When President Bush announced plans to push the international community into war with Iraq, it came as a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t exactly what we were made to expect during the campaign: “The vice president (Al Gore) and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders … I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach.” – Governor Bush, Oct. 3, 2000.

Shabina Khatri

Guarded? Two years later, we’ve guardedly kicked the shit out of the entire Iraqi military, with little to show for it. It’s been nearly two months now since the end of open hostilities, and the number of U.S. soldiers that came home in body bags (190) far outnumbers the number of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons found (0) – not exactly what we were made to expect in April.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom,” despite its name, was never truly about setting the Iraqi people free (whatever that means). The Bush administration may have had other objectives for a preemptive strike, but it made its case publicly to the American people and to the world that this war was about the prevention of a chemical, biological and possible nuclear threat. That case was made plainly by Secretary of State Colin Powell on the floor of the United Nations Security Council, shaking a small vial of faux anthrax. Other administration officials like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney all repeatedly emphasized the scope and imminent danger of the Iraqi stockpiles. We weren’t privy to the details of this threat, for security reasons of course, and in lieu of disclosing this sensitive intelligence information, the Americans were goaded into supporting the war with the promise of “Trust me.”

Maybe Saddam wanted to make Bush look bad and moved the weapons. Maybe they never existed. In either eventuality, Americans deserve honest answers. Why haven’t we found any weapons? Why are American troops still dying in Iraq, acting as, dare I say, nation builders, rather than soldiers? Nine out of ten militant Iraqis agree – U.S. troops are only slightly better than Saddam.

But this isn’t something the president is interested in discussing, especially with attention shifting to an impending re-election bid. Bush seems genuinely confused as to why people are beginning to wonder where the weapons are, calling these attacks “outrageous,” and “revisionist history.”

Revisionist history?

This has happened before. Bush has become adept at redirecting the fear that terrorism has created for great political gain, mostly by making promises. Promises to capture those responsible for 9/11. Promises to capture Osama Bin Laden. Promises to find Iraqi stockpiles. According to Bush, we got our man: “The regime of Saddam Hussein is no more, America is more secure, the world is more peaceful and the long-suffering people of Iraq are now free.” Mission accomplished! But for those of you keeping score, he’s 0 for 3. Call me a revisionist, but that is unacceptable.

Unacceptable, because empty and unfulfilled promises have given Bush the support he’s needed to do what he wants overseas, yet not given Americans the return promised on their investment of men and material.

Unacceptable, because one large conglomeration of horrible weapons has now been moved (to where we can’t seem to find them) or worse, spread out into many smaller caches.

Unacceptable, because it just is.

Where are the weapons, Mr. Bush?

Adams can be reached at dnadams@umich.edu.

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