The “Bush Lied” lie

Today’s entry in the Belgravia Dispatch
does an excellent job of demolishing the “Bush lied, people died!”
canard so popular among the anti-war left — Greg Djerejian
echoes my own conclusions when he writes: “But if you dig into the
weeds of the investigations that have taken place — one must
judiciously conclude that he didn’t.”

But let’s suppose that George W. Bush had in fact lied about Iraqi
WMD during that State of the Union address. I long ago concluded that
I would not care if he had lied. To see why, let’s try looking at this from
George Bush’s (simulated) point of view…

Imagine you are the President of the United States in 2002. You
know that the country with the world’s fourth-largest army is sitting
within theater-missile range of every oilfield in the Mideast, and
it’s run by psychopathic thug who nerve-gassed his own people in 1980
and has been shipping money and guns to anti-American terrorist groups
ever since. The thug has stated his intention to destroy the U.S. and
tried to assassinate a U.S. president. Even without the reports that
officers of his Mukhbarat have been training Al-Qaeda affiliates in
chemical-weapons techniques, you have to take him out because he is a
serious threat to the U.S.’s national interests.

Unfortunately, you have a problem. A lot of elite opinion in your
country is allergic to the notion that the U.S. has national
interests. For example, you used to be in the oil business; you know
that if there is any serious interruption of Mideast oil supplies the
U.S. economy will crash hard enough to make the Great Depression look
like a Sunday-school picnic. But American politics has become so
detached from reality that it is impossible for you to speak the plain
truth — that the U.S., must, as a consequence, be prepared to go
to war to keep the oil flowing. If you say this, you will be
pilloried as a neo-imperialist by many of the people most likely to
freeze or starve or die in riots if you don’t stave off an oil
crash. And they call you an idiot!

You’re not actually planning to go to war over the oil, though that
remains the long-term reason that keeping murderous anti-American
nutballs out of power in the region is important. You’re much more
concerned about Hussein forging closer links to the international
terror network — you know it’s been looking for a new patron
ever since the Soviet Union folded up, and occasional Iraqi
collaboration with al-Qaeda could turn into a full-blown alliance at
any time. You have to take out either Hussein’s regime or al-Qaeda
before that happens, and Iraq is the more visible target.

Your options are limited by the intensity with which the Democrats
are pursuing a vendetta against you (they never got over their failure
to steal the 2000 presidential election). Bill Clinton may have been a
pathological liar with a unhealthy yen for overweight interns, but he
grasped the danger and was willing to say so in public. His
successors have tossed everything that he and they used to know about
the Iraq/terrorism connection down the memory hole. You think they’re
contemptible frauds, throwing over the security of the U.S. in order
to score partisan points — but they have so many willing
water-carriers in the national media that you can’t sell
anti-terrorism as a casus belli any more than you could sell
protecting our oil supply.

You need a casus belli that the American people will buy. Your
domestic opponents, by repeatedly and loudly lying through their
teeth, have managed to turn any talk of the two soundest reasons for
going to war into a political non-starter. What are you going to

Under those circumstances, I’d say a fib or two about African
uranium would have been pretty forgivable. But I don’t think it was
Bush that played games with the truth. Rather it’s his opponents who
have been relentlessly promulgating a series of Big Lies — and
that they never knew of or believed in an Iraq/al-Qaeda connection is
the least of them.

32 thoughts on “The “Bush Lied” lie

  1. The thug has stated his intention to destroy the U.S. and tried to assassinate a U.S. president.

    Feeling resentful after telling Bush 1 he was going to grab a piece of Kuwait and then getting Desert Storm, imagine that. OK, he did grab a pretty big piece, but still. He had been a US client for a lot of the 80s despite gassing people, too.

    Was there an Iraq/terrorism connection apart from sending money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers? I mean, I understand that Israel’s interests are America’s and probably vice-versa, but there are some who feel that the tail was wagging the dog a bit there.

