Tuesday, February 13, 2007
What if Bush had followed my advice? What if Bush had, instead of swearing up and down that Iraq did possess WMDs, he had simply said that while the evidence was far from clear cut, he suspected they did and thus wasn't going to risk America's safety by sitting and doing nothing, so he was ordering the troops to invade Iraq for the sole purpose of eliminating both whatever WMD programs there were and Hussein and his two sons from power... and that once those two objectives were accomplished, he was going to pull our troops out and leave it to the Iraqis to rebuild their country.
What would have happened next?
Well, we would have figured out what was going on pretty quickly. We would have found Hussein and his sons, perhaps even earlier than we did, as the Sunnis who hid them would have been very tempted to hand them over to us so we would leave.
We would have suffered a fraction of the casualties we have suffered. We would have spent a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars that we have spent sticking around in Iraq.
Our military wouldn't be stretched so thin that none of our enemies feel they have nothing to fear from us. The Iranians and North Koreans would both have felt that the threat of American military action against them was a very real threat, thus helping our diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nukes.
Bush wouldn't have needed to bribe Congress to support his Iraq policy by witholding his veto pen and avoiding open confrontation with Congressional leaders. He could have slashed billions and billions of dollars in discretionary spending. He could have gone on the offensive and more agressively pushed his judicial nominations.
Bush's reputation wouldn't have been in tatters. Having never come and stated as fact that Iraq had WMDs, his opponents would never have gotten any mileage from the the whole "Bush lied, people died" mantra.
Plame-gate would never have happened, for the same reason. Powell, not having to have gone to the UN, wouldn't have been so keen on getting even with Bush. Nobody would have cared that Wilson claimed there was evidence that the threat was overblown. Thus, there would have been no need to discredit Wilson, thus no leak to Novak, no Fitzgerald investigation, no indictment of Libby, no having Rove have his reputation trashed on a nightly basis.
With our troops out of Iraq, the Democrats wouldn't have had their number one issue last November, and the GOP could have retained control of both the House and the Senate.
With him retaining much of his political capital, Bush might have been willing to more aggressively push his Social Security reforms and not have backed off as he did. Of course, Bush, having retained much of his political capital, might not have so quickly backed off Harriet Miers' nomination. Perhaps GOP conservatives might have been less inclined to confront him over his let's-not-call-it-amnesty immigration reforms.
What if, indeed?