A year ago today, “Operation Shock & Awe” began raining cruise missiles, bombs and fear on Baghdad. The invasion of Iraq began.
The invasion was necessary, we were told by our leaders, because Saddam Hussein was “the most dangerous man in the world,” had weapons of mass destruction and had helped Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda kill more than 3,000 civilians in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2004.
President George W. Bush told the nation and the world he had proof of all this and Congress approved the rush to war, even though doing so meant scaling back our search for bin Laden in Afghanistan.
That was then. This is now. Now we know that Hussein’s so-called weapons of mass destruction did not exist because his scientists lacked both the resources and the expertise to actually build them. Now we know that our “proof” of a hard link between Hussein and bin Laden came from faulty intelligence and any real link has yet to be proven.
A war fought on false pretenses is still a war where more than 500 American soldiers have died, billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted and what little remained of this country’s credibility on the world stage has been lost.
One year later, the Bush administration spin machine remains in full cycle, calling the war just, reminding us that “the world’s most dangerous man” sits in a Iraqi jail awaiting trial as a war criminal.
But Saddam Hussein did not plan terrorist attacks that killed 3,000+ on that dark day in 2001. Most intelligence professionals who place reliable reporting above political expediency said early on a link between Hussein and bin Laden was unlikely because a fundamentalist like Osama would not work with a Muslim who drank and chased women (like Hussein).
In order to accept the Bush administration’s rationale for invading Iraq we must believe one of two things happened:
- George W. Bush knew his justifications for going to war with Iraq were false and lied to both the American people and our allies, or;
- The Bush Administration was too inept to know the intelligence information they used for the justifications came from out-of-date and faulty sources.
Neither scenario suggests much reason to either trust Bush or feel any sense of comfort in his leadership abilities.
We are left, instead, with the growing awareness that the President of the United States is a reckless cowboy who charges a hill simply because he wants to and believes he is right even when those who know more about the issue try to tell him he is full of shit.
After 9-11, Bush reacted appropriately in bringing the nation together and going after Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Then, with that mission still incomplete, he diverted American resources to an ill-conceived war with Iraq, a war that we now know he planned to wage even before the jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania.
We know now that Saddam Hussein did not pose any real imminent threat to the U.S. Hussein was, at best, a sham leader who controlled his country through illusion, deceit and bluster. Ironically, he was brought down by a military sent into battle by another sham leader who controls his country through illusion, deceit and bluster.
On the news talk shows this morning and in speeches throughout the day, the Bush administration tries to justify the war with Iraq by calling Saddam Hussein “the most dangerous man in the world.”
But the most dangerous man in the world is not sitting in a jail cell somewhere in Iraq,
He is not hiding out in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan.
Not really. The most dangerous man in the world may well be working out of an oval-shaped office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.