No weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No imminent threat. No ties with al-Qaeda. The underlying facts touted as reasons for going into Iraq have been proven untrue. Yet, President George W. Bush not only continues saying the war was needed but also casts the blame for the war on others. He needs to take responsibility for what could be the biggest mistake in recent American history. But, considering the upcoming election, he probably won’t.
There is a lot of blame to go around. Most of the media did not ask hard questions before the war, but rather they stuck to the talking points that were handed out by the Bush administration. It is disconcerting that while college students were questioning the necessity of the war, large papers such as The New York Times were not.
Congress should have asked more questions, no doubt — but here is where the blame game gets a little fuzzy. When Congress voted, it was not to go to war but to authorize President Bush to use force if there were no other alternative. President Bush said repeatedly he would go to war “only as a last resort.” On top of this, Congress did not receive the CIA briefing until a few days before they were to cast the vote. There was not much time to ask hard questions so only a few did.
For Bush supporters to now blame members of Congress, including Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, for “voting for the war” is circular logic. If President Bush hadn’t felt it was necessary to pursue the war in Iraq, nobody would have voted for it.
According to Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack,” even President Bush himself was skeptical of the CIA facts we now know for certain were wrong. “I don’t think this is quite — it’s not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from,” he is quoted as saying in the Oval Office when Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet briefed him. The mark of a strong leader, though, is to make such decisions. Sadly, President Bush made the wrong ones and invaded a country based on intelligence he knew was flimsy at best. Only he should be blamed for making this decision — not the CIA and definitely not Congress.