February 13, 2007

No Plans To Attack: Deja Vu Edition

The headlines scream out that the Bush administration denies they want a war with Iran:

... "We're not getting ready for war on Iran, but what we are doing is we're protecting our own people. And we're going to do it. And we've made it clear that that is going to be a priority," White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Monday. ...

Tony Snow, Feb. 8, 2007:

Q Can I also ask you about Iran, as well? Do you have any response to the comments from Iran's supreme leader, talking about attacking interests around the world --

MR. SNOW: I believe the Ayatollah was referring to, if the United States attacked -- let's see, I have said it, the Secretary of Defense has said it, the President has said it: We're not invading Iran. So I think this is -- he's spinning a hypothetical about something that is not contemplated. ...

But I'm sure many of us remember the administration assertions that their only goal in Iraq was peace, during the time when it later turned out that they'd been intently drawing up war plans. Emphasis mine throughout.

... In 3 1/2 hours of interviews with Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post, Bush said that the secret planning was necessary to avoid "enormous international angst and domestic speculation" and that "war is my absolute last option."

Adding to the momentum, Woodward writes, was the pressure from advocates of war inside the administration. Vice President Cheney, whom Woodward describes as a "powerful, steamrolling force," led that group and had developed what some of his colleagues felt was a "fever" about removing Hussein by force. ...

There's also the possibility that a presidential 'no' today really just means 'maybe later.'

... Woodward reports that just five days after Sept. 11, President Bush indicated to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that while he had to do Afghanistan first, he was also determined to do something about Saddam Hussein.

”There's some pressure to go after Saddam Hussein. Don Rumsfeld has said, ‘This is an opportunity to take out Saddam Hussein, perhaps. We should consider it.’ And the president says to Condi Rice meeting head to head, ‘We won't do Iraq now.’ But it is a question we're gonna have to return to,’” says Woodward. ...

Woodward reports that Bush made the decision to go to war after a CIA analysis indicated that a coup against Hussein was out of the question. Much as I suspect similar analysis, and experience from years of pouring money into the rathole of Iraqi-based expatriate Iranian terrorism, would indicate the same hurdle exists to changing the government in Tehran.

Presidential press conference, Mar. 13, 2002:

Q Vice President Cheney is on the road now trying to build support for possible action against Iraq. If you don't get that, down the road you decide you want to take action, would you take action against Iraq unilaterally?

THE PRESIDENT: One of the things I've said to our friends is that we will consult, that we will share our views of how to make the world more safe. In regards to Iraq, we're doing just that. Every world leader that comes to see me, I explain our concerns about a nation which is not conforming to agreements that it made in the past; a nation which has gassed her people in the past; a nation which has weapons of mass destruction and apparently is not afraid to use them.

And so one of the -- what the Vice President is doing is he's reminding people about this danger, and that we need to work in concert to confront this danger. ...

Q It seems to me -- you seem to be saying, yes, you would consult with the allies and others, including in the Mideast, but if you had to, you'd go ahead and take action yourself.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're answering the question for me. If I can remember the exact words, I'll say it exactly the way I said it before. We are going to consult. I am deeply concerned about Iraq. And so should the American people be concerned about Iraq. And so should people who love freedom be concerned about Iraq.

This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons; a man who won't let inspectors into the country; a man who's obviously got something to hide. And he is a problem, and we're going to deal with him. But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that's exactly what we're doing. ...

From Digby, Donald Rumsfeld, May 24, 2002:

The United States has no plans to invade Iraq or any other country, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday, but he refused to discuss the Bush administration's thinking about how to deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ...

Presidential press conference, Aug. 10, 2002:

Q I'm sorry, if I could follow up. Are you surprised that you haven't been able to build more support within the region and within Europe for taking action?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Stretch, I think most people understand he is a danger. But as I've said in speech after speech, I've got a lot of tools at my disposal. And I've also said I am a deliberate person. And so I'm -- we're in the process of consulting not only with Congress, like I said I do the other day, but with our friends and allies. And the consultation process is a positive part of really allowing people to fully understand our deep concerns about this man, his regime and his desires to have weapons of mass destruction.

