In the opinion article that appeared on Monday, Feb. 2, “Tallying Victories of the Iraq War,” (Daily Nexus) columnist Joey Tartakovsky does a good job towing the Bush administration’s line that because Saddam Hussein was a bad man, it was okay for the United States to strike him preemptively. I, along with many anti-war moderates, am thrilled that the Iraqis have an opportunity to live a better life. As a political moderate and foreign policy realist, I strongly deny Mr. Tartakovsky’s insinuation that people who are anti-war are radical peaceniks, quick to accuse America of imperialism. There is a place for war and physical coercion in foreign policy, this I won’t deny.
What I’m more concerned about is that standard this war set. So is it okay now for the United States to wage war on faulty/non-existent evidence, alienate the foreign community and disregard all tenets of international law for the sake of the global good?
If you bothered to glance at the newspaper or turn on any news channels this week, no doubt you’d have heard of America’s former Chief Weapons Inspector David Kay’s congressional testimony on Iraq’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). For those of us who haven’t, Kay sums it up best himself. “Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here,” Kay said. “It turns out that we were all wrong … and that is most disturbing.” Indeed it is disturbing because this was the man handpicked by President Bush himself to head U.S. WMD inspection team! So WMDs weren’t there and probably never were there. As tough of an indictment as this is on the Bush administration, Kay doesn’t go so far as to accuse Bush of lying, but rather he tries to shift the blame to the CIA and faulty intelligence.
Again, think of the standard this sets. What kind of world do we live in where our president shouldn’t be held accountable for starting wars on faulty intelligence? If I were to run down the street and murder somebody because my brother falsely told me that he had slept with my girlfriend, I would still be accountable for the murder. Bush is in no position to feign ignorance here. But perhaps that is a flawed analogy; after all the Iraqis are living better lives now that Hussein is gone, U.S. reputation and credibility be damned.
But nevermind that. If we were to believe the Bush administration, those weapons are there, we just haven’t found them yet. Before President Bush called the troops into Iraq, he gave the U.N. weapons inspectors six weeks to conduct their investigation and deemed that they had had enough time to turn up with something. It’s been a good nine months since President Bush declared that the major combat phase in the war in Iraq was over. Bush was quick to dismiss the U.N. weapons team’s month and a half’s worth of work as an indictment of Hussein, yet when our boys are at it it’s because they haven’t had enough time yet? Could it be that President Bush was all too eager to go to war?
In the vein of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, what our President Bush is suffering from is a credibility gap. When then Gov. Bush was campaigning for the presidency, he said during the second debate with former Vice President Al Gore, “I don’t think we should go into other countries and tell them what to do.” He also said that he’d be a “uniter”, not a divider, yet within four years President Bush has succeeded in dividing the world and America into us versus them. Perhaps the most damning of his broken promises was the pledge to restore honor and integrity to the White House. How can we trust a man who is only willing to wage war based on lies and half-truths?
Neil Visalvanich is a junior history and political science major and an officer of UCSB Campus Democrats.