Noble though it may be, an oppressive dictator in and of itself does not necessitate invading another country. Such a feeble argument would never capture, and has never captured, substantial public support without demonstrating that there is also a grave threat at stake.
In making the case for warring with Iraq, the Bush administration pleaded vigorously that weapons of mass destruction existed, that Iraq had ties to al-Qaida and that if America did not invade as soon as possible it might be too late. It was only after all these accusations had been conclusively disproved that war supporters bothered discussing Saddam Hussein’s “bad guy” image. The evidence regarding the threat posed by Hussein, however, was always controversial at best and dishonest at worst.
According to a Washington Post article entitled “Hussein’s Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted,” the CIA had concluded as early as 2002 8212; the year before the war began 8212; that the relationship between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime more closely resembled “two organizations trying to feel out or exploit each other” rather than cooperate operationally. The report also describes Iraqi training on weapons of mass destruction as “episodic, sketchy or not corroborated in other channels.”
None of this fazed the Bush administration though. In the two years following Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and seven top officials in the administration made at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Hussein, according to a report by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity entitled “False Pretenses.” This proved to be more than enough to get the majority of Americans to support the war.
In the State of the Union address from January 2002, Bush, referring to Iraq, stated: “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the most destructive weapons.” When applied correctly, the Bush Doctrine is actually quite agreeable. Had the war actually served some strategic objective, it might have been forgotten, or at least forgiven, that it took quite a bit of disingenuous statements to achieve such an incidental outcome. The fact that the Bush Doctrine is no longer being applied where it is needed, however, suggests the contrary.
As anybody who watches the news should know, Iran is everything Iraq was not. Iran is not only the largest state sponsor of terrorism, but also one to three years away from producing a nuclear weapon as predicted recently by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Unlike the evidence regarding the “threat” posed by Hussein, virtually no public figure or nation denies the Iranian nuclear program, except for Iran itself. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not only denies the Holocaust but has suggested on multiple occasions that the future existence of Israel is not a sure thing. This all begs the question: Where have all the war-hawks gone? The most severe form of action I have seen argued is an air strike against Iranian nuclear reactors, but this is rather coy compared to the insinuations by the Bush administration that there would be mushroom clouds over American cities if a full-on war with Iraq was not started immediately.
Obviously very few people think America can afford to go to war with Iran. If the United States had not spent the previous seven years fighting in Iraq, which included a $3 trillion price tag, an increase in the price per barrel of oil and the lives of over 4,000 American soldiers as a current Washington Post article entitled “The True Cost of the Iraq War” calculated, then things might be different. Instead the United States managed to remove an evil, but essentially harmless, dictator who beforehand placed a significant check on the power of a potentially greater threat in neighboring Iran.
When then-presidential candidate Barack Obama stated in 2008 a willingness to meet with hostile foreign leaders, many Republicans accused him of being naÃÂ¯ve. Unless Republicans start beating the war drum again, this appears to be more practical than previously thought. Americans should keep in mind that Obama never supported the Iraq War. This might make a difference at the midterm elections in eight weeks, when Republicans will assuredly continue to accuse him for all our nation’s problems.
Andrew Mabry is a senior political science major from Southlake.