By R.L. Render
I wish to respond to the guest column by Michele Morris that appeared in the Clovis News Journal on Sunday.
She begins by expressing concern for the American casualties. This is followed by the allegation that “President Bush was not honest with military families or the rest of the country” about the war (the familiar “Bush lied” charge). Her final point is the cost of the war to the U.S. taxpayer. In its entirety, her discussion centers on two points: 1) the president lied to the nation as a whole and to military families in particular to get us involved in the Iraqi war and 2) we are spending too much blood and treasure in Iraq.
As to her second point, I agree that even one combat death of an American serviceman is one too many. Even a cursory review of the history of war, however, will show the Iraqi campaign was planned and fought with fewer casualties (on both sides) than any previous engagement of its size anywhere.
One only has to re-examine past (pre-war) stories from any major U.S. newspaper to remember that pundits and protesters were predicting casualties and refugees in the tens of thousands. Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey predicted the taking of Baghdad alone would result in the loss of 3,000 or more soldiers. Had any responsible administration official predicted the casualty figures Morris espouses, he would have been derided in the media as hopelessly out of touch with reality.
The one valid point of Morris’ column is the cost of military operations for the coming year. She should be aware there will be a supplemental budget request to cover these costs.
Reasonable people can and will disagree over the cost of military operations as they have done since the founding.
Morris’ repetition of the “Bush lied” charge does not make it so. When CIA Director George Tenet told us intelligence analysts “never said that there was an ‘imminent’ threat,” he corroborated what President Bush said in the January 2003 State of the Union address:
“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words and all recriminations would come too late.”
Morris’ comment that, “Now we know, of course, that Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction” is just flat wrong.
We are 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein used these weapons on the Iranians and on his own people, notably the Kurds in the north of Iraq.
We do not know what happened to the rest of Saddam’s WMD. David Kay, the recently retired head of the Iraq Survey Group, thinks it was reasonable to assume Saddam had WMD based on available information.
Morris’ claim that “President Bush misled us from the beginning as to why it was so important that we launch a pre-emptive war, hiding the ambiguity of the intelligence from Congress and the American people” indicates a basic lack of understanding as to how intelligence is disseminated.
The Congressional Intelligence Committees (both Senate and House) received the same information the Bush administration received. Further, Morris fails to grasp that all intelligence is ambiguous. As we speak, there are at least six on-going investigations into various intelligence failures. The 9/11 committee is investigating why the Bush administration failed to take aggressive action based on ambiguous intelligence to prevent the Twin Towers disaster and the latest investigative committee is exploring why the Bush administration took aggressive action based on ambiguous intelligence that Saddam Hussein retained a WMD capability.
What is amazing to me is the “Bush lied” crowd continues to charge a sitting president of the United States with treason. If Morris truly believes what she implies in her column, she should demand that either her boyfriend resign his commission or leave the Air Force when his enlistment is up. Anything less would be hypocritical.
R. L. Render is a Clovis resident and frequent Opinion page contributor. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org