Since NRO Doesn’t Have A Comments Section

August 26, 2007

I spotted a short piece on memeorandum in which NRO’s Mona Charen asks Why did we go to war?

This morning on C-SPAN 2, I heard a nice young historian spout the conventional wisdom about President Bush and the Iraq War. This particular interpretation is now totally uncontroversial – but it is false.

Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University told an audience that George W. Bush had urged the war in Iraq in order to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction and only later used democracy promotion as a post-hoc justification for the conflict.There is little question that “the weapons” as President Bush typically referred to WMDs were a key concern. But it is highly misleading to say that they were the sole justification.

Here is an excerpt from President Bush’s February 2003 speech to the American Enterprise Institute (the war started the following month) in which he set out the case for war. He addressed WMDs first:

Charen missed the link to Bush’s speech, but I found it.  Bush did indeed talk about the utopian benefits of a free Iraq (although it would have been a bit more convincing if she had linked to a speech where Bush was addressing the nation rather than the friendly confines of the AEI.  I’m not sure how much play this speech got in the media).  Anyway, she goes on:

It may have been impossibly idealistic and even naïve to entertain such hopes (though I don’t think so), but an ambitious freedom agenda was always a part of the justification for the Iraq War – and that’s something that everyone who argues the Bush “lied us into war” is purposely ignoring.

One problem.  Spreading freedom is hardly a justification for war.  One might see it as a benefit, but the principle reason we went to war was always about disarmament.  What Mona’s ignoring is that if this was part of the “agenda”, then Bush certainly did lie when he said this in the speech she cited:

 We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed.

How can one publicly hope for a peaceful resolution to the WMD problem and then turn around and say that an invasion to remove Saddam and free the Iraqis was the plan all along?  Like I stated in my DSM thread, the “I hope the use of force will not become necessary” line was the lie.  If spreading freedom is now part of the justification, then Bush really had no other intention, right?

Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University was right.  Bush attempted to focus on freedom and removing Saddam as the justification only after it was clear that the WMD’s weren’t going to be found.  Unfortunately, that alone wasn’t justification for the war in the first place.  After all, it’s not as if Colin Powell went before the UN and made a case for removing Saddam because it was in the “clear interest in the spread of democratic values”. 

Update:  Rob over at “Say Anything” ate Mona’s post right up. 


  1. Rob at Say Anything made the strength of his position clear when he wrote

    “She’s got the links to prove it at the link.”

    As you pointed out, she didn’t link to the speech she quooted. In fact she didn’t actually link to anything! She just pasted a quote. LOL. And Rob says “she’s got the links to prove it”.

    Here’s the weird thing: after all the lies Bush has told it makes no sense to say: “Here’s the real reason why he did ____. He said so in a speech … WHICH PROVES IT!!”

    Whatever politicians say in speeches proves nothing. Why do so few of us realize this?

  2. Actually, there are a good many theories about why the US deposed the ruler of Iraq – again. I’ve become quite radicalized about what I will consider as plausible explanations since mucking about online – though the 9/11 conspiracy theorists would snort derisively at that evaluation.
    If you are not familiar with Project for a New American Century, it can make one blink with surprise. Checking on the names and affiliations of the principals is interesting also. Have a look at my Blogroll entries “Intel links” – my category for them – and see if you can’t find a few surprises. One would be the NIA listing “Desert Crossing”, which was the wargame on the results of invading Iraq.

  3. S/B NSA Archive for Desert Crossing. YouTube has a recent post on a ’93 Cheney pronouncement invading Iraq would be a disaster.

  4. Yea I’m familiar with all that stuff. I’ve been blogging about all this for quite some time. The Desert Crossing was a Clinton-era war game that determined that the invasion was a problematic proposition even with 400K troops.

    I just think it’s interesting that people still debate why we went to war, so sometimes I comment on it.

  5. Looks like I’ll have to go play in your backfiles. I agree it’s remarkable people still debate why when the official releases have all been nonsense. Propaganda is insidious in derailing oversight and intelligent analysis : the trolls are a fairly recent extension of the Ministry of Truth.

  6. Well not so much here, but before I started this blog I posted a lot of stuff on FearBush.com, which is one of the original anti-Bush sites.

  7. qrdmyxryrcaanddvwell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

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  9. I`m so happy Mr. Bush never lied to me, altough it saddens me that our leaders crawled up his anus and haven`t heard yet that his term is over.

    I guess that remark about “your either with us or with the terrorists” did impress them in a different way than the impression i got out of it, something with anus again…..

  10. Спасибо. Прочитал с интересом

  11. Sweet blog. I never know what I am going to come across next. I think you should do more posting as you have some pretty intelligent stuff to say.

    I’ll be watching you . 🙂

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