The Chicago Tribune has done a very useful service. It has spent six weeks analysing the nine reasons Bush gave for the war in Iraq, and judging whether or not he lied, exaggerated or was correct in his reasoning. It is a lengthy and rational analysis.
Overall they have found the White House wound up exaggerating allegations that proved dead wrong, but they did not lie or try to mislead. Don’t think this means the article is pro-Bush. It criticises him in several areas. In fact it is a far more effective portrayal of the weakness of some of what the White House said, than the hysterical Bush Lied rants from the moveon.org crowd. You see it is rational and balanced.
The nine issues, and their conclusions are:
Biological and chemical weapons
There was no need for the administration to rely on risky intelligence, putting so much emphasis on illicit weaponry meant they advanced the least verifiable case for war when others would have sufficed.
Iraq rebuffs the world
Hussein had shunted enough lucre to enough profiteers to keep the UN from challenging him. Hussein was enabled to continue his brutal reign and cost untold thousands of Iraqis their lives.
The quest for nukes
For five years, the official and oft-delivered alarms from the U.S. intelligence community had been menacing.
Had Hussein not been deposed, would he have reconstituted deadly weaponry or shared it with terror groups? The least possible to declare true or false.
Waging war on terror
The drumbeat of White House warnings before the war made Iraq’s terror activities sound more ambitious than subsequent evidence has proven. The argument that Hussein was able to foment global terror against this country and its interests was exaggerated.
Reform in the Middle East
The notion that invading Iraq would provoke political tremors in a region long ruled by despots is the Bush administration’s most successful prewar prediction to date. A more muscular U.S. diplomacy has advanced democracy and assisted freedom movements in the sclerotic Middle East.
Iraq and Al Qaeda
No compelling evidence ties Iraq to Sept. 11, 2001, as the White House implied. By stripping its rhetoric of the ambiguity present in the intel data, the White House exaggerated this argument for war.
The Butcher of Baghdad
The White House assessments were accurate. Few if any war opponents have challenged this argument, or suggested that an unmolested Hussein would have eased his repression.
The White House was correct in predicting that long subjugated Iraqis would embrace democracy. And while Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites have major differences to reconcile, a year’s worth of predictions that Sunni disaffection could doom self-rule have, so far, proven wrong.