EJ Dionne has a good article
By linking the war on terrorism to a partisan war against Democrats, Bush undercut his capacity to lead the nation in this fight. And by resorting to partisan attacks again last week, Bush only reminded us of the shameful circumstances in which the whole thing started.
But more needs to be said. Or rather, I need to say more.
Nuclear: Iraq did not possess a nuclear device, nor had it tried to reconstitute a capability to produce nuclear weapons after 1991. ISG has uncovered no information to support allegations of Iraqi pursuit of uranium from abroad in the post-Operation Desert Storm era.
Chemical: While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad's desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.
Biological: In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes. Indeed, from the mid-1990s, despite evidence of continuing interest in nuclear and chemical weapons, there appears to be a complete absence of discussion or even interest in BW at the Presidential level.
The outcry we are witnessing is simply the result of Americans being told things that turned out not to be true. The sales pitch was good. Americans bought it. And now they are seeing what they paid for.
This is not revising history. It is revisiting history. Something Bush/Rove/RNC do not want to do, for obvious reasons.
All of this really points to one thing: What was the purpose of the White House Iraq Group? To SELL the war to the American people.
Bush and his White House Iraq Group devised the sales pitch. Their goal was not to be truthful, but to be persuasive to make the sale at any cost, even if that meant feeding half-truths to the media so they had something to talk about on the Sunday morning programs. The American people had to be convinced that going to war was THE answer.
The initial plans for Iraq included several hundred thousand troops. General Shinseki testified to this fact. But that would make a difficult sell to the American people. No Problem! Wolfowitz said that number was "wildly off the mark". The plans were also revised to state that troop levels would be down to 50,000 - by the summer of 2004.
The cost of the war was also a potential sticking point. No problem! Iraq's wealth and oil revenues would pay for everything.
But Saddam is "contained", so let's give inspectors more time. But the 'solid evidence' that the adminstration gave to inspectors to verify was turning up nothing. Time was running out. Saddam was a bad person. He used chemical weapons (ones we helped him get and then stood by and did nothing). He was a brutal dictator (just like a lot of world leaders). He failed to comply with UN Resolutions. Etc., etc.
Yeah, but was Saddam really a threat to the US? It's armed forces were in shambles from Gulf War I. No problem! Link Saddam to 9/11 and Al-Qaeda and bring on the mushroom cloud from the aluminum tubes (that were really only suited for centrifuges in a nuclear program - not) and the uranium from Niger. And lastly, throw in a UAV that could hit the east coast with biological or chemical weapons.
It's a deal! Let's go to war.
This is their own doing. Of course, they want to blame someone else for it. Salesmanship and accountability are not often found in the same place.
The problem for Bush now is he and the neo-cons are convinced that invading Iraq was the right thing, and believe the American people - having gotten what seems to be a raw deal and left with a bad taste in their mouth - should just accept what happened and move on. For Bush and the neo-cons, that chapter in history is already written.
Not completely. Not yet, anyway. We are not re-writing history. We are making sure it is properly written.