This Newsweek segment is so extraordinarily absurd, it’s going to take two posts to sort through it. Let’s start with Iraq though – since Newsweek’s amnesia seems to be particularly acute on this subject:

“…many Americans also remain convinced that Saddam had WMDs, even though inspectors haven’t found any in the seven years since the invasion. Still, as of 2006, half of Americans believed that, according to Harris. Who knows where they got that idea?”

To explain America’s stupidity, the link points to an article about Dick Cheney implying that it’s all his crazy old fault that Americans still believe in WMD’s. You get the impression that Cheney is obsessed with some lie he and Bush made up as an excuse to convince Americans to allow Bush to invade Iraq and avenge his Daddy while the real enemy was hiding in Afghanistan. Let’s see if you can guess who made the following statements:

“I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.”

Did you guess George W. Bush? Wrong. This was Bill Clinton’s justification for bombing targets in Iraq in 1998. Bush was governor of Texas at the time. Later in this speech, Clinton said this:

“And mark my words, he (Hussein) will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.”

Following what the left might have called an unprovoked attack on a foreign country if Bush had engineered it, Newsweek’s 1998 Perspectives issue had this to say about WMD’s and Iraq (Here is the Newsweek link but you have to pay or join to read the full article. I have the physical issue on my bookshelf):

“Pacifying Iraq might involve an invasion, followed by an occupation of perhaps 10 years … To rid the world of Saddam will require leadership from a United States administration that can focus on the job at hand; which is supported by a thoughtful Congress, and which can explain unpalatable truths to a public that trusts its leaders to do the right thing. But that’s another movie, and not the one we’re watching now.”

That’s a pretty impressive prediction given what has happened since. Is Newsweek proud of its extraordinary prescience in predicting what success would take in Iraq? No. Instead we find them shamelessly berating Dick Cheney as some crazy old coot who keeps spreading a lie that Newsweek itself promulgated with cavalier certainty in 1998. Bill Clinton, Newsweek argued, was too concerned with popular opinion to do the right thing in Iraq so we had to wait for a president who would “focus on the job at hand.” Guess who that turned out to be?

The current Newsweek also has this to say:

“In a June 2007 NEWSWEEK poll, four years after the invasion of Iraq, 41 percent believed Saddam was involved in 9/11—even though President Bush had said otherwise as early as September 2003.”

Interesting. Here’s what else Newsweek’s 1998 Perspectives issue had to say:

“As an added precaution, the bureau’s New York command center will be manned round the clock by the city’s joint terrorist task force, made up of the FBI, the New York City police and other federal agents. Still, says the bureau official: ‘I don’t think we’re going to see anything too terribly quickly. It takes a lot for them to plan one of these things.’”

This high alert was in response to Clinton’s bombing of Baghdad. The heading of the blurb reads: “Will bin Laden retaliate?” It also mentions that the greater threat from bin Laden was perceived to be overseas. Guess who they were concerned about in New York? Sure, we’ve proven there were no direct links between Hussein and bin Laden regarding 9/11 but the threat from Iraq – crystal clear in this article – became much greater after bin Laden succeeded in knocking down the World Trade Center. Bush’s greatest failure in Iraq was focusing on the WMD angle for justification rather than the obvious threat that a dictator like Hussein posed to America in a post 9/11 world. That angle was conceived long before he was president but don’t ask Newsweek to remember it.

Further, as history is clearly bearing out today, Iraq was never going to be the quagmire that Afghanistan is. There is no stable culture or economy in Afghanistan to sustain a serious republic. Iraq is a different story. Bush, Cheney and their administration correctly recognized this. Much is made of the fact that “Iraq never attacked us.” Neither did Afghanistan. Iraq was strategically the more attractive battleground.

The fact is, the Bush administration deposed a brutal dictator who was the sworn enemy of the United States and made room for a serious ally in a region where radical fundamentalism has a firm foothold. The intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was compiled and advertised by previous administrations, United Nations officials and international allies of the United States. Newsweek in their 1998 article noted that Saddam Hussein had “without question, devoted substantial resources to developing what we now call by the flat phrase weapons of mass destruction.” Now, they’re blaming Dick Cheney for promulgating the lie “dumb” Americans continue to believe.

Last but certainly not least, guess who’s taking credit for the Iraq success? This guy:

Witness:

“…the president is keeping a promise he made on the campaign trail for the respoinsible [sic] withdrawal of US troops (all troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011, per the Status Of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government).”

Almost daily, Barack Obama complains about the “mess” of an economy he inherited from George Bush. It’s a problem he’s significantly worsened. Meanwhile, he’s actually managed not to screw up Iraq – even though he vociferously opposed the strategic decisions that ultimately brought us victory. In fact, for all his campaign hysteria, he retained one significant Bush era cabinet member. Since he’s always ready to blame previous administrations for his problems, it will be interesting to see if President Obama remembers to give credit for the success he inherited in Iraq.