A thoughtful perspective
But among all the thoughtful comments, one stands out, a long response by Maxtrue. I shamelessly reproduce it here, because it's well worth reading even if you disagree with parts of it.
I, too, supported removing Saddam even while Clinton was President. After all, Bill was in favor of "regime change".
The real difficulty about Iraq gets back to the re-emergence of "pre-emption". Our NSS, going back to Truman, was effected by 9/11. No longer was America to use prevention and intervention, but pre-emption as well.
Without going into the reasons for our being in the Gulf and our supporting the State of Israel (which is consistent with our historically bi-partisan NSS), our NSS for the last sixty years sets out broad centrist principles which Republicans are botching and many Democrats are now rejecting. Bush certainly did not establish a sound criteria for pre-emption. Neither did the Germans at the outbreak of WW1.
The validity of invading Iraq ultimately rests on the soundness of pre-emption. The centrists must develop a criteria for pre-emption as well as the responsibilities of the pre-emptor to the international community. This must include a reasonable intelligence basis for pre-emption as well as a policy for dealing with the consequence of pre-emption such as radiation containment or the spread of bio-weapons from a targeted terrorist sight. If Bush had to seek centrist consensus of his intelligence judgments, his post-invasion plan and diplomatic strategy BEFORE he invaded Iraq, the American people through their representitives would have favored the Clinton plan and the Powell Doctrine. That approach called for a "deal" with the Security Counsel to abstain from vetoing American force by 2004 in exchange for a final round of inspections and acceptance of constraints and monitoring both Saddm's military production and human rights abuses. It is clear Saddam was certainly more than two years away from wmd delivery. It is most probable that the Bush timetable was based on partisan politics -which might be a "high crimes and misdemeanor" given the consequence of that intentional decision.
I do think it would be suicide for the Dems to even breath the word impeachment before the 2006 elections. Yet, intelligence seems not to be either Party's inclination. The difficulty with Centrist supporting removing Saddam ala Bush was the lack of criteria and the "clear and present danger" intelligence which MUST be present in order to mitigate the effect on international consensus & law as well as the needed international commitment to the consequence of pre-emption.
Americans drift to extremes partly due to the inablility of Centrist-minded people to stand up to these political extremes and to explain that Western Hegemony is not "American domination" and is the greatest force behind the international consensus required to resist terrorism, proliferation, human rights abuses and constraint on both China and Russia.
Rove would be the other reason for domestic polarity. Hillary is under attack by her own Party which Rove has managed to back into a corner with the Far Left. To see Rove spin the Democrats to reject Wilsonian Internationalism, Bill Clinton and decry the clear merit and success of our modern NSS is almost as bad as Bush bungling. Almost...
Discussion of Iraq invariably falls into this political abyss of our NSS and pre-emption is popularly replaced with "Evil Empire" or "oil exploitation". David Duke and Harvard seem to think Iraq was an Israeli conspiracy. Does this prove Western political space is curved like the universe and extremes meet at the ends of a apparently straight line?
How the Right concludes from the transcripts of Saddam's secret cabinet discussions in the 90s that he had any real wmd ability is ludicrous. How the Left concludes Saddam was not a maniacal butcher seeking wmd and that he would not have quickly become a 100x more difficult a job to remove is equally pathetic.
Jefferson built a navy to go after pirates. Madison had General Jackson to save face in 1812 while the Federalists were swept away in a wave of nationalism. Perhaps it is the Center's roleat the moment to remind both Parties that ignorance of history and global realities often lead to repeated mistakes with increasing consequence (especially political). Today, American leadership is seriously challenged by a failure of Centrist American Leaders from gaining the power to apply non-ideological solutions to present conflicts. In this, the Dems and Repugs SHARE blame for the polarized statemate of unsound thinking and performance that marginalizes the Center. Dems respond that the Center is merely the average between extremes. Talk about marginizing! Our times require informed debate, decisive action and consistent principles. Niether Repugs or Dems have shown that much over the last six years. Another six might be too late for America to recover.
To have Bush lead the charge forward is however, a bit like Custer directing the battle. Now there was a general who had trouble understanding the difference between single shot and repeating rifles -which the government wouldn't buy because the Army didn't manufacture it directly. Unfortunately the Indians bought them on the free market and the result wasn't too good for Custer.
Perhaps, Centrists in both Parties should defect to a Centrist Party before the Dems would have us squander American leadership, security and commerce, or the Repugs leave us bankrupt, militarily broken, Constitutionally weakened and no longer invited as the defender of freedom and the system of prosperity. A wonderful outcome for the greatest generation to witness before departing.
Then America would at least have a Party that represents the majority view......
Bush, Iraq, politics, midtopia