If you’re very patient, these clips will show off Hitchins’ great intellect and courage. He will be missed by many.
Like millions of Americans, 911 had a profound affect on me. I recall quite vividly thinking about 40 minutes after the second tower got hit, (see the timeline of events) hearing that the pentagon had also been attacked, that this is how Americans must have felt after hearing that Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.
I remember thinking how I had lived for 55 years without having to suffer from the wars that every past generation has had to face. My mother, having escaped Hitler’s imminent invasion of Hungary in 1940. inculcated the seriousness of war (and bigotry) in me at an early age.
Over the next few weeks and months George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and millions of Americans believed that we were going to be attacked again. And that the next time could be much more severe. Attacks where hundreds of thousands might die from chemical or biological weapons. And the most likely person who could cause such an attack was Saddam Hussein. My prediction, at the time, was that the easiest way to cause much more fear among Americans was just one person detonating a bomb driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, or releasing sarin gas in a NYC subway car, as was done in Tokyo in 1995. At a minimum, we’d see small terrorist attacks as had been going on for years in Israel.
So what was Bush to do? Who was the most likely person to support al Qaeda? Who had been giving the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel $25,000?
Just a few years earlier, President Bill Clinton, and almost every Democrat and Republican believed that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and chemical weapons, and would use them. Either directly, through Osama bin Laden, or any member of al Queda. In 1998 the Congress passed The Iraq Liberation Act, making regime change the “policy” of the United States.
Go to If The Bush Administration Lied About WMD, So Did These People — Version 3.0 to read quotes from some notable right wingers, like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, John Edwards, Tom Daschle, Robert Byrd, Dick Gephardt, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Milulski, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, Henry Waxman, Jacques Chirac, Hans Blix and others.
A bipartisan Congress passed the Iraq War Resolution 296 to 133 in the House and 77 to 23 in the Senate.
So the meme that George W. Bush had lied us into war, first perpetuated by Ted Kennedy and then enthusiastically seized on by the MSM in 2004 started the revisionist history.
I think two of Bush’s major errors were in 1) not discussing and explaining to the public the reasons why he was supporting removing Saddam and 2) relying only on the simplest explanation as sufficient reason. He assumed that everyone “got it.” That we were in serious danger must have seemed so obvious. Big error. I’m sure Bush had received huge amounts of data on threats from the CIA and the FBI, but the American didn’t.
Here are some of the reasons passed by the Congress.
The Iraq Resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force:
- Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors.
- Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”
- Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population.”
- Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people“.
- Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the alleged 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.
- Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.
- Iraq’s “continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,” including anti-United States terrorist organizations.
- Iraq paid bounty to families of suicide bombers.
- The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, and those who aided or harbored them.
- The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.
- The governments in Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia feared Saddam and wanted him removed from power.
- Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.
This is not to imply that the Iraq war didn’t have many serious flaws in its execution. The American people would not have turned on George W. Bush if the war had been thought out much better and hadn’t deteriorated into chaos, regardless of how or why those things happened. Americans want victory when they go to war, not excuses.
One of the sad consequences of no more successful terrorist attacks not happening is that it made it seem as if going offense against al-Queda was unnecessary.
I believed, and still believe, that if Iraq remains a democracy, history will be very kind to George W. Bush’s decision.
Update: read Charles Krauthammer -The 9/11 “Overreaction.”
Once again Victor Davis Hanson outlines the Left’s “We’re Always Right No Matter What’s Going On” logic to events.
It is difficult trying to figure out what the left’s position is on democracy and the Middle East. Here’s a brief effort.
Once upon a time, a number of prominent liberals — among them Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid — thought it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein and supplant his Baathist rule with democracy. I say that with confidence since one can watch the speeches of the senators in question on YouTube debating the 23-writ authorizations to use force in October 2002, in addition to reading the New York Times and Newsweek editorials between 2002-3 of prominent liberal columnists. The New Republic stable of authors was particularly in favor of the Bush-Cheney “just war” to invade Iraq. Jonathan Chait (who would go on to author an infamous essay about why “I hate George Bush”) and Peter Beinhart were especially hard on the fellow left for not joining the Bush effort.
Read the whole article here.
