Why we went to war, Bush responds
“The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.” -Socrates
After being denied direct questions for years, Bush finally took a question from journalist Helen Thomas. She asked (and I am paraphrasing), “Why did we really go to war?” Seems like a simple enough question right? Read on to see how Bush responded.
Let me first say that I have a lot of respect for Helen Thomas but I would have revised her question to say, “Why did we go to Iraq?” and then let Bush goes for what he knows. Because for anyone who has seen “Fog of War,” you know that politicians and public officials are notorious for responding to tough questions by answering the questions they would have preferred to answer, regardless if the answer has nothing to do with the question being asked. And at this point in his Presidency, Bush has his script so down-packed, we shouldn’t expect any kernel of truth to slip out.
Regardless of all that, Bush took an uncomfortably long time to answer Helen’s question so I am going to give you an in-depth analysis of their exchange. I pulled part of the transcript from the Washington Post and the relevant exchange proceeds as follows and my comments are in italics.
QUESTION (Thomas): Why did you really want to go to war? This question already provides a way to Bush to avoid the spirit of the question.
BUSH: I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist – that I didn’t want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect. And Bush sneaks out the back door.
QUESTION (Thomas): And … Thomas tries to catch Bush at the back door.
BUSH: Hold on for a second, please. Excuse me. Excuse me. Bush is trying to gather his thoughts, trying to remember the script.
BUSH: No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. When we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Bush gains his confidence because whenever war is the topic, you can never leave home without your 9/11 card, even though we are approaching 3,000 military deaths in Iraq.
BUSH: Our foreign policy changed on that day. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. Apparently, Bush forgot about that atomic bomb thing in Japan.
BUSH: And I’m never going to forget it. And I’m never going to forget the vow I made to the American people, that we will do everything in our power to protect our people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn’t allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy, and that’s why I went into Iraq. So in other words, we went into Iraq because we wanted to make sure Saddam and/or Iraq didn’t provide a safe haven to an enemy. Even though Bush doesn’t define people and Saddam Hussein wouldn’t have any Al-Qaeda or Taliban rebels causing mess in his country, Afghanistan’s housing of the Taliban was simlar to Iraq’s housing of Al-Qaeda. Come on man!
BUSH: Hold on for a second. Excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. Didn’t Bush mean to say that Iraq provided a safe haven for Al-Qaeda? Nevertheless, if we follow Bush’s logic, Saddam provided a safe haven for the Taliban and the Taliban provided a safe haven for Al-Qaeda, so that’s why we went into Iraq. Are you confused yet?
BUSH: Helen, excuse me. That’s where – Afghanistan provided safe haven for al-Qaida. That’s where they trained, that’s where they plotted, that’s where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans. So did Afghanistan or the Taliban provide a safe haven to Al-Qaeda? Why then should we draw a distinction between Afghanistan and Taliban?
BUSH: I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council. That’s why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. This is the line of the week. “I also saw a threat in Iraq.” Now I know see how we went from Afghanistan to Iraq, it was because Bush saw a threat, although it was totally based on his misuse of evidence and language.
BUSH: And the world said, Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences. And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. Have you noticed how WMD have completely left Bush’s vocabulary?
BUSH: And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it. So we went into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. OK So how did the mission change such that we are now nation-building based on democratic ideals and simultaneously providing national security until the Iraqis stand up?
To be clear, I don’t want the Iraqis to suffer but when an entire war/invasion is based on the misuse of language AND evidence, I can’t imagine anything good coming from it. Can you?
Stay up fam,