April 14, 2003
Shouldn't We Know Why We're at War Before the War Starts?
by The Angry Liberal
it's one, two, three,
(Slightly altered version of the song, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag, by Country Joe and the Fish)
I generally don't like to use really long quotes, but I heard an exchange at Friday's White House press briefing that I have to share with you.
"Q: Can victory be declared in this war without accounting, for not just Saddam Hussein, but those leading figures (of his regime)?
FLEISCHER: Let me deal with the speculation about victory and
whether the President will declare victory, what victory would look
like, what criteria he's looking for, because the answer from the President's
point of view is it is much too soon to be discussing it. We remain
in the middle of a conflict. Yes, indeed, the regime has ended, as
General Franks said this morning. But, yes, indeed, fighting remains.
It is still a battlefield. While the central command and control elements
of the regime have been collapsed, there remain pockets of loyalists
who continue to fight and present harm for our armed forces.
Q: Sorry. So he hasn't thought about what would constitute victory?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President is not yet ready to publicly speculate about what it is he would say or when he would say it.
Q: That's not the question. You're turning the question around. The question is, what has to happen for victory to be achieved?
MR. FLEISCHER: Just what I told you this morning. The President has always said the mission is the disarmament of Iraq and liberation for the Iraqi people.
Q: And, therefore, it is securing those weapons of mass destruction, and until that's done--
MR. FLEISCHER: The President has always said that is the mission. I am not going to be able to shed any more light on when the President will say the mission is accomplished.
Q: But you just laid it out there that disarmament of Iraq, "disarmament" meaning weapons of mass destruction, correct?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President has always said that is the mission, but I'm not going to define for you what the President will later define as victory."
Kids, this sort of nonsense makes me wince and reach for the Maalox. Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, just reported that after sending scores of American soldiers to their deaths, killing thousands of Iraqi soldiers, conscripts, and civilians, spending $75 billion borrowed tax dollars, dividing NATO, the UN, and the entire world, it turns out that Bush hasn't figured out how to tell when we've won the war.
Okay, this obviously isn't true, even though that's what Fleischer told us on Friday. What is true is the following: The Bush administration is so deathly afraid of having one of their actions labeled a failure, they won't even bother to offer a public definition of what the objective for a war is. Remember, the war in Afghanistan was never about getting Osama bin Laden, and therefore, Bush didn't fail. Remember the $1 trillion dollar tax cut that was supposed to fix the economy and didn't? It turns out that we spent all of that money to make the economy slightly better than it would have been, according to the republicans, so Bush didn't fail there, either. With this in mind, let's discuss Bush previously stated objectives for the Coalition of the Afraid's little trip to the Garden of Eden and decide what "victory" would look like if Junior's mouthpiece had enough nutsack to utter some actual facts.
Here's what Bush has been reading from the teleprompter since last summer:
If Saddam Hussein will not disarm, we will disarm him.
To the unsophisticated general public, the fact that Bush has repeated this phrase 42,864 times in the last eight or ten months could be misinterpreted as, perhaps, maybe, possibly, an objective. This is the Bush administration's public rationale for going to war. Period. A lot of the chicken hawks currently nesting in the White House also discussed "regime change," but when pressed to explain the necessity of this, the Bush boys would always fall back on the premise that Hussein had to go because he has weapons of mass destruction (God, I'm sick of that phrase.) and would use them against the United States.
So off to war we go. After a large number of body parts are removed from a large number of bodies (yes, folks, those bright flashes you see off in the distance on CNN aren't solely for our entertainment), the only arms we've removed from Iraq have been a bunch of obsolete Russian tanks, rocket-propelled grenades, and AK-47s. Big deal. Former Congressman Bob Barr has more stuff than that in his garage. As for Bush's stated Holy Grail, the WMDs, none have shown up yet.
Will these weapons ever be found? The answer is irrelevant. The fact is that even if Hussein had these weapons, he was either unable or unwilling to use them to save his regime or, if it turns out that he is at the bottom of one of those craters in Baghdad, even his life. Therefore, Bush's assertion that Saddam Hussein would use such weapons against the United States was false, and all the talk about disarming Iraq was meaningless. A country without the ability to defend its own capitol is no threat to its neighbors or anyone else, for that matter. At this point, even if some attempt to use chemical or biological weapons were made by the remnants of the Iraqi army, it would only be part of a desperate last stand and not part of a plan. Nobody could seriously argue that such a usage ever represented a serious threat to the United States. As to whether Saddam Hussein is willing to hand over WMDs to terrorists for the purpose of revenge, America will find out in the next year or two, thanks to George W. Bush.
You can begin to see the need for Ari Fleischer's desperate tap dance Friday. We just witnessed the deaths of thousands for a meaningless goal (disarming Hussein) based on an incorrect premise (Hussein wouldn't hesitate to use WMDs against the U.S.). So don't expect to hear a lot of talk about goals and objectives of the war from the Bushies anytime soon.
The truth about Son of Gulf War: The Sequel is that Bush's failure was complete the moment the first shot was fired. A great president could have seen the truth about Iraq's capabilities and intentions and worried about important things instead. A good president could have worried about Hussein, but negotiated a peaceful solution. An adequate president could have still wanted war, but convinced the world to join us in the endeavor. A lousy president could have at least convinced NATO to go along. George W. Bush managed none of the above. Thousands dead, billions of dollars wasted, the world divided, and we can't get a stated objective from Ari Fleischer. But I'm sure no flag-wavers will notice this. In the end, Bush will define the objective of this war as whatever the final outcome is. If all we manage to do is get rid of Saddam Hussein, who we now know was never a threat to America after all, then that's all we meant to do. As with the rest of Bush's life, clearing the bar is easy if the bar is set low enough.
And now, we return you to CNN's regularly scheduled program, Showdown with (insert the name of the next leader who scares Bush here) . . .
otherwise noted, all original