Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are in cahoots, right? And Saddam's regime have weapons of mass destruction, right? And a lot of the 9-11 terrorists were Iraqi, right? Minor legislators like Premier of Alberta Ralph Kline like the simple line that comes from believing strong points like this; it justifies their going along with "you're with us or you're against us" very nicely.
Problem is, of course, most of this is nonsense: precisely zero Iraqis were on the hijack teams, bin Lader abhors Saddam's secular state (intelligence documents report that the has twice tried to kill Saddam ... perhaps three times), and hard evidence for WMD just refuses to materialize. Then there's the little matter of documentation turning out to have been lifted from dated university essays or outright faked ...
But there's something big behind this, something that it takes actual spine and integrity to confront.
Part of CBC News - Indepth: Iraq is a document called "Reality Check", and it weaves an interesting scene using hard, legitimate, authentic papers and real, actual, on-going relationships.
How's this for a list of players, co-authors of a specific paper: "The founding members included Vice-President Dick Cheney; Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz of the Defence Department; Richard Perle, head of the defence advisory board; Louis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff; John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control; and Elliot Cohen of the defence policy board." What's this all about? Here's a sample from the CBC write-up:
"George W. Bush, presidential candidate, said on Oct. 11, 2000.
"I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, 'We do it this way, so should you.'"
One of Bush's more recent speeches is somewhat different: "The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder... By the resolve and purpose of America, and of our friends and allies, we will make this an age of progress and liberty."
So, what happened? After the terrorist attacks on September 11, Bush had to rethink. But for many of those around him, there was no need to. Long before Sept. 11, influential neo-conservatives wanted to see America as an enlightened ruler, unchallenged, astride the world. Long before Bush was elected president, they got together and they wrote down a manifesto.
The document was effectively a charter of the Project for a New American Century, a neo-conservative think tank in Washington.
Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says, "In essence it's a call for an American empire, for what they call Pax Americana ... it's basically saying that the United States has to take responsibility and to enforce peace around the world and enforce what they call American principles and American interests."