Cultural Revolutions

A Confusing Message

George W. Bush, between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, gave a series of speeches seeking to justify his policy in Iraq.  The opening shot came at the Naval Academy in Annapolis on November 30, when he outlined the new “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” and declared that there is no alternative to a complete victory.  At the Council on Foreign Relations on December 7, the President said that “some are calling for us to withdraw from Iraq on a fixed timetable,” but doing so “would give the terrorists exactly what they want.”

That was all old hat, but addressing the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia on December 12, Mr. Bush said something interesting.  He asserted that “the entire world thought [Saddam] had weapons of mass destruction” but added that even “knowing what I know today”—i.e., that the Iraqi dictator had no WMDs—“I’d make the decision again.  Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country.”

Two days later, on December 14, Mr. Bush went a step further, making what sounded like a startling admission.  “[I]t is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,” he said.  “As President, I’m responsible for the decision to go into Iraq—and I’m also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming...

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