President Bush's rationale for his statements were actually an insult to the intelligence of anyone who is even slightly familiar with the recent history of the Middle East. President Bush "reasoned" that American actions could not have caused the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center because we were not in Iraq before those times. For President Bush's logic to work here, America's actions in the Middle East started with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Senator Kerry also stated that American actions were not the cause of the said terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center though he states clearly that America's current occupation of Iraq is contributing to the growing strength of Al-Qaeda.
The factual flaws in President Bush's logic could start with 1953 when we participated in a coup that overthrew Iran's democratic government simply because they were nationalizing their oil fields. The result of the coup was that we supported the Shah and the oppression he brought to dissidents in the country for approximately 26 years. He was replaced by the Iranian Revolution. Or we could mention the American contribution to placing the B'aath party in power in the 1960's. We could also mention the support that we gave to Saddamn Hussein up until the time he invaded Kuwait. This time period included some of Saddamn's atrocities for which he was put on trial and convicted. Or we could also mention the sanctions we forced on Iraq that, according to the UN, was responsible for the deaths of 400,000 to 800,000 Iraqi children. A former UN Humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, resigned over these sanctions and called them "genocidal." His successor, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in protest against the sanctions. We could point to our preferential treatment of the ruling family in Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact that approximately 50% of the Muslim foreign fighters (remember that American troops are also foreign fighters there) in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia and that Iran is more of a democracy than Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is given a free pass for the presence of its fighters while Iran is singled out for blame and possible attack.
Then there is our relationship with Israel. This subject deserves its own section because of the complexities involved. There is a difference between supporting Israel and its right to exist per se and supporting its policies against the Palestinians. America, for the most part, has failed to make that distinction as Israel continues to confiscate more land while oppressing the Palestinians. Israel could not have continued with this oppression without American aid and support. Supporting Israel's existence as a friend and a matter of morality is good. But one does not have to include supporting their policies against the Palestinians as part of doing what is right.
How should we then interpret President Bush's sincerity? One possible interpretation is to realize that those wanting more power, will be reluctant to admit previous misuses of power. Otherwise those granting such power, the American people, will view such a request as throwing more power after bad power. Certainly Bush was not President when our actions provided the reasons for the terrorist attacks against us, but he is, in essence, continuing to take the same old approach as has been used in the past only to a further degree. Bush's speech, though spirited and impassioned, fails the fact test. And because it fails the fact test, it also fails the logic test. And because of how Bush's speech fails the fact and logic tests, his sincerity must be doubted. The same can be said of Senator Kerry's sincerity though to a lesser degree.
But we should also note that history teaches us that wrong policies can produce even worse repercussions for both ourselves and the world. Despite the horrors that await our withdrawal from Iraq, our continued occupation is amassing a credit card bill that we may not be able to pay in the future. Certainly, our past sins have put us into too many positions where all of our choices are bad choices. Should this not cause us to repent of current sins just for the sake of our own survival?