In the next few weeks, President Bush should deliver a speech along these lines…
My fellow Americans:
March 2007 marks the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led liberation of Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom’s final outcome remains uncertain. But despite the chaos shown on TV every evening, and the challenges that emerge every morning, this effort has yielded plenty of good. America and its allies deposed a bloodthirsty despot who dispatched 300,000 of his constituents to mass graves. Saddam Hussein now occupies his own grave and no longer threatens his countrymen and neighbors.
Hussein’s general store for Islamofascist terrorists is now kaput, as is the Baathist state that had used and still possessed weapons of mass death, though in smaller quantities than we expected. While we never found warehouses full of WMDs, we did discover a vial of live botulinum, a seven-pound block of cyanide salt, 500 artillery shells filled with mustard gas and sarin nerve agent, and 1.77 metric tons (3,894 pounds) of low-enriched uranium.
In addition, if Baghdad’s elected officials can restore stability, a free and prosperous Iraq could inspire beleaguered Middle Easterners elsewhere to demand the same from their governments.
The valor and sacrifice of American and coalition forces involved in this effort deeply move this grateful nation. But I also want to thank several brave Democrats who helped get us here today.
“Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has tortured and killed his own people, even his own family members, to maintain his iron grip on power,” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D., N.Y.) said while debating the Iraq War resolution in October 2002. “He used chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and on Iranians, killing over 20,000 people.”
Hussein, Clinton added, “has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members.”
Clinton was correct. Saddam Hussein sprayed poison gas on his own people and sprayed cash on terrorists from the West Bank to West Street. After al Qaeda’s February 1993 bombing of Manhattan’s World Trade Center, Saddam Hussein gave Iraqi Abdul Rahman Yasin a stipend and a house in Baghdad. Yasin built the bomb that rocked the Twin Towers, killing six and injuring 1,040.
Clinton was absolutely right in 2002. I thank her for her leadership and for giving me the authority to unseat this butcher.
“It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world.”
Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.) was justified in saying this. Hussein invaded Iran and Kuwait. He was a highly destabilizing force. Senator Kerry was astute to recognize this danger, and I thank him for empowering me to neutralize this global menace.
As then-Senator John Edwards (D., N.C.) said during that debate: Hussein had “violated the cease-fire agreement. The reality is that we can’t allow him to continue on the track he is. And I also believe that we can’t be secure, and the region can’t be secure, as long as he’s still in power.”
Senator Edwards was on the money. Almost daily, Hussein shot at U.S. and allied military aircraft patrolling over Iraq. Regional peace was likely impossible while Hussein paid $25,000 bonuses to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers who blasted themselves apart on buses in Jerusalem and cafes in Tel Aviv.
I thank Senator Edwards for his wisdom, and for his vote to unplug this thug.
These three, along with 26 other Senate Democrats, joined 82 House Democrats to authorize this conflict. Unreliable as pre-war intelligence may have been regarding the scope of Hussein’s WMDs, these 111 Democrats accepted the analyses that I honestly and sincerely shared with them. In March 2005, the Silverman/Robb Commission said it “found no evidence of ‘politicization’ of the intelligence community’s assessments concerning Iraq’s reported WMD programs.”
Let me thank these three Democrats, and the 108 others who voted to remove Saddam Hussein, for their courage and support as America decided to liberate Iraq. What happens next over there is unclear. What we do know is that America’s mission in Iraq is not just my war — it’s their war, too.