Taking Advice

The Democrats keep running around telling the American people that if we had their leadership in command, the war in Iraq would not have happened. If we had only listened to them, billions of dollars and precious lives could have been saved. While hindsight is always perfect, is their charge accurate?

Let's have a quick role playing activity here to get to the heart of the matter. Read the following quotes assuming you're the president and your advisers are telling you:

Adviser 1: “We need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous, dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America’s response to that act of naked aggression. He miscalculated the result of setting oil rigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending scuds into Israel and trying to assassinate an American President. He miscalculated his own military strength. He miscalculated the Arab world’s response to his misconduct. And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United States Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons program and disarm.”

Adviser 2: "Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed."

Adviser 3: "The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow."

Adviser 4: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security."

Adviser 5: "Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people."

Adviser 6: "Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

Adviser 7: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Adviser 8: "As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

Adviser 9: "Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production."

Adviser 10: "[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."

If you were the president, with September 11th fresh in your memory and feeling the heat for the protection of this country, what would you do? Would you at least look into getting the Iraq situation taken care of? But back to the main point. The charge against President Bush is that if he had just listened to the Democrats we would not be in the war against Iraq. The fact is that the advice above came from (in order of quote) John Kerry, Madeline Albright, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Scott Ritter, and members of Congress in a letter to Bill Clinton.

The question is not whether Iraq was a threat, it was in a post 9/11 world.

What the real question should be is why nothing was done before now if the Democrats were so concerned. September 11th showed this nation that we needed to be proactive. If the Democrats were ignored by anyone, it was Bill Clinton and not George W. Bush.

Posted by Timothy Perry at June 11, 2004 8:13 AM