It most likely will not be just Jeb Bush who will make flubs over the Iraq war. During the upcoming presidential campaigns, we can expect more false information, political reinvention, and revisionist analyses of the invasion, surge, and occupation of Iraq. As Victor Davis Hanson writes in NRO, candidates will be readjusting their positions to fit public opinion.
Yes, the war pushed by the Bush administration, but both Houses of Congress authorized it, with a majority of Democrats joining Republicans in the Senate. Especially enthusiastic was the rhetoric from Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Jay Rockefeller, each of whom had the same access to U.S. and foreign intelligence as did the Bush administration.
The Iraq war was not just about WMD, Mr. Hanson writes. The writs included Iraq’s noncompliance with the 1991 ceasefire agreement; Saddam’s brutal repression of its civilian population (including genocide of the Kurds and Marsh Arabs); the 1993 assassination attempt on President Bush; and the harboring of international terrorists organizations (including one of the architects of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing).
Congress was on record as supporting 23 writs for the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein. These 20 plus writs, or “whereas” clauses, sought to reify Bill Clinton’s Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which made it the official policy of the U.S. to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Mr. Hanson continues,
Iraq was by turns a brilliant victory, a debacle, a solvable problem, a great achievement, and an ISIS-infested mess — again depending on the extent of American losses, the trajectory of the Iraqi government, and the particular election cycle in the United States.
There are constants, of course, that don’t change: Removing Saddam was a textbook operation; the effort to quell the ensuing chaos was a textbook case of mismanagement and incompetence. Yet the final assessment on the wisdom of removing Saddam Hussein in large part hinges on whether what followed was a dramatic improvement — in terms both of U.S. strategic interest and of the humanitarian effort to help the Iraqi people — that justified the terrible American investment. That assessment since 2003 has changed frequently, but most recently in a negative direction after the foolhardy complete 2011 pullout and the logical rise of ISIS.
As Hillary famously stated in 2007 in Iowa on the presidential campaign trail, “If we had known then what we know now, there never would have been a vote, and I never would have voted to give (President George W. Bush) that authority.”
To learn what we now know, read more from Mr. Hanson here.