In the latest of his speeches on the Iraq imbroglio, President Bush did something that is highly unusual for him.
He acknowledged personal responsibility for actions taken by his administration.
No, the president's carefully worded speech did not feature an admission that he and his aides deliberately inflated the supposed "threat" posed by Iraq in order to convince the Congress to authorize the invasion and occupation of that country. But Bush did, on Wednesday, finally state the obvious when he said: "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,"
What was far more remarkable was the next line in the speech, the one where he said: "As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."
While the president's aides and allies in Congress, along with a sycophantic Washington press corps now claim that there was a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of the war, the fact is that a majority of Democrats in Congress — amid a handful of brave Republicans — voted against authorizing the invasion and the American people poured into the streets of communities across the country to oppose Bush's rush to war.
When the president now says that he is "responsible" for the war, he is, of course, trying to appear strong and decisive — in order to claim credit for whatever small "victories" his public relations machine will try to spin out of the Iraqi parliamentary elections and other developments of the moment.
But if Bush really wants to take responsibility for this war, then he must accept it in its totality.
And that totality is an ugly one, indeed.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who has been far more consistently right about this war than anyone in the administration, is correct when he says that there is more misery than glory in this military misadventure.
"The President now says he is responsible for the war in Iraq," Kucinich said, after listening to Bush's speech. "I agree with the President. He is responsible. He is responsible for attacking a nation that did not attack us. He is responsible for the 2,151 American troops killed in Iraq. He is responsible for the 15,881 U.S. troops injured in the war. He is responsible for at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the start of the war. He is responsible for draining $250 billion from U.S. taxpayers to pay for the war. And he is responsible for the failed reconstruction and for the continued occupation."
By John Nichols
Reprinted with permission from The Nation