The Party of Defeat‘s Top Five Lies About Iraq
By Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | 6/10/2008
FROM THE BEGINNING, THE WAR HAS BEEN BASED ON LIES, DECEPTION, AND PROPAGANDA: the war against President Bush, that is. Beginning five years ago next month, the Party of Defeat‘s attempts to discredit the commander-in-chief in the midst of a war have continued without quarter, undeterred by factual refutation, rational discourse, measurable progress in Iraq, or palpable damage to the morale of American soldiers in a very hostile part of the world. The Left’s campaign against the very war many of its banner-wavers voted to authorize has been built upon a tissues of lies layered upon one another, big and small, consequential and unspeakably petty, political and military, and aimed at the war’s rationale and prosecution — and those implementing both.
Of the scores of such fabrications, it would be difficult to quantify the most damaging or widely held. However, here is in an attempt at recounting some of the most commonly parroted lies of the antiwar echo chamber.
1. “Bush Lied, People Died.”
One of the chief targets of any enemy campaign is not one reached by any bomb, biological agent, or terrorist attack: it is psychological. If the enemy can undermine his opponents’ self-confidence or feeling of certainty in his own moral purpose, he can win without firing a shot. This is the most successful aspect of the Left’s campaign against President Bush and the war in Iraq, embodied in one pithy, vapid saying: “Bush Lied, People Died.”
The specific instance of the president’s alleged mendacity is ever-shifting. Its sources have sometimes been Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, both proven to be liars themselves by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The theme of the president’s alleged lies tends to be the case for the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. However, as one prominent politician has stated:
This picture of a threatening Iraq projected itself far beyond the U.S. intelligence community:
These quotations do not come from John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld, or another fire-breathing “neocon”: they were spoken by Hillary Clinton, one of the voices now declaiming the president misled her about the war.
If Bush lied to her, so, too, did the best and brightest of her own fantasy administration. According to the print media, “She said she confirmed Bush administration assessments with private briefings from experts from her husband’s administration.” This may explain why she did not bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Although the NIE had been requested by Senate Democrats, only six senators took the time to peruse its contents. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not among them, either.) Yet the NIE simply codified the foregoing intelligence consensus on Iraq shared by previous administrations and the CIA’s colleagues around the world, all well beyond the controlling hand of Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, and Alcoa. This broad agreement on the threat of Saddam Hussein, however wrong it may have been, represented bipartisan territory, explaining why so many left-wing Democrats echoed the president on Baghdad’s continuing danger.
This intelligence — similar to that given to the president every morning, though less alarmist — was available to Congress, yet they refused to read it, because they based their votes on political expediency. As David Horowitz and I document in our book Party of Defeat, the war-against-the-war (and by extension, the war against the American soldiers fighting to secure victory in that war) began in the summer of 2003, led by Ted Kennedy and Ellen Tauscher. In July 2003, the Democratic National Committee launched an ad entitled, “Read His Lips: President Bush Deceives the American People.” Yet many nationally elected Democrats had voted for the war just months earlier. There had been no sea-change, no windfall revelation of the president’s deception (aside from those errants cited earlier); the Democratic Left simply tired of its charade. After the first Gulf War, savvy leftists resolved never to get caught on the wrong side of a popular war; thus, they hedged their bets, voting for the war as an act of cowardice, then turned on the war they set in motion at their earliest convenience.
In this muddled mess, somehow it is President Bush who is tarred as inauthentic.
2. “Iraq was not an ‘imminent threat,’ as Bush said.”
“CIA Denies Claims That Iraq Posed ‘Imminent’ Danger,” blares a headline at one leftist “news” website. The contention, magnified by constant repetition, holds that, to justify spilling the blood of Iraqi innocents which he secretly lusted after, President Bush labeled Iraq an “imminent threat” to the United States. Yet, the Left contends, this is not true; thus, “Bush Lied, People Died.” (See above.)
This tactic is most shamefully embodied in the words of Sen. Ted Kennedy, belched to the Associated Press just six months after the beginning of the war:
However, the president specifically said Iraq was not an imminent threat — and must never be allowed to become one. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, George W. Bush declared:
Although the president did not declare Iraq’s danger imminent, some on the Left came close. Future war critic Al Gore, remembered now for how breathless hatred stained his cellulite-riddled cheeks in speech after speech before MoveOn.org, declared in February 2002 that Iraq “represents a virulent threat in a class by itself…As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table.” His successor in the also-ran column, Sen. John Kerry, agreed Saddam posed “a real and grave threat to our security.”