Last question, and then I've got to go chip and putt for a birdie. (Laughter.) It was a good drive.

Q It looked kind of right.

Q Do you think the American people are prepared for casualties in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that that presumes there's some kind of imminent war plan. As I said, I have no timetable. What I do believe the American people understand is that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of leaders such as Saddam Hussein are very dangerous for ourselves, our allies. They understand the concept of blackmail. They know that when we speak of making the world more safe, we do so not only in the context of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, but nations that have proven themselves to be bad neighbors and bad actors. ...

Ari Fleischer, Nov. 11, 2002:

... The President's message to both the inspectors and the Iraqis is that the Iraqis need to disarm for the sake of peace. And the President is pleased that the United Nations has passed a strong resolution that will allow the inspectors to have more tools to do their jobs to verify that Saddam Hussein has disarmed. Iraq has until December 8th to list the weapons of mass destruction for the United Nations Security Council resolution, and after December 8th that will begin a process where we will find out whether the Iraqis told the truth or not. So they have this date that is approaching. After that date a process begins. And the President wants to make certain that process leads to two things -- one, the truth, and the truth must lead to disarmament. ...

Ari Fleischer, Dec. 2, 2002:

Well, I think it's fair to say the President has gone into this with a can-do attitude to preserve the peace, and if it hadn't been for the President's efforts and leadership and willing to state facts realistically, there would be no inspectors inside Iraq, would there be? There wouldn't have. It was the President who caused this to happen.' ...

President Bush, Dec. 4, 2002:

... It's very important for us to recognize threats when we see them, and deal with them appropriately. After all, the threat gathering in a distant land turns out to be a threat directly on the American people. We've got to be wise about how we view the world and make sure that the new arrangements, the new alliances aren't allowed to develop. An alliance, for example, where a nation that has weapons of mass destruction uses a shadowy terrorist network as a forward army, perhaps encouraging them to attack America without leaving any fingerprints. You've got to worry about disrupting training facilities.

And that's why I started talking about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Not only starting a debate in the halls of the United States Congress, which overwhelmingly supported any means necessary to deal with the threat to the United States, but also took the debate to the United Nations, and a couple of weeks ago to NATO.

It's important for our fellow Americans to understand that, when we're talking about Saddam Hussein, we're talking about a man who said he has had no weapons of mass destruction, yet we believe has weapons of mass destruction -- a man who has not only had weapons of mass destruction, but he's used weapons of mass destruction. He used weapons of mass destruction on his neighbors and he used weapons of mass destruction on his own citizens. He's a man who has professed hate to America, as well as our friends and allies. He's a man who has got terrorist ties, a man who helps train terrorists. He's a threat and he's a danger.

... I say that -- I say that because I believe in peace. I believe this is how you achieve peace, by being strong and resolute, by fighting terror and all forms of terror, by not allowing those who hate to try to dictate to those of us who love freedom. See, I believe out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good. Part of the good done to this -- part of the evil done to this country is going to help lead the world to peace. ...

As Glenn Greenwald notes, the president was denying there were plans to attack Iraq even in January of 2003, when it's now known that war was imminent and had been in the planning stages for some time. Today, with Iran, the administration continues to hype the threat, demonize Iran, offer dodgy evidence and refuse legitimate diplomacy while insisting that they're just interested in inspections and world peace. We have, indeed, heard all this before, in the endless, mealy-mouthed weaseling surrounding the run-up to the Iraq war.

If Congress and the leaders of the Democratic Party are serious about beginning to repair the disasters created by the president, they need to listen to the will of the American people and get us out of Iraq. If they're serious about preventing very recent history from repeating itself, they need to push publicly and loudly for diplomacy with Iran and an end to the administration's policy of antagonism.

Posted by natasha at February 13, 2007 09:24 AM | Iran | Technorati links |