Thursday, December 28, 2006

All Unrelated Former Presidents Disagreed With Bush on Iraq

Even President Gerald Ford, in an opinion released after his death, disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq. Ford, who was 91 at the time of the interview, comes across as an absolute genius by today's political standards (My god, he used the word "pugnacious"!) . By "genius" I mean someone in government operating above a 12th grade level.

Here is a portion of the Washington Post article:

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

Well, this makes it a complete sweep. Every former president with the ability to honestly comment on Iraq now disagreed with Bush on the war.

"Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done, " Bill Clinton told students at the American University of Dubai. "It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."

"I think that the original invasion of Iraq, and all of its consequences, yes, were a blunder, including what happened with the leadership," Said Jimmy Carter. "One of the -- it's going to prove, I believe, to be one of the greatest blunders that American presidents have ever made."

The only former President who has not come out against the war in Iraq is, of course, George Bush Sr., the father of the current president. But, perhaps, the unleashing of James Baker, and the appointment of Robert Gates, say enough about what Bush 41 thinks of the invasion of Iraq.

In reading the Ford interview, I'm struck by how far we have fallen. Ford was not regarded as a brilliant thinker or an eventful president, but he's able to summon a few four syllable words and logical sentences which immediately suggest he is in a class above anyone in the current Bush administration. Ford would be considered an absolute brain trust by today's standards, and probably far too eclectic and reasonable for his own good.

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