Although rhetoricians have cleared the president of ever making this assertion, some have claimed an implied threat of imminence, in that President Bush said Saddam had WMDs and the means to deliver them. Yet that’s exactly what Carl Levin said when he confessed Saddam had “ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”
Even in his attempt to extricate foot-from-NIE, months after leaving office former CIA Director George Tenet wrote:
3. “The war was about WMDs, which don’t even exist.”
Perhaps the most pervasive of the five myths holds that the United States only toppled Saddam Hussein because of his alleged possession of WMDs. Since no such weapons have been uncovered, this allows the Left to accuse President Bush of “lying” about their existence to precipitate a war. (See lie #1.) However, the possession of WMDs was never the full rationale for hostilities. The actual cause for the war was Saddam Hussein’s violation of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions about his program during his “decade of defiance.” These actions invalidated the ceasefire agreed to at the end of the Gulf War. As a 1998 law declared, Iraq was at that time in “direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire.” It concluded:
President Clinton signed that bill on August 19, 1998.
Shortly thereafter, Clinton signed Public Law 105-338, “The Iraq Liberation Act,” which “expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”
The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, which precipitated the present war, authorized the president to “strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts” and to “obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.” The president did so by passing UN Security Council Resolution 1441, declaring Saddam “in material breach” and demanding his compliance or assuring he will face “serious consequences.” Had Saddam Hussein verified his compliance, there would have been no war; instead, he turned in another false report. Hostilities ensued.
President Bush explained to the United Nations on September 12, 2002, that Saddam Hussein must act, or the UN must force him to act, but “Security Council resolutions will be enforced.” Among the many violations he cited were Saddam’s support of international terrorism, his persecution of his own people, and his exploitation of the Oil-for-Food Program (the extent of which was then still unknown). He may have also cited the continual attack of Iraqi forces upon UN-empowered aircraft patrolling the “No Fly Zone,” under almost daily fire. Nevertheless, his stated purpose was to enforce numerous UN resolutions dormant under Bill Clinton’s Decade of Dereliction.
Ironically, this “unilateral, go-it-alone war” was fought to uphold the integrity of the United Nations.
4. “The war is a distraction from the War on Terror.”
The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, famously called Iraq a “diversion,” “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” a conflict launched because the president took his “eye off the ball.” His successor, Barack Obama, has repeatedly spoken of “the distraction of Iraq.”
Far from a “distraction,” the war in Iraq is the War on Terror’s central front — according to both commanders of that war. The New York Times reported that al-Qaeda sees “the sectarian war for Baghdad as the necessary main focus of its operations”– last March, in a story that relies upon intelligence Americans found on laptops seized the previous December. Osama bin Laden himself verified this assessment, stating,
Al-Qaeda has plans for Iraq upon America’s withdrawal. Nearly three years ago, al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri sent a letter to the then-respirating Ayman al-Zarqawi containing Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s marching orders. They begin thus:
The next steps were to launch jihad against Iraq’s neighbors before enlarging the war to Israel, and ultimately America.
This is their quest. Preventing it is no diversion.
5. “Opposing the war has no demoralizing effect on the troops.”
In theory, it is possible to oppose a given war without opposing those fighting it. However, as Henry Mencken said about Christianity, “nobody’s tried it yet.” If one believes American soldiers are pawns in “an imperial grand strategy” to “maintain [American] hegemony through the threat or use of military force”; that the invasion of Iraq is “an immoral and illegal war” (a charge also made by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government in its most craven days); that such a war makes us “an international pariah” (as John Kerry said, alongside former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami); if you see the United States “as the aggressor” and a “belligerent bully”; it is impossible to wish those waging such a war well.
Soon, such a critic will be casting aspersions at the troops he claims to support. Witness John Kerry telling CBS’s Bob Schieffer that “young American soldiers” are “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children – you know, women – breaking sort of the customs of the, of, the historical customs, religious customs.”
Hear Jack Murtha bellow, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”
See timid Dick Durbin prattle in monotone that soldiers guarding al-Qaeda henchmen in Iraq are no better than “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings,” with no more forethought than if he were weighing in on the merits or demerits of a farm subsidy bill.
Soon, such critics will write openly that Osama bin Laden “made sense to me.” If you share these views, Osama may one day take his cues from you, cribbing his videotapes from your movies, citing your phony war statistics, or calling you “among the most capable” of his fifth column.
This fifth column, this Party of Defeat does what no external power can dream of: undermine the war from within.
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Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving.