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Bush v. Reality

Posted by Rick · July 13th, 2004 · No Comments

How ironic is this?

I found that little tidbit by accident while unsuccessfully searching for an online version of a story that appeared on page one of today’s print edition of The Fresno Bee. The title of that story was “Bush Hammers Iraq-Al Qaeda Link.”

By now, the majority of Americans know — even if it’s too inconvenient for some to admit it — that the “Iraq-Al Qaeda” link, like the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” or “WMD,” didn’t exist. And just as we never will find the WMD in Iraq unless the Bush Administration, tired of hearing that they don’t exist, tries to plant them, so, too, were there no signs that Al Qaeda was active in Iraq until Bush went to war with Iraq, against the wishes of the United Nations and the world community. At that point, because of the Bush Administration’s actions, Al Qaeda began flocking to Iraq.

Now, perhaps some of you think that was part of Bush’s brilliance. You know, create a sort of “honeypot” to draw out Al Qaeda. Fine. We won’t discuss the violation of Articles 2 and 39 of the United Nations’ Charter. (On the other hand, the ends do not justify the means. We could, for example, dramatically reduce, if not actually end, all crime in the United States by simply killing all the “bad guys” without benefit of trial, ignoring constitutional protections. The goal (“the ends”) is laudable; the method I just proposed (“the means”) is not.)

At any rate, I thought the initial story I spotted in the print edition of The Fresno Bee was wild. The first thing that occurred to me was “when reality and Bush’s policies butt heads, guess which one Bush says must change?”

For months, we heard that the rationale for going to war with Iraq was “weapons of mass destruction,” which Saddam Hussein might imminently use against the United States.

Knew or Should Have Known
The phrase “knew or should have known” is an interesting legal “term of art.” For instance, in determining whether a criminal event — say, vehicular manslaughter — involved ordinary or gross negligence, it will be determined to be “gross” negligence only if the defendant “knew or should have known” certain things; it’s a question of foreseeability based on what a reasonable person, under the circumstances, should have been capable of foreseeing.

Here, what I’m trying to say is that given the number of people who testified before Congress regarding what they had to say about the “intelligence” that the Bush Administration claimed to have relied upon, he was grossly negligent in not doing more to determine whether or not this information was accurate before invading a sovereign nation in violation of the United Nations Charter, articles 2 and 39. Given the numbers of people who were even then calling into question this “intel,” Bush knew or should have known that there was a strong possibility he was invading a sovereign nation without cause. Barring that recognition, he should at least have been familiar — as President of the United States, which sits on the UN Security Council — with the UN Charter forbidding his acting outside the scope of that treaty.

This seems a fine justification for a war. There was (and remains) just one problem: It wasn’t true. It was, in fact, a lie. And as evidence started to grow that Bush knew or should have known it was a lie, the story changed.

Rather than own up to being wrong — more evidence that this was a calculated lie — Bush simply changed the rationale for war: “Saddam is an evil man. His very existence is a threat to world peace.” What he overlooked is that Iraq was not capable of threatening the world at that point; it couldn’t even realistically threaten the United States; it couldn’t even threaten its neighbors!

The United States, however, was and is quite capable, as we’ve seen, of disrupting the political processes of nations defined as sovereign under international treaties we signed including, but not limited to, the United Nations Charter.

Now the world — including even some of the more educated Americans — quickly realized what I just said in the last two paragraphs. Saddam, like so many other world leaders whose countries the United States does not invade, might have been “a bad guy.” However, as noted, it is a violation of centuries of international law for one country to invade another country on that ground. But as criticism has grown across the world for the United States, Bush has, essentially, turned a deaf ear — not unlike his approach towards the NAACP and other American groups and citizens whom he doesn’t like — and as disaffection for the war — and concomitantly the President who started it — grew among people who could actually vote (for now), the story needed to be changed again.

So, despite reality, despite what we all know and what the Commission that the President himself established has said, Bush and Cheney have been hammering the idea that, well, there really was — no, really, there was! — a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

To admit otherwise would require a change in policy. And we just can’t have that.

No, what we really need here is to try to rewrite, not history, but reality, for political purposes.

Categories: The War President


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