The mistakes that led to last week’s elections – and the errors that seem likely to flow from them – would be hysterically funny if they weren’t so deadly serious. Under different circumstances (say, in a novel or a play), the script might be described as a comedy of errors. Unfortunately, this is no work of fiction. It amounts to a tragedy of errors, one which, if left to run its course, will afflict this country and its people for years to come.
For starters, the Bush Administration made an inexplicable and tragic mistake with respect to its campaign management of the Iraq issue. It was predictable that the election would be heavily influenced by public discontent over the prospects for that conflict. Yet, neither the President nor his surrogates mounted a robust and sustained challenge to what amounted to an endlessly repeated “Big Lie” – namely, that the “war in Iraq” was an elective and unnecessary one, launched on the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that did not, in fact, exist and, therefore, in the absence of any real threat to this country.
Typically, proponents of this line relied upon the findings of the Iraq Survey Group (not to be confused with the Iraq Study Group, about which more will be said in a moment). Altogether lost amidst the much-ballyhooed headlines that the Survey Group discovered “No WMDs” was its uncovering of an inconvenient fact: At the time of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Saddam Hussein had active, albeit low-level, production lines for both chemical and biological agents. He also had plans to ramp up such production once sanctions were lifted – a prospect that was prevented only by the Iraqi tyrant’s forcible overthrow.
Worse still, according to the Iraq Survey Group, Saddam’s planning envisioned placing toxic chemical and biological agents in aerosol cans and perfume sprayers for shipment to the United States and Europe. Simply put, the Iraqi dictator had in mind precisely what President Bush was worried about – and preemptively acted to prevent: the use of WMD in terrorist attacks against the U.S. and other freedom-loving nations. In the absence of such information, the American people were understandably susceptible to arguments that it was unnecessary to liberate Iraq.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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