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July 13, 2004
Bush Makes The Case, WaPo Develops One (Of Amnesia)

George Bush, in remarks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, gave an impassioned defense of the Iraq war, arguing that the result has made America and the world safer due to subtraction:

Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.

Today, the dictator who caused decades of death and turmoil, who twice invaded his neighbors, who harbored terrorist leaders, who used chemical weapons on innocent men, women and children, is finally before the bar of justice. Iraq, which once had the worst government in the Middle East, is now becoming an example of reform to the region. And Iraqi security forces are fighting beside coalition troops to defeat the terrorists and foreign fighters who threaten their nation and the world.

Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because were helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer.

Bush inspected the detritus of what had been the Libyan WMD program, now stored at Oak Ridge, reviewing the equipment that Moammar Gaddafi voluntarily gave up after the capture of Saddam Hussein. Bush reminded the gathered reporters that the Libyan concession was only made possible through the implementation of a foreign policy that promised serious consequences when defied. Only after watching the US and UK remove the Taliban and Hussein government did it become clear to Gaddafi that we had become serious about ensuring our security:

Ive just had a close look at some of the dangerous equipment secured in this place. Eight months ago, the centrifuge parts and processing equipment for uranium were 5,000 miles away in the nation of Libya. They were part of a secret nuclear weapons program. Today, Libya, America and the world are better off because these components are safely in your care.

These materials are the sobering evidence of a great danger. Certain regimes, often with ties to terrorist groups, seek the ultimate weapons as a short cut to influence. These materials, voluntarily turned over by the Libyan government, are also encouraging evidence that nations can abandon these ambitions and choose a better way.

Libya is dismantling its weapons of mass destruction and long- range missile programs. This progress came about through quiet diplomacy between America, Britain and the Libyan government. This progress was set in motion, however, by policies declared in public to all the world.

The United States, Great Britain and many other nations are determined to expose the threats of terrorism and proliferation and to oppose those threats with all our power. ... Every potential adversary now knows that terrorism and proliferation carry serious consequences and that the wise course is to abandon those pursuits [emph mine -- CE].

The coverage from the Washington Post on this point seems to indicate an odd sense of amnesia from reporter Amy Goldstein, matching the charges and countercharges made by both campaigns towards each other yesterday after this appearance. On this point, however, both the Kerry campaign and Goldstein seem to have the diagnosis confirmed:

The Kerry campaign accused Bush of traveling here to create an erroneous impression that Libya's decision resulted from the Iraq war. ... There are substantial differences of opinion over what motivated Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to decide eight months ago to stop trying to develop nuclear weapons, allowing Western inspectors to verify its actions and agreeing to destroy some materials and ship others here to Oak Ridge. Inspectors have discovered that Libya's weapons program was disorganized, short of critical components and years away from producing weapons.

Many specialists say the decision grew out of diplomacy with the United States and Britain that began during the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. Bush did not acknowledge that history on Monday, saying instead that the decision was the result of a determination of the United States, Britain and other allies to "expose the threats of terrorism and proliferation -- and oppose those threats with all our power."

Even the Post's editorial board didn't buy the 'long years of diplomatic persuasion' argument when it first addressed the Libyan capitulation. Back last December, the Post wrote:

Moammar Gaddafi, a model rogue dictator and sponsor of international terrorism in the 1980s, has been trying to rehabilitate himself for the better part of a decade. He dispatched two of his henchmen to be tried at The Hague for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner, agreed to pay reparations to families and renounced terrorism. Yet it was only last March that Mr. Gaddafi chose to approach Britain and the United States to discuss giving up his weapons of mass destruction. That he did so, and that nine months of secret negotiations with him yielded an agreement, marks a major success in the effort by the United States and its allies to prevent the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and to make such containment a focus of international affairs. Mr. Gaddafi's timing, just as the invasion of Iraq was beginning, speaks for itself: The Libyan dictator chose to comply as it became clear that Saddam Hussein's pursuit of illegal weapons would no longer be tolerated.

And of course, the Libyan strongman himself acknowledged to Italian diplomats that seeing Saddam dragged from his rathole convinced him to do whatever the Americans asked. I suppose all of that background escaped Goldstein's attention, either through laziness, incompetence, or bias. However, despite the spin from both the Post and the Kerry camp, Bush has been proven right on the Iraq war, over and over again. It's about time he came out and said so.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 13, 2004 5:46 AM

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