Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan is telling the truth

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is out with a book in which he claims that the Bush administration deliberately skewed facts in order to 'sell the Iraq war.'

So the die hard Bush loyalists are calling him a liar.

Only thing is, he isn't the first guy to say this. His account of how the country was mislead and stampeded into war reflects what was earlier said by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and by former Chief of Staff to Collin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson.

And they called them liars too.

OK. When the Bush administration ends and there are all those 'kiss and tell' books out there, they must all be written by liars too. Will the Bush-can-do-no-wrong chorus just stick their fingers deeper into their ears and yell louder?

At what point do we start to blame the Bush administration for incompetence, if for no other reason than for hiring so many 'liars'?


Zach said...

Even as somebody who overall agreed with both Bush and the Iraq War, I have to say that the way in which GW started this war is the worst thing that could have happened for our country, the War, or the Republican Party.

There were plenty of reasons to go to war in Iraq, even if it would have taken a little more time to convince Congress and the people of it. It would have been worth it, since they would still have the support.

The U.S. has lied repeatedly over the course of history to justify foreign action. There's two differences.

First, they'e usually done a much better job. We haven't usually figured it out until decades later.

Second, they have usually done things that they needed to justify by lying. Which is not an excuse. It's just to say that they uually have done things only for the imrovement of their global power position.

So, when it has come to light, first of all, the government can apologize for the mistakes of other people. Second, when we do get ridiculed, it's not a distraction from a legitimate cause.

Eli Blake said...


Thanks for commenting. Although I don't believe there was anything in Iraq worth going to war for.

1. Hans Blix, had we let him finish his job would have confirmed what some of the intel that Bush chose to ignore said-- that there were no WMD in Iraq.

2. There was less al-Qaeda in Iraq then than there is now-- Saddam, as a secular dictator, would not have tolerated terrorist attacks in his country and was distrustful of any kind of Islamicists.

3. Saddam was indeed a cruel and bloody dictator-- though no more so than Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Hu Jintao or Than Shwe. In any case, the goal of 'regime change' can be accomplished in many ways-- including support of opponents both within and without the country, covert action or by encouraging internal uprisings (as we did after the original Gulf War but then pulled the rug out from under both the Shi'ite rebels and the army officers who rose up against Saddam.) For that matter, history shows that people who earn their freedom often cherish it more than people who have it arranged for and handed to them (proven by the fact that the first thing the Iraqi parliament did was to pass laws giving women less rights in Civil courts than they had even under Saddam.)

None of this justified invading, occupying and then trying to put back together Iraq-- and as I mentioned, it benefitted Iran in a major way. Virtually every goal they fought for and failed to achieve in nine years during the 1980's, they achieved, courtesy of us, without firing a shot. Plus, our army is so bogged down there that we no longer have a serious threat to invade and occupy Iran, and they know it-- one reason why they are so bellicose.

Zach said...

I agree with most of what you are saying. I do, however, think that:
It's one thing to be a terrible man and commit atrocities somewhere in the world. It's another to do so in a region which is very strategically imortant to the United States, and which is not and has not been particularly stable.

It's also one thing that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He had previously been trying to get them. He had also stalled on and or avoided UN inspections. U.N. demands only mean so much if they're not enforced or acted upon. By denying access to U.N. inspectors, Saddam was publicly testing that line. North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and any other country that may actually be trying to develop WMD were watching. If Saddam had gotten away with it, it would mean people would know how far they could push that line. Next time, it might be a country that did have WMD, and maybe even sinister plans for them.

BUT, that being said. None of the above were the reasons that Congress, the public, or the World, were given for the War in Iraq. Again, I think it would have taken much longer to get any sort of buy in using the grounds above. Maybe we wouldn't even be at war with Iraq yet, but eventually, Saddam's rope would run out of slack.

And when it did, the buy in would be much more stable, and would still exist 3 years later. The U.S. would also have a lot more credibility next time we had to ask for the world's support for military action.

wunelle said...

I don't quite understand why McClellan's book is receiving so much press, when the Downing Street Memo (among other sources) said much the same thing a long time ago. We KNOW we were lied to.

I just think the justification of embarking on a war to get rid of Saddam holds no water in the end, to say nothing of the fact that this was not our stated objective. Who are we to take on this task?

If the goal was instead to secure the flow of oil (never mind what the trillions might have done to develop alternate sources) or to combat Islamic fundamentalism--which seems a more worthy and supportable cause to me--then THOSE missions need a great deal of public airing and discussion.

In the end, this war is all about Bush and his cabal. But WE are the country, not them. This is supposed to be OUR country and government, setting the tone and pursuing the goals WE determine.

Indy Voter said...

Wunelle, the difference is that in the three years since the Downing Street Memo was revealed the percentage of the population who are thoroughly disgusted with the Bush Administration has increased dramatically, and more importantly the number of people who are willing to go to the mat to defend them at all costs has dropped to a miniscule number. Yes, millions of people knew we were lied to in 2005, but many millions more weren't ready to grasp that concept and either blocked it out or simply responded, "So what?" without thinking through the consequences.

I remember in September 2004 when John Kerry trotted out his "colossal errors of judgment" theme. Many analysts credited it with revitalizing Kerry's campaign but I thought then (and still do) that it spelled the end of Kerry's chances for winning. It wan't that Kerry was wrong (he was spot on) but that the majority of Americans weren't ready to accept the implications from Kerry being right. Those include not only thinking about questions like "How do we get out without making things far worse?" but also dealing with the personal responsibility issue for the war from those who supported the invasion initially. As with the Downing Street Memo, it wan't Kerry's message that was wrong, but rather that the audience wasn't ready to hear it.

Eli Blake said...


The problem regarding the whole objection you bring up to WMD was that Saddam (being pushed to do so by the U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force to make him comply) DID allow the inspectors back in. And as I mentioned, we didn't give Blix time to finish the job. Had he, we would know there actually weren't any WMD. But then, as we now know, knowing that would have frustrated rather than advanced the Bush agenda in Iraq.

As far as the whole question of democratization, I'd point out that you have two major, perhaps fatal flaws in your reasoning:

1) even if we acknowlege that Iraq is in a strategically important region for the U.S., you equate democracy with a favorable political disposition towards the U.S. In fact that is not necessarily true. The Saudis (who play both sides) are a repressive monarchy but apparently are favorably enough disposed towards us that we dare not upset the apple cart by even suggesting democracy there, while Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader who is anti-American;

2. The whole idea of invading a country to impose our system (which we perceive as a better one than what they have) comes perilously close to the logic used to justify some of the worst policies of the past (though at the time they also had enormous support as 'obviously the right thing to do,') including the crusades and colonialism. If our system is really that much better then we should have the confidence that if we simply live by it the repressed people of the world will choose for themselves to change their system (as happened in many former eastern bloc countries.)

wunelle and indy voter: Clearly you have a point that people in 2005 could still engage in self-denial. Further, there were some people (even some who opposed the war before it began) who still felt then that we were there and had to 'finish the job.' Now that we've been fighting a guerilla war for five years, people are tired of losing thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and just want to get out.