Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Ted Kennedy's Speech
The full text of yesterday's speech is available at Kennedy's web site. If you are looking for a solid summary of the case against the Iraq war, this speech is it. I disagree with Kennedy about the war in Afghanistan being justified (at least in the brutal way it was fought), especially since the administration has resisted all attempts to determine what really happened on 9/11, and since none of the hijackers were from Afghanistan. But Kennedy provides a solid summary of the history of the buildup to the Iraq war, the political purposes behind it, and the illegal nature of it. While there are a few choice quotes in the speech, the whole thing is worth reading. Here are some extended excerpts to whet your appetite:

In his [2002] State of the Union Address, President Bush broadened his policy on Afghanistan to other terrorist regimes. He unveiled the "Axis of Evil"-Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Those three words forged the lock-step linkage between the Bush Administration's top political advisers and the Big Three of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz. We lost our previous clear focus on the most imminent threat to our national security-Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

What did President Bush say about bin Laden in the State of the Union Address that day? Nothing.

What did the President say about Al Qaeda? One fleeting mention.

What did he say about the Taliban? Nothing.

Nothing about bin Laden. One fleeting mention of Al Qaeda. Nothing about the Taliban in that State of the Union Address.

Barely four months had passed since the worst terrorist atrocity in American history. Five bin Laden videotapes had been broadcast since September 11th, including one that was aired after bin Laden escaped at the battle of Tora Bora. President Bush devoted 12 paragraphs in his State of the Union Address to Afghanistan, and 29 paragraphs to the global war on terrorism. But he had nothing to say about Bin Laden and only one single fleeting mention of Al Qaeda.

Why not more? Because of an extraordinary policy coup. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz-the Axis of War-had prevailed. The President was changing the subject to Iraq.
In all these ways, we are reaping the poison fruit of our misguided and arrogant foreign policy. The Administration capitalized on the fear created by 9/11 and put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth to justify a war that could well become one of the worst blunders in more than two centuries of American foreign policy. We did not have to go to war. Alternatives were working. War must be a last resort. And this war never should have happened.
The Administration is breathtakingly arrogant. Its leaders are convinced they know what is in America's interest, but they refuse to debate it honestly. After repeatedly linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in his justification for war, the President now admits there was no such link. Paul Wolfowitz admitted in an interview that the Administration settled for "bureaucratic reasons" on weapons of mass destruction because it was "the one reason everyone could agree on."

The Administration is vindictive and mean-spirited. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson publicly challenged the Administration for wrongly claiming that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program, the Administration retaliated against his wife, potentially endangering her life and her career.
President Bush said it all when a television reporter asked him whether Saddam actually had weapons of mass destruction, or whether there was only the possibility that he might acquire them. President Bush answered, "So what's the difference?" The difference, Mr. President, is whether you go to war or not.