Saturday, June 7, 2008

Learn From Our Mistakes But Don't Abandon the Iraqis

It’s hard to disagree with most of what the following USA Today editorial says. Mistakes were made with regard to the original reasons for invading Iraq. Unfortunately, any mistakes have been overcome by events.

The fact is that we invaded that country and removed the government, the police, the Army and the entire infrastructure. We must do everything in our power to fix the mess that we helped create. Morality and decency demand that we do so and our military forces are making friends as they make a difference in the new Iraq.

Regardless of what Obama and the Democrats say, we cannot just walk away from the Iraqi people.

* * * *

USA Today
June 6, 2008

Iraq intelligence findings provide crucial lessons

It has long been apparent that the United States rushed to war in Iraq based on false premises. Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction, didn't have ties to the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks and wasn't an imminent danger.

But one great unanswered question has festered in Washington: Did President Bush and his top officials knowingly lie when they repeatedly asserted that Saddam was reconstituting a nuclear program and had biological and chemical weapons? Or did they simply get it wrong, cherry-picking flawed intelligence to make their case for action?

Anyone hoping for the final answer from the long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report released Thursday will be disappointed — unless, of course, they cherry-pick it to support their preconceived opinions.

For the most part, the 171-page report contradicts the simplistic "Bush lied, people died" formulation found on bumper stickers. It concludes that the administration's prewar statements on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were mostly backed up by available (but flawed) U.S. intelligence, although the statements tended to gloss over internal debate among intelligence agencies about those findings.

The report does find, however, that assertions by Bush and Vice President Cheney that Saddam was prepared to arm terrorist groups to attack the United States contradicted available intelligence. In fact, that intelligence suggested Saddam was unlikely to do so because he feared an attack would strengthen the U.S. case for war.

This mixed verdict won't satisfy partisans on either side. But it doesn't mean the report — endorsed by the panel's eight Democrats and two of its seven Republicans — is an exercise in futility, as its GOP critics claimed. It is, in fact, a cautionary tale that provides important lessons, particularly as the nation decides what to do about Iran and its murky nuclear program.

For Congress, the lesson is that lawmakers need to double-check intelligence themselves, not simply rely on summaries or administration assurances. Pathetically few members of Congress read the complete 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which detailed misgivings of some intelligence agencies, before they cast fateful votes that authorized the Iraq war.

For this and future administrations, the lesson is that White House officials need to weigh and study all available intelligence, not seize on only what supports their preconceived notions. They mustn't present ambiguity as certainty. They mustn't launch pre-emptive attacks without bulletproof evidence. And never again should they treat war as a marketing campaign, like selling a new brand of toothpaste.

* * * *

Charles M. Grist


  1. My father was a prisoner of war during WWII in Germany for 3-years. he left weighed 220 pounds(6'4")and came home weighing 90 pounds. he has always been proud of the fact that even though he was tortured, the US didn't. He was also turned down for Service Connected Disability by the VA.

    Ken Britt
    Easthampton, MA

  2. As a veteren of OIF, I would like to point you in the direction of something:

    Adm. Mullen's reminder to stay apolitical. When I have E-7s with no combat patch ATTACK me and my family at the PX because I am wearing an Obama T-shirt, I believe your senseless cheerleading of the war should be subject to military discrimination as well. Especially when you alienate "the dems and Obama", as if some of us "liberal moonbats" weren't serving AND dying Iraq as we speak.

    What is even scarier, is your blunt acknowledgement that we were lied into this war. That this war is a staged war on "evil". Brown men who are currently mastering paved roads and plumbing are a threat to Americans? No more than drunk drivers, street gangs, and religious sex-offenders. So tell me what you want, but I LOVE my fellow americans. And as long as my fellow americans are dying so some contracter can have a third summer home, I'm opposing this war. But I cant say that out loud, just like you cant:

  3. Note to "Anonymous": I do not support anyone who would verbally attack a fellow citizen who supports a Presidential candidate - regardless of what side. That is wrong. It is now historical fact, not opinion, that invading Iraq based on finding weapons of mass destruction was a mistake. That doesn't change the reality of our moral responsibility to fix what we broke. What I also believe is that President Bush did not intentionally lie about the intelligence that he believed - though mistakenly - proved the existence of those weapons. I will never believe that he would knowingly lie with the knowledge that this lie would eventually be discovered. We are there, we disrupted their society and they deserve our reasonable efforts to get their nation going again. If you were really in Iraq, then you know that there are many Iraqis who appreciate our efforts. Still, I do agree that the Iraqis themselves must be the ones to make it work and a great many of them are trying. There is no dishonor in helping people be free and independent. I respect your opinion; respect mine, too. Obama would walk away and throw the Iraqi people under the train; McCain - who hates war like most war veterans - will finish the job the way it should be finished.

    SFC Chuck Grist

  4. annon,

    Yeah they had WMD, the Reagan administration gave it to them, but we should have also listened to the inspectors who were actually saying the correct things. We should listen to what people brag about as truths. Bush admitted that in order to have a great place in history, a president needed to be a war time president. I think they were drunk on punch and didn't even consider what they were doing only that it was a public relations slam dunk and a profiterring gold mine. You broke it you bought it is not what is needed now. The only way for an oppressed society to be free if for them to do it themselves and I myself said that from the begining.