Saturday, June 07, 2003

Either The Secrecy, Or The Lies, Have To Go
President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a joint resolution authorizing the use of U.S. military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake -- acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away -- unless, perhaps, they start another war.

That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.

Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.

Frankly, I hope the WMDs are found, for it will end the matter. Clearly, the story of the missing WMDs is far from over. And it is too early, of course, to draw conclusions. But it is not too early to explore the relevant issues.

Sobering words from John Dean over at CNN's FindLaw. What surprises me the most is that none of this was thought of as the distortions were taking place. I thought this war was fradulent all along, in terms of the actual reasons given, as well as the evidence backing it up, but once it was on I figured the administration had a way to cover its tracks. I thought it was a shame to this nation that our leadership had sunk to the level of citing evidence, at the highest levels of government, that in prominent cases was either plagiarized or forged, but I never suspected us to come to shame before the world, or screw up so badly in the Iraqi war aftermath.

What kind of leadership is this? I want to be proud of my leaders, of my country, what it stands for and what it does, but at least as far as our actions, and leaders, there is increasingly a feeling that we will not be able to escape responsibility, or shame, and that along with healing the wounds and trauma of 9/11, which we have not accomplished to any degree yet with our warmongering and color-coded fear reinforcement messages, we will also have to deal with this latest wound, which we have self-inflicted.

We really need to, as a nation, come to grips with being vulnerable again, for the first time on the homeland since Pearl Harbor, and do so in a way that is humane, civilized, and emotionally effective. To do this, we need strong and compassionate leaders who can "say no" to those who do not see, or feel, the larger issues, and who instead seek to further their own, sometimes long hibernating, agendas. We need to take the time to heal, and to reflect, so that we can determine the most soulful and sensible course of action. Reactive behavior is not called for, not in our best interests, and will not lead to peace or relief of grief and suffering. We need to act in our own best interests, with the light of all information shining on the decisions to bear, so that we can stand tall with our heads high behind our leadership and actions, no matter the end result.