Why It Matters
January 21, 2005
By Aden Nak
The media has finally begun reporting on the fact that all Coalition
weapons inspectors have been withdrawn from Iraq, and the search
for Weapons of Mass Destruction in the recently invaded fertile
crescent has drawn to a close. Of course, the operation was a resounding
failure, despite the best efforts of the inspection teams.
The truth is coming out now that there was nothing to find. That
the only thing hidden beneath the arid sands of the Iraqi landscape
is, well, more sand. Iraq had neither Weapons of Mass Destruction
nor the infrastructure required to produce them.
Apparently, the Bush Administration doesn't think that any of
this matters. But don't take my word for it - President Bush spoke
to Barbara Walters during an interview on 20/20 on this very subject.
The interview aired on January 14th, 2005:
Walters: But was it worth it if there were no weapons
of mass destruction? Now that we know that that was wrong? Was
it worth it?
Bush: Oh, absolutely.
So there we have it, established as fact. George W. Bush still
believes in his decision to invade Iraq despite Hussein's complete
lack of a WMD program. It is this sort of steadfast adherence to
his own decisions that makes him out to either be a resolute leader
or a stubborn fool, depending on who you ask.
But there is a greater problem with his unwavering belief in his
decision to invade Iraq. It's called "the rest of the world", and
whether George Bush realizes it or not, the invasion of Iraq has
exponentially damaged America's safety and security.
Condoleezza Rice was brought before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee just four days after the Bush/Walters interview. In her
effort to be confirmed as the new Secretary of State, Dr. Rice offered
the following opinion concerning United States foreign policy: "We
must remain united in insisting that Iran and North Korea abandon
their nuclear weapons ambitions and choose instead the path of peace."
The question I pose to Dr. Rice, President Bush, and the rest
of the neoconservative crowd that was so quick to use military force
without the proper intelligence is a very simple one. Why would
any nation now abandon their WMD programs when the United States
has already demonstrated a willingness to invade anyway, under the
false banner of disarmament?
Iraq had dismantled their WMD programs over nine years prior to
Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the United States still invaded
the nation and overthrew its government, insisting the whole time
that Iraq still had stockpiles of weapons. So if the Bush administration
is willing to invade sovereign nations that have not been developing
WMD programs, what incentive is there for any nation to disarm their
It does not take a military genius to see that a fully-functional
WMD program, and the threat of its use during combat, is perhaps
the only thing that might prevent military interdiction by a US-led
Coalition of the Willing.
The issue is, of course, credibility. But not simply credibility
with our allies or credibility with the United Nations. What concerns
me most is our credibility with those nations in opposition to us.
If they truly see the United States as a threat, as a nation that
will invade them regardless of their compliance and then brag about
it afterwards, they are left with absolutely no motive to comply.
What can be gained by taking the course that Hussein took? He
did as he was instructed. He dismantled his WMD programs and he
made no effort to restart them. All it did was leave him defenseless
to the overwhelming might of the United States military and the
impossible ultimatum that George W. Bush set for him.
What we have lost is more dangerous than the camaraderie of our
allies. We have lost the respect of our adversaries. President Bush
not only invaded Iraq under false pretenses, but then said he was
glad to have done so, despite the fact that the original justification
for the war turned out to be completely false.
Bush has set up a dangerous situation where any negotiations the
United States enters into are utterly worthless, because he cannot
be trusted to recognize even the most basic tenants of reality.
He cannot be trusted to uphold his end of any disarmament treaty
specifically because he has already shown his willingness to either
lie about the presence of WMD or, and I am being generous here,
grossly misinterpret the facts in order to serve his own purposes.
But whether the constantly-sounding war drum of "Weapons of Mass
Destruction!" was one of the most catastrophic failures of military
intelligence in United States history or a concise, deliberate attempt
by the Bush Administration to mislead both Congress and the American
public is a moot point. Had Bush shown even the slightest touch
of regret, had he admitted that he invaded Iraq without just cause,
or had he promised (for what his word is worth) to never again engage
the United States military without concrete evidence, even that
small concession would have left nations like Iran and North Korea
with some reasonable doubt.
One day before his 20/20 interview, when Bush said that he absolutely
would still have invaded Iraq if he had known, at the time, that
Hussein had not reconstituted his WMD program, our President offered
the following reflections on some of his pre-war rhetoric:
Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to
mean. "Bring 'em on" is the classic example. . . Those
words had an unintended consequence. . . It certainly is a lesson
that a President must be mindful of, that the words that you
sometimes say. I speak plainly sometimes, but you've got to
be mindful of the consequences of the words.
One day after this surprising admission on Bush's part that his
inflammatory posturing can have a negative affect on the United
States' image, he delivered his absolute response to the Iraqi situation.
Personally, I have no trouble believing that George W. Bush would
have invaded Iraq had he known there to be no Weapons of Mass Destruction
present, because I believe that he knew that to be true from the
very start. But it is another thing entirely for him to strut his
arrogance before the world and then expect the rest of the world
to comply with his demands.
Words do have consequences. But once again, the burden of those
consequences will be shouldered not by our posturing President but
by the men and women who fight his battles for him. Unintended consequences
cost lives, no matter how "absolute" George W. Bush is in his convictions.
It is high time for America to tell the President, "Absolutely not."
Aden Nak is an easily-agitated computer technician and a woefully
underemployed freelance writer. More of his personal vitriol can
be found at adennak.com.