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Bush's Alternative Speech

By Robert Parry
June 28, 2005

It is hard to even imagine what George W. Bush would have to say if he were serious about “leveling with the American people” over the Iraq War. Here is a draft that would surely not get past the White House speechwriters:

“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 threatening us.

“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 Consortiumnews.com’s ‘President 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 in Iraq.

“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 grandchildren.’”


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

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