Bush stuck to his nonsmoking gun

Although CIA Director George Tenet recently announced his agency never told the Bush administration that Iraq posed an imminent threat, the president continues to defend the war. The administration is passing the buck to the CIA for intelligence failure and is saying the ends justify the illegitimate means. The administration’s defense that their decision resulted from faulty intelligence shifts the argument from the real point of blame: President George W. Bush’s application of the pre-emption policy.

In the end, the decision to go to war in Iraq was a failure of leadership and judgment. Declaring war on a country without provocation demands justification and reasons backed by absolute certainty. The Bush administration tried to justify war with Iraq because it presented an imminent and immediate threat. However, no direct evidence has supported this claim. Indirect evidence is information collected through a series of persons, and in this case, passing through so many filters it should have been used as subnotes, rather than an entire case for war.

There was no smoking gun and administration officials openly admit they did not have one. Like a scared deer hunter blindly firing into rustling bushes, the administration got their war on anyway.

To bring a nation to war is the most important decision a president can make, and it must be made with careful consideration of all available information. Administration officials’ uncertainty of Iraq’s capabilities required restraint in a drive for war, not reckless hysteria-inducing abandon.

The pre-emption policy requires absolute certainty, something the Bush administration did not have. War should not be declared simply on a president’s hunches or gut feelings. Reasons to go to war must be clear and obvious. It appears the only immediate and imminent threat Iraq presented existed in the administration’s words and imagination.