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What if Bush had never invaded Iraq?

By David Pyne
web posted April 3, 2006

George W. BushYesterday morning, President George W. Bush, flanked by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Anthony Zinni, gave a speech announcing the successful end of Operation Iranian Storm -- the US air campaign designed to destroy all known Iranian WMD and nuclear development sites including the Russian-built nuclear reactors under construction at Bushehr. He announced to the attendees that US military forces acting on his orders had eliminated a dangerous threat to the US, Israel and the rest of the free world.

Mr. Bush also took the opportunity to remind the American people of his success in winning the war in Afghanistan in fall 2003 and capturing Osama Bin Laden in December of that year after sending 140,000 US troops freed up by an averted war against Iraq to finish the job. al-Qaida terrorists were thus deprived of their terror haven and terrorist training ground and have been unable to find a new terror haven since to replace it. "With the capture of the man responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 and the liberation of Afghanistan from control by al-Qaida's allies, the war against the evil al-Qaida terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 has been won." Policy experts from even left-of-center think tanks like the Brookings Institution have been forced to admit that al-Qaida's recruitment, training and financing have all suffered greatly by the laser-like focus which Bush gave to defeating them following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush also spoke of his success in reducing the federal budget deficit to $199 billion in 2005 from a high of $292 billion in 2004 and reiterated his plans to balance the budget by 2010 while taking credit for recent US economic growth.

In his speech, the President alluded to the US success in forcing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to re-admit UN weapons inspectors in December 2002 and in confirming that Iraq had completely disarmed Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons arsenal without the need for war. While he had initially heeded the call of neoconservatives led by Vice President Dick Cheney to send US forces to invade Iraq, in the end he decided to support Secretary of State Colin Powell's more diplomatic approach of allowing weapons inspectors the time they needed to determine if Saddam was being truthful in saying that he had destroyed his entire chemical and biological weapons arsenal years ago. In return for Iraq's destruction of its WMD arsenal, the Bush administration supported a UN move in fall 2003 to end all economic sanctions against Iraq except for those relating to goods which might have a dual-use for weapons of mass destruction programs. Bush subsequently took Iraq off the list of rogue nations and his "axis of evil" while the State Department removed Iraq from the list of state sponsors of terror. France, Germany and Russia resumed limited military sales to Iraq to help Iraq, which had no WMD itself and only short range missiles to counter the rising terror and WMD threat from Iran with tacit approval from the Bush administration.

Bush was widely praised by leaders of both parties for having rejected the call of neoconservatives within his administration to invade Iraq no matter what Saddam did and in rejecting their counterproductive call for democratic elections across the Middle East which he believed might serve to elect fundamentalist Islamic and terror supporting leaders to power. When it became clear that Hamas, which has refused to give up its stated goal of destroying Israel, would win a substantial number of seats in the upcoming Palestinian elections scheduled for January 2006, Bush cooperated with Palestinian President Abbas to postpone them indefinitely. During the summer of 2003, Bush accepted the resignations of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Under Secretary of State John Bolton over the President's refusal to implement their plan to invade Iraq without any clear justification with the President concluding that there were no clear links between Iraq and al-Qaida. Vice President Cheney is believed to have strongly protested the President's decision not to invade Iraq, but did not resign over the disagreement. The President replaced Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with then Deputy Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage and retained Colin Powell as his Secretary of State following his re-election.

With this major cabinet shakeup, the foreign policy realists that had dominated his father's administration and had overseen the end of the Cold War and America's liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in Operation Desert Storm during his father's term of office were back in charge of US foreign and defense policy. Last summer, Armitage brought back General Anthony Zinni out of retirement to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Upon his appointment as Secretary of Defense in June 2003, Armitage proceeded to scrap Rumsfeld's expensive Clinton-era plan to transform the army into an all-wheeled force of light armored vehicles and cancelled his plans to greatly reduce the size of the army. Instead, Armitage championed a program designed to build up the strength of the United States Army to 12 divisions and modernize its Abrams tank fleet to ensure that the Army remained capable of fighting and winning major regional conflicts in the near future.

The President had built a strong case for military action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, against which he had imposed economic sanctions in 2003. Following his victory in Afghanistan and his bloodless victory over Iraq, international support for military action against Iran was growing, which the international community was mere months away from developing nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein offered Iraqi military support for these planned military strikes against Iran including the use of Iraqi airbases, but Bush was reluctant to accept his proffered assistance although a few Allied aircraft, damaged by the highly Russian-provided sophisticated Iranian air defense system, did make emergency landings in Iraq.

Beginning on March 10th, Bush ordered military airstrikes to destroy Iran's nuclear and WMD sites, a campaign which lasted two weeks. Iranian President Rafsanjani strongly denounced this US "aggression" and reacted by refusing to sell oil on the world market, driving up the price of gasoline up to $3 a gallon in the US (only prevented from going higher by an Iraqi decision to increase its oil exports to make up the deficit) and by increasing terrorist attacks against US and Israeli targets in the Middle East causing hundreds of innocent people to be killed. US intelligence experts have confirmed that Iran's nuclear program has been set back several years at least if not a decade. Bush's action has received widespread support from the American people and the international community causing his approval rating to spike back up to 78 per cent according to the latest USA Today poll. A recent international survey conducted by Zogby International indicated that the majority of the people in the world's nations, particularly in Europe, continue to view the United States positively as they had following the 9-11 terror attacks and view President Bush and the United States as a force for international peace and stability.

