IRAK | I år är det tio år sedan invasionen av Irak som avsatte diktatorn Saddam Hussein. Beroende på hur man räknar var 49 länder involverade.
Inför invasionen skrev David Frum 2002 de delar av president George W. Bushs State of the Union tal som handlade om Irak.
Som talskrivare var det hans uppgift att förklara rationaliteten bakom vad som skulle komma att bli presidentens beslut att invadera.
Frasen ”axis of evil” lyftes fram av alla som rapporterade om Bushs tal. Frum har i boken The Right Man (2003) skrivit att frasen i ett tidigt utkast hade formuleringen ”axis of hatred”.
I Newsweek skriver Frum om de omfattande ansträngningar som krävdes för att kommunicera presidentens budskap och lyckas övertyga kongressen och befolkningen.
The order to begin work on the Iraq sections of the 2002 State of the Union address—what became known as the “axis of evil” speech—was delivered to me in the form of a conditional: what might the president say if he decided … etc. That speech provoked a furor with its claim that state sponsors of terror cooperated with terrorist groups, and its warning that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were arming to threaten the peace of the world. Critics insisted that it was impossible that Shiite Iran would support Sunni Hamas or that Islamic Iran could share technology with Stalinist North Korea. We now know all those things to be true, and many more besides. The founder of the Pakistani nuclear program did attempt to sell bomb-making technology to al Qaeda. The North Koreans did sell Syria materials for a nuclear facility destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.
Some critics claim that the speech blew up a promising U.S. diplomatic overture to Iran. That’s pretty hard to believe, especially after seeing what has happened to U.S. overtures to Iran since 2009. As a description of the strategic challenge facing the United States, the speech has been corroborated by events. No apologies on any of those points.
The speech did mark a point of no return on the road to war with Iraq, although debate continued inside the administration for many more months. The famous Downing Street memo makes clear that as late as July 2002, Tony Blair’s government remained uncertain of U.S. intentions.
Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke eloquently about Saddam’s appalling crimes against the Iraqi people. But countries rarely fight big, expensive wars for the benefit of others. Everything depended on the evidence that Iraq was acquiring a dangerous arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. How solid was that evidence? Those of us without high security clearances could never truly know. We had to rely on those we trusted—like National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who warned on January 10, 2003, “There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly Saddam can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
Such assurances by the leading figures in the Bush administration won the support of a broad array of Americans, not only conservatives but “liberal hawks” in Congress and the press, and not only in this country but around the world.
Brits sometimes question how crucial Blair was in the run-up to war. My own sense, for what it’s worth, is that it was Blair, not Bush, who swayed Democrats in Congress and liberal hawks in the media. Without Blair, the Iraq War would have been authorized with only the smallest handful of non-Republican votes.
Bild: Charles Ommanney/Contact/Getty.