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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The media has finally begun reporting on the fact that all Coalition weapons inspectors have been withdrawn from Iraq, and the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in the recently invaded fertile crescent has drawn to a close.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.

Empty Words

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 current arsenals?

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.

Consequences

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.

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