In the previous Zogby poll taken in February 2006 before US airstrikes on Iran, President Bush's popularity had sunk to a an all-time low of 53 per cent due to his continued attempts to get Congress to pass his highly unpopular guest worker immigration amnesty proposal. Yet in the same poll, 60 per cent of the American people still used the words honest and trustworthy when describing the President. Zogby noted Bush's still remarkable popularity. "Bush is the first President in United States history to have served this long without ever having lost the majority support of the American people which is a remarkable accomplishment." In the 2004 presidential election, Bush, who has been frequently compared to former President Ronald Reagan, soundly defeated his Democratic opponent Senator John Kerry by a sweeping ten-point margin winning forty-two states and losing hotly-contested California by less than two percentage points.

Kerry won only eight states—California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont plus the District of Columbia. In his victorious re-election campaign, Bush was helped by strong support by independents in the most decisive presidential victory since Reagan trounced Walter Mondale in 1984, a victory which has gone far to silence Democratic protests of Bush for not being elected by the popular vote in 2000. In fact, even the poll in which Bush achieved his lowest approval rating showed that Bush retained the approval of over 30 percent of Democrats and over 50 percent of independents showing that he has largely succeeded in keeping his 2000 campaign promise of being "a uniter, not a divider."

The most recent Battleground poll showed the Republicans would actually gain seats in the US House of Representatives and US Senate if the election were held today as Senate Republican leaders talk about electing a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in 2006, which if it occurs will represent one of the most successful mid-term elections for a sitting President in US electoral history. The President's help is being widely sought out by congressional Republican candidates to help push them over the top in several key close races. While the Republican Party's base is seen as energized and optimistic, the Democrat party is viewed as demoralized by the string of President Bush's foreign policy victories. Deprived of any major issues to campaign on, political analysts say that Democrat leaders appear all but resigned to another decade or more of a Republican control of both houses of Congress and the likely election of another Republican President in 2008. Political pundits believe this explains why three House Democrats decided to switch parties to the GOP following its sweeping victory in the 2004 election -- most notably Rep. Jack Murtha (R-PA)—previously the most staunch defender of the President's foreign policy in the Middle East on the Democrat side—further increasing the GOP House majority to 243-191 seats and one independent while the GOP-controlled US Senate continued unchanged with its 57-42 majority. Presidential historians are in near universal agreement that, barring unexpected developments during the remainder of his second term, Bush will likely rank among the great Presidents or at least among the top 25 per cent. They say that the President has succeeded where previous Republican Presidents had failed in consolidating a historic political re-alignment in helping to forge the Republican Party into a lasting majority party likely to dominate the country for the next decade or so.

In other news, the latest USA Today-Gallup poll shows Hillary Clinton, the Democrat presidential frontrunner trailing Republican frontrunners, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) by 15 and 13 percentage points respectively. Over the past few months, McCain has begun to falter in Republican presidential primary polls due to his spirited defense of Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives and his many criticisms of President Bush for not being willing to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thus remove a brutal dictator when the US was allegedly threatened. But McCain's charge in this regard has rung hollow in the wake of Bush's recent airstrikes against Iran's WMD sites.

Hagel, like McCain a Vietnam War hero, is widely seen as Bush's most articulate supporter in the US Senate on foreign policy issues. Hagel is viewed as having benefited significantly from his loyalty to the President on foreign and defense policy issues among Republican stalwarts which explains his recent surge in the most recent GOP presidential primary polls. There has even been talk among some Republican sources that the President may be seriously considering replacing Vice President Dick Cheney, whose radical neoconservative ideas have reportedly caused him to grow in disfavor with the President, with Hagel following the November 2006 presidential elections. Senator Hagel had been a top contender as a possible vice presidential nominee for President Bush in the 2000 presidential campaign before Bush selected Cheney as his running mate. Democrat insiders have expressed fears that these reports might be true and believe Hagel would be very difficult for any Democrat to defeat given his strong support not only among Republican base voters, but particularly among independents and many Democrats as well who might cross over party lines to support him for President.

David T. Pyne, Esq. is a national security expert who currently serves as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, a national security think-tank devoted to championing policies, which serve to enhance U.S. national security. He also serves as the President of the New Mexico Republican Assembly and as a Vice President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Mr. Pyne is a licensed attorney and former United States Army Officer. He holds an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He is also a Contributing Editor to DefenseWatch magazine and to Soldiers for the Truth. Mr. Pyne has been published on WorldNetDaily.com and on several other conservative opinion websites including Etherzone, the Washington Dispatch, the American Reformation Project, the American Partisan, OpinioNet, the Patriotist, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, News with Views, America's Voices, and the Sierra Times. He has been invited to appear on CNBC, Regional News Network and was invited to serve as an occasional Fox News commentator to express his views on assorted public policy issues. He has also been interviewed on assorted radio-talk shows. Mr. Pyne is presently writing a book entitled, "The New Islamic Empire of Iran -- How the US Invasion and Occupation of Iraq is Helping to Forge It Into the Next Regional Hegemon of the Persian Gulf." He serves as the moderator of the Iraq Victory Yahoo! Newsgroup dedicated to championing a strategy designed to lead to a quick victory in Iraq to be followed by an immediate withdrawal of US forces. David T. Pyne can be reached at pyne@national-security.org pyne@national-security.org © 2006 David T. Pyne


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