It’s such a pleasure watching Condi “correct” the constant MSM meme that intelligence was incorrectly analyzed and cherry-picked to build an argument for war, and memos from that time do suggest that officials knew there was a small chance of actually finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
For several quotes on who said he had WMD, see this.
How Many times have you heard that George W. Bush lied us into a war with Iraq? Was he the only one who thought that Saddam had WMD?
From Right Wing News:
Since we haven’t found WMD in Iraq, a lot of the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd is saying that the Bush administration lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Well, if they’re going to claim that the Bush administration lied, then there sure are a lot of other people, including quite a few prominent Democrats, who have told the same “lies” since the inspectors pulled out of Iraq in 1998. Here are just a few examples that prove that the Bush administration didn’t lie about weapons of mass destruction…
“[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.” — From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998
“This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.” — From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others
“Whereas Iraq has consistently breached its cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the United States, entered into on March 3, 1991, by failing to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, and refusing to permit monitoring and verification by United Nations inspections; Whereas Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological capabilities, and has made positive progress toward developing nuclear weapons capabilities” — From a joint resolution submitted by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter on July 18, 2002
“Saddam’s goal … is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed.” — Madeline Albright, 1998
The next time you hear Obama, or some Democrat blaming our huge deficit on George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, quote this excellent post by Bruce McQuain:
Democrats are particularly fond of that meme because it provides them the opportunity to again shift the blame for something on their arch enemy, George Bush. It is also a convenient way to claim they’re blameless for all of these trillions of dollars in deficit spending that has taken place over the years.
It would be nice to see this chart in the New York Times.
How many times have we heard about the trillions of dollars spent (as if a vast majority of the Congress didn’t approve the war).
According to the CBO’s numbers, the Iraq war has cost $709 billion. Not the wild estimates by some on the left (to include the absurd claims by James Carville and others that the war cost $3 trillion). And look carefully at the added cost of the war on top of the federal deficit spending shown in red.
Notice anything? Now think back – who was in charge of Congress from 2003 – 2007? And what was the trend in overall deficit spending – including the cost of the Iraq war – through 2007. Any impartial observer would point out the trend was downward. The party in charge of Congress at the time was the GOP.
Oh, by the way, via Gateway Pundit.: 71% of Americans Believe Iraq Is Better Today and Give Bush the Credit
This past February Joe Biden said: “I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.”
Jake Tapper noted that President Obama plans to address the nation to note the drawdown of combat troops in Iraq.
From Ed Morrisey:
Perhaps Obama will have the grace to admit this when the occasion presents itself next week. If he does, it will reflect well on the current Commander in Chief. If not, Boehner’s video makes the truth obvious anyway.
I hope he does.
Below are some quotes from John Hawkins’ Right Wing News blog. Thank god for Dick Cheney. I believe that if GWB had spoken like this, each and every time he was attacked by the Dems (and the MSM), events would have turned out much differently.
Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people. — Dick Cheney
The gloomy election-year refrain is that America is mired in Iraq, took its eye off Afghanistan, empowered Iran and is losing the war on terror. But how accurate is that pessimistic diagnosis?
First, the good news. For all the talk of a recent Tet-like offensive in Basra, the Mahdi Army of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr suffered an ignominious setback when his gunmen were routed from their enclaves.
This rout helped the constitutional — and Shiite-dominated — government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki renew its authority, and has encouraged Sunnis to re-enter government. Two great threats to Iraqi autonomy — Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen and Sunni-supported al-Qaida terrorists — have both now been repulsed by an elected government and its supporters.
By now everyone sees what he wishes in Iraq — a disaster of many proportions, a necessary war that will still be won. Liberals who used to demand that we promote democracy abroad are fierce critics of Iraqi democracy; conservatives, who want an iron hand dealing with a hostile Middle East, support spending hundreds of billions of dollars in rebuilding Iraqi society.
So it will be left to historians, as has been true in the case of the far-more-costly Korean and Vietnam wars, to adjudicate the final verdict.
Meanwhile, the war in Iraq has entered yet another manifestation. The fickle American public and its media have switched and flipped on the war as much as they have on Hillary Clinton’s chances — in the last two months she’s been a shoo-in, a has-been, a comeback kid, a loser, and now a contender.
The new year means resolutions, and we can only hope that the Fourth Estate will make at least one of its own: A resolution that, for the sake of the nation, puts honorable journalism before political, cultural or religious bias, before competition, and before ratings.
