When the president of the United States says in a television interview that the reason why he went to war was “lack of intelligence” it seems like something that should be reserved for a Saturday Night Live skit. Yet the President did just that on Tim Russert’s Meet The Press, as well as evade questions while issuing well-rehearsed statements Sunday.
Confronted about the continuing weapons of mass destruction controversy, President George W. Bush went in circles for a long time insisting that it had been the intelligence that was at fault, yet the ultimate decision to go to war remained a valid one. Saying “I know I’m getting repetitive,” and that he does not “want to sound like a broken record” he nevertheless kept issuing well-rehearsed statements. At that point in the interview Russert might as well have walked out and got some coffee, as Bush was clearly not answering the questions but was running off the points his advisers had laid out for him in advance.
And while Bush claims that it was the intelligence community that provided him with information that he now admits seems to be false, it makes one wonder at what point in the war process the government found out that the information was indeed false.
Recent reports have shown that the Bush administration knew about the lack of WMDs in Iraq since early on in the war, yet repeatedly kept insisting “the weapons will be found” as recently as a few weeks ago. It should be investigated if there was an intentional misconstruing of the facts. While Bush appointed members of an intelligence committee Friday to investigate such allegations, the findings are not expected before the presidential election in November.
This matter will not be cleared up before voters step into the booth in November, as Bush said he did not “want it to be hurried.” He further said “the commission (is set up to) help future presidents understand how best to fight the war on terror.” A worthy goal, but inadvertently it would also mean that voters may learn about the shortcomings of a president they re-elected mere months before. This should not be an option. The public deserves to know before choosing who will be president for the next four years.
The statement that Bush sees himself as a “war president” and makes “decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind” is also less than reassuring. Such statements by Bush do not make it clear if he understands that war should be a last resort rather than a quick fix and that there are more issues at hand than waging war.
Yet Bush did not appear troubled by the fact that he had ordered troops into a war based on flawed intelligence. To essentially say “whoops, sorry guys, we bombed them and we’re wrong” and then not only to expect the international community to shrug it off but also to expect the American public to vote for him again more than borders on the asinine.
Naturally Bush argued that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant that killed thousands by saying “and remember, Tim, he had used weapons against his own people.” Russert probably should have replied “And remember George, we sold them to him,” but in the end it seems the person in power gets to write the history book.
Seemingly eager to discuss the economy, Bush responded to the question “why, as a fiscal conservative as you like to call yourself, would you allow a $500 billion deficit and this kind of deficit disaster?” Bush responded “The budget I just proposed to the Congress cuts the deficit in half in five years.”
So let’s get this straight: Here is a man that led the nation to war based on facts that turned out to be untrue, and while the war was in full sweep kept insisting the assertions leading to the war were true. A man under whose leadership the nation’s biggest surplus of $281 billion was turned into the biggest deficit but now seems upbeat about the possibility of cutting down it down to a $250 billion deficit within five years.
And yet he wants to be re-elected president. Maybe this is simply his famed “strategery,” but it hardly seems like a good one.
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring environmental science and is an Oracle Opinion Editor. firstname.lastname@example.org