President Bush is busy trying to defend his Iraq War, both with his Saturday radio statement and in a speech Friday at a Washington think tank.
Pardon me for not sitting still for this.
I am happy that the chaos and death are declining in Iraq, and part of me just wants to see this current president go away soon. But the better angels of our nature also know that we shouldn't let Bush and his lapdogs reshape this colossal tragedy into the memory of a good idea. That might help Bush or the GOP but at the expense of the U.S. and human life. Just look at all the people, many born after 1973, who honestly think Vietnam is something to be proud of.
Professor Juan Cole does his country a valuable service by posting a lengthy rebuttal to the Friday speech, tramping with a pith helmet and machete right into the thick brambles of self-serving lies. At one point, Cole says this:
The whole farrago of illogical justifications makes no sense. Iraq had not done anything to the US in the way of terrorism and it was not pursuing weapons of mass destruction. So you can't put the Iraq War under this rubric unless you are being dishonest. Which Bush is.
In among the reasons and slogans used to defend the war, there are a few doozies more than all the other B.S. that grate against my common sense and clear memory. I'll give you three:
Doozy no. 1: We are winning in Iraq.
Clarity on no. 1: The saintly and infallible Gen. David Petraeus himself has said that the word "victory" will probably never apply to our dealings in Iraq. The Bush White House started one war to overthrow Hussein after clearly predicting the war would be short and that we would be warmly welcomed by Iraqi citizens. Bush even declared the mission accomplished.
After Hussein's government fell, then another war -- really, a number of wars from a number of nationalists and/or radical islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda-in-Mesopotamia -- disgorged blood and misery upon Iraqis and Americans for another four years. This second war was something our leaders never prepared for and never told us ahead of time that we would have to fight. That second phase is what is now subsiding. As others have also pointed out: If you are going somewhere and then accidentally drive into a ditch, the fact you finally extract yourself from the ditch is no cause for strutting and crowing.
Doozy no. 2: We have made the Arab and Muslim world better.
Clarity on no. 2: Despite high-flying goals of democracy, freedom or women's rights used to justify the Iraq War, the only fact used now to defend a claim of victory is a reduction in casualties. Most political outcomes are still too murky to predict, but one result already seems clear: That Iran will emerge as more powerful thanks to our help in substituting a fellow Shi'ite regime for Iran's secular enemy Saddam Hussein. Bush's staunch ally Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan now looks to be a major source of trouble for large swaths of the world. Bush also likes to cite Libya as one of the success stories under his watch. Yes, Libya has renounced terrorism, but, no, this change had nothing to do with our invasion of Iraq. It was largely Britain that brought Qaddafi into the light.
Doozy no. 3: Bush was wrong about Saddam's weapons, but many others including Bill Clinton and Europeans also mistakenly claimed he possessed more than he did.
Clarity on no. 3: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, and Wolfowitz wanted a war with Hussein in the worst way. They got one that way.
UPDATE: Digby today also rebuts the claim that Bush "kept us safe."