On Native Ground
THE NAKED PRESIDENT
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Less than three weeks away from the election, the truth is now staring us in the face and only the willfully blind cannot see it.
The invasion of Iraq was totally built upon lies. Totally.
Our president lied consistently and constantly to lead this nation to war, a war that had been in the works from the moment President George W. Bush took office.
This fact doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who was paying attention over the last couple of years.
In the summer of 2002, the Bush administration started beating the war drums and made Saddam Hussein the focus of all the evil in the world.
At the time, it was already well established that Iraq had no involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and that its much ballyhooed "weapons of mass destruction" didn't exist. It was also well known that Iraq is the world's second largest source of oil and that the global energy conglomerates were salivating over the chance to have greater access to it in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. It was equally well known that Iraq was seen as the pivot point in a grand strategy to remake the Middle East.
These truths, freely available to any person who could see past the Bush administration's propaganda campaign, were ignored by most Americans. Those of us who brought up these truths were called traitors by the right-wing screech-monkeys of the conservative media.
Few seemed to take into account the results of the previous rounds of inspections in the 1990s. When Scott Ritter, the man who then led the UN inspection team, said that Iraq had no chemical, nuclear and biological weapons and was effectively disarmed, he was vilified by the conservative media. Likewise for Hans Blix, who reinforced that fact through his UN inspection team in the weeks before the 2003 invasion.
Still, the Bush administration kept talking about the vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons - the 30,000 warheads, 500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax and 38,000 liters of botulism toxin that Iraq possessed. In the words of President Bush, Iraq was "a grave and gathering threat" that had to be dealt with.
It was a lie. Iraq wasn't even a threat to its neighbors, let alone to the United States. But that was only the beginning.
Soon came the other lies - U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators, the cost of the occupation would be funded through Iraqi oil revenues, democracy would take root and Iraq would become a model for the rest of the Middle East, the occupation would not put a strain on U.S. military resources.
These statements too, were lies. Iraq was not the central front of "the war on terror." It did, however, become a breeding ground for terror. Iraq is now Osama bin Laden's best advertisement for joining al-Qaida. The country, by any objective standard, is worse off than before the invasion. Civil war appears almost a certainty. In short, it is a disaster that is growing worse by the day.
And all of it has been based on lies.
Today, President Bush and his administration have zero credibility. They were warned that their case for invading Iraq was flimsy. They were warned that the occupation could be deadlier than the war. They were warned that invading Iraq would undermine the fight against al-Qaida. They were warned that ignoring the international community would be a costly mistake.
The Bush administration chose to believe in their own lies rather than the truths of the professionals in the military and in the intelligence community who knew that the president was headed for disaster. Ideology and electoral politics drove the decision making, rather than common sense.
Nearly 1,100 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis are now dead because of those lies. Many more Americans and Iraqis are going die because of the arrogance and incompetence of the Bush administration.
What President Bush has done in the three years since the Sept. 11 attacks goes to heart of what his presidency is about. He took the nation into an unnecessary war. He manipulated or deliberately misused national security intelligence data. He lied about the need to invade Iraq and lied about the costs of the invasion and occupation. And he continues to lie about what's now happening in Iraq.
If President Bush had a shred of integrity in his body, he would resign now. If Congress had any integrity, it would be drafting articles of impeachment. If the majority of voters of this country have any integrity, they will vote Mr. Bush out of office without a second thought. Since the first two things aren't going to happen, we need to ensure that the third thing will.
There still are people out there who don't believe or don't want to believe that the policies of President Bush are hazardous to the health of our nation and the rest of the planet. The list of Mr. Bush's failures and misdeeds is long, but all of them seem puny compared to the Iraq debacle.
A vote for President Bush is a vote to affirm a policy of lies and deception. To vote for Mr. Bush is to say truth doesn't matter, logic doesn't matter, common sense doesn't matter and that ignorance is indeed strength.
All this is staring us in the face. The president stands naked, stripped of the lies that have been his cloak ever since he took office. We must not dare to blink or turn away.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.