We Didn’t Dare Wait
That’s the title of William Raspberry’s column today, wherein he presents “the speech the president didn’t make at his news conference last week.” It’s thoughtful and well-written. Basically, it argues that 9/11 changed everything, we could no longer afford to wait for the other guy to strike before acting, we thought Saddam had WMD, etc.
- Saddam promised to give up WMD when he lost Gulf War I
- International agencies found the presence/ability to produce:
- 25,000 liters of anthrax
- 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin
- 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent
- 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents
- several mobile biological weapons labs. . .designed to produce germ warfare agents
- an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb
- Saddam refused to explain or account for any of this despite numerous UN resolutions and the threat of war
- Saddam is intimidating and otherwise denying UN inspectors the ability to do their job
- The threat of action by Saddam is NOT IMMINENT.
- 9/11 showed the danger of waiting too late.
- Saddam is has used WMD on his own people and continues to torture them
- We’re coming to liberate the Iraqi people
The “What now?” portion of Raspberry’s speech is interesting, and maybe the president should have delivered it during the press conference:
If I had it to do over again, would I wait another day or two for more convincing proof? Maybe so. Would I have given the weapons inspectors another week or so? Perhaps. If the failure to wait a little longer turns out to have been a mistake, it is a mistake I will admit without shame. The alternative would have been just too grim to think about.
We can argue another day about whether we should have predicted the violence now being instigated by a few power-hungry fanatics.
But for now, those are not the important questions. We are where we are, and the question is: What do we do now?
I do not believe the American people want us to abandon the Iraqis to the chaos that would surely be the result if we cut and run right now, before there is some reasonable chance at stability there. But our people are also worried over the intensifying violence against the coalition forces and even civilians in Iraq, and they want some assurance that it will soon end.
My fellow Americans: It will end when it ends, not because we have been intimidated into fleeing, but because we will have completed our work to the best of our ability. That work is to leave a country that Iraqis can run for themselves. But that doesn’t mean we have to choose their leadership. Indeed, I am now convinced that it is better if we don’t choose their leadership. Americans and other members of the coalition have become too obvious a target for the fanatics there.
But, he’s said this, too, several times of late, if not in the venue of the press conference.