April 17, 2004


Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11: Book Says President Called Secrecy Vital (William Hamilton, April 17, 2004, Washington Post)

In two interviews with Woodward in December, Bush minimized the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction, expressed no doubts about his decision to invade Iraq, and enunciated an activist role for the United States based on it being "the beacon for freedom in the world."

"I believe we have a duty to free people," Bush told Woodward. "I would hope we wouldn't have to do it militarily, but we have a duty."

The president described praying as he walked outside the Oval Office after giving the order to begin combat operations against Iraq, and the powerful role his religious beliefs played throughout that time.

"Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord's will. . . . I'm surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case I pray that I be as good a messenger of His will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for personal strength and for forgiveness."

The president told Woodward: "I am prepared to risk my presidency to do what I think is right. I was going to act. And if it could cost the presidency, I fully realized that. But I felt so strongly that it was the right thing to do that I was prepared to do so."

Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."

The president told Woodward he was cooperating on his book because he wanted the story of how the United States had gone to war in Iraq to be told. He said it would be a blueprint of historical significance that "will enable other leaders, if they feel like they have to go to war, to spare innocent citizens and their lives."

"But the news of this, in my judgment," Bush added, "the big news out of this isn't how George W. makes decisions. To me the big news is America has changed how you fight and win war, and therefore makes it easier to keep the peace in the long run. And that's the historical significance of this book, as far as I'm concerned."

That is indeed the only portion of the book that matters in the long run.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2004 10:53 PM

Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war...

Well, the main thing history will do is eliminate the ridiculous notion that has become ingrained in the minds of contemporary Americans, of all political stripes, that action in Iraq was some arbitrary, isolated event. History will characterize it as it should properly be characterized: as a battle in the war against Islamic fundamentalism.

It's too bad we have to wait for history to do the work. The administration's reluctance to publicly position Iraq as a battle in the war is understandable from a diplomatic and strategic point of view -- after all, you don't need to crow to Saudia Arabia and Iran that you're in their backyard. But domestically, this creates a political liability for Bush, as we've seen. Because he gets stuck with all this goofy "WMD" and "UN violations" peripheral stuff, all of which is irrelevant but makes him rhetorically vulnerable.

Posted by: tomcat at April 18, 2004 12:29 AM

This quote completely underscores Bush's reputation as a thoughtless dunderhead.


Posted by: Jeff Guinn at April 18, 2004 7:48 AM

It shows Bush to be the anti-Clinton - can you imagine the latter saying that the important part of anything wasn't about him?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 18, 2004 3:54 PM