- October 29 - Analysts are available to scrutinize some of President Bush's claims, including those from Tuesday's news conference, focusing on Iraq and the recent attacks there:
BUSH: "I would assume that they're [the suicide bombers] either, or, and probably both Ba'athists and foreign terrorists."
FACT: "There are a growing number of interviews with Iraqi resistance fighters that establish that many, perhaps most, of them are not Ba'athists and not foreigners. One interviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle said that he took up arms after the Fallujah massacre, in which U.S. troops fired into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators, killing 15," said Rahul Mahajan, author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond. [Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rahulmahajan.com]
[See: www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1061660,00.html, The Guardian, October 13; www.csmonitor.com/2003/0815/p01s04-woiq.html, Christian Science Monitor, August 15; http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/10/07/MN953.DTL&type=printable, San Francisco Chronicle, October 7.]
BUSH: "The best way to deal with them [terrorists] is to harden targets, harden assets as best as you can."
FACT: "Historically, there is no technological fix for terrorism. You have to deal with the complex sources of terrorism.... If you harden targets, then there are the vulnerable points, and even hardened targets are vulnerable; if you harden an entire society, what do you get?" said Beau Grosscup, author of The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and professor of international relations at California State University in Chico. [Contact information: email@example.com]
BUSH: "It's the same mentality, by the way, that attacked us in -- on September the 11th, 2001. 'We'll just destroy innocent life and watch the great United States and their friends and allies, you know, crater in the face of hardship.' It's the exact same mentality. And Iraq is a part of the war on terror. I said it's a central front, a new front in the war on terror."
FACT: "Bush is attempting to link the September 11 atrocities to the Iraq war in the public mind -- without asserting the link outright. Administration officials, including Bush, have employed this rhetorical tactic, an 'enthymematic argument,' time and time again before and since the war. There is still no evidence whatsoever that the former Iraqi regime, or any Iraqi, had anything to do with the September 11 attacks, but as many as 69 percent of Americans still believe there is a link. [See: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32862-2003Sep5.html] Bush achieves this rhetorical trick without telling an outright lie," said Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report. [Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.merip.org]
BUSH: "And so this nation is very reluctant to use military force.... Military action is the very last resort for us."
FACT: "The Library of Congress has catalogued over 200 uses of American military force abroad in the country's short history. Since 9/11, we have fought two full-scale wars, attempted a military coup in Venezuela, extended counterinsurgency operations in Colombia and the Philippines, and created a permanent or semi-permanent military presence in a host of new countries, particularly in Central Asia," said Mahajan.
BUSH: "And a reminder, when you mention Saddam Hussein, I just want to remind you that the Saddam Hussein military action took place after innumerable United Security Council resolutions were passed. Not one, two or three, but a lot."
FACT: "But of course, since 1990, not one of those UN resolutions authorized the use of military force against Saddam Hussein's regime," said Toensing.
BUSH: "You asked about the [Israeli] fence [in the West Bank]. I have said the fence is a problem to the extent that the fence is an opportunity to make it difficult for a Palestinian state to emerge. There is a difference between security and land acquisition, and we have made our views clear on that issue."
FACT: "Apparently not clear enough, since the Israeli cabinet is proceeding with construction of the illegal wall-and-fence complex, which bites deep into the territory that would constitute a future Palestinian state. Israel has also instituted a special permit system for Palestinians living 'behind' the wall -- giving them the 'right' to live in their own homes. [See: www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1071768,00.html]," said Toensing.
BUSH: "I have also spoken to Prime Minister Sharon in the past about settlement activities. And the reason why that we have expressed concern about settlement activities is because we want the conditions for a Palestinian state on the ground to be positive..."
FACT: "Apparently not often enough, because Israel has just undertaken yet more expansion of settlements, in direct violation of the U.S.-sponsored 'road map,'" said Toensing.
BUSH: "First step was to remove Saddam Hussein because he was a threat -- a gathering threat, as I think I put it."
FACT: "Of course, the 'threat' allegedly posed by Saddam Hussein was related to his alleged weapons of mass destruction. U.S. officials now believe that Iraq did not attempt to reconstitute its nuclear program after 1991 -- no 'gathering threat' there. [See: www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A17707-2003Oct25?language=printer] Nor have any chemical or biological weapons been found. The administration is now reduced to arguing that, left to its own devices, the Iraqi regime might have restarted active programs on weapons of mass destruction because it retained the know-how. But before the war, the debate was not about whether Iraq might have such weapons, or might rebuild them, but about whether war was the only way to avert that possibility. The U.S. has been proven conclusively wrong on that score," said Toensing.
BUSH: "I said right after September the 11th, this would be a different kind of war. Sometimes you'd see action and sometimes you wouldn't. But it's a different kind of war than what we're used to. And Iraq is a front on the war on terror. And we will win this particular battle in the war on terror."
FACT: "Again, Bush mentions September 11 and skips to Iraq being 'a front in the war on terror.' The middle link in the syllogism -- the argument that Iraq and September 11 were related -- is missing. So Bush gets the misleading message across without telling an outright lie," said Toensing.
BUSH: "[Saddam Hussein] just destroyed their economy and destroyed their infrastructure, destroyed their education system, destroyed their medical system, all to keep himself in power."
FACT: "While few would dispute that the former regime's policies exacerbated Iraqi economic woes, the bulk of the damage to Iraqi infrastructure was done by U.S. bombs in the 1991 Gulf War and the sanctions of the ensuing decade. In U.S. pronouncements, it's as if the sanctions never happened. The U.S. must share the blame for the dilapidation of Iraq's electrical, educational and medical systems, and that's why it should also share the expense of fixing it," said Toensing.
BUSH: "The electricity -- the capacity to deliver electricity to the Iraqi people is back up to pre-war levels."
FACT: "Six months into the occupation, Bush is boasting about having electrical power up to prewar levels -- a prewar situation where Iraq had been under the most stringent economic sanctions in modern history for over 12 years and where the United States systematically undermined Iraqi efforts to rebuild infrastructure [see: http://harpers.org/online/cool_war]," said Mahajan.
BUSH: "We want to work with Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton [of the 9/11 commission].
FACT: "The administration has repeatedly put roadblocks in the way of the 9/11 commission's investigation, from severe underfunding (it balked at a request from Kean for $11 million, whereas the Challenger commission got $50 million) to denial of necessary documents -- in fact, Kean has had to threaten to sue to get documents," said Mahajan. [See: www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1071711,00.html]
Interviews are available with:
RAHUL MAHAJAN, email@example.com, www.rahulmahajan.com
Mahajan is author of the book Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond.
BEAU GROSSCUP, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grosscup is author of The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and professor of international relations at California State University in Chico.
CHRIS TOENSING, email@example.com, www.merip.org
Toensing is editor of Middle East Report.
For some previous critiques of Bush's claims, see:
* "Responses to Bush's 2003 'State of the Union' Address," January 30, 2003:
* "Detailed Analysis of October 7, 2002 Speech by Bush on Iraq," October 8, 2002:
* "White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit," March 18, 2003: