BUSH’S WAR….I decided a couple of days ago that it would just be masochistic to complain about Glenn’s latest attempt to pretend that democracy promotion was the real reason for the Iraq war. However, Julian Sanchez is a stronger man than I am and says what needs to be said. He speaks for me in this.
But I will add one more thing: except in passing, George Bush didn’t mention democracy promotion as a rationale for the war until his AIE speech of February 26, a mere three weeks before the bombing started. The fact that he went months with barely a mention of freedom and democracy in the Middle East ? and then made such a lame speech when he did finally mention it ? was one of the main reasons that I turned against the war. I originally supported the war as a way to “promote the values of tolerance, human rights, and democratic self-government” in the Middle East, but then switched sides when I finally concluded that my reasons for supporting the war were not George Bush’s (“It’s simply become wishful thinking to believe that Bush is really committed to any kind of serious effort to promote democracy in Iraq”). In other words, I have a pretty good memory about this stuff since it had a considerable effect on my own thinking.
Still not convinced? Here is Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech, delivered seven weeks before the war started. Read through it. There are 1,200 words about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the danger they pose. There are exactly zero words about bringing democracy to Iraq and the greater Middle East. In fact, aside from a passing reference to Palestine, the word “democracy” is used only once in the entire speech: in reference to Iran, in a passage that specifically states that “different threats require different strategies.” The United States supports Iranian aspirations, Bush said, but that’s all. It’s not a reason to go to war.
I can’t look into George Bush’s heart, but I can listen to his words and watch his deeds. And based on that, democracy promotion was not on his agenda before the war, during the war, or after the war until the Ayatollah Sistani forced his hand. Let’s not demean history by pretending otherwise.