In today's New York Times, Donald Rumseld exhorts us
to think of the American soldiers stationed in Iraq and tell them, "You join a long line of generations of Americans who have fought freedom's fight. Thank you."
I agree. There is no question that American soldiers deserve our thanks and our support. They do a job that I do not do, and one that I know is worth doing. Our presence in Iraq is crucial; without it, the country may descend into a chaos from which a leader even worse than Saddam Hussein would arise.
But the fact that we are there doing right does not mean that we got there in the right way. Support at this juncture does not mean unwavering support for those who brought us to this point. And I believe, contrary to lawroark's post today
, that an ever-increasing chorus of questions about the road that led us to Iraq is necessary and good.
lawroark says that the recent comments by the leader of Poland indicating that he feels that he was "misled" about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the war in Iraq "shows the damage that can be done by internal U.S. politics to our international relations."
(I believe that this statement is true, but not in the way that lawroark intended. For certain, Bush's internal U.S. politics have done incredible damage to our international relations.)
I think what lawroark is trying to say is that press coverage of the questions being asked, by Kerry and others, about the Bush Adminstration's statements before the Iraq war in some way convinced the leader of Poland that he was misled. That's a bizarre conclusion that relies on two faulty assumptions: 1) the leader of Poland did not have communications with the Bush administration to which we were not privy and greater access to intelligence provided by the Bush administration than the general public did; and 2) the leader of Poland is of a sufficiently weak mind as to be swayed by American media.
Because I believe that these assumption are faulty, I think the conclusion we should draw is the opposite-- that this is further confirmation that the Bush administration relied on a false premise--Saddam Hussein's capability to deploy weapons of mass destruction--to convince American citizens and the leaders of other countries that war with Iraq was proper.
It is unquestionable that before Polish President Kwasniewski decided to send the young men and women of his country to Iraq, he talked the war over with high-level officials in the Bush administration and heard things that we didn't. And he must have believed them. And he apparently has questions about those things now.
So, really, the issue is one of causation. Did the American media cause Poland's leader to question Bush, or should questions raised by President Kwasniewski cause the American media to ask more questions? I believe the answer is the latter.
Moreover, lawroark clearly operates under another assumption that I find faulty. He assumes that Bush did not mislead the country because the threat of weapons of mass destruction was not a significant part of the reasoning that he gave the public for why action in Iraq was necessary. In response to that assumption, I direct him to Bush's speech to the American people
on the first day of the war, and this portion of it:
We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people.
. . .
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.
. . .
My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.