Part of the recent PR blitz by the White House has been to justify the “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive action. Condi Rice talked about it in foreign policy speech in Chicago. It was a theme of Cheney’s speech to the Heritage Foundation. Ken Adelman, a member of the Defense Policy Board, took to NPR to argue that pre-emptive strikes are a must. The Bushies have a problem, though. Their invocation of preemption to justify their actions in Iraq shows its problems.
According to the National Security Strategy of the United States, announced Sept. 17, 2002, the bottom line of the Bush doctrine is:
The purpose of our actions will always be to eliminate a specific threat to the United States or our allies and friends. The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.
Let’s look then at two “specific” threats and clear reasons Bush gave two days before invading Iraq.
1. There is “no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” Yet the administration’s own 1,200-member inspection team hasn’t found any such weapons. And the single vial of the so-called biological agent they found has never been used to produce a weapon. (As Shocking Elk noted, 17 of the 23 reasons listed in the Congressional authorization leading to the war deal with WMD.)
2. Iraq “has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.” The fact is, as Frontline reported, “virtually everyone . . . in the U.S. intelligence community said there is no significant connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.” Even former Bush administration officials said the prewar evidence Bush relied upon was “tenuous, exaggerated, and often at odds with the conclusions of key intelligence agencies.” This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the administration’s longstanding efforts to somehow link Saddam and 9-11 in the public’s eyes, an effort Bush himself had to publicly attempt to quash.
Bush and the neocons might have been able to sell the pre-emption doctrine IF they had been right. Yet they were not only almost absolutely wrong, they lied and continue to spin the lies they’ve been caught in. Iraq may be one of the better examples anyone could come up with to show the fallacies of preemption. Unforunately, the result is the “long, hard slog” even Rumsfeld now recognizes.