Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Speaking truth to power?

Helen Thomas asked President Bush what his "real reason" for going to war was. Bold. Now, I'm not posting this to start another argument about the Iraq war. I'm posting it to demonstrate that the administration can't talk about Iraq without mentioning 9/11 or Al Qaeda. Does that mean anything to anyone? I couldn't believe that this exchange actually took place.

* * *

HELEN THOMAS: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

HELEN THOMAS: Everything --

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

HELEN THOMAS: -- everything I've heard --

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --

HELEN THOMAS: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --

HELEN THOMAS: I'm talking about Iraq --

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.


I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences.

10 Comments:

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

The reason 9/11 is mentioned is that it is rationale for the preemptive use of force. As such, the case could be made that Iraq was invaded to neutralize the threat of the Hussein regime before an attack could be made.

I was for it then, and I'm still not against it. I only wish we had not invaded then so we could invade Iran now. They scare the shit out of me.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger J. Morgan Caler said...

Here is the interesting thing: If Bush really saw Iraq as a threat – that is, if we are to believe the argument he put forth here – then we have to assume that he is completely incompetent. Iraq did not appear to be the biggest threat in 2003 nor does it appear so now. If this is the argument he wants to use to justify preemptive war, then it costs him in the competence department. What is worse than a wartime president who cannot prioritize threats?

Jacks, a respectfully disagree. I think this is a classic example of diversion. He doesn’t want to talk about Iraq because the voting public doesn’t have much of an emotional connection to Iraq. We do, however, to 9/11 and al Qaeda. In his mind, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense – it doesn’t matter if it justifies anything – it creates fear.

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Hans-Georg Gadamer said...

I am certainly not up to snuff as far as the evidence for or against Iraq was concerned, and this post isn't about that, so my only comment will be how unbelievably ridiculous and disrespectful the question was.
Seriously, did anyone pay attention to what she asked? "Why have you always been bent on war from the minute you stepped in the White House?" What arrogant crap! How in the world does she get off claiming to know all the mental states of President Bush, espeically since there is absolutely no evidence to suggest he intended to get into war upon getting in office. I don't remember his campaign slogan being "Vote for me and I will go to war as soon as possible!" Unbelievable! How dare she! Liberals all over should be absolutely ashamed of her conduct - there are plenty of good questions to ask President Bush about the war, but that certainly wasn't one of them.

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger BrianESpilner said...

Chuck Norris can believe it's not butter

 
At 1:26 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I don't know. Maybe her tone could have been better, but that's the same question I'm asking and have asked: why Iraq? As an example to the more serious threats who have stronger diplomatic support world wide? Because they were easiest? Because they were asking for it? Because of Oil? I never expect Bush to answer a question like that in a public forum, but that's really what I want to know. I'm not against war to protect our country. I just want to know why this war in this place against those people. I think we have a right to know, and no one's told us. That upsets me.

Bush didn't layout much of an "argument" - it's more just rambling patriotism about afghanistan and al qaeda. He doesn't even mention iraq.

 
At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

h-g g:

"How dare she!"?

He's not king, dude.

She's old enough to be his mother, he hasn't called on her at a press conference in goodness knows how long now, and her positions are well known. Bush knew very well what he was in for when he said "Helen." He wanted a question like that so that he could try to shift public opinion on the war. Square deal.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

How high should the burden of proof be?

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous dadman said...

Burden of proof about what, Charles?

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

Starting a war.

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous dadman said...

Ah.

Well, there's the pretty well-known Christian "just war" theory, there's a set of criteria there. Wikipedia has a good article, the whole list is quite long, I'm not going to take up the space here. Some of the criteria are just cause, proportionality, right intention (which would include honesty about intentions, and not fighting for sheer material gain), and that the war is a last resort.

 

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