Donald Trump has buried George W. Bush, for good. Or so we hope.
This might not be “Morning in America,” but it is a moral victory for values in America. Somewhere in those Judeo-Christian values touted by “values voters” is an injunction against mass murder.
Before the February 20 South Carolina primary, it looked as though G. Bush might just make a comeback.
After the South Carolina primary, where Donald Trump won with 32.2 percent of the Republican vote, it seems certain that nothing will resuscitate the legacy of “one of the nation’s worst presidents.”
Notwithstanding his war crimes and unprecedented intervention in the financial system and the private economy, “W” also happened to preside over the largest domestic spending since Lyndon Johnson. As chronicled in Ivan Eland’s “Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty,” “[Bush] advocated bad policies and demonstrated horrendous operational incompetence.”
The disastrous and expensive (in casualties and money) nation-building project in Iraq and Afghanistan were only exceeded in catastrophic results by Bush’s expansion of executive power and theft of the civil liberties that make the United States unique. Bush had almost no accomplishments to offset such foibles.
Trump addressed the war: “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
The chattering class, Left and Right, was—still is—gobsmacked. A political Samson was bringing down the pillars of their world.
Desperate to restore equilibrium before the crucial South Carolina vote was CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “You would not say again that George W. Bush lied?”
Trump obliged. He backpedaled before the primary, going with non-committal: “I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I mean, I’d have to look at documents.”
So America has some unfinished business. Because we do know. We can say for sure. And we have all the documents.
George W. Bush lied America into war.
Bush began his ballyhooed presidency by lying during his campaign. He promised America a humble foreign policy, but came into office with the express purpose of using his plenary powers to unseat Saddam Hussein.
Reliable sources—vaunted officials such as the former head of the CIA’s counterterrorism office, Vincent Cannistraro—attested that Bush started plotting to “settle” old scores with Saddam Hussein as soon as he got to the White House.
This was well after the International Atomic Energy Agency vouched Iraq had “dismantled its nuclear program.” To good effect, Bush and his bandits dusted off “decade old” IAEA reports and presented these as the casus belli for a new war.
Yes, the Bush reports about Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction were a “decade old”; out-of-date and inapplicable, when they were deployed to go to war, in 2003.
In 2004, U.S. weapons inspector David Kay was tasked with a post-invasion investigation as to why no WMD were found in Iraq. The evidence Kay marshaled was the same old evidence those of us who opposed the war cited back in the dying days of 2002.
Having publicly fumed about the impotence of the IAEA’s much-maligned inspection process, Kay found himself in the embarrassing position of vouching for IAEA effectiveness.
IAEA inspectors were, in fact, still crisscrossing Iraq when Bush invaded.
For his 2004 tome “Plan of Attack,” author Bob Woodward was given his usual unparalleled access. Woodward conducted 75-odd interviews with members of the Bush administration’s inner sanctums, Bush too. Woodward concluded, and was lauded by the proud culprits themselves:
“Bush is in charge. Bush is all over [Iraq].”
“Just five days after September 11,” by Woodward’s telling, the president indicated to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that he was determined to do something about Saddam Hussein.”
On November 21, 2001, the bombastic Bush who had characterized his war as “the story of the 21st Century,” demanded an invasion plan from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
“Get on it,” Bush barked.
Gen. Tommy Franks was then given carte blanche to develop such a strategy, for which the president, unbeknownst to Congress, siphoned $700 million from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War.
On February 16, 2002, Bush signed a “Top Secret intelligence order” granting authority to the CIA and the military to commence covert operations in Iraq.
December 21, 2002 saw CIA Director George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin summoned to the Oval Office to screen a slideshow of Iraq’s alleged WMD.
The president took the lead. He made it clear that Tenet had to deliver on his promise of an intelligence “slam dunk.” Alas, G. Bush was wholly unimpressed by the “rough cut”:
“Nice try, but that isn’t gonna sell Joe Public.”
“Richard Clark, the White House anti-terrorism coordinator, reported that on the day after 9/11, even after he protested that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, Bush personally insisted that he look for one.” Clark’s memo disavowing such a connection was returned by the “office of Bush’s National Security Adviser with the comment: Wrong answer. Do it again.”
Soon, Secretary of State Rice was filling her days with forecasts of a Saddam-seeded nuclear-winter.
On September 8, 2002, this liar told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “We do know that there have been shipments into Iraq of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to nuclear weapons programs.” David Albright of the Institution for Science and International Security was appalled. “That’s just a lie,” he reiterated to New Republic.
The “Lie Factory—the Office of Special Plans”—was a central edifice of the Bush administration.
The OSP, reminisces Justin Raimondo in a retrospective about Bush’s lies, was “a parallel intelligence-gathering agency set up by the neoconservatives in the administration [to feed] Congress and the media ‘factoids’ which were later proved to be false.”
To make his sub-intelligent case for war, Bush mustered the fictitious uranium from Africa, the aluminum tubes from Timbuktu, the invisible “meetings” with al-Qaida in Prague, an al-Qaida training camp that existed under Kurdish—not Iraqi—control, as well as the alleged weaponized chemical and biological stockpiles and their attendant delivery systems that inspectors doubted were there and which never-ever materialized.
“Guilt is an intrinsic quality of actions,” wrote the 19th-century American philosopher of liberty, Lysander Spooner. Judging by the actions they commanded, former President George Bush “and his neoconservative Rasputins” were–are—as guilty as sin for the crime of Iraq.
Before his February 23 victory in the Nevada caucuses, fresh from the win in South Carolina, Trump returned to Fox News to dance on George Bush’s political grave. Pompous Chris Wallace imagined he’d get the upper hand with Donald Trump, but ended up changing the subject … quickly.
“The pundits, including yourself,” blasted a triumphant Trump, “thought I made a mistake when I took on Bush on that issue. But when I took on Bush on that issue, I never felt it was a bad thing to do because people that are smart know that the war in Iraq was a disaster.”
No more “neoconservative Rasputins.” “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Or, in Bushspeak: “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again!”