Any newspaper worth its intellectual salt has an opinion page (or pages).
Normally contained therein are the assorted ramblings and grievances of The
People who, if they can do nothing else, can manage pen to paper. Often
upon reading The People’s view of things, you find yourself wondering why
one must have a license to hunt, fish, own a gun, drive a car and marry,
but for some reason can opine without any sort of outstanding display of
Case in point, the Wednesday, 11 June edition of my hometown paper (the South Bend Tribune)
printed a letter from one Harold Henderson. This is the exact text
as it appeared: “President Bush said he knew Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction. By now it’s obvious that he didn’t know any such thing.
But he chose to send American military personnel to war anyway. He
hasn’t even had the common courtesy to apologize. Bill Clinton’s lie
was wrong, but at least it didn’t get anybody killed! Those of us who
support our troops should mark Nov. 2, 2004, on the calendar. That’s
the day when we can turn this shameless liar out of office.”
One struggles with how best to respond, except here to relate a brief story.
Late last week a friend called to ask, “Remember when Bush was elected, and
we said that he would probably go into Iraq to clean up after his daddy’s
mess, and no one would appreciate the effort?” Well now, slow down
a bit. I have no sort of confidence that Saddam Hussein would have
been dealt with properly (i.e., by being removed) if not for the Tragedies,
which significantly altered America’s moral priorities. The answer
to the Great Iraqi Question – Why Iraq and not Iran, or North Korea? – was
that no other “Axis of Evil” member had presented a better modern case for
removal than Hussein, given his previous track record with this country and
his neighbors, his defiance of the United Nations (for those of you who believe
the UN matters) and his snuggly relationship with terrorism.
Always remember, in order for George W. Bush to be wrong about Iraq, how
many other countries and organizations had to be wrong in the process.
Bill Clinton especially had to be wrong about Iraq when he took to television
and said, on 16 December 1998, that “Saddam must not be allowed to threaten
his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons,”
and therefore he was forced to order “America’s armed forces to strike military
and security targets in Iraq …. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten
its neighbors.” If George W. Bush is a “shameless liar” in his crusade
against Hussein, what was Bill Clinton in similar efforts, and would not
the problem go a bit beyond “Bill Clinton’s lie was wrong” when all was said
and done, no matter what lie (I am assuming Lewinsky) Henderson had in mind?
Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. appeared on Hardball last Thursday (12
June) to speak about the concerns of those like Harold Henderson. Chris
Matthews asked about justifications for certain military actions, and brought
up the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. Mr. Buckley: “I’ve written about
that situation. And I tend to believe that it was a fraud, but I’m
not entirely convinced that Johnson’s scholars would agree that he thought
it was a fraud. For a while, people thought that attack from the Gulf
of Tonkin was genuine.” But, “You have to ask yourself this question.
Is the attack which hadn’t materialized, which wasn’t adequately recorded,
something that is unthinkable. The answer is not at all. It is
not unthinkable that Iraq would use WMDs, and in fact, there are 5,000 gallons
of chemical gases they still haven’t accounted for.”
In other words, had someone with great authority come to you at the beginning
of August 2001 and said, “Five weeks from now, four airplanes will be hijacked
and flown into very notable American targets, buildings, killing thousands,”
would you have approved of the immediate effort to root out the hijackers,
and their supporting organizations, to end the threat? What I am saying
is that the case against the president is too premature to say immense lies
were told. We will wait, the understanding being that if mistakes were
made, we expect to be told, even if the overall result was for the future
benefit of innocents.
Brian S. Wise
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