Monday, November 14, 2005

Honoring The Fallen By Attacking The Critics

Veteran's Day comes and the President chooses to fight back at those who would suggest the reasons for a preventative war were in error. Using the celebration and remembrance of those that have fought in wars from this nation's founding until the present as a calling to recommit to this conflagration in Iraq might be acceptable, but this is not where his speech stopped. It was an event to fire back. A place to stand up and say before the public that the attack was justified, if only for a couple of inconclusive intelligence reports this whole affair is justified.

President Bush's speech seems to be a way of saying to Democrats in Congress and across the country that he will not be raked over the coals any longer.

He will actually fight back.

Regrettably for him though, his speech writers have not located anything new that will aid him in his effort to quash the rebellion to his policy.

Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.

These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions, citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Oh where, oh where to begin.

There are many sources which point to an Adminstration that was truly "after" the government of Iraq and its dictator, but a good amalgam was presented by Juan Cole. In addition, Karen Kwiatkowski offered up her version of events quite some time ago in regards to the Office of Special Planning.

Beyond the points of dispute, what can be seen is a stark example of where the priorities are in regards to the use and safety of the United States military. On a day honoring the past dead (where in Iraq the average daily mortality rate hovers around 2.3), President Bush chose to return the volley back at Democrats who have protested practically everything about this current quagmire. Idealogically, citizens are to presume that being against the war must somehow be against the men and women who fight and die each day over there. To launch a preventative war is alright, to worry about the standing of our forces and reputation around the world is cowardly.

One should worry about the republic if half of the population finds this an appealing argument. Those days of 50% or higher job approval ratings must seem fleeting though as the President's standing in the public's eye shows no signs of abatement. The public no longer marches right along behind the rhetoric (however fallacious it was from the start) of the "war on terror," and most of the credit for this shift in opinion stems from the opposition bringing the issues to the fore.

Was the intelligence that propped up the logic for the need of immediate war influenced in any way by the intelligence and defense bureacracies? Was Congress fed information that would promote war, and starved for information which would have cast doubt for the cause?

It will be quite interesting to review the results of the Senate committee tasked with reviewing the impetus for intelligence mistakes. One should not hold their breath for anything earth-shattering, but rather be watchful for what information is being reviewed and how much the White House will release regarding sensitive materials.

Beyond the intelligence manipulation, it might behoove Congress to review the logic behind the Adminsitration's stance with regards to torture. The argument, "the U.S. does not use torture, so therefore we don't do anything illegal," comes out as flimsy as a rationale for heading to war in the Middle East. This should continue to be investigated and those accountable for instituting this policy punished.

America's servicemen and servicewomen deserve that much respect.

No comments: