“My fellow Americans, let me explain to you what
really went wrong with the Iraq policy and why so many young Americans
have died in what looks like a futile war without end.
“First, you must know that I have long obsessed
about getting rid of Saddam Hussein, taking care of some unfinished
business from my dad’s presidency. There’s also a lot of oil there and
my neoconservative advisers wanted to project American power
into the Middle East.
“So when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, I saw my
chance. Vice President Dick Cheney and I began merging references to al-Qaeda
and Iraq. That way, the casual listener would start associating Iraq
with Sept. 11 subliminally, even if there was no real evidence to
support that connection.
“We also decided to exaggerate the shaky
intelligence we had about Iraq’s WMD because we knew that would scare
the American people into supporting a war against a country that wasn’t
“Next, I got rid of officials, like Treasury
Secretary Paul O’Neill and Gen. Eric Shinseki, who had doubts about the
Iraq War plans. To keep British Prime Minister Tony Blair on board, we
agreed to go to the United Nations, but only because we hoped that
Saddam would reject a demand for U.N. inspections and give us a better
pretext for war.
“When Saddam crossed us up by letting the
inspectors in, we started a war hysteria inside the United States. When
the French wanted more time for the inspections to work, we turned
‘France’ into a dirty word, even renaming French toast and French fries
into ‘freedom toast’ and ‘freedom fries.’
“Before it sank into the American people that the
U.N. inspectors weren’t finding any WMD, I forced the inspectors to
leave. Later, after the war was over, when your memories were getting a
little fuzzy, I pretended that Hussein had never let the inspectors in
and had shown ‘defiance,’ leaving me no choice but to invade as a ‘last
resort.’ For details on how I pulled off that sleight of hand, see
Bush, With the Candlestick…’
“In the first days of the Iraq War, when we
realized ‘shock and awe’ didn’t have quite the effect we hoped, I had
the U.S. military bomb civilian targets, such as a residential
restaurant which we obliterated because of some sketchy information that
Saddam might be eating there. We did this even though we knew that
civilians would be killed. We were right about the civilians getting
killed, but Saddam turned out not to be there.
“All these acts that I’ve described to you tonight
might well be considered war crimes, but I really don’t care much about
international law. Remember when I reacted to one question about
international law by joking, ‘International law? I better call my
lawyer.’ That’s just the way I feel about treaties and other things that
try to tie me down.
“Some of my critics might say that I’ve been a
dissembler, which means someone who doesn’t tell the truth. But
that’s just politics.
“Well, so now that I’ve leveled with you about how
we got into this mess, I’m sure you feel you can trust me to continue
protecting the American people and leading our great nation to victory
“As I actually did say in my radio address on June
18, ‘I’ll continue to act to keep our people safe from harm and our
future bright. Together we will do what Americans have always done:
build a better and more peaceful world for our children and