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May 6, 2004

Losing the Moral War


by Paul Sperry

President Bush says he's been "shaken" by the reports of Iraqi prisoner abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers. What did he expect?

  • He's the one who whipped them into an anti-Iraqi frenzy.
  • He's the one who called Iraq "evil."
  • He's the one who told them it was a "direct" threat to America.
  • He's the one who said Iraq was an "ally" of al-Qaida.
  • He's the one who suggested Iraq was behind 9-11.
  • He's the one who sent young, gung-ho GIs into Iraq thinking they were avenging the deaths of 2,745 Americans.
  • He's the one who keeps calling Iraqis "terrorists."

What – did he think such lathered-up warriors would sit down for tea and a game of gin rummy with Iraqis?

It's no excuse for what they did.

But Bush only has himself to blame. And if anyone should be investigated, it's him.

Like 70 percent of Americans, our soldiers believed their commander in chief's lies. Evil begets evil.

Through his deceit, George W.M.D. Bush has turned a righteous war into a dishonest one. Astonishingly, he has lost the moral high ground for America, even after we were so brutally attacked.

How far we've come since Sept. 11, 2001.

Then, 19 Arabs sucker-punched America. Now we're sucker-punching Arabs who had no hand in 9-11, and our commander in chief is now having to go on Arab TV to apologize.

Almost three years ago, America was the victim. Now we're the bully.

Three years ago, the whole world was on our side. Now that sympathy is gone, along with our post-WWII reputation for noble intentions and heroism.

Along the road to exterminating Osama bin Laden and his rat's nest, Bush veered off course into Iraq, for whatever reason (take your pick: a. wag-the-dog distraction from the political embarrassment of bin Laden's escape from Afghanistan b. oil c. making the Middle East safe for Israel or d. all of the above). He started a war to disarm a country of weapons it didn't have, to preempt a threat that never existed, to avenge a massacre it took no part in. Only after more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians – women, children and elderly among them – were slaughtered in the name of 9-11, did our commander in chief confess that neither they nor their despotic leader had anything to do with 9-11, or any other al-Qaida terrorist attack against Americans.

Yet Bush knew that before the March 19 invasion, because all of his intelligence services had told him so.

After the weapons fraud was exposed, we were told we had to invade Iraq to protect Iraqis from further atrocities by Saddam Hussein, to close down his torture chambers. Now we are the ones committing atrocities against Iraqis at our own torture chambers. And suddenly in the eyes of the Arab world, Hussein doesn't look so brutal ... suddenly bin Laden doesn't look so crazy ... suddenly America doesn't look so innocent ... suddenly, 9-11 doesn't look so horrible.

Bin Laden wanted to lure America into a holy war – Islam against the infidel West – and Bush fell right into the trap with his military overreach in Iraq. Invading Afghanistan was necessary and right, invading Iraq was unnecessary and wrong. And now fatwas against America must appear just not only to radical fundamentalists, but to the entire Muslim world. Thank you, George W.M.D. Bush, our savior, the war president.

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Sperry, formerly Washington bureau chief of Investors Business Daily, is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of Crude Politics: How Bush's Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003).

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