Since so many Republicans and Democrats are right now trying to distance themselves from President Bush, I would like to refresh everybody's
Dominique de Villepin, then French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his famous speech to the UN Security Council on February 14, 2003:
"Then there are those who believe that continuing the inspection process is a kind of delaying tactic to prevent or avert military intervention. That naturally raises a question of how much time is allowed Iraq. And this brings us to the heart of the matter. What is at stake is our credibility and our sense of responsibility.
"Let us have the courage to see things as they are. There are two options. The option of war might seem a priori to be the swiftest, but let us not forget that having won the war, peace has to be built. Let us not delude ourselves. This will be long and difficult because it will be necessary to preserve Iraq's unity and to restore stability in a lasting way in a country and a region harshly affected by the intrusion of force.
"Faced with that prospective, there is an alternative -- inspections -- which allow us to move forward day by day with the effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq. In the end, is that choice not the most sure and most rapid?
"No one today can claim that the path of war will be shorter than the path of inspections. No one can claim that it would lead to a safer, more just, more stable world, for war is always the sanction of failure. Would this be our sole recourse in the face of the many challenges at this time?...
"Ten days ago, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, reported alleged links between al-Qaida and the Baghdad regime. Given the present state of our research and intelligence in liaison with our allies, nothing allows us to establish such links. But we must assess the impact that disputed military action would have on this level.
"Would such intervention today not be liable to exacerbate divisions between societies, cultures, peoples; divisions that nurture terrorism?"
In return, France was showered with contempt and derision by the American media and the American public.
Dominique de Villepin was not alone. All around the world, most leaders warned of the dire consequences of an invasion of Iraq. The general public, even in countries which sided with America, was against it by a margin of anything from 60:40 to 80:20 (Italy and Spain, whose governments had decided to send troops).
On February 15, 2003, an estimated 11 million people were demonstrating around the world against the Bush administration's plans to invade Iraq.
Until March 20, 2003, the invasion, millions and millions of people around the whole world were demonstrating, were yelling and screaming around the world in order to make Americans listen to them and understand that invading Iraq was an illegitimate act of aggression AND a particularly foolish choice, given the facts of the country.
Every Middle East hand on most TV stations around the world was warning of a no-win situation in case of war: Iraq would in the ensuing mayhem become an easy playground for exactly the kind of Islamist terrorist the Bush administration was trying to contain. Every Middle East expert warned that an invasion would lead to a protracted guerilla war and that al-Qaida would gain a foothold in a place where they hadn't been active before. Every Middle East expert around the world warned that the clannish structure of Iraq would doom to failure any Western ideas of introducing democracy for a long time. Every Middle East expert around the world could not find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in an already fatally weakened Iraq.
And, importantly: Anybody around the world who had any knowledge of the Iraqi regime and the Ba'ath party's ideology knew that any link to al-Qaida and 9/11 was just ridiculous. No, we didn't like Saddam a bit, but yes, we had an inkling what would happen in case of an invasion.
We considered it a huge pity that nobody in America seemed to know a thing about Iraq BUT was at the same time unwilling to listen to those who did.
The US Congress endorsed Bush's invasion.
I would suggest that any member of the US Congress who, despite a plethora of international evidence that the reasons for this invasion had been faked by the Bush administration, had voted for it, should be barred from ever running for any public office in America ever again! Because either they are too careless and gullible or else they are too stupid for the job, and they have unnecessarily endangered and killed many lives, not least many fine young Americans in their prime.
Last, but not least, I have no words for the contempt I will forever feel for the majority of the American mainstream journalists for not having informed the American public about the facts.
After all, the rest of the world was fully aware of them. So it wasn't rocket science to learn and report them as well.
Brigitte Schön (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Austrian conference interpreter, occasional writer and political activist. She lives in Vienna, Austria