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.
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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.
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Charles M. Grist