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Bush’s critics are blind as bats

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, November 3, 2003

I dressed up as George W. Bush for Halloween this year. It was a royal pain: the only Dubya mask left on the shelf cost $4.99 and was made in Mauritius, and believe me, it had all the quality you’d expect from a Mauritian-made product.

The mask had tiny little eye-holes that were smaller than a dime, which meant that while wearing it, I could only really see what was right in front of me, but was blind to everything else.

A sizable segment of you readers is probably howling in laughter at that last statement and the parallels it has to the world today.

Everybody’s quick to link Iraq to Vietnam now, as if there were any similarity between a six-month desert conflict that’s cost 300 American soldiers’ lives and a nearly two-decade long jungle guerrilla war that killed 58,000 troops.

But yeah, other than all that, the situations are practically identical. Or at least they are for those people who were against the war from the beginning.

Take The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd: “The war began with Bush illogic: false intelligence (from Niger to nuclear) used to bolster a false casus belli (imminent threat to our security) based on a quartet of false premises (that we could easily finish off Saddam and the Baathists, scare the terrorists and democratize Iraq without leeching our economy).”

Having been wrong about everything concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom, the anti-war left has switched to a new tactic: completely lying about everything so that it makes them right. This “strategery” is all over Dowd’s thesis.

Dowd mentions the African nation of Niger (a shorthand reference to the supposed claim that President Bush made in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein attempted to buy uranium from Niger) as an attempt to show that Bush lied about the reasons for war.

In fact, the now-famous 16-word quote in the address was that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” not just Niger. British intelligence stands by their work, and reports by Chief U.S. Weapons Inspector David Kay support an African connection.

Second, Dowd asserts that the justification for war was an “imminent threat to our security.” This, too, is a complete fabrication: invading Iraq was to prevent them from ever becoming an “imminent threat.”

From the same State of the Union: “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?”

However, constant repetition has made this lie accepted, and even “objective” sources like The New York Times, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse have all published news stories touting that Bush declared Saddam an “imminent threat.”

These two little white lies lead to the big one, the one that the anti-war left hopes to bludgeon Bush upside the head with: that the administration “misunderestimated” the amount of post-war Iraqi resistance to instituting a stable, democratic government and is currently botching the job.

“When you put American troops in harm’s way, you better not do it without a plan,” sneered Gen. Wesley Clark, who has little to say about poor planning (coughKosovocough).

No matter whether or not one supported the war, the postwar establishment of a free Iraq should be a cause everyone, certainly classic interventionist liberal idealists, could get behind. But four of the leading Democratic presidential candidates (Clark, Dean, Edwards, Kerry) oppose the President’s $87 billion evidently-not-a-plan aid package.

That opposition has the potential to undermine the entire series of successes the postwar reconstruction has already accomplished in just a few short months: reopening all hospitals and most schools, courts and banks; restoring most electrical, telephone and water services; creating Iraqi police and security forces totaling more than 100,000 officers; and establishing the beginnings of a free press and representative government. Just imagine what they could have done if they had a plan.

It is true that an organized, sophisticated resistance has dedicated itself to reversing these achievements, and that they have taken quite a deadly toll, both on U.S. forces and on non-American “soft targets” like the International Red Cross.

However, to compare this situation with Vietnam is to insinuate that the resistance is part of a much larger hostile group opposed to the United States, and to state this war is not winnable and we should just go home. The former is clearly not true, and the latter would be a bigger disaster than not having gone in at all.

So who’s really sightless? The president whose vision is prevailing, or the opponents whose theories of failure are so blinding that they’re forced to shade the truth to make their point?

Who knows, maybe Mauritius makes Stevie Wonder masks.

Mike Marchand, class of ’01, wanted to dress up as Gen. Wesley Clark for Halloween, but was afraid nobody would realize who he was. His column appears every other Monday. Contact him at Marchand.3@alumni.nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.