Bush’s mistakes 

When a woman at the St. Louis debate asked him to recall three mistakes that he had made as president, George W. Bush could remember none except a few appointments that he did not want to identify. What do you bet the list includes all those commission and task force people who have unmasked every deception his administration used to go to war in Iraq and the major blunders in prosecuting the war? It would start with members of the 9/11 commission and surely it would include the successive heads of the Iraqi survey group, David Kay and Charles Duelfer, who headed a team of 1,625 inspectors who spent two years and $1 billion examining 1,700 sites where Saddam Hussein might have been hiding weapons of mass destruction or storing information about them. Duelfer reported without reservation last week that all of the weapons had been destroyed in 1991-92 and that all the facilities and programs had been destroyed by 1998. Iraq in 2003 was not an imminent threat to anyone. Bush insisted during the debate that "everyone" believed in 2003 that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or, in the case of nuclear weapons, a program that was well on the way to producing them. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had said that Iraq could build a nuclear device in 10 years. But while the administration may have persuaded much of Washington and the country that secret intelligence indicated that such weapons existed, the people who were in the best position to know said otherwise. The U.N. weapons inspectors in 2002-03 were suspicious but they said they had found nothing to suggest that such weapons existed except the dictator’s coyness and deceptiveness. Scott Ritter, the American captain who headed the Iraq weapons inspection team from 1991 to 1998, had insisted all along that all the weapons and programs had been destroyed and were not being reconstituted. But the Pentagon had put out the word that Ritter was disloyal and maybe a pervert. No one would carry his views by the fall of 2002. This is what Ritter said long before the invasion: "By 1998 [Iraq’s] chemical weapons infrastructure had been completely dismantled or destroyed by UNSCOM . . . The biological weapons program was gone, the major facilities eliminated . . . The long-range-ballistic missile program was completely eliminated. If I had to quantify Iraq’s threat, I would say [it is] zero." He knew because he had done it. Duelfer’s exhaustive report last week ratified everything that Ritter had said, almost to the letter. Cheney and Bush brazenly claimed that Duelfer’s tome actually supported them because it said that Saddam had been subverting the U.N. oil-for-food program and that if he could ever get U.N. sanctions lifted Saddam intended to restart the weapons programs. Therefore, they said, they had to order the invasion instantly without waiting either for inspections to be completed or for Iraq to prevail at the U.N. That is the weakest logic in the history of American foreign policy. Follow what Duelfer actually said. He believed that Saddam intended to restart the programs if the U.N. ever lifted sanctions. He had no evidence but he inferred it from Saddam’s own words. Saddam’s concern was (not the United States) but his great enemy Iran, which he believed would invade Iraq if it believed he was unprepared. He said he would do whatever was necessary to deter that invasion, which Duelfer inferred to mean that he would rebuild his chemical programs. Saddam had used biological and chemical weapons to help repel the Iranian hordes in the nine-year war. Indeed, Duelfer, echoing the speculations of others like Ritter, Kay and U.N. inspection chief Hans Blix, said Saddam had been coy about his chemical and biological weapons before the American invasion because he did not want the Iranian mullahs to know what he assumed that the U.S. actually did know, that he had no weapons and no way to make them. Bush was saying last month that while he acknowledged that Iraq had no weapons, the sanctions and inspections were not working, and that was the reason he ordered the invasion. What he could mean, not working? Iraq had no WMD and no way to make them, its military machine was virtually destroyed, the whole nation was in shambles and more than one million were dead from starvation and disease all as a result of sanctions. Finally, by this week the president was down to this: If he had not invaded, he said, Saddam could have given the knowledge about how to make mustard gas and other chemical agents and nuclear bombs to terrorists, who could then make the weapons and attack the United States. So here is what George Bush and Dick Cheney now tell the families of the 1,100 American troops who already have died and the 8,000 soldiers who will carry the wounds of war through life: Your sorrow and pain and the hundreds of billions of dollars of the nation’s wealth and its sacred honor are worth it because we have prevented a tyrant from sharing chemical knowledge that any 12-year-old anywhere in the world can get over the Internet in one evening’s surfing.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • White House sex

    Illicit sex has invaded the White House since Tom Jefferson's days and sometimes also the public aspects of presidential elections, but Donald Trump threatens to make sex the central issue of a presidential election
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • EpiPen lesson

    Congressional Republicans and Democrats staged a rousing display of rage against the CEO whose company gouged a fortune from families whose kids and sometimes grownups need the lifesaving properties of the drug EpiPen.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation