Jewish World Review June 3, 2003 / 3 Sivan, 5763

Michael Graham

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War games | "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason [for war with Iraq]

. — Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz

In order to build the widest possible support for an invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration focused their attention on the tale of Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

Unfortunately, Bush & Co. neglected to tell us that the WMD story was apparently written by Jayson Blair.

And so, here I am, a tireless, outspoken supporter of the War on Terror-including taking that war to Baghdad-and left holding the bag for the Bushies once again.

I'm the one who's going to have to sit across from Bill Maher or Chris Matthews or some other liberal and get my clock cleaned on national television by gleeful opponents of the Iraq war. I can already hear the gleeful tone in Maher's voice as he pounds away: "Now we know why Fox News sent over Geraldo Rivera. Saddam's weapons program was hidden in Al Capone's vault!"

I can't wait.

It's been two months-TWO MONTHS!-since the fall of Baghdad, since we seized a nation that we were told was awash in VX nerve agent and mustard gas. Two months of unhindered access, accompanied by a soundtrack of "wait and see," and "we'll find it any minute" and "hold your horses" andů. what? A couple of mobile biolabs? That's not a weapons program; it's a science fair project.

The messages coming from President Bush and his allies are so mixed as to be incoherent. One day it's Ari Fleischer insisting that the two trailers were more than enough reason to go to war. The next day it's Prime Minister Tony Blair dismissing that ridiculous claim and promising a major WMD disclosure: "It matters immensely because the basis on which the war was sold to the British House of Commons, to the British people, was that Saddam represented a serious threat."

We've got Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz telling Vanity Fair magazine that WMDs weren't really the core reason for the war, they only said it was because it was "for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy." (If I had to persuade a bunch of federal bureaucrats to support a war, I would have told them we were invading to collect back taxes.) The next day the White House announces 1400 new troops and experts are heading to Iraq. If finding the weapons is no big deal, why all the fuss?

Because the Bushies know what the Europeans and the Arabs and you and I know. That if no significant weapons are found, it would be, as one administration source put it, "a colossal intelligence failure."

Rush Limbaugh can scream until his golden EIB microphone is covered in spittle, but the fact remains that President Bush's credibility is being undermined every day these weapons aren't found. Americans didn't make Iraq a war about WMDs--George Bush did.

Why, Mr. President, why? According to Wolfowitz it was a decision of political convenience. But there were plenty of us were ready to go after Saddam for the more obvious and immediate reason that he was a lifelong terrorist and we are at war with terrorism. Even Janeane Garofalo can understand that there is no definition of "winning" the War on Terror that leaves a terrorist in control of an entire nation's wealth and arms.

War of Terror=killing terrorists=killing Saddam. Who needs Einstein for this?

But the Bushies took the easy way out. WMDs were sexier. They're scarier. Hey, everyone's seen that Sean Connery/Nick Cage movie, right? And focusing on WMDs lets us avoid the "If Saddam's a terrorist, what about Iran?" argument.

Speaking of Iranů

Here we are today, with Iran working aggressively on a nuclear weapons program, claiming they need it for manufacturing electricity. This from a nation whose oil industry burns off more potential power from natural gas in a single day then a nuclear plant would generate in a year. And now Russia has stepped forward to confirm the Iranians are developing a nuclear weapons program.

Iran is, without question, the biggest terror exporter in the world. Unlike Saddam, the Iranian mullahs feel no need to even attempt to hide their support for terror. They openly announce their belief that murdering Jews is part of their foreign policy. Allowing them to get build nukes would be an international disaster.

But what can we do about it? Thanks to our crumbling credibility in Iraq, we lack the standing to make the even more vital case against Iran. Who would believe us? And, quite frankly, why should they?

Again--I am an absolute, unwavering supporter of the decision to whack Saddam. The world is a demonstrably safer place and America is more secure. But the decision to avoid the heavy lifting of the legitimate argument ("Saddam is a terrorist") and go instead with the easier WMD argument instead may have hurt the War on Terror nearly as much as the victory in Iraq has helped it.

If Iran goes nuclear and we can't stop them, the war in Iraq will have been a terrible, terrible mistake.

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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.


05/28/03: A few small reparations
05/22/03: Springtime for Hitler?

© 2003, Michael Graham