March 20 marked five years since the beginning of the war in Iraq, and yet many Americans still don’t understand it very well. Opinions seem to be driven more by partisan politics than by a balanced consideration of the issues.
Since the beginning of the Iraq War, the public discourse about the conflict has become increasingly wearisome. For me, the revisionist histories of the run-up to the war have been particularly frustrating. The public’s general inability to recall more than a few nanoseconds of the historical record have given the revisions some staying power.
One recurring myth is the idea that President Bush and his administration lied about Iraq’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction because he wished to manipulate the American public into support for the war. This narrative is perhaps most succinctly summed up in the bumper sticker slogan, “Bush lied. People died.”
Those who hold to this point of view are not saying that the Bush administration was deceived by faulty intelligence estimates about Iraq’s WMD’s. The “Bush-lied-people-died” people actually think that the Bush administration told lies to the American people.
I am wondering how many people believe the “Bush-lied-people-died” storyline. It ought to be pretty clear where I stand on this question, but I am wondering about you faithful readers who read the commentary on this blog. Do you think the President of the United States lied about Iraq’s WMD’s before the Iraq War?
I constructed a three-question survey that I want you to read and answer. It’s fairly simple and probably won’t take you longer than five minutes to fill-out. The survey includes pre-war quotations from the President about Iraq’s WMD capability. Tomorrow I will post the results of the survey, and then we can start a discussion about the President’s truthfulness (or lack thereof) before the war began.
Here’s a link to the survey: “The Case for War with Iraq.”
I will print the survey questions below, but you have to click on the survey link in order to register your answers. It’s important to remember that the President made all of the following statements before the Iraq War began. I look forward to your responses.
1. Do you believe the President was telling the truth when he described Saddam Hussein’s WMD capability in this way?
“Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of . . . his nation’s wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them.”
2. Do you believe that the President was telling the truth when he said the following in order to justify military action against Iraq?
“Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.”
3. Do you believe that the President was telling the truth when he described the threat posed by Saddam Hussein with the following words?
“If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. We want to seriously reduce his capacity to threaten his neighbors.”