Via Instapundit: The Chicago Tribune takes a look at the Bush Administration’s rationales for war and whether those rationales had merit (registration required). It’s a mixed decision, from the point of view of the Trib: The administration pushed its weakest argument (the weapons of mass destruction) and didn’t properly promote its strongest arguments (that Saddam was way past his expiration date). Allow me to say this doesn’t surprise me in the least, as the reason I was not opposed to going into Iraq was that I thought Saddam should have been gotten rid of long before.
One of the Trib’s aims with the editorial is to debunk the idea that the Bush folks lied to get us into the war: “After reassessing the administration’s nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege.” Needless to say, this is a conclusion quite a few people will have difficulty accepting, so I expect you’ll be able to see vehement refutations of this conclusion fairly quickly. Personally, as regards the WMDs, I’m not entirely sure how the government’s creative interpretation of its data is substantially different from misleading others, but if one wants to stipulate that people of genuine intelligence could have reasonably interpreted the data in a number ways, including that it indicated that Iraq had acquired WMDs, that’s fine with me, with the caveat that we should all agree that once the Bush folks had an interpretation that fit what they wanted to hear they didn’t exactly go out of their way to equally weigh other interpretations.
Which bring us to the thing the Tribune editorial doesn’t say, but which is entirely relevant, which is that Bush and his people wanted a war with Iraq, and were looking for a minimally-supportable excuse to have it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Bush came into office with invading Iraq on his “to do” list — that seems unlikely to me — but once 9/11 happened, the opportunity presented itself, and the Bush folks took advantage of it, and didn’t particularly care whether they have done due diligence on the rationales presented therein. Naturally, this negelect allows interested parties to claim the Bush folks acted in bad faith getting us into this particular war.
To be entirely honest, at this point in time, I’m rather less concerned with how this administration has sold this war than what it has done since driving Saddam out of power. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone who supported the war (or at the very least, did not oppose it, as in my case) to criticize how the Bush folks have handled the follow-on to the Iraq invasion. I’ve said before and will be pleased to say again that should I ever meet President Bush, I will be happy to tell him that deposing Saddam was a good thing. Unfortunately for our President, he will then have to hear me say that just about everything he’s done since then has been a total botch and that I’m appalled that he and his people apparently gave no thought to the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq beyond scooping up flowers thrown by grateful Iraqis. Yeah, it’ll be a mixed moment for Mr. Bush.