I am looking for instances where Bush actually said “Iraq is an imminent danger to America and its allies.” Some argue that pre-emptive war does not assume that the object of pre-emptive aggression is an imminent threat. I’m surprised at this, because I can’t think of an acceptable time-frame before attack unless the threat is imminent. Perhaps the term “imminent” is vague and needs clarification.
To that end, I go back to Bush’s speech in Cincinnatti, Ohio on 7 October 2002. In that speech, Bush made the case for pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Among other things, our President said:
“Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons and to stop all support for terrorist groups.
The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism and practices terror against its own people.”
OK. Iraq has WMD and supports terrorism. Let’s see what David Kay, former U.S. weapons inspector said:
“In an interview Monday night with NBC, Kay said that prewar intelligence regarding Iraq was “clearly” wrong — that his inspectors found no sign of weapons of mass destruction or a “real connection” between Iraq and terrorists.”
Kay, the man on the ground for all those months in Iraq, belatedly disagrees with Bush’s October 2002 assertions.
Let’s see what else Bush said in Ohio:
“Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: About the nature of the threat. About the urgency of action — and why be concerned now? About the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror.”
Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today — and we do — does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?”
He answers a question with a question. OK. Let’s continue.
“Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles — far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations — in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. ”
Ah! THAT might be considered an imminent threat! Bush doesn’t SAY imminent threat, but this seems to imply it. It’s the implication of “imminent” that seems important to establish. Although… Bush was wrong about Saddam’s long range capabilities, too.
And what about the links to terrorism?
“Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than ninety terrorist attacks in twenty countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. ”
But Kay said there are no “real” links. What’s going on?
Worst of all, Iraq had the makings of a nuclear program…
“Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. ”
In the past? How does this translate into 2003? Let’s leave this for now with Bush’s most famous passage from this Ohio speech:
“Some citizens wonder: After 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now?
There is a reason. We have experienced the horror of September 11. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing — in fact they would be eager — to use a biological, or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. “