  2. Geez, Shuaib! Why are you such an idiot as to think I love blood and war?

  3. Eric,

    >> A lot of elite opinion in your country is allergic to the notion that the U.S. has national interests. << I'm sure it's not just "elite" opinion that regards protecting jobs against a theoretical oil-supply shock as insufficient reason for a pre-emptive war. I can't imagine people sign up for the armed forces to be "economic security guards". But indulging the view that "deaths for jobs" is a reasonable call, is it clear that Saddam posed an imminent threat to the region's oil supply or that the world economy is as fragile and oil-price-sensitive as you make out? I doubt it. John

  4. I agree with you Eric. Every country needs to safegaurd its people and thier interests. And US is doing just that. But trying to act as the big daddy of all nations is something that is not acceptable. US also has nukes. First, US needs to dispose off nukes and then ask others to do so. Remember “Charity begins at home”.

    “Oh my God! Why do I always forget. US nukes are the PEACEFUL NUKES.”

    I am a Muslim, from Kashmir(India). Let me tell the world that we Muslims condemn terror in its all forms. This is not acceptable in Islam. Let me quote what our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to advise when he sent his army to war:
    “1) Do not harm women, children or elderly people.
    2) Do not harm buildings and construction.
    3) Do not harm plants and trees. ”

    Quran says:
    “If a kafir(non-muslim) comes to you for refuge escort him to a place of safety”.

    When Mecca was conquered againg by Muslims in March 15, 624 AD he announced forgiveness to all non-muslims of Mecca who had forced him to leave Mecca.

    So the Holy Quran and the tradition of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) is replete with cases of forgiveness. Killing innocent people is not justified in Isalam, be it Osama, Sadam or Bush.

  5. After 9/11 Bush had to bash a few people anyway. Saddam? Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Read a few accounts of what he actually did, and you’ll be sick to your stomach. No, I’ve no quarrel with Bush.

    Saddam’s best gone. And Americans have no real problem here. It’s a low-intensity war. Compare this with the carnage of First World War battlefields and it’s nothing. Sure, it has stirred up the Islamists – but they were a global problem already anyway. (Try “islamic terrorism thailand” in Google, for example.) And where do you want to confront Islamic terrorists? In Iraq or at home? It’s the Europeans who have the problem. There is just the same lack of realism there, but there are large Muslim minorities and, hell, are they disaffected:

    The US has leaky borders, but it’s Mexicans coming across them, and though they may have to take low-paid jobs and may well harbor a certain amount of resentment towards the surrounding society, they’re RC and lack a theology that tells them that killing “infidels” is a religious duty. The problem here is ressentiment filtered through a theology. But many European countries have substantial Muslim minorities, and their governments don’t want to know about the problems this causes. Close your eyes and hope it goes away

    The bury-your-head-in-the-sand faction has it that Muslims – except for a “tiny minority” – are no problem. But a recent poll showed that a *quarter* of British Muslims sympathized with the Tube bombers. Some definition of a tiny minority. And Britain has it easy: there are far larger Muslim minorities in France and the Netherlands.

  6. I don’t get your premise that leaving Hussein in power was likely to result in interruption of oil supplies. He still planned to sell the stuff.

    I also really don’t see the terror links. Saddam Hussein was a secular arab nationalist, and atrocities like 911 and the London bombings have all been carried out by Wahabi fanatics with closer ideological ties to Saudi Arabia. I see the need to protect our countries from people like Bin Laden, but I don’t see where the invasion of Iraq fits in to that scheme.

  7. Well, when you say things like With as much hysterical anti-Iraq-war, anti-Bush-Administration fabrication going in the media as there has been,… along with all that “anti-idiotarian” chuff it can give the impression that you yourself are just a slightly pro-Iraq-war by comparison, not perhaps that you *love* it so much as maybe finding it a bracing challenge, a vigorous call to manly endeavour, all that good stuff. The accusation of loving blood is unwarranted, though.

