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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/23/13

Republicans and the Iraq War: Ten Years Later

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Last October three scholars issued a report, which found that 79% of Republicans were explicit racists (see: ). This past January a university poll found that as many as 64% of Republicans could be considered "birthers." (Most birthers are pathetic racist morons who, obsessed by their need to delegitimize America's first black president, refuse to accept any evidence which proves that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.) However, both of these morally bankrupt values pale in significance, when compared with the overwhelming support that Republicans continue to give to President Bush's illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq.

Ten years ago this week, President George W. Bush gave the order for American troops to bomb and invade Iraq. From August 2002 through March 2003, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized two primary reasons for invading Iraq: the threats posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD, especially nuclear weapons) and Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda.

For example, on 26 August 2002 Cheney asserted: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." On 7 September 2002, Bush told an audience in Cincinnati that Iraq was "six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need." He told the United Nations that "Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons." When Rice talked about the evidence of WMD, she asserted: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Cheney repeatedly expressed his conviction that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda and his belief that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. He also claimed: "One of the real concerns about Saddam Hussein"is his biological weapons ability, the fact that he may at some point try to use smallpox, anthrax, plague, some other kind of biological agent against other nations, possibly even including the United States." Rumsfeld asserted that the evidence of Saddam- al Qaeda ties was "bullet-proof." [Terry Anderson, Bush's Wars, pp. 106-08]

On 5 February 2003, Colin Powell gave a speech to the United Nations -- broadcast across the world -- that became the turning point in the Bush administration's selling of war. He began by saying: "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources."

Powell cited aluminum tubes that could be used as centrifuge cylinders in a nuclear weapons program. He cited decontamination vehicles associated with chemical weapons and "biological weapons factories" on trucks and train cars. He also cited drones "well suited for dispensing chemical and biological weapons," four tons of the nerve agent VX and 122-mm chemical warheads and a secret force of a few dozen Scud-type missiles.

The next day a Washington Post editorial claimed: "After Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction."

Nevertheless, although Powell's speech to the United Nations sealed the deal for war with most of America's newspaper editors and reporters, as well as with most pundits and many citizens; it didn't persuade Ted Kennedy, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Patrick Buchanan, Arianna Huffington, Robert Byrd, Scott Ritter, John Mearshimer, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Stephen Walt, Gore Vidal, John le Carre, Edward Said, Hans Blix, Jonathan Schell, James Fallows, or Mohamed El Baradei. Neither did it persuade the rulers of France, Germany and Russia who withheld their approval for war in the UN Security Council.

But, having churned mainstream media and public support, Bush gave the order to invade Iraq, notwithstanding that fact that he failed to gain the necessary approval from the Security Council of the United Nations and notwithstanding the fact that, three weeks after Powell's presentation 59% of Americans did not support an invasion without the support of the Security Council.

Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, Article 2.4, expressly prohibits member states from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defense under Article 51(i.e., actual or imminent attack) and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states: "The Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Thus, the Charter of the United Nations -- which was approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Truman in 1945 -- is the supreme law of the land. And, thus, the Bush administration's violation of the UN Charter constituted both a war crime under international law and an impeachable offense for its violation of the Constitution.

Bush's order to invade on 19 March 2003 also interrupted the work of UN weapons inspectors, who had been scouring Iraq for WMD since November 2002. In fact, on 27 January 2003 Hans Blix told the UN that his inspections of 230 sites found no evidence of WMD. Mohamed El Baradei was even more emphatic. "In the next few months" his inspection team would provide "credible assurance that Iraq had no nuclear weapons programme." [Anderson, pp. 120-21]

Two days before the invasion, Bush gave Saddam an ultimatum and the UN inspectors were advised to leave Iraq. In the words of his press secretary, the ultimatum prompted Pope John Paul II to assert: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."

On 19 March 2003 -- a day that will live in infamy -- President Bush announced to the nation, "At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free the people and to defend the world from grave danger""

(It's worth noting that on 14 July 2003, nearly four months after the invasion had begun, George Bush was asked whether questionable intelligence about WMD had distorted his speeches and decisions about Iraq. As part of his response, Bush said the following: "The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

Notice how Bush attempted to deflect attention away from his administration's past certainty about actual weapons of mass destruction by substituting the weasel words, "weapons program." (Virtually every sovereign state has a weapons program.) It was something he began doing as early as May 2003.

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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