Murdoc Online is one year old today.
Just yesterday I celebrated my first 100 days on MovableType, and today I realized that this is one year since I first posted. I was using MSN’s Groups as my host. It was awful. My first-ever post:
Moment of Truth
Is it just me, or is the President really serious about disarming Iraq? I mean, it almost appears that he might authorize military force even if he doesn’t get the United Nations seal of approval. What a cowboy. Seriously, folks, there might be a war.
A year ago today, President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar were meeting in the Azores to discuss the Iraq situation. President Bush’s speech at that event included the following:
Saddam Hussein has a history of mass murder. He possesses the weapons of mass murder. He agrees — he agreed to disarm Iraq of these weapons as a condition for ending the Gulf War over a decade ago. The United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1441, has declared Iraq in material breach of its longstanding obligations, demanding once again Iraq’s full and immediate disarmament, and promised serious consequences if the regime refused to comply. That resolution was passed unanimously and its logic is inescapable; the Iraqi regime will disarm itself, or the Iraqi regime will be disarmed by force. And the regime has not disarmed itself.
Action to remove the threat from Iraq would also allow the Iraqi people to build a better future for their society. And Iraq’s liberation would be the beginning, not the end, of our commitment to its people. We will supply humanitarian relief, bring economic sanctions to a swift close, and work for the long-term recovery of Iraq’s economy. We’ll make sure that Iraq’s natural resources are used for the benefit of their owners, the Iraqi people.
Iraq has the potential to be a great nation. Iraq’s people are skilled and educated. We’ll push as quickly as possible for an Iraqi interim authority to draw upon the talents of Iraq’s people to rebuild their nation. We’re committed to the goal of a unified Iraq, with democratic institutions of which members of all ethnic and religious groups are treated with dignity and respect.
In the question and answer portion after the speeches is this:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Ron Fournier.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Before I ask my question I just want to nail down one thing so there’s no confusion. When you talk about tomorrow being the moment of truth, are you saying that is the —
PRESIDENT BUSH: Is this the question, or are you trying to work in two questions?
Q Yes, sir. (Laughter.) Because there’s one thing we need to make clear. When you say tomorrow is the moment of truth, does that mean tomorrow is the last day that the resolution can be voted up or down, and at the end of the day tomorrow, one way or another the diplomatic window has close?
PRESIDENT BUSH: That’s what I’m saying.
This is something that a lot of people overlook, or intentionally choose to ignore, about the rush to war in Iraq. Iraq was in the position it was in because it refused to cooperate with the UN. It did not hold up its end of the 1991 cease-fire or any of the 17 UN resolutions passed in the the years since. Although we thought Iraq possessed stockpiles of WMDs, and the WMD threat was played heavily to the public, the lack of WMDs after the fact does nothing to invalidate any of the justification for military action at that point.
As much as a lot of people don’t want to admit it, 9/11 changed the world. Many will try to be clever and say that 9/11 didn’t change the world, it only made clear to the US what was already clear to the rest of the world. Okay. Have it your way. Since the US acquired a clear understanding of the world situation on 9/11, the world changed. President Bush and his administration had had enough. For a many years, the US and Iraq played a game of constant bluff and counter-bluff. They weren’t going to play any more games.
People tell me that we should have given inspectors more time. Many of the same people tell me that Saddam didn’t even have WMDs. So how much time should we have given inspectors? Saddam certainly wasn’t going to admit that he didn’t have them, not after all that time under sanctions without admitting it.
People tell me that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq didn’t justify regime change. Many of the same people tell me that US and international sanctions were responsible for the humanitarian crisis, so they should be canceled. So how does the UN and the free world deal with troublesome nations? Saddam wasn’t going to give up any power, either to outsiders or to other groups within Iraq. I’ve been told that, since no one can predict the future, it’s not realistic to use a count of Iraqi lives saved because of the overthrow of the Baathist regime. For all we know, I guess, the Baathists may have suddenly stopped persecuting other Iraqis. How much sense does that make?
People tell me that military force is not the correct way to change a regime that needs to be changed. Many of the same people tell me Iraqis themselves should bear the responsibility for their government. But how were the non-Baathists supposed to determine their own fate? I’ve actually been told that we don’t even know that Saddam would still be in power. I was told that world opinion was really turning against Saddam, and that his days were probably numbered. And this was in July!
I’m astounded at what I’ve seen and heard in the past twelve months. I’ve written about a lot of it, and as I look back over my posts I’m just incredulous.
But what astounds me even more is what has been accomplished in the past year. Saddam out of power and in chains. Iraq not only freed from the Baathists, but an interim constitution signed. American casualties, though tragic, far, far lower than anyone dared hope. Libya agreeing to give up its nuclear program as a direct result of our action.
Not all the administration’s and Pentagon’s predictions have come to pass, of course. But, one year on, it seems to me that they were much, much closer to the mark than the predictions of any anti-war critics or commentators.
There’s a long way to go, but we’ve passed the greatest moment of truth in Iraq. There will be many more moments of truth, of course. But we’ve done what we said we would.