13 January 2004

Truth About Iraq Known; Fallout Isn't

In another sense, though, it matters a great deal. A nation that holds itself up to the world as the exemplar of representative democracy cannot blithely ignore the fact that its elected representatives were led into war under false pretenses.

In October 2002, there was no way on earth that Congress would have voted to authorize war had it known the truth. 'The possibility of a link' between Iraq and al-Qaida would not have been considered sufficient cause for invasion. Nor would Congress have voted to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and the lives of 500 American soldiers and counting because Iraq possessed the intention to someday create programs that might someday in the future be used to create weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, as I recall, those who had dared to suggest that there must be some other reason for the war, because this talk of Iraqi WMD and alleged ties to al-Qaida made no sense, were accused of spouting wild theories unsupported by fact. As it turns out, the wild theories unsupported by fact were coming from the most powerful people in the U.S. government.

Do we not care how this happened? Are Americans not curious to know how much of this was an honest mistake, and how much of it was official deception? To ignore such questions -- to leave undisturbed the intelligence systems and personnel that created the problem -- is to increase the likelihood of being deceived again in the future.

It is time, past time, to put this controversy behind us and move on. But that won't be possible until we acknowledge the truth and deal with its consequences. The first half of that task -- acknowledging the truth -- is all but accomplished. Now, what will its consequence be?

And do we, as Australians, not care that our canny prime minister relied on a mess of potage served up by the Bush administration? And do we, not care that the same canny prime minister is about to sign a missile defence MOU without any shred of parliamentary debate, let alone consent, on the same flawed premises that he signed up to an unjust and unnecessary war?

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