While complaining about bias and unprofessional conduct by the media is nothing new in the post-Sept. 11 world we inhabit, the consequences of purposely flawed reporting have been magnified exponentially. At the end of the 18th century, historian Thomas Carlyle quoted Edmund Burke as saying, “there were Three Estates in Parliament; but in the Reporter’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important than they all. It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact … Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in lawmaking, in all acts of authority.”
Any time our government takes us to war, there is bound to be strong disagreement, but Iraq has been particularly divisive. At times it seems as if some Americans — certain liberal Democrats in particular — are eager to declare or even hasten our defeat.
Our missteps in Iraq have been numerous enough to discourage any patriot. Yet leading Democrats are beyond the point of discouragement. They are pessimistic; even hopeless. They have been this way for a long time.
At the first sign of difficulty, they deemed the war a mistake and victory impossible. They quickly adopted the language of defeat and surrender. Some declared the surge a failure before it began and General Petraus a liar before he uttered a public word about its effects. Others are quick to believe reports of alleged atrocities by our own troops, as if seeking an American disgrace. Now, leading Democrats seem to believe that recovery from past mistakes is impossible, and that any hint of success can be only illusory.
I. Our Rules / Their Rules
Several governments have defeated Islamic insurgencies, but usually only after about ten years, and adopting policies of summary executions and carpet bombing or shelling.
The Algerians in the 1990s finally stopped the so-called Islamic Salvation Army. The Russians decimated Chechnyan separatists. Syria’s Hafez al-Assad brutally exterminated several groups loosely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, most infamously by the thousands at the town of Hama.
As we approach next month’s report by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, the debate about Iraq will intensify. One key point of discussion will be a threshold question: How important is Iraq in the larger war against Islamic extremism? Is Iraq a central battleground in the fight against jihadists, or a distraction?
Many leading political figures seem to believe Iraq is almost incidental to the wider struggle. In the August 7 Democratic debate in Chicago, for example, Senator Barack Obama said this: “I want us to fight on the right battlefield, and what that means is getting out of Iraq and refocusing our attention on the war that can be won in Afghanistan.” In a June 3 debate, Governor Bill Richardson said he would “move them [troops from Iraq] to Afghanistan to fight al Qaeda.” And in the June 14 issue of The Politico, we read this: “[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid again told Bush that it was ‘time to transition the mission in Iraq’ in order to refocus attention on Iran and, more specifically, Afghanistan, which both Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have called the real central battlefront in the war on global terror.”
“And then what?” That is the question which should be asked of those who are demanding that we pull out of Iraq now.
No candid answer should be expected from cynical politicians like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who have their bets riding big time on an American defeat in Iraq, as their ticket to winning the 2008 elections.
But that question should be answered by those who honestly and sincerely think that a troop pullout is the answer to the Iraq problem. What do they think will happen if we do?
That question is studiously avoided by those in politics and the media who urge pulling out.
Contrary to what you’ve read in the newspapers, we are not debating whether to “change course” in Iraq. We are debating whether to accept defeat in Iraq.
Contrary to what you’ve seen on television, there is no way for us to “end the war.” If we retreat from Iraq, the war will not just continue but expand. The only difference is that a battlefield on which we are now killing our enemies will be transformed into a base from which our enemies can safely plan to kill us.
Yes, it’s disappointing that the American-backed government in Baghdad has not yet met its “benchmarks” for enacting political and economic reforms. Iraqi politicians have failed to pass laws dividing oil revenue among the country’s main population groups; excluding fewer Baathists from obtaining government jobs; and scheduling provincial elections in areas where Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are competing for power.
Global war or global warming: which concerns you more? The question sharply divides Americans, a split that makes me fear for my country. The freest, strongest, most innovative and prosperous nation in history ought to know better.
The twofold story line from the media and many politicians right now is that (1) we have been in Iraq too long for no reason, and (2) every day brings us closer to catastrophe from alleged human-induced climate change. The agenda is therefore to speed up the Kyoto-style self-flagellation while slowing the fight against jihadist Islam.
This is utterly upside down. An unproved, slow-moving environmental worry is elevated to crisis proportions by our elites – while an avowed human enemy at the gates, committed to killing us by the millions and destroying the United States, is wished away. What folly.