Why we fought

I don’t want to be the last blogger on the planet to link to Billmon’s collection of quotes from Team Bush about why we invaded Iraq. You shouldn’t be the last blog reader to see what he’s got.

Once you’ve read that, go read this, about why it matters. Here’s a taste:

A strong case might have been made to go after Hussein just because he posed a potential threat to us and the region, because of his support for suicide bombers, and because of his ruthless oppression of his own people. But this is not the case our President chose to make.

Truth in public life has always been a slippery commodity. We expect campaigning politicians or debating journalists to pitch and spin. Facts are marshaled to support arguments and causes; convenient ones are trumpeted and inconvenient ones played down or ignored. This is the political game.

But when the President of the United States addresses the nation and the world, I expect the spinning to stop. He represents not just a party or a cause, but the American people. When President Bush argued that Hussein possessed stockpiles of illicit and deadly poisons, he was presumably doing so on the basis of intelligence briefings and evidence that the public could not see. He was asking us to trust him, to trust his office, to trust that he was acting legitimately in our self-defense. That’s something very different from engaging in a bold policy of attempting to remake the Middle East, or undertaking a humanitarian mission to end oppression. Neither of these two justifications would have been likely to garner widespread public support. But national defense? That’s an argument the President can always win.

I never doubted for a minute that Team Bush was being dishonest about why we were invading Iraq, but I admit that I went along with the premise that Iraq had WMDs up the yingyang. I knew they were conning me, and I still fell for it. Shame on me.

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