Much as the Vietnam Syndrome dogged the foreign and military policies of a generation of U.S. presidents, the Iraq Syndrome has become an ever-present undercurrent in Washington. "Everyone is reliving the whole thing again in everything we do," said one administration official, referring to the tumultuous months surrounding the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
"In the old days, if the U.S. government had come out and said, 'We've got this, here's our assessment,' reasonable people would have taken it at face value," the official said of the Baghdad briefing. "That's never going to happen again."
The president spent much of the hour-long televised session in the East Room addressing skepticism about his government's assertions regarding Iran and fears of a widening regional conflict. "The idea that somehow we're manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing [explosives] is preposterous," Bush said. Repeating a reporter's question, he added: "Does this mean you're trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I'm trying to protect our troops."
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton warned President Bush on Wednesday not to take any military action against Iran without getting congressional approval first.
"If the administration believes that any, any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority," Clinton said in a Senate speech.
The most powerful tool of the U.S. presidency is moral authority. It is both a boon and burden to the leader of the free world that his or her words have such amazing strength. But because of the Iraq war, because of the mistakes, lies, and cooked intelligence the administration presented to us and stovepiped through the press, they have squandered that moral authority. The world does not believe us, and neither do the American people save for a few straggling dead-ender conservatives who subsist on a circle jerk of disinformation among themselves. We've fallen a long way, and we're much less safer and secure because of it.