June 10, 2003
The Bush Administration, as well as Tony Blair, looks pretty bad right now.
All that hyping of the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has come back to haunt them.
U.S. forces scoured practically every square inch of Iraqi territory in search of these elusive weapons but came up empty handed, except for those two dubious trailers. Many of the U.S. specialists have now been recalled. Essentially, they gave up.
Still, the Bush Administration somehow manages to insist that it did not mislead the American public.
There was Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice taking to the Sunday talk shows to defend their pre-war exaggerations.
And there was Bush himself saying he was "absolutely convinced" that the United States would find proof of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.
It's possible that U.S. forces may turn up something ultimately, though not a few people would be suspicious of the claim at this late date.
But even if they did find something, it's unlikely that it would amount to the looming, growing, gathering, ominous threat that Bush described, over and over again, to browbeat the American public into supporting this war.
As Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense has admitted, the weapons argument was just for public consumption. "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason," he told Vanity Fair.
What an admission!
Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and Presidential candidate, has been courageous in denouncing the Bush Administration for its chicanery.
"Now their story is changing: Iraq had a weapons program, they say. No longer weapons of mass destruction, but a program," Kucinich says. "Bait and switch won't work here. Nor will a pretense for war. If this Administration can fabricate reasons for war after the fact, where will America be headed for war next? Congress must demand accountability for the wanton exercise of war power, for the loss of life, the destruction of property, the waste of tax dollars, and the damage to America's reputation."
Truth is, the Iraq War was always about ulterior motives: Bush's desire to settle family scores with Saddam, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz's desire to flex U.S. muscle, and the Administration's overall desire to grab Iraq's oil. Dick Cheney, author of the Administration's energy report in the spring of 2001, certainly understood that control of Iraq's oil would not only help the U.S. economy and U.S. companies. He knew it had strategic influence because he said last August that Saddam sits atop 10 percent of the world's oil supply, which gives him power. The United States wanted that power to lessen U.S. dependence on an increasingly shaky Saudi Arabia and to be able to turn on and off the Iraqi spigot, as Rumsfeld did to Syria immediately after the war. The United States could also use its control of Iraqi oil to exert some power over the Chinese economy, which is dependent now on Mideast oil, as Michael Klare has noted.
But Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz also recognized that the people of the United States, much less the global community, would not countenance an invasion for personal or oily or imperial reasons.
So lie they did, and lie they are continuing to do.