Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Willard Romney and the Iraq War

Hans Blix. Yes, there were UN weapons inspectors in Iraq in 2003 before the war (whether Willard Romney know it or not)

Since Willard is the current favorite to oppose President Obama in November for the Republicans, this is an interesting look back at Willard's last Presidential campaign. It still tells us something about Willard's approach to foreign policy. And it's a reminder about one of the dishonest justifications for war that Willard and other war supporters used: Romney's Iraq Gaffe Ignored: GOP contender's bizarre pre-war history FAIR 6/8/07. The piece refers back to something Willard said in the June 5, 2007 Republican Presidential debate:

If you're saying let's turn back the clock, and Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in. But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in.
Some things are interpretations, some things are judgments and some things are verifiable facts. The fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were admitted to Iraq in response to the 2002 UN Security Council resolution demanding it is just not in doubt. As FAIR puts it:

Romney's suggestion that weapons inspectors were not permitted into Iraq before the war started is, of course, incorrect. Weapons inspectors from UNMOVIC (the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) returned to Iraq on November 18, 2002. Led by Hans Blix, the inspectors spent months in Iraq, issuing reports on Iraqi compliance that were a crucial part of the debate over whether to invade Iraq.
Blix himself provided a great deal of detail on the experience in his 2004 book Disarming Iraq.

Commenting on the nasty, dishonest criticism leveled at him by American war hawks during the inspections in Iraq just prior to the US-British invasion, Blix writes:

[T]he fact that Saddam Hussein's regime was one of the most brutal the world had seen and had long been a danger to the region did not justify any twisting of observations or uncritical attitude to evidence.
Something worth remembering, both in terms of looking at the sad history of the Iraq War and in current controversies like that over the Iranian nuclear program.

It was on March 14, 2003, a Friday, that the negotiations over a follow-up Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Iraq broke down. The Bush administration had agreed to ask for this resolution largely at the request of their faithful ally Tony Blair, who believed he needed the political cover, though the evidence in the public record leaves little doubt that he and Bush had agreed months before to invade Iraq regardless of weapons inspections.

On Sunday, March 16, the Bush administration asked Blix to withdraw the inspectors from Iraq, prior to the initiation of military hostilities. Blix withdrew them on the following day. Blix writes that the Security Council required his inspection team to present a four-month work program on March 19, even though it was clear that efforts to avoid war had failed:

The reason why many members of the Council wanted to have the [proposed work] program on the table was no doubt that they were keen for the world to see that the inspections were going on in the good order set by the Council itself, and that the interruption was not the result of any failure of the inspections regime. It was caused by an unjustified armed action by the U.S. and the UK. [my emphasis]
The bombing began on March 20. And as of today, there's no end of the war in sight.

At least this time around, we seem to be getting a little more notice of Willard's verbal gaffes when it comes to his one-percenter backgrounds and attitudes. But it's worth remembering when we hear Willard talking about the Afghanistan War or the one he wants to start in Iran.

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