We believed, based on the best intelligence available to us, that Saddam represented a threat to our security because of his lust to acquire and reacquire WMD, his prior use of them on his own people, and his willingness to use them against us and our allies. His abiding hatred for the United States and his harboring of and support for terrorists (from Palestinian suicide bombers to Al Qaeda) exacerbated his dangerousness to the United States. That we have been unable to find WMD stockpiles in Iraq doesn't mean President Bush lied about their existence, nor does it change the propriety of our decision based on what we knew at the time. The fact that Democrat leaders have conveniently denied they assessed Saddam's threat to be at least as grave as President Bush did, both at the time of the attack and years before (during the Clinton administration), does not erase from history their well-documented and forcefully expressed opinion to that effect. The only difference between Republican and Democrat leaders on the subject is that Democrats just talked about it. Republicans took action.
Saddam had repeatedly violated the post Gulf War treaty and U.N. resolutions and defiantly refused to honor his agreements or comply with international law, making a mockery of Gulf War I and the American lives lost during it. He played games with weapons inspectors, and, despite his burden of proving he'd complied with his agreement to divest himself of WMD, he filed a fraudulent 12,000-page document -- both of which led us to believe our intelligence assessments about his WMD were correct. If he didn't have WMD or wasn't trying to produce them, why on earth did he do those things?
He repeatedly violated the no-fly zone and fired on our planes.
To be sure, magnificent consequences have resulted and continue to flow from our liberation of Iraq -- from Libya's abandonment of WMD, to the end of real torture and massacre of Iraqi citizens by Saddam, to the development of a constitutional republic in the heart of the Middle East (and much more). But supporters of the war don't need to cite these developments to justify our invasion of Iraq, because our decision to attack was justified largely independent of those issues, based on our reasonable assessment of the threat he posed and his lawless behavior.
Yes, let's meet head on the Left's charge that our mission in Iraq is neither part of, nor advancing our war on terror -- which it emphatically is. But let's do so in the context of how we should prosecute the war now that we're there, instead of dwelling on the moot issue of whether we should have attacked in the first place.
But, truth be told, the Left doesn't want to focus on the here and now, because by doing so they would have to forfeit the delicious political mileage they continue to accumulate against the president by confusing the issues.
Besides, with the exception of a few of their extremists, they (including all of their legitimate presidential hopefuls) know we can't legitimately talk about withdrawing, which is why they are not offering -- not even pretending to offer -- any alternative plans.
Let's debate all the Left's spurious allegations, but, for the sake of our mission and our troops, let's try to keep the issues separate and discrete at least for the purpose of making prudent decisions from this point forward.