President George W. Bush addressed the nation Sunday night in a speech to rally support back home for the ongoing military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying he will ask Congress for an increased budget of $87 billion for these actions. All worthy causes, but the technique of insinuating Saddam Hussein’s regime was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, a claim for which no proof exists, undermines his administration’s believability yet again.
Tying Sept. 11 and Iraq together by association, such as repeatedly mentioning them in the same sentence or paragraph, has already instilled this wrong belief in many Americans. In this speech particularly, Bush went from talking about actions to “continue on al-Qaida’s trail” to actions in Iraq and how the situation in Iraq is “critical to our security” without missing a beat. Opening the speech by stating the intent of the address was to inform the public “of America’s actions in the War on Terror” but then spending most of the time talking about Iraq also solidifies the common misconception.
The constant linking of Iraq with the War on Terror has not been ineffective. A poll conducted by the Washington Post indicates 69 percent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein, as well as Iraqi citizens, were directly involved in the Sept. 11 hijackings. In fact, none of the people involved in Sept. 11 were Iraqis (many of them were Saudi citizens, a fact the Bush administration would rather forget) and a link between Hussein and al-Qaida has not been proven. Many experts believe it does not exist at all.
Twisting the facts to influence public support on current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan not only undermines U.S. foreign policy in the international arena, it is also an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
But it seems there soon might be a tie between Iraq and al-Qaida, even though this relationship did not exist prior to our involvement in the region. A recent story by the Washington Post indicates that al-Qaida now has an increasingly active role in the changed Iraq. An anonymous source in the newly formed provisional government is quoted as saying “Iraq is the new battleground. It is the perfect place. It will be the perfect place.”
So Bush should be careful what he wishes for. Even though he claims to “have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength,” recent attacks in Iraq accounting for more American deaths than occurred prior to the “official end of major combat action” proclaimed on May 1 indicate something different.
As long as the Bush administration pursues its own agenda under the auspices of the War on Terror, America will continually be regarded with suspicion by the international community.