July 22, 2003

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen asks: Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?

And goes on to say:

"The evidence is nowhere to be found. No weapons of mass destruction have turned up. An advanced Iraqi nuclear program seems to be, well, not so advanced. The evidence for it is either bogus or so tenuous as to be far from convincing. Ties to al Qaeda --'bulletproof evidence,' in the words of Don Rumsfeld -- have not been proved and never made much sense anyway. Al Qaeda is not well disposed toward secular leaders.

"What evidence exists suggests, in fact, that the United States was hankering for a war no matter what. Intelligence -- no matter how fragmentary or inconclusive -- was shaped, molded and goosed until it could be used to prove that Hussein had to be taken out swiftly. The bogus uranium from Niger is a mere detail in this regard -- a smoking gun, yes, but one in the hands of White House aides for whom truth meant less than impact."

and

"The war could have waited. But Bush could not. My guess is that his tendency to see things in black and white and an un-Clintonian determination to eschew micromanaging led him astray. The president 'is not a fact-checker,' an administration aide told the media last week in explaining why Bush used weak evidence in his State of the Union message.

"But neither is Colin Powell. Yet he went over the evidence carefully, discarding some of it before he made his own presentation to the United Nations. Powell might have suspected what Bush apparently did not -- that some administration officials were so intent on war they were cooking the books."

...

"Now Bush stands abandoned by events. No weapons of mass destruction. No nuclear program. No links to al Qaeda. His judgment and his competence are being questioned -- his honesty as well. But the president is no liar. More likely, he is merely an uncritical man who believed what he was told. Lenin knew the type."



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