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G.W. Bush's Lies
By Bill Potvin
It has been just over twenty years since the Iraq Invasion, generally recognized as one of the most genuinely catastrophic military adventures in the history of the US. We were lied into a war by the Bush Cheney Administration, under the pretense of "weapons of mass destruction" and the imminent danger of Saddam Hussein. We were told that he had significant connections to Al-Qaeda and, thus, the terrorist attacks of 9/11. All false! What resulted was the virtual destruction of an important Middle Eastern country, its society, and its people. Civil war, chaos, suffering, and over 300,000 deaths resulted, and about two million refugees fled to neighboring countries. Horrendous consequences resulted, most of which are still with us today.
Prior to the attacks, a busload of us left Willimantic and made the trip to New York City to protest on February 15, 2003, joining close to 1 million others. Around the globe, there were similar protests. More global citizens protested than had ever protested in the history of the world. Our government ignored all of this. Our media downplayed it. Why did this happen? What effects did it have on our country and other nations? Was anyone ever held accountable?
In his book, The Case Against George W. Bush, Steve Markoff documents the number of times President Bush spoke of the importance of Iraqi oil, starting one week after his inauguration. (A full 23 months before the Iraq invasion!) Markoff also states that the push or sell of the war consistently involved different forms of fear: ninety-one quotes from administrative officials were gathered containing fearful descriptions of the threat of Saddam Hussein (8 times,) the presence of weapons of mass destruction (40 times,) and the connections to Al-Qaeda (43 times)—all meticulously documented. Throughout Bush's presidency, at least thirty-five references from various meetings, press briefings, news articles, and television interviews, including the State of the Union Address in January 2007, Bush discussed seeking or rationalizing the importance of Iraq's oil.
The case against Bush is clear: "Intelligence" was manipulated to support the invasion and regime change goal. When the attack finally occurred, I was wearing a button that said, "What's our oil doing under your sand?" The invasion flaunted US power, and the explosions and destruction were officially titled "Shock and Awe." Bush's popularity soared, and only a handful of United States politicians voted against the preemptive invasion. The cost to our respect around the globe was staggering, as nobody likes a bully. The cost to our economy was huge, perhaps three trillion dollars. We gave up any moral high ground we might have had and eventually dabbled in government-sanctioned torture, calling it "enhanced interrogation" instead. Throughout the war, the reporting consistently presented the phony unity of the aggression, always describing the actions of "coalition forces," 95% of which were United States and British units. The real coalition of nations was vehemently opposed.
When Barack Obama was elected president, he decided to "look forward" instead of holding these perpetrators accountable. Bush, Cheney, and other administration officials were allowed their horrific war crimes in Iraq without recourse. How can you build a strong foundation as a respected world power on top of a mountain of blood? Today, as we maneuver against China's growing power, our standing in the world community has faded (China is taking on new roles in negotiations that used to be ours alone.)
Following Donald Trump's unpresidential style and unprecedented bizarre actions, Bush is somehow now viewed by many as a diplomat by comparison. However, suppose you tally the consequences of deaths and suffering that Bush has generated. In that case, it is, in my view, vastly beyond any consequences attributable to President Trump, even including the stain of the January 6 insurrection. Simply count the deaths that occurred. Bush should be hunted down as a war criminal and tried under International Law. He most likely created the template for today's actions of Russia regarding Ukraine.
The Bush name got him much in life, including entry and degrees from Ivy League Universities, a position in the National Guard that allowed him to avoid deployment in Vietnam, and even further avoiding duty by going AWOL during his service time, all with no consequences. He now has a presidential library and an institute named after him. He has retired to a life of leisure, enjoying his wealth and expanding his artistic talents by painting benign objects, like vases of flowers. He should be forced to paint grotesque pictures of maimed and deformed Iraqi children that he injured by his decisions in the Iraq War, followed by the unmerciful sanctions against many innocent and nonthreatening civilians in Iraq.
As a Vietnam combat veteran, this is my opinion, and it may come across as extreme. War is extreme and should always be the last resort. I believe that we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions. Until this is rendered properly and justly on our leaders, any pretense about the United States as a beacon of democracy and good is false. This is what true morality means to me. The more suffering you cause and immorality you have exhibited, the higher the price you should pay! Bush has not paid a price commensurate with his actions. Not even close. His lies and the horrendous consequences that ensued have had devastating effects on Iraq and our country as well.
The march to war in Iraq was, in Bush's own words, "a totally unjustified and brutal invasion." This is precisely what Bush recently said in public about Vladimir Putin. In addition to Iraq, the damage has been incalculable to our country's reputation, status, and moral standing. Citizens around the globe see this clearly, even as many American citizens cling to the concept of "American Exceptionalism."
Bill Potvin served one tour in 'Nam (May 1970 to March'71), with the 65th Engineer Battalion 25th Inf. Div., as a Sp 5 demolition specialist for the 2nd half of his tour.