  8. You know how this reads to me?
    “Hey guys, this ‘oil’ stuff is starting to cause more trouble than it’s worth. Isn’t it way past the time when we should be finding alternatives? For a start, it’s not like it’s hard to run a diesel engine on vegetable oil.

  9. It’s also worth noting that a friendly democracy with a debt to the U.S. in the heart of terrorist country would be an awfully nice place to stage intelligence activities. Sending lots of defense contractors into the area is a great cover for a few CIA agents or former spec-ops soldiers to get lost in the shuffle. It’s even easier to do it while we’re still at war, but eventually we’ll have to pull our troops out, and we’ll need a long-term peacetime solution to keep an eye on these mideast power blocs and prevent another 9/11.

  10. Ahaha!

    C’mon, Eric! I didn’t mean to offend you. :)

    Take it this way. The WMD thing was a lie, wasn’t it? So if now, some people start claiming that, “All right, WMD was a wrong excuse, but there were plenty of reasons as why America should have gone at war against Iraq”, doesn’t that sound pathetic? It only shows the love, that such people who make such claims, have for war. War ultimately contains blood.


  11. Good comeback Kane. I am truly defeated. I should have known better than to pit myself against your mighty wit.

  12. > The WMD thing was a lie, wasn’t it?

    There’s a very short distance between a mistake and a lie, and the key factor is what you thought when you said it.

    I don’t know what Bush thought. He *says* he thought there really were WMD stockpiles in Iraq. I have no real reason to believe otherwise. I have yet to hear anyone propose a reason that doesn’t sound completely paranoid. And looking at the evidence, there are some compelling arguments: Saddam imported enough materials to make a certain amount of mustard gas, and he made mustard gas in that factory, and we went into that factory and seized mustard gas representing 80% of what he had materials to make. Where’s the other 20%? It could be anywhere. But it is *reasonable* to think Saddam has hidden it so we can’t take it away. It’s not PROVEN… but it’s reasonable. And I have never heard a single person present even a *halfway* plausible argument to the effect that it was NOT REASONABLE to think Saddam probably had WMD stockpiles.

    So I believe Bush on this one. Doesn’t that seem perfectly rational?

  13. love and peace to you all, just think of innocent civilians that get killed in these wars,
    latest offcial estimates are 45,000 unnoficial estimates 100,000+ and the 1,000,000+ children that died of preventable causes while the food/medicine embargo was on and Saddam was in his palace eating caviar and sipping shardonay and was earning billions from oil being smuggled to turkey which the US govt knew about well and fully. I know you look will at these figures and shrug your shoulders and say who cares right those are are not american deaths they dont matter, its this kind of attitude that makes it so easy for you to go to war, if you valued other human life just a tad closer to the way you regard an american’s life this war would not have to come to pass.

  14. So, if you don’t care if the government did lie or not, then are you essentially saying “the means justify the ends?” Again, hardly very libertarian of you. Is it okay when government lies if it suits you, but not if it doesn’t?

  15. Mir Nazim: Your comments about the nature of Islam regarding terror and conduct during war are interesting.

    I learned much of the ways of fundamentalist cults from my upbringing as part of one. I know little of the teachings of your Prophet, but what you say reminds me of what goes on among Christians:

    The Bible is a long, complex, and contradictary document. It is too large for a person to pay attention to all of it at once. So while one Believer might fill his life with acceptance, gentleness, and love, another will follow the way of hate, pain, and death. Both are extolled in the Bible. Both have been practiced throughout the history of the religion.

    So I suspect it is similar with your religion. A person picks and chooses pieces of scripture as he is inclined. The same Islam that may inspire you to goodwill and charity inspires the members of al Qaeda to condemnation and war.

