President George W. Bush, far left, takes a walk at his Crawford, Texas ranch… (Stephen Jaffe / AFP/Getty…)
Re "The what if's of Iraq," Opinion, March 19
Max Boot claims that the justification of ending Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program for going to war with Saddam Hussein was an error, not a lie. He then assigns much of the blame for the ongoing strife in Iraq to President Obama's hasty exit in 2011. This is the prevailing effort from the right, to twist history to leave us with merely a tarnished Bush presidency rather than an utterly corrupt one.
The Bush administration may have made the mistake of initially believing that Iraq had an active weapons of mass destruction program, but the lie it told the American people was the certainty of its existence even in the face of mounting doubt and evidence to the contrary. "There isn't any debate about it," then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said about the supposed weapons program in the lead-up to the war. "There is no doubt," said Vice President Dick Cheney, even though contradictory reports were being suppressed and the debate in intelligence circles was raging.
We must not allow history to be forgotten, no matter how badly it stains our political leanings.
Boot throws out any number of what-if's to try to justify the horrendous, tragic fiasco of the Iraq war initiated by the Bush administration.
Let me give Boot the ultimate what if: Let's say the popular-vote winner of the 2000 election, Al Gore, had actually taken the White House. That's an easy one. There would never have been an Iraq war at all, and all that blood and treasure — unpaid for, as it was — would never have been wasted.
Bottom line: The invasion of Iraq was an ego trip and a stupid, senseless loss of people and money that never should have occurred. No one can ever justify it, and we will still be paying for it when our grandchildren are old.
As someone who opposed the Iraq invasion from the beginning, I am still angry at those from both parties in the House and the Senate who originally voted to rush into that war. And I admire those who were smart enough to vote against it. So many lives and so many billions of dollars could have been saved if we had more carefully considered all the consequences before taking that action.
Going forward, hopefully we will listen more respectfully to those who question the wisdom of heading into such misadventures.
What if Boot led off his piece with a reminder of the bogus assertion by the Bush administration that Hussein and Osama bin Laden were linked? What if Boot reminded us that many of the United Nations weapons inspectors declared before the U.S. invasion of Iraq that they doubted Iraq had a weapons program? What if the U.S. had a mandatory military draft program with no deferments?
Would we have gone to war with Iraq in such a hurry?
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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