So much for President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of not getting us into any more “dumb wars.”
It’s apparently 2003 all over again.
So let’s take a trip back there.
It is a year after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and President George W. Bush’s rhetoric is beginning to refer less to Osama bin Ladin, the mastermind of the attacks, and more to Saddam Hussein, Bush’s father’s arch nemesis, who had nothing to do with the 9/11.
Then Bush refers to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the “axis of evil” in a State of the Union address.
In February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the United Nations, floating a case for the existential threat Iraqi president Saddam Hussein supposedly poses to the world, requiring immediate international attention.
In March, President Bush lays down an ultimatum:
“Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.”
We all know what happened.
It took a while, but eventually through cajoling, hyperbole, propaganda, sleight of hand, and bald-faced lies, Bush got what he wanted: an unauthorized invasion of a country we now know posed no grave threat to the United States, did not have chemical weapons, and cost the American and Iraqi people dearly, financed through deficit spending so the American public would not realize the costs while Bush was in office.
We’re still there.
Even candidate Donald Trump claimed to be against it, standing in stark opposition to the other Republican contenders jockeying for the presidency.
Yet President Bush never threatened to “totally destroy” Iraq like Donald Trump did yesterday toward North Korea in a bellicose speech to the United Nation general assembly.
But similarly to Bush, Trump’s speech called on “righteous” countries to confront US adversaries.
Similarly to Bush, Trump’s said:
“The scourge of our planet today are a small group of rogue regimes. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”
Similarly to Bush, Trump said:
“The US has great strength and patience.”
Similarly to Bush, Trump said the US was “ready, willing and able” to take military action, but claimed he was hopeful it would be unnecessary.
Like Iraq, the United States’ past with North Korea is circuitous and complicated.
Like Iraq, Trump is complicit in reducing the world’s response to the North Korean threat down to an either/or fallacy.
Is Trump about to get us into another “dumb war” he promised we would get us out of?
This time, though, we are dealing with a nuclear power, and the implications are dire.
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