A new old strategy for Iraq, but where are those WMD?

The National Strategy for Victory says we're safer now because Saddam Hussein had a history.

Published November 30, 2005 2:44PM (EST)

The White House has just released its "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," and it's about what you'd expect: a 35-page document full of quotes from the president, vague plans for standing up more Iraqi security forces and dire threats about the consequences of leaving Iraq before the job is done. It's got a nice red, white and blue cover, too.

Osama bin Laden gets a few mentions, and there's talk of al-Qaida there, too. The attacks of 9/11 get their due. There's not much talk about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, and what there is comes close to an admission of their nonexistence. The war in Iraq is making America safer, the document says, because it has allowed the United States to remove a "ruthless dictator who had a history of pursuing and even using weapons of mass destruction."

Of course, that's not how the White House sold Americans on the war in the first place. If the Bush administration had spent much of 2002 and 2003 warning about the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam used to have, it's hard to see how anyone would have supported a war of choice to depose him. Instead, the president and his people insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction on hand and ready to go, and that he was fixin' to use them against us.

Need an example? How about the speech the White House quotes in the preamble to the "National Strategy for Victory"? It's the president speaking to an American Enterprise Institute gathering in February 2003, and, for the "National Strategy," the White House excerpts a quote about the future of Iraq and the nature of the U.S. commitment there. Here's a part that didn't make the cut: "In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world -- and we will not allow it. This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country -- and America will not permit it. The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away. The danger must be confronted. We hope that the Iraqi regime will meet the demands of the United Nations and disarm, fully and peacefully. If it does not, we are prepared to disarm Iraq by force. Either way, this danger will be removed."

The president's bold talk drew waves of applause. Nearly three years, 2,110 dead soldiers and not a single stockpile of WMD later, is anyone still clapping?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room