Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lying to the finish

From the George Bush interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC News --

GIBSON: You said you were not going to be in the business of nation-building. And so much of what you had to do was nation-building.

BUSH: Well, what I said was, in the course of a debate, I said the military shouldn't be used to build nations. In this case, it turns out the military, in my judgment, was needed to remove threats to our security, and after that removal, the military, as well as our diplomatic corps, needed to help rebuild after tyrannical situations.

He ran against nation building. Condi Rice helped him do it. Now he says, to the extent one can determine what he meant, that he was only against it when the military was being used for nation-building without diplomats -- which is not what anyone has ever proposed.

But he really took off on the Iraq war --

GIBSON: You've always said there's no do-overs as President. If you had one?

BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn't.

BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate.

Note that Bush took the hypothesis to be that Saddam had WMD and then claimed that Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in. But Hans Blix and the inspectors were in Iraq. Bush ordered them out.

He then claims not to know the answer to Gibson's followup -- if the intelligence had correctly said that there was no WMD, would he have invaded? He has answered this question repeatedly, and again just last week in Kentucky: that removing Saddam Hussein was "the right decision then, and the right decision today". Which can only mean that knowing as he now does that Saddam didn't have WMD, he would still have invaded. The only doubt is whether he would have had Tony Blair along for the ride, since WMD were crucial to the UK legal rationale.

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