Bush lied, people died: Donald Trump pulls out the Left’s playbook on Iraq

Special to WorldTribune.com

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — Despite some recent military successes against the Islamic State (ISIL) forces, both the security and the humanitarian situation in Iraq remain fragile and precarious.

That’s the assessment from Jan Kubis, the UN special representative in a sobering report to the Security Council on the road ahead.

Thus while Kubis declared that “the heroic people of Iraq have been steadily gaining ground” against ISIL with the freeing of key towns such as Sinjar and Ramadi, “Regardless of these successes, the threat of ISIL should not be underestimated.” Dr. Kubis cautioned that military victories should be complimented by political reconnection and “massive stabilization and rehabilitation efforts.”

Turning to Iraq’s dire humanitarian situation, Kubis warned that the “crisis in Iraq is highly complex and is expected to widen and worsen this year.” In fact, up to ten million Iraqis, almost a third of the total population, are in need of humanitarian aid.

SaddamWMDOn the political front, the UN representative urged “the equal participation” of the Sunni Muslim minority in the Baghdad government which is increasingly dominated by the Shiite majority which is in turn backed by Iran. Quite a reversal from the Saddam Hussein era when the Sunni minority ran the show.

So the wheel has turned in the ancient land on the Euphrates where in 2003, during this very time, the USA and Britain were preparing the second Iraq war to oust Saddam and deprive his regime of the proscribed stockpiles of the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Unexpectedly the ghost of the Iraq war reappeared recently in a Republican primary debate where Donald Trump raised the long lingering issue and debunked the raison d’être for the Iraq conflict; namely discovering and destroying the WMD’s which the candidate said were never there.

Trump then went into rhetorical attack mode, repeating the leftist litany that the whole WMD story and thus the reason for a costly American war in blood and treasure was basically based on a hoax.

“They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none,” he asserted. Donald Trump’s remarks on the Iraq war echoed the leftist narrative of Michael Moore and Bernie Sanders.

Not letting the facts get in the way of a good story, Trump’s narrative swerved into the drive-by divisive accusation that President George W. Bush “lied” and got us into war over Saddam’s WMD.

Related: UN inspectors: Saddam shipped out WMD before war and after, June 11, 2004.

As one who carefully chronicled the nearly eighteen month countdown to the Iraq war here at the United Nations, the painful facts bear repeating for the historical record.

At the time of the invasion in 2003, Iraq’s regime was in violation of eight UN Security resolutions concerning the WMD’s which the Iraqi dictator not only had, but had already used on his own people with ghastly effect.

These UN resolutions dating from the Clinton era but as recent as the landmark #1441 in November 2002, were just not passed by the Americans and the British but had also been supported by France, China and Russia.

UN inspection teams were playing cat and mouse with Saddam since 1991 and trying to find the weapons. Most European intelligence agencies asserted that Saddam had WMD capacity.

Hans Blix, the good Swede diplomat who headed the revived international inspection process, held regular briefings and while always equivocal, NEVER said that Saddam was free and clean of the proscribed weapons.

Now many will say: why did France and Germany so vigorously oppose the American and British plans for conflict with Iraq? Prior to 2003, even the French did not deny Saddam had some weapons of mass destruction; the issue was that Europeans begged for more time and inspections to find them.

George W. Bush and Tony Blair said ‘Enough’ and by early 2003 had decided to go and get them.

The ultimate question becomes this: if Saddam did not have the WMD as is claimed and is so now glibly asserted, why then did he risk the fall of his regime by standing up to the world community and saying no to inspections if there was nothing to find?

Saddam could have averted the war and survived. Why protect the WMD which he didn’t have?

But where were the weapons then? U.S. troops found some but for the most part the elusive WMD’s are just that. Were they hidden in the vastness of Iraq or squirreled away to Syria, or yet to be discovered as large long-lost WWII weapons cashes are still uncovered in Europe today?

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014).