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Blue Views: Give credit where credit is due
In Sept. 18 Issue
Russell County News

On August 31, the war in Iraq officially ended 7 ½ years and 4, 427 dead American soldiers later, after President George Walker Bush invaded that country. Now, the Republicans are whining that President Obama didn't give credit to President Bush for the "success" of the surge.  

One would think by this time that I would no longer be surprised at the utter gall and the complete lack of shame of the likes of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and the rest of the Republicans who would re-write history to serve their purposes.  Perhaps there is something genetic going on with Republicans-they must be missing the gene that enables them to feel embarrassment.

Initially, President Bush told us we needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein was connected to the 9/11 attacks.

"We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high level contacts that go back a decade.  We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poison and deadly gases…"

In his radio address on February 8, 2003, President Bush continued that theme when he told us,

"Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda.  Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."

He also told us Saddam Hussein was "…a threat because he's dealing with al Qaeda."

Unfortunately for President Bush, we soon discovered none of that was true.  There was no connection between al Qaeda and Iraq.  No matter how many times they said it or how hard they looked, they ultimately could not connect Iraq or Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.

Undeterred, Bush & his pal, Dick Cheney, just made up another reason for the unnecessary and illegal war they were bound and determined to wage.  With a straight face, Cheney told us,

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.  There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us."

Bush also promoted this myth,

"Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people."

On Meet the Press, Cheney said of Saddam Hussein,

"We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons."

And on April 10, 2003, Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told us,

"Make no mistake, as I said earlier, we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction.  That is what this war was about and is about."

Apparently, a mistake was made.  And it was made by Bush and Cheney.  Instead of there being "no doubt," apparently, there was plenty of doubt-in fact, there were no weapons of mass destruction.  What was their next move?  Well, later that year at the annual Radio & Television Correspondents' dinner, President Bush joked about the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.  Talk about callous.  I'm sure the families of wounded and dead soldiers just got a huge belly laugh out of his little jokes.

There was still the problem, though, of how to come up with a new, retroactive reason for going to war since the pesky truth nullified their first two reasons.  Not to worry, the Bush Administration was nothing if not creative and imaginative.  Now, Bush was telling us the reason we were fighting the war was to bring democracy to Iraq.

"The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny the terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region…The goal in Iraq and Afghanistan is for there to be democratic and free countries who are allies in the war on terror.  That's the goal."

Just to be on the safe side, Bush also added another new reason;

"Saddam was systematically gaming the system.  Using the UN Oil for Food Program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions.  America is safer today with Saddam Hussein in prison."

So in spite of the fact that he invaded Iraq in defiance of the United Nations, he was now saying that we went to war to defend the UN's Oil for Food Program.

Ultimately, Bush floated his final retroactive reason for going to war:

"I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free… Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision…the men & women who crossed into Iraq 5 years ago removed a tyrant, liberated a country and rescued millions from unspeakable horror."

After President Obama's address on August 31st, Republican Who Wants to Be House Speaker, John Boehner, complained, "Some leaders who opposed, criticized and fought tooth and nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claims credit for the results."

Mitch McConnell was also pouting; "I think we should also be thankful that another President had the determination and the will to carry out the plan that made tonight's announcement possible."

John McCain griped, "It would be nice if President Obama could finally find it in himself to give his predecessor the credit he deserves."

Again, the above-mentioned Republicans need a little history lesson-a little reminder of what the "surge" was supposed to accomplish.  In Bush's own words:

"We will help this Iraqi government to succeed and the first step for success is to do something about the sectarian violence in Baghdad so they can have breathing space in order to do the political work necessary to assure that different factions in Baghdad-factions that are recovering from years of tyranny that there is a hopeful future for them and their families.  I would call that political breathing space."

It has now been more than 5 months since the elections in Iraq and still there is no political settlement in Iraq.  So, one could question whether or not the "surge" was successful.

Let's review, we invaded Iraq

Because of Iraq's connection to 9/11; which there was none

Because of Saddam's WMDs; which there were none

In order to democratize Iraq; which we didn't

Because of Saddam defrauding the UN Oil for Food Program; are you kidding me?

And lastly, the surge was supposed to bring political settlement in Iraq and it hasn't.

Yes, there are some who should be thanking George W. Bush.  The Iranian government should be thanking him because they are much stronger and have much more influence in the area than they did before he started his war.  Al Qaeda should be thanking him because they now have a presence in Iraq where they had none at all before he started his war.  

Russian and Chinese Oil companies should really be thanking George because they got most of the oil contracts from Iraq and are making a fortune.  And whoever absconded with all of the billions of dollars that went missing after the invasion-they have billions of reasons to be thanking him.

As for the credit, it should go to the one million plus brave American troops who proudly and honorably served 7 ½ years under political leadership who was not honest about why they were there.  They should be thanked, honored and taken care of by this country that they served.   And credit should be given to President Obama for living up to his campaign promise to remove our troops from Iraq.

The only other credit that should be given to Bush & Cheney should come in the form of a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether or not they should be charged with war crimes.  After all, we should give credit where credit is due.

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