Friday, June 17, 2005

Musings 47--What does "Last" mean?

Former President Bill Clinton got in all kinds of trouble when he asked special prosecutors what the meaning of "is" is. It was unique then, but now there is one better.

Mr. President, answering questions about the Downing Street Memo, stated that the United States went to war as a "last" resort. (See story link.) Does anyone really believe this? Just what does the meaning of "last" mean? Maybe I am naive, but I really think it means that you have no alternatives. Mr. President had bunches of alternatives in Iraq. There was no urgent timetable. We already had troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and we were well on our way of wiping out the Taliban and capturing Osama at Tora Bora until Mr. President took his eye off the ball.

"Nothing could be farther from the truth," Bush said last week, responding to a question about the July 23, 2002, memo. (The Downing Street Memo.) "Both of us didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option."

Now, let us see about that statement. The inspectors were in Iraq poking around. We had a no-fly zone over most of the country. If they shot at our planes, we bombed the hell out of their missiles. Saddam was pretty much contained. He did not like the religious zealot Osama Bin Laden. So what was the hurry?

The really bad thing about a guy that uses the phrase "last option," when it is not, is that he could really get us into trouble sometime. Why he might even get us bogged down in the occupation of a country. A guy like that might get us involved in nation building. Of course, Mr. President would never do that, you say. He was specifically against that when he ran for office. But, you say, things changed on 9-11. Yep, it did, but not to the extent that the world was turned upside down.

I just get the impression that Mr. President used his powers to throw his weight around. There is a mindset that wonders why one needs to be a super power if one never uses it's might. I think Mr. President has bought into this--at the current cost of 1706 lives and countless injured.

Has Iraq been worth it? I'll bet there are a bunch of mommies and daddies and husbands and wives who don't think much of the aftermath since the ultimate sacrifice of their loved ones.

What scares me most is someone who throws around the term "last option" when he is only trying to cover his ass. Mr. President wanted to go to war in Iraq. He felt there was unfinished business there. He used the excuse of 9-11 to do so. There were no Iraqi terrorists on those planes. It's like Oliver Hardy always said, "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into."

The weapons inspectors were doing their jobs. Mr. President told Saddam to disarm (remember everybody thought he had WMD's), but Saddam wouldn't do it. Now we know that there was nothing to disarm. Mr. President says that he got bad information from the CIA. Well, maybe he did, but I was sitting in my living room on Greasy Ridge searching the web and found several CIA and intelligence people who said otherwise. I assumed that Mr. President had information that I did not have. He did, but it was wrong or he ignored the few voices that said it was wrong.

Thus, I conclude that Mr. President cherry picked his information. That is scary. Mr. President says that he is strong-minded and determined. I think he is narrow-minded and dangerous.

"Last option"--not by a long shot!


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