By Tom Quiner
“Bush lied” was once again invoked in the letters to the editor in the Des Moines Register this morning.
For the record, here is specifically what the President said: “Saddam Hussein has huge stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal.” Only it wasn’t President Bush who spoke it. Thus spoke then President Clinton.
President Clinton’s thoughts on Mr. Hussein are worth revisiting in light of countless assertions that “Bush lied”. Before the U.S. invaded Iraq, most of the world, including Kofi Annan (then the Secretary-General of the United Nations) and John Kerry, believed Iraq housed weapons of mass destruction. To think otherwise, one had to assume Mr. Hussein destroyed the weapons, but didn’t report it to U.N. inspectors even though it would’ve gotten sanctions against Iraq lifted. That doesn’t make sense.
Hussein encouraged the belief that he possesses such weapons with statements like this, made in 20o0:
“Iraq will not disarm until others in the region do. A rifle for a rifle, a stick for a stick, a stone for a stone.”
Finally, in 2004 after his capture, Hussein acknowledged the truth about WMDs to FBI interrogator, George Piro. He said most of the weapons had been destroyed by United Nations weapons inspectors in the 90s. Iraq destroyed the rest themselves. But Hussein pretended he still had them. In his mind, that perception was critical to deter Iran from attacking Iraq:
“It was very important for him to project that because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq,” said Agent Piro.
Why, then, didn’t Hussein ‘fess up when he saw U.S. forces preparing to attack Iraq because of this very perception he had so carefully inculcated?
“… he told me he initially miscalculated President Bush. And President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 under Operation Desert Fox. Which was a four-day aerial attack. So he expected that initially,” Piro says.
Bush-haters are uninterested in such evidence. Their mind is made up. But think about the logic they must employ.
In their mind, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair launched a war based on a lie (no weapons of mass destruction) that would soon reveal the lie when no such weapons were found. Doesn’t make sense.
If weapons HAD been found, the same people would probably have said that Bush planted the weapons to justify going to war against Iraq.
There are certainly honorable differences of opinion on whether the U.S. should have gone to war with Iraq. Let’s debate the merits of the war honestly and can the phony argument that President Bush lied. If he did, so did President Clinton.