  16. “I know you look will at these figures and shrug your shoulders and say who cares right those are are not american deaths they dont matter”

    what you don’t know is a lot. 46,000 must be a typo. to whom is this figure “official”? to you no doubt. it benefits your precognitive crusade against the war to pile the bodies that high. you allow only for the possibility that the figure may be higher, referencing the now discredited lancet estimate of 100,000. a fuller citing of their report would provide an unbelievable range between 8-100 thousand. i’m no friend of sanctions. i opposed sanctions because they enriched the regime and internationalist beaureaucrats while punnishing civilians. it was the quixotic assertion of antiwar zealots, rather than war supporters, that the sanctions were “working”.

    you put forth all this smoke to misdirect from the fact that the outstanding ballance of civilian deaths during the occupation have come at the hands of the “insurgency” who are primarily secular baathists. you gallantly shove aside the actual plight of the actual iraqi majority — the 8 million who voted in mortal defiance of the sunni/al qaeda terror axis currently abusing them — to paint the coalition and it’s supporters as being somehow “bloodthirsty”. how freudian.

  17. “you put forth all this smoke to misdirect from the fact that the outstanding ballance of civilian deaths during the occupation have come at the hands of the “insurgency” who are primarily secular baathists.”

    I am looking at the bigger picture at hand, obviously most people here have already made up their minds on what they think about the war as have I, though I accept the reasons put forward by the article by Greg Djerejian as being fair enough, what I dont accept is this myth/meme being put forward that Bush didn’t have a choice, that he is somehow heroic for initiating pre-emptive strikes, that the massive loss of civilian life that has occured now well into the future could not have been/be avoided.

    Those 8 million voted where put between a rock and hard-place, I wish them well – the sooner they rid themselves of american influence in their country the sooner they will be able to rebuild. If you understand anything about the history of the region you will surely know that as long as a single american army uniform can be seen in their land there will be no peace. This is sheer arrogance to come in and say “trust us we know whats best for you”, the iraqi’s are descendants of the Persians, they can sort themselves out if given the chance without interference. I have confidence in the common Iraqi people themselves, if they are allowed to by both sides-insurgents and american military industrial complex alike, who seem both intent on dwindling the civilian numbers in their effort to turn baghdad and its outlying sister cities into urban war-zones in their fight for control of the dwindling sources of the worlds most toxic energy source.

  18. I like your argument and it also points well to my own libertarian quandry. Don’t like to send others to fight my fight but how does that work when you need a force of over 100,000. The current parties suck but the lesser of 2 evils at this point in history is GWB. These islamic pricks need to be shown the power of the US and we need to get on track to a system that needs less oil for our energy needs.

  19. Going to war over oil access per se seems to me to violate libertarian principles. There are good reasons for ousting Saddam Hussein, but oil isn’t one of them. To illustrate, suppose it were an industry cartel denying oil to the US. Would it be proper for a libertarian society to force its way into the oil? Of course not. However regrettable, the right to trade includes the right not to trade.

  20. Frankly, I don’t care whether one innocent civilian or one millian innocent civilians die. I don’t want anyone dying “in my name” to secure my society, way of life or whatever. Once we admit that collateral damage, no matter how small, is a necessary evil, we admit that any civilian anywhere, including here in the west, is expendable for some notion of the greater good or a wider political objective. Such means are used by terrorists, not civilised societies.

  21. Eric,

    you are right, but this stuff is deeper than that. The core of the problem is Islam itself. I hate I have to say that, because I offend many nice, goodwilling guys like Mir Nazim, but I have to. It’s not just the Quran, the are other canonical Islam texts like the Sira (biography of Muhammad), the Tarikh (history of Islam), and quotes from Muhammad, the Hadith. And what we see there, is that, that Muhammad was a natural born criminal, nothing better. More and more people realize it. A small example: Tabari VIII:116/Ishaq:511 “So Muhammad began seizing their herds and their property bit by bit. He conquered Khaybar home by home. The first stronghold defeated was Naim. Next was Qamus, the community of Abi Huqayq. The Messenger took some of its people captive, including Safiyah bt. Huyayy, the wife of Kinanah and her two cousins. The Prophet chose Safiyah for himself.” (www.prophetofdoom.net9

  22. Not to mention that the latest war figures include those killed by insurgent/foreign terrorists in Iraq. There are no official figures, and the lancet article has been well shot down in the past. You 1,000,000+ dead kids is BS as well. The only figure claimed was the often repeated 500,000, which was also shot down. It was an estimate given by the Red Cross before sanction, which they later retracted.

