History by Personal Pique

It is another propaganda victory in that more than half the populace believes the war on Iraq was a President Bush mistake. Carl M. Cannon takes the covers off reality in Donald Trump, Iraq Demagogue.

These Democrats weren’t saying anything controversial. They were reflecting a bipartisan national will that echoed official U.S. policy. That policy, regime change in Iraq, was an actual law—The Iraq Liberation Act—signed by Bill Clinton on October 31, 1998.

This was the environment inherited by George W. Bush when he took office. The September 11, 2001 attacks only upped the pressure on Saddam, especially after Iraq became the only Arab nation not to condemn them. Weeks later, Bush received a letter signed by nine members of Congress, including John McCain and two Democrats, noting that U.N. inspectors hadn’t visited Iraq in three years.

George W. Bush made more than 150 speeches and public comments between his State of the Union address in 2002 and the March 19, 2003 announcement of the invasion. In almost all of them he cited multiple reasons for his tightening vise grip around Saddam’s regime. These include Saddam’s habit of invading his neighbors, including Iran and Kuwait; his support for international terrorism; his depredations against the Kurds; his violation of U.N. sanctions; his hostility toward Israel, which included missile attacks on civilians; his destabilizing influence in the region; his frightful crimes against his own people that included “rape rooms,” a phrase Bush invoked.

The human rights dimension was the one that seemed to motivate Bush the most. On two occasions, he recalled that Saddam had conspired to assassinate a former U.S. president, namely, his own father. This brings us full circle: Donald Trump’s apparent motivations for smearing George W. Bush is that the 43rd U.S. president has the temerity to campaign for his brother. Trump represents a new school of historical revisionism. Call it History by Personal Pique.

Yet casually accusing Bush of bad faith is another matter. When Trump does so, it has the feel of calculated misdirection. The reason? He’s the one lying about Iraq.

Yet even Cannon asserts that “an accurate recollection of the facts, however, does not absolve the Bush administration of blame for policies that led to the spiraling disintegration of the Middle East“. As indicated by Hanson (cf earlier post), it can be argued that the “spiraling disintegration” is not the Iraq war but rather the abandonment involved in ending it to appease the nationalist and sectarian interests, the isolationists, and the peace at any cost crowd. Consider the events after WW II and Korea where the U.S. commitment was honored  vs those after abandonment in Vietnam and Iraq.

But it is so easy to avoid discomfort by blaming some villain no matter how vacuous such efforts be. 1939 is in front of us again.

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