administration is left with the only good
reason there ever was for getting rid of Saddam
in the first place: He's a miserable SOB.
will recall that this is precisely the argument
that the administration rejected. Wolfowitz said
that human rights violations by Saddam against
his own people were not sufficient to justify
our participation in his ouster.
according to the president, Saddam is a "madman."
come on. An SOB, yes, but crazy like a fox --
always has been. It wasn't even crazy of him to
have invaded Kuwait, given that April Glaspie,
the American ambassador to Iraq at the time, told
him, "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts,
like your border disagreement with Kuwait."
everyone who ever cared about human rights and
longed for years to get rid of Saddam, this late-breaking
humanitarianism on Bush's part is actually nauseating.
All the Amnesty International types who risked
their lives to report just how terrible Saddam's
rule was always had one question about getting
rid of him: What comes next?
don't think there is any great mystery here about
how this "mistake" -- such an inadequate word
-- was made.
those seriously addicted to tragic irony, consider
that the most likely Democratic nominee is now
Sen. John Kerry, who first became known 33 years
ago for asking, "How do you ask a man to be the
last man to die for a mistake?"
Ivins writes for Creators Syndicate. 5777 W. Century
Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles,
Posted: February 23, 2004