    WHile the US may have known about Saddam cheating on the oil for food (everybody pretty much knew after all), it seems that various Saddam apologists, particularly those close to the UN, seemed to know even more about it given that they were being paid off at the time. But still, if we can blame it on the US, why not eh? Lets even forget the issue that it was Europe and Arab states that wanted the sanctions in the first place, while Bush wanted to get rid of Saddam (and should of) at the time.

    As for the original post, nobody has ever yet proved that Bush knew that Saddam didn’t have WMDs, instead of believing, like the rest of the world that he did. It’s claimed that even Saddam thought he had them. Talking to scientists that used to work for Iraq, we found out that, many people lied about their progress in weapons programs to Saddam.

    I would also add to the original post that Osama declared war on the US because of the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. They were placed there to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam. If one were to look at the ‘root causes’ of 9/11 and terrorism, as the anti-war are constantly pleading we do, then one can only conclude that one of the root causes was the threat of Saddam in the region. Since Saddam has been removed, Us troops have left Saudi Arabia.

    Regarding Saddams terror ties, the other ‘lie’ claim by the anti-war is that Bush tied Saddam to 9/11 which he has never said. Tied him to terrorism and even Al-Quada, yes, but not to 9/11. This was agreed upon by the 9/11 commission report which again, is misquoted by the anti-war who claim the commission proved Bush lied when it in fact lines up with the admins position. Christopher Hitchins in a recent debate with Ron Reagan described the numerous links between Saddam and terrorists, include Al-Queda.

    I’m with Eric, do the anti-war really think we have nothing better to do than be at war?

  23. Mir Nazim: You are quite correct, the Koran directs its readers to be peaceful. And yet, many of the followers of Islam are not peaceful. And yet, many Islamic leaders fail to issue a fatwa against “Islamic” terrorists. So I’m afraid that your interpretation of the Koran is not widely accepted.
    If you think I should be interpreting these facts in a different way, please explain it to me.

  24. Daniel: Sadly, unless we farm every inch of the US, including the National Forests and Parks, we’re not going to have enough vegetable oil or biodiesel to run the US economy.

    In fact, even if we DID farm every inch, I don’t think we would.

    The reason we’re using oil is that it’s still the most efficient (in terms of both production and cost) form of energy available, bar none.

  25. >>27
    Nuts. Back to suggesting we cover the great deserts in solar panels for me it is then!

  26. You know that the country with the world’s fourth-largest army is sitting within theater-missile range of every oilfield in the Mideast, and it’s run by psychopathic thug who nerve-gassed his own people in 1980 and has been shipping money and guns to anti-American terrorist groups ever since. The thug has stated his intention to destroy the U.S. and tried to assassinate a U.S. president. Even without the reports that officers of his Mukhbarat have been training Al-Qaeda affiliates in chemical-weapons techniques, you have to take him out because he is a serious threat to the U.S.’s national interests.

    Could you prove these words (links to investigations, reports and so on)? Expecially I’d like to hear about:
    – psychopathic thug who … has been shipping money and guns to anti-American terrorist groups,
    – the reports that officers of his Mukhbarat have been training Al-Qaeda affiliates in chemical-weapons techniques

    BTW, have you heard those rumors that Al-Qaeda at the beginning had substantial support from US. What do you think of it?

  27. Maybe “lie” is a stretch of the term. Maybe. Perhaps more appropriate terms would be a “stretch of the truth,” or a disgusting campaign tactic designed to sort of brainwash us into respecting his administration’s agenda.

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