"We can't afford not to." – Susan Lee answering Stuart Varney's question on CNBC in September 2002 regarding whether or not America could afford to spend $87 billion fighting a war in Iraq - one year after the 9/11 attack on the American homeland by people who lived in caves in a country most Americans never heard of, could not spell the name of, or find on a map.
Many headlines were written last week about Jeb's inarticulate dubious responses to the most obvious question he or his staff had to know would sooner or later be asked – regarding whether or not he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 based on "what we know now?" There are other variants of this question such as substituting "faulty intelligence" for "what we know now." But just how demeaning are these questions – why would we invade any country based on what is known to be faulty intelligence?
To recap – Jeb answered the original question on Monday of last week in an interview with Megyn Kelly on FNC by saying he would have invaded Iraq in 2003 knowing what we know now. Jeb followed this up on Tuesday in a radio interview with Sean Hannity by saying he had misunderstood the original question but now that he seemed to understand the question offered no answer @ all. On Wednesday Jeb tried to lead the matter away from his brother & himself & instead toward BO's pulling the troops out of Iraq while saying that it is a disservice to those who lost family members by answering such hypotheticals. But by Thursday Jeb finally said he would not have invaded Iraq in 2003 knowing what we know now.
Of course all of Jeb's Republican opponents jumped in by saying they would have had nothing to do with the Iraq war. Ted Cruz & Chris Christie @ least were able to answer the question in the context with which it was asked – but with no in-depth thought. Cruz said "now we know that intelligence was false, & without that predicate there's no way we would have gone to war" & Christie said "if we knew then what we know now. . . I wouldn't have gone to war."
But what is it we know now that we didn't know in 2002?
First, we now know that we should not have considered going to war with Iraq in September 2002 & waited until March 2003 to launch the invasion – taking these six months to explain why Iraq posed a national security threat to America in what amounted to political correctness pandering for approval to attack from every country on earth. During this seeking of approval period Saddam had enough time to hide or more likely transport out of Iraq every weapon we, & all of his people he had killed with them over the years, knew he had. If Iraq was such a national security threat to America how could we afford to wait six months to eliminate that danger once it was known?
Background - On October 11, 2002 Congress passed a Joint Congressional Resolution authorizing war against Iraq (296 to 133 in the House & 77 to 23 in the Senate). This authorization of war contained 17 measures, nine of which had nothing to do with Iraq's possession of or intention specifically to use weapons of mass murder. Accordingly, it has always been an oversimplification to say that the Iraq war was fought because of Iraq's possession of WMDs – this view did provide an easy to understand but misleading talking point for journalists (both liberal & conservative) to take advantage of a poorly educated citizenry in forming a position prevalent in America today.
Saddam had initiated & used an extensive biological weapons program against his own people in the 1980s with anthrax, botulinum, & aflatoxin advancing to the weaponization level for deployment. Following the Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991) Iraq's WMDs were essentially destroyed but it is not farfetched to believe that in the following ten years Saddam had rebuilt the weapons he once had & then some. With all the anthrax scares (e.g., - anthrax laced letters to Congress) in the fall of 2001 who could feel safe with a Commander-In-Chief or other elected representatives @ the state or district level who thought we could afford to find out that Iraq was not a security threat to America especially after all the belligerence between the two countries over the years?
Second, we now know, if we inexcusably didn't already know in 2002, that Sunni Muslims & Shiite Muslims have been antagonists for centuries with no end it sight – although they did work side by side in Iraqi villages with the tyranny of Saddam hanging over them. They also work together with Hamas (Sunni) & Hezbollah (Shiite) teaming against a common enemy in Israel – seems the enemy of my enemy is my friend is the dominant principle that takes precedence over religious differences.
The point is that nation building in a country with such religious animosity & without a tyrant in control would never work.
The correct answer to Megyn's question, not just for Jeb & the other politicians, but most importantly for America is that we need a leader who, knowing what we know now, would have invaded Iraq six months sooner than we did, would not have sought UN approval to do so, & would have returned our troops home once there was no perceived danger to America's security.