Just last month the Bush administration formally concluded its unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Despite the fact that not a single WMD was found, the American people will not be denied their smoking gun.
In a strange twist of irony, the acrid smell of burnt gunpowder now wafts not out of the Persian desert, but from a source several thousand miles to the north west: the halls of our allies on Downing Street in London.
The Downing Street memo, written by British national security aide Matthew Rycroft based on his notes from a July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, basically confirms that the Bush camp was hell bent on a war with Iraq long before gaining the approval of Congress. The memo may not have been big news here in the states but across the Atlantic the story is getting the press it deserves.
“Military action was now seen as inevitable,” the memo reads. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record.
There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action.
“It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”
And now here we are: more than 1,175 coalition troops dead, 154 civilian contractors, missionaries and civilian workers dead, 44 journalists dead, between 12,800 and 14,843 Iraqi civilians dead. And the numbers keep rising, with this last week being one of the bloodiest since Bush played G.I. Joe while telling the world that our mission, what ever it was, was accomplished.
As those numbers keep growing, our military is becoming increasingly understaffed and 191 military bases and offices are scheduled to close next year.
Despite the weighty situation surrounding this country’s leadership, the top story this week is Newsweek’s retraction of a story, which the Bush administration pegged as being responsible for causing riots in Afghanistan. Who knew that the Afghani people were avid readers of American publications?
According to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, the Afghanis rioted because of the Newsweek story, not the fact that three years after we bombed the hell out of Afghanistan it still has no self-government and is being run by an ex-Unocal executive. It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that warlords still hold power in many parts of Afghanistan, or that we spend more time and money on Iraq than we do protecting the Afghani people or setting up a government.
No, it was certainly a story about soldiers desecrating the Koran that got these people all riled up. A story that is likely to have been read by the same number of Afghanis as there are grown, single, men without children that watch “Sesame Street” on a regular basis.
But that is what the media is feeding America. Look the other way while the president fixes facts around policy to create situations where there is bound to be a proclivity toward rioting and violence. And when that violence happens, blame it on someone else.
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