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Friday, August 30, 2013

Guess who's copying George W. Bush's most manipulative rhetoric?

by digby

I'm sure you all recall this war cry from George W. Bush's, right?
"There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people,"
-- George W. Bush Bush Oct. 11, 2001, address.

"Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction against Iraq citizens." --George W. Bush, March 22, 2002

"As he said, any person that would gas his own people is a threat to the world."--Scott McClellan, White House spokesman, May 31, 2002

"A lot of people understand that this man has defied every U.N. resolution -- sixteen U.S. (sic) resolutions he's ignored. A lot of people understand he holds weapons of mass destruction. A lot of people understand he has invaded two countries. A lot of people understand he's gassed his own people. A lot of people understand he is unstable." --- George W. Bush, September 7, 2002

Q: If I could follow-up on it. You and the President have repeatedly said one of the reasons Saddam is part of the axis of evil is because he's gassed his own people. Well, he gassed his own people with our help. You saw the Washington Post article, didn't you, by Michael Dobbs?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think that statement is not borne out by the facts. I think that he gassed his own people as a result of his decisions to use his weapons to gas his own people. And I think the suggestion that you blame America for Iraq's actions is way beyond the pale. --- press briefing January 27, 2003
There's a reason why the world asked Saddam Hussein to disarm -- for 12 years. (Laughter.) And the reason why is because he's dangerous. He's used them. He tortures his own people. He's gassed his own people. He's attacked people in the neighborhood. -- George W. Bush, January 29,2003

It is undisputed that Saddam did "gas his own people." But this act (which was ignored at the time it happened) became one of the rallying cries of the Iraq invasion, which we all now know was a terrible decision. Bush said it dozens of times in his speeches and press conferences. It is seared into the memories of every American who was paying attention at the time. And one would hope that any decent politician would be smart enough not to echo that rhetoric as a casus belli again so soon.

Unfortunately, this happened last night:
“It is clear that the American people are weary of war. However, Assad gassing his own people is an issue of our national security, regional stability and global security,” Pelosi said in a statement after the 90-minute conference call with members of the National Security Council and 26 high-ranking lawmakers.
George W Bush couldn't have said it better. I'm just surprised she didn't add "the oceans can't protect us anymore" to really drive home the point.

No, Assad "gassing his own people" (if, in fact, he actually gave that order, which has not been established) is not an issue of our national security. That's as daft as Powell talking about Saddam's drone fleet dropping bio-weapons on America. (Which  turned out to be a couple of outdated Czech UAVs that couldn't fly more than a few meters.) Our national security is affected by Assad's alleged actions only in the most abstract sense, even beyond anything that the last administration threw out there. And strangely, nobody has been making that explicit argument until the top Democratic leader in the House stepped up to make it.

If I didn't know better (and I do) I would almost think she said it to derail the intervention. Nobody who was serious would back anything that sounds exactly like the justifications that were used for the Iraq debacle. That's the craziest thing I can imagine, particularly coming from a Democrat who used to sound like this instead:

"The Democratic Party lost an opportunity five months ago to avert the massive military buildup toward war against Iraq by failing to take a unified stand, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. Pelosi, a California Democrat who voted against the October 2002 congressional resolution to back a possible U.S.-led war, told a foreign policy think tank [Council on Foreign Relations] that President Bush 'is too far down the road and I don't think he's turning back. If the Democrats had spoken out more clearly in a unified vote five months ago in opposition to the resolution, if the people had gone onto the streets five months ago in these numbers in our country and around the world, I think we might have been in a different place today,' Pelosi said...
Unlike others, I would guess at this point that if the Obama administration wanted to take this vote to the congress he could get it passed with Democratic votes and half the Republicans. (I do not believe they have lost their taste for blood altogether, but just as with Kosovo many of them will be singing Kumbaaya for purely political reasons.) It doesn't look as if the President's going to do that but things are just scrambled enough with the UK backing out that it could happen.

The calculus seems to be all about maintaining presidential prerogatives, and sending messages and maintaining credibility at this point, all of which is total nonsense. The US is the world's military behemoth and everyone knows it. That such a country is also constricted in its ability to act militarily should be common sense. Big strong countries should pick their battles very carefully. But they always seem to be so worried about saving face and demonstrating their "credibility" that they make the mistake of believing their own hype. It's a depressingly familiar routine.