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Column: Liberals Try To Rewrite Lead-up To Iraq War

This story was written by Alex Knepper, The Eagle


Many Americans today take the idea that the Iraq War was a terrible mistake as an axiom. It has become distressingly commonplace to hear of President Bush's "lies" in making the case for war, that the reasons for invading Iraq were flimsy and circumstantial or worse, outright deceptive. President-elect Barack Obama rode his early opposition to the war all the way to the Democratic nomination against New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who refused to recant her vote in favor of the war.

History is being rewritten before our eyes.

It wasn't known, it must be remembered, until after the war against Saddam Hussein's regime had concluded, that weapons of mass destruction would not be located in Iraq. Hussein's ownership of such weapons wasn't exactly a contested point before the war; even the governments of countries that opposed military action, including France, Russia and Germany, believed that Iraq possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and made statements to that effect.

Already in violation of the original Gulf War truce, Iraq's regime routinely defied round after round of United Nations-sponsored resolutions, culminating in an ultimatum in Security Council Resolution 1441 demanding that Saddam comply with his obligations or face "serious consequences" -- diplomatic language for war. President Clinton embraced a policy of regime change toward Iraq in the late 1990s by signing the bipartisan Iraq Liberation Act into law and would go on to use Iraq's weapons program as a justification for bombing the country. It is an utter farce to proclaim that any rational political figure was harboring any doubts about the existence of Saddam's weapons programs.

Was Iraq an "imminent threat"? No. Most people never said it was. The entire point of the war, as Bush repeatedly stressed, was that the threat wasn't imminent. We wouldn't be waiting until it was, he said. By the time a threat is "imminent," it's too late to do anything about it. By the time a threat is "imminent," Chicago will be in flames. Bush wisely realized that authoritarian states are inherently unstable and those that are known to be seeking weapons of mass destruction inevitably become existential threats. Saddam's history of granting safe harbor to Islamic terrorists and offering monetary incentives to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers only made that threat more urgent.

Furthermore, the humanitarian case for an Iraq invasion was simply not contestable. Ever sinceHussein became president of Iraq, he'd initiated war against his neighbors (until a U.S.-led coalition put a stop to it), first against Iran and then against Kuwait and in the grimmest of ways. We speak here of a man who, according to reports, had his agents give his opponents acid baths during the Gulf War, of a man who attempted ethnic cleansing against his own people, of a man whose own bureaucrats would systematically round up and murder political dissidents. Why have human rights groups not hailed the Iraq War as long overdue?

The answer is that modern anti-war activists are in the deranged state of mind that tells them that they can't opposeHussein if Dick Cheney also opposes him. Their moral outrage is reserved for the Republican Party, rather than for a dictator who slaughtered his own people, defied treaties, granted Islamic terrorists safe harbor and sparked international aggression.

According to news reports coming out of Iraq -- the monthly American casualties in Iraq are now down to single digits, the Maliki government is meeting many of the political checkpoints set up for it, and the Iraqi people have embraced freedom. The obstacles are falling down one by one. Will the final obstacle -- left-wing revisionism in the United States -- finally fall, too?

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