Magazine article The Nation

Home Truths

Magazine article The Nation

Home Truths

Article excerpt

The day after Democrats begin the process of selecting George W. Bush's challenger in what could be the most critical election of our time, the President will use his bully pulpit to present his well-spun version of the truth about America's political and economic health. The scheduling of Bush's fourth State of the Union address for the night after the Iowa caucuses serves as a reminder that every time a President addresses the nation in an election year, it's a campaign speech. The one safe bet is that the "facts" Bush presents this year will bear as little resemblance to reality as his assertion in last year's speech that "Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction."

Even as the death toll and the chaos in Iraq continue, so has the evidence that Bush's statement was not only untrue but known to be untrue. Its intended purpose, it appears now, was to justify an invasion that had nothing to do with pursuing the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told Time magazine, "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction." Yet, he noted, plans for ousting Saddam were well under way by early 2001. Ron Suskind, author of The Price of Loyalty, written with O'Neill's cooperation, described to CBS a Pentagon memo from early 2001 that outlined areas of oil exploration in post-Saddam Iraq. "It talks about contractors around the world from ... thirty, forty countries and which ones have what intentions ... on oil in Iraq," Suskind said.

Elsewhere, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace study has concluded that "Administration officials systematically misrepresented the threat" posed by Iraq, and US Army War College academic Jeffrey Record wrote that the invasion of Iraq was "an unnecessary war of choice" that has "created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from the security of the American homeland. …

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