Bush Presidency at Serious Risk if US Invades Iraq

By David T. Pyne, Esq

Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on How Bush was risking support for Wanting to Invade Iraq: March 18, 2003)

On March 6th, President Bush gave another prime-time address containing increasing references reminiscent of Orwellian doublespeak in which he vowed to wage war upon Iraq “in the name of peace” if Saddam “refused to disarm.” He vowed to “liberate” and bring democracy to Iraq, a country where true “one man, one vote” democracy would likely result in a Shiite majority terrorist supporting state closely aligned with what Michael Ladeen of the American Enterprise Institute rightly termed “mother of all terrorist states,” the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Paradoxically, even as the President has gone to great lengths to avoid being compared to his father who served only one term, he appears to be repeating the mistakes of his father, which resulted in his being defeated for re-election on an even more grandiose scale. While former President George HW Bush achieved a stunning though in many ways fleeting victory over Saddam Hussein in his just war of liberation of Kuwait, the current President Bush does not appear to be willing to wait for Saddam to provide him with a similar justification for a second US invasion of Iraq. He seems determined to invade Iraq regardless of whether or not Iraq cooperates with UN weapons inspectors and regardless of what inspectors do or do not find or do not find. After all, disarming Iraq weapons of mass destruction, was never the Administration’s real rationale for invading Iraq. The administration was forced to adopt that rationale because it was the only one it offered the promise of potential widespread diplomatic support for their predetermined decision to invade Iraq.

The real rationale for invasion has always been regime change, pure and simple. The President wants Saddam deposed, captured or killed and so it will be. The consensus in the Administration appears to be that the end justifies the means, which has included alternatively threatening and bribing the weaker nations of the world into supporting its policy on Iraq as well as an attempted politicization of the intelligence community, which has not been witnessed for many years if not decades. However, this course of action will not be without considerable risks not merely to US national security, but to the President’s own re-election and the GOP’s prospects for retaining control of Congress.

Popular support for a US invasion of Iraq continues to plummet. Americans are now evenly divided on whether to launch a US invasion of Iraq. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken a few weeks ago revealed that only 52% of Americans supported war with Iraq down from 78% in November 2001. However, a more recent survey revealed that support for war with Iraq was “soft” in the sense that most of those that supported it conditioned their support on evidence of major Iraqi WND violations being found and allowing the UN weapons inspectors the several months they say they need to complete their weapons inspections. The survey stated that barely more than half of those who said they supported war would support a US invasion of Iraq even if no evidence of Iraqi WMD was found. Seven in 10 Americans would give UN weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq

The President’s polling numbers have dropped precipitously over the last few months due in large part to his continued insistence in launching a US invasion of Iraq that has been difficult to justify and consequently increasingly unpopular both with our Allies and with the American people. The latest poll shows him with a 53% approval rating. The President’s falling poll numbers in turn have emboldened Democrats especially those running for President to attack him on Iraq and other foreign and domestic policy issues. Soon Hillary Rodham-Clinton, the undisputed frontrunner for the 2004 Democrat presidential nomination, which is hers for the taking, will likely enter the race and join the fray.

As the President continues to push for war in the Middle East, the Washington Times reported on March 7th that some liberal House Democrats including at least one senior Congressman are drafting articles of impeachment against Bush and perhaps against members of his Cabinet. The draft resolution accuses Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft of more than a dozen ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ including constitutional violations in the domestic war on terrorism. It also charges Bush with “threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently proclaiming an intention to change its government by force while preparing to assault Iraq in a war of aggression.” While these impeachment charges have little chance of passage in the GOP-controlled Congress, they could be used as a base from which to attack the President. Opposition to the President could gain considerable momentum if the war and the ensuing US occupation of Iraq goes badly and US forces suffer thousands of battlefield casualties from Saddam’s CBR attacks, making the war increasingly unpopular as some experts have foreseen.

This author first predicted that the President would in all likelihood lose his re-election bid if he invaded Iraq back when he began his recent long-march to war with Iraq in August even though he was still enjoying stellar approval ratings in the seventies at the time. (Link) The latest presidential poll by Quinnipiac University, published on March 6th shows Bush losing his re-election bid 48-44 against the Democrat presidential nominee were the election to be held today. According to this and other recent polls, Mr. Bush’s approval rating has dropped to an all-time low since 9-11-only 53% a substantial drop stemming principally from his botched performance over threatening unjust war against Iraq. The same poll also showed that 54% were either somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the way things were going in the country. Yet, the President does not seem to care. He remains singularly obsessed with deposing Saddam Hussein to avenge an alleged 1993 Iraqi assassination attempt on his father with no thoughts to the many harmful consequences to the GOP and more importantly to this nation’s national security that will likely follow.

With war with Iraq around the corner which with an ensuing indefinite US military occupation of 200,000 troops which has been projected to cost anywhere from $100 billion to one trillion dollars and projected deficits of $300 billion as far as the eye can see which will inevitably worsen if the US invades, the economic outlook is very dismal indeed. Combine that with an anemic economic growth rate, a falling stock market and record $500 billion a year trade deficits which may threaten higher interest rates, and it appears that the US is headed for record-breaking budget deficits and a double-dip recession which will serve as a powerful impetus not to re-elect a Republican President and a GOP majority in Congress. Beware for unless we veer from our present course on Iraq, the age of Hillary may be fast approaching. Former Vice President Al Gore will likely rue the day when he announced he would not run for President in the wake of his Saturday Night Live debacle.

Only principled leadership by the US Congress to withdraw us from the Pandora’s Box of invasion will save the Republic from this likely fate. The only other thing that could forestall this likely outcome is if Saddam Hussein were to accept exile or be assassinated prior to the imminent US invasion, neither of which has much chance of happening. Some wars aren’t worth fighting especially if the cause is not just even if victory is assured is assured in the short-term as in the case of Iraq. Sometimes, it is as important if not more to win the peace as it is to win the war itself. As a noted historian once observed, those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. ***


David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.