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America Duped
June 20, 2003
By Eric Munoz

A lot of people have been throwing around the "Blame America, first" mantra. As if it was the anti-war crowd that forced George Bush to stand in front of Congress and the world with gross distortions to justify going to war. Let me say this first, loud and clear, I am not blaming America. I am blaming George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell.

I believe that they lied, exaggerated and obfuscated because Americans, for the most part, believe that our might and muscle should be used as a last resort; because most Americans, for the most part, believe the blood of our soldiers - who are also our brothers and sisters, or sons and daughters - should not be spilled for convenience or political expediency; and because Americans, for the most part, believe that our military should not be exploited for partisan purposes.

No, I do not blame America. I blame the President and his administration.

I blame Mr. Bush for leading, or more appropriately, misleading this country into war. Repeatedly the administration has justified the invasion of Iraq on the basis of the "proven" existence of WMD's. They claimed to know where they were, "in Baghdad and Tikrit," as Sec. Rumsfeld said. They claimed that Iraq was months away from a nuclear bomb and had "reconstituted" their nuclear program as Mr. Cheney said. They linked Iraq to 9/11 as Mr. Bush repeatedly mentioned Al Qaeda when speaking of Iraq. These were intentional misrepresentations to shore up support for striking Iraq.

I blame Mr. Bush for disregarding and dismissing so cavalierly the warnings and cautions of those not convinced Iraq was a threat. Over and over again, the patriotism and motives of those that would question the President were impugned. War skeptics warned of the power vacuum that would be created once Saddam was disposed of and the potential dangers that might arise. Theocracies could emerge more in tune with Al Qaeda than the US; civil war could tear Iraq apart as the Kurds would seek to expand their control or the Shia's sought revenge; widespread hunger and dissatisfaction could lead to guerrilla warfare that would endanger our troops; the lack of sufficient force to impose law and secure the streets could lead to resentment; or terrorist organizations could reconstitute themselves as attention was diverted to attacking Iraq. Unfortunately all those things have either come to pass or are closer to realization than any of us feel comfortable with.

I blame Mr. Bush for squandering the goodwill and reputation this country enjoyed. This country was looked to by the world as a beacon of freedom and hope. The United States was respected as a powerful nation slow to anger but decisive in action; a member and leader of the world community. By undermining the United Nations and dismissing the concerns of other nations, Mr. Bush has undermined our ability to lead the global community and make the world a truly safer better place.

I blame Mr. Bush for damaging the credibility of the United States. By shifting justifications for the war from WMD to liberation to humanitarian reasons or to reshaping the Middle East to bring peace and stability to the region, he has given the world reason to doubt our sincerity and given our enemies ammunition with which to use against us. The WMD cannot be found - even if they are found now it is clear that we did not have the overwhelming evidence we claimed to have. By ignoring even more dangerous despots like Kim Jong Il and Charles Taylor we say to the world that liberation was not really a concern, just an excuse.

Justifying the invasion on links to terrorism is tenuous as well, given that Mr. Bush has hosted Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah at his ranch in Texas. 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and it has been acknowledged that Saudi money has been diverted to Al Qaeda. The dividends that war supporters were emphatically pointing to last week as Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas posed with Mr. Bush at a photo-op have gone up in the plumes of smoke of suicide bombings and assassination attempts.

In short, I blame Mr. Bush for making a bigger mess of the world and leaving it for someone else to fix. No, I do not blame America for what has happened. She was duped. But, I will blame America if she is duped again. Or, as the President might say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice - can't get fooled again."

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