Your editorial concludes that, because of the January 30 election, we should stop debating the merits of invading Iraq (“Wrong Way,” February 14). I disagree. As heartening as the vote is, it does not change the fact that we invaded because Saddam Hussein supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. When WMD were not found, the rationale for the war morphed into democratizing Iraq.I have received more than a few angry complaints that I don't spend enough time congratulating Bush for the amazing signs of democracy sprouting up all over the Middle East. I guess what they have in mind is apparently what's come over Bill Maher, who this past Friday simply gushed over GW's achievement in this regard, now oddly applauding the Iraq invasion and even endorsing Bush's lies & deception to get us to go there in the first place. It was stunning.
However, as I've stated repeatedly here, it's this last part that sticks in my craw. I don't see how you can wholeheartedly congratulate Bush when he did not originally propose going into Iraq to spread liberty and democracy. Nope, sorry, I was there, I remember how it was sold, and it was not for those reasons. We heard over and over again -- from Bush, but especially from Cheney -- that we needed to invade Iraq for two reasons 1) that Saddam was somehow connected or linked to those who were behind 9-11, and 2) that Iraq had WMD which could be used against us in the near future. There was no mention of the primary purpose being to establish a democracy. As Bill Maher said on his show, if they in fact used that exact reason and put it before the American public, there's no way the public would've went for it. And Bush/Cheney/Rove knew this all along. To get the public's backing, they needed to twist and deceive -- and hey, it's what they do best!
So excuse me if I'm a bit reluctant to high-five GW. To come up with a loose analogy, it's like a doctor who negligently tells a blind man that he needs to have his leg amputated (though the leg is perfectly fine) and right after removing the leg, the blind man amazingly regains his sight. OK, the man can now see, and he likely would not have if not for the removal of the leg, but 1) how do we know that the man wouldn't have eventually regained his sight at some point, but more so 2) THE DOCTOR IS STILL NEGLIGENT BECAUSE THE LEG DID NOT HAVE TO BE REMOVED.
With Iraq, only after the original reasons for invading proved to be 100% wrong (and there was ample proof prior proving the reasons to be extremely dubious) did the administration quickly switch gears and begin to play up the "spread liberty" message, i.e. they immediately emphasized the blind man's gained sight. Sorry, but I, the person who wrote the letter to TNR, and countless others have not forgotten the original reasons. And if we allow for this practice to go without scrutiny or rightful harsh criticism, then it opens the door for future such shenanigans where bogus reasons can be hoisted on the public just to win them over, the real reasons kept safely hidden.
As I've said repeatedly, just imagine Clinton in the same spot -- we'd never hear the end of it. Oh, and let's not forget, one of Bush's campaign promises in 2000 was to avoid the practice of nation building. A flip flop? Oh, that's right, 9-11 changed everything, but did it change the fact that president's shouldn't ever lie to or deceive the public about going to war?
UPDATE: See comments section for this entry.