Former US President George W. Bush has remained silent in recent days as veterans reflect on their service, Iraqis talk about their country, and American lawmakers debate whether to finally repeal the legislation authorizing the invasion. Despite being indelibly associated with the Iraq War, Bush has left the judgments to others and is most energized by his post-presidential interest in painting and his public policy institute. His artistic ambitions have turned to paintings of birds and flowers, which appear far removed from memories of war. While some believe that Bush’s interest in helping veterans is a form of atonement, others argue that his silence at this anniversary hardly erases the stain of the decision he made. Opponents of the war argue that he and his administration did not simply make a good-faith error in believing faulty intelligence but distorted the case to sell a war they were predisposed to wage. Looking back, former advisers believe that Bush would never have gone to war had he known there were no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq, if for no other reason than it would have left him without sufficient support in Congress. However, many critics forget the atmosphere in the period after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the nation was afraid and Saddam Hussein was seen as a threat by both parties, leading even Democrats like Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a senator, to support war.
The article exhibits perplexity in the form of conflicting views and opinions about the Iraq War, with some believing that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was correct, while others argue that he and his administration distorted the case to sell a war they were predisposed to wage. The article also highlights the burstiness of the war’s impact, with the invasion succeeding in toppling Saddam Hussein but also touching off a virulent insurgency and relentless sectarian civil war that ultimately killed thousands of people, including American troops, contractors, members of the Iraqi military and police, insurgents, and civilians.
The article quotes Melvyn P. Leffler, a University of Virginia historian, who describes Bush as “an extraordinarily complex person,” who appears to believe that his decision to invade Iraq was correct but feels a great deal of agony, responsibility, and regret for those whose lives were scarred forever and for those who perished. However, those who have worked with him since he left office said he never talks in such terms, at least not in their presence. The article also quotes James K. Glassman, who served as an under secretary of state under Mr. Bush and later was the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, who believes that Bush’s interest in helping veterans, especially wounded warriors, is not atonement but rather admiration for these men and women.
The article also features a quote from Gary J. Bass, a scholar of human rights at Princeton, who argues that “Bush will never wash the blood off his hands,” and that even twenty years after his disastrous decision, it only looks worse, and he can’t escape this. Furthermore, the article quotes Alan Lowe, the first director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, who believes that it is tempting for some to second-guess President Bush or to doubt his motivations, especially for those who have forgotten the trauma of 9/11 and the hard lesson that an attack can occur when we least expect it.
In conclusion, the article presents conflicting views and opinions about the Iraq War and its impact. While some believe that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was correct, others argue that he and his administration distorted the case to sell a war they were predisposed to wage.