Why Bush? Consider the alternative
By Sam Wells
Gee, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if President Clinton had taken action to topple Saddam and had also cited WMD and their possible misuse against us and our allies as one of the reasons for such action. Would the Democrat-controlled mainstream media and the DNC have been screaming "there were no WMDs" and "Clinton lied"? No, I don't think so.
Whether or not our various intelligence agencies around the world were all wrong about WMD in Iraq, Bush had to go on the information he was given at the time and I don't see how he can be blamed for that -- unless you can make the case that Bush (although called "stupid" by his "liberal" detractors) was actually so smart in his own private intelligence that he knew what nobody else at the time knew, that there were no substantial WMD in Iraq! Any evidence for that? No.
Any President concerned about threats to U.S. national security would have to include the WMD issue as one of the factors in his decisions whether or not to send in troops. It is understandable that Bush wanted to include as many valid public reasons as he could to justify the serious actions he took.
The statement that "there were no WMD in Iraq" is simply not at all accurate. The most that can be said so far is that the expected major stockpiles of WMD have not been found. Did Saddam really use them all up on his war against Iran or against the Kurds? Were they hidden in the desert somewhere? Or were they moved to an adjacent country? Apparently our intelligence agencies were unable to say. It does not logically follow, however, that there were no WMD in Iraq, either left over after Gulf War I or additionally procured by Saddam's regime since then.
As it turned out, even though the expected major stashes of WMD were not found (or not yet anyway), there must have been some WMDs in Iraq after all since some WMDs and evidences of WMDs have been found and secured by the troops since the invasion. These included 17 tons of nerve gas, 31 tons of mustard gas, several hundred modified SCUD missiles, 100 mobile SCUD launchers, 250 trailer-mounted SCUD launchers, 1.2 million binary type artillery projectiles, 21 tons of raw "yellow cake" uranium, 5 tons of fuel rods for breeder reactors, radioactive materials in powdered, dispersible form, and (lest we forget) also Saddam Hussein himself and his Baathist loyalists, whose regime had permitted Iraq to be a haven for top anti-U.S. terrorists (including Zarqawi and Abu Nidal) and the training of terrorists in at least four camps with the knowledge and cooperation of the Iraqi military.
These WMDs also included the 1.77 metric tons of low enriched uranium (again which, with additional enrichment processing, could certainly have been used to build nuclear bombs by Saddam or others). Admittedly, Saddam could not use this uranium to make nukes until and unless he had the special centrifuge facilities for further enrichment; so, he could leave it for the time being where it was -- under the nominal protection of the United Nations, a corrupt organization which had been heavily involved (as were the French, Germans, and Russians) in taking bribe money from Saddam in the infamous Oil-for-Food scam and therefore opposed Bush's action to topple Saddam. I for one am glad that our forces got that stuff out of there. I don't think we can depend on the UN for our national security.
If there had been much more of a WMD arsenal, why hasn't it been found? This is the taunt from Bush's critics as well as a legitimate question from those of us inquiring minds who really want to know. Israeli military officers have said the bulk of the WMDs were transported out of Iraq just before the U.S. invasion. Again, for political reasons, this story was not given wide play in the Democrat-dominated media, but at least one senior former Iraqi general has corroborated this claim.. I hope that the intelligence agencies in the Bush Administration are trying to confirm or deny this story behind the scenes.
Because of the endless cat and mouse game that Saddam was playing with the international inspectors, we did not know for sure what he had or didn't have. I think it is better to be sure than be sorry a few years later after the fact, as in the case with North Korea's Communist regime which now has nukes (partly thanks to the policies of the Clinton administration).
President Bush is open to criticism for serious problems with his Presidency and policy initiatives. But there has never been any legitimate case that "Bush lied" about WMDs in Iraq. If many people believe that he did lie about WMDs it is only because the liberal lie that "Bush lied" is repeated by left-wing and Democrat propaganda sources and by their allies in the mainstream media. Why not attack Bush on legit grounds?
There are plenty of grounds besides disagreement with the liberation of Iraq and the war against terrorism to be critical of Bush from a libertarian perspective. His evident lack of any real concern for controlling federal spending, his crude attempt to buy off senior voters with his exorbitant prescription drug subsidy program, his failure to veto horrible bills sent to him, his deliberate encouragement of illegal immigration by not enforcing current laws or controlling our borders, his signing of McCain-Feingold into law even though he had previously said he opposed it, his not fighting harder for confirmation of Miguel Estrada, his not appointing Janice Rogers Brown to the Supreme Court (the Senate Democrats would have gone ballistic and apoplectic!), his support of Affirmative Action, his nauseating habit of kissing Bill Clinton's buttocks, etc. etc.
Even on the war, Bush can be criticized on some aspects of how it has been handled. The (perhaps) premature transfer of sovereignty in Iraq before sufficient security could be achieved there has been a point of criticism by some on the Right, as well as Bush's seeming abandonment of the attempt to get Osama bin Laden, the head of the Al Qaeda snake. Others claim he could have been tougher in putting pressure on the Saudis to get their help in the war on terrorism. Some, like Leonard Peikoff and others in the Objectivist subculture, would have preferred Bush to have invaded Iran instead of Iraq. Some of this is Monday morning quarterbacking, but I think there are some valid points which can be made.
But Bush has done some good things. An important example is that he refused to go along with the evil Kyoto Protocols. There is no doubt that a President Kerry or Gore would have signed onto that disastrous treaty to America's immense disadvantage. (And the liberal Repubs and far-left Democrats in the U.S. Senate would have ratified the thing.) Bush did manage to push through a tax cut or rebate, albeit a very small one. That's a lot better than a big tax increase, which is what the Democrats want to give us. He has stood firm on supporting gun rights for American citizens -- something neither Gore nor Kerry would have done. He has (finally), to some extent at least, shaken up the bureaucracies in the CIA and the State Department -- something that needed to be done.
President Bush appointed former Colorado Libertarian Party activist Gale Norton to be Secretary of the Interior. That never would have happened under Gore or Kerry or any Democrat President. Instead we would have got some rabid environmentalist bent on taking over still more lands by the government in the name of preserving the environment. Gale Norton has opened up more areas to privatization and unlocked lands to private energy development.
Bush has appointed some really good judges to high office, including libertarian-oriented conservative Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Court of Appeals. None of this would have happened under Kerry or Gore. We would have got more Ginsburgs and Stevenses instead.
Considering the known ultra-statist Democrat alternative, there are certainly enough reasons to have supported Bush for President in 2000 and 2004 despite his many drawbacks from a conservative or libertarian point of view.
And, again, there is a limit to what Bush can say in detail for public consumption concerning war plans and strategic reasons; it is the nature of war not to show all the cards in your hand to the other side. That's one reason why we "dodged a bullet" when Bush instead of Gore or Kerry got in. Neither Gore nor Kerry nor any other leading Democrat would be trustworthy at all, any more than Clinton was, when it comes to American security or dealing with the jihadists.
(c) 2006 Sam Wells.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!