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Excuses For War
By Michi Chan

It was March 20, 2003 and the deadline for the capture of Iraqi's leader Saddam Hussein had expired. President Bush had given him an ultimatum - go into exile or face the possibility of war with the United States. Saddam Hussein made his choice to stay in Iraq and President Bush declared War. Many Americans believed President Bush had led the United States in the right direction, while others were more cynical. Some Americans believed the War with Iraq was politically motivated or the President had a personal grudge against the Iraqi government. Others believed the events of September 11, 2001 had something to do with it. After all, it had been a year and half and the United States was still searching for those who were responsible for the terrorist attacks. Americans were led to believe that Iraq had violated the UN agreement and possessed materials to make weapons of mass destruction (WMD). However, the materials to make weapons of mass destruction were never found and the media transformed the War into a humanitarian cause to "free" the Iraqi people. More than a year had passed and many Americans have been questioning the validity of the War with Iraq.

Whether Americans believe the War was started over weapons of mass destruction or a response to terrorism, reports suggest that bad intelligence was given to the Bush Administration. Initially, Americans were told that Saddam Hussein was hiding the materials to make weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and it was a possible threat to the United States. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said to a panel committee1 , "Saddam 'had to be dealt with' and 'the president made the right decision' in going to war. The dictator is no longer filling up mass graves or building weapons of mass destruction." However, the United States did not find any weapons or the materials to build weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This left Americans questioning, why are we in Iraq? Condoleezza Rice's comment2 to the committee can best sum it up: "[Saddam] was a dangerous man in the most dangerous part of the world. Bush had to act in America's best interest."

The United States is still investigating the events that led up to September 11, 2001. Although a final report from the independent committee has not been released, Americans do not believe the Bush Administration is telling the whole truth about the information prior to September 11, 2001. In a CBS News/ New York Times Poll3 taken April 23-27, 2004, Americans were asked if they felt that the Bush Administration were holding back information or telling the truth about prior knowledge of possible terrorist attacks against the United State. 56% felt that the Bush Administration was "mostly telling the truth but hiding something" while 24% felt the Bush Administration was telling the truth. However, there is a partisan divide between democrats and independents against the republicans where most democrats and independents believe the Bush Administration is mostly telling the truth but hiding something.

CBS News/New York Times Poll. April 23-27, 2004.
N=1,042 adults nationwide. MoE +- 3 (total sample).

"When it comes to what they knew prior to September 11th, 2001, about possible terrorist attacks against the United States, do you think members of the Bush Administration are telling the truth, are mostly telling the truth but hiding something, or are they mostly lying?"
  Telling
the Truth
Hiding Something Mostly Lying Don't Know
  % % % %
ALL 24 56 16 4
Republicans 49 43 6 2
Democrats 9 60 27 4
Independents 18 61 15 6
Trend:
3/30-4/1/04
24 59 11 6

The Bush Administration had yet to determine if there is a link to Iraq and international terrorists. Initial reports4 from the independent committee said, "There was no evidence that supports Iraq had anything to do with the events on September 11, 2001." Yet President Bush said,5 "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." In a CNN article6 Bush reiterated that the administration never said that "the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated 'between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.' We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda." Since the independent committee did not find a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, shouldn't the President be focusing on international terrorism?

According to PollingReport7 in a CBS News/New York Times poll, Americans were asked if they thought the Bush Administration was focused too much on the Iraq war and not enough on the al Qaeda terrorists. On April 23-27, 2004 43% felt that the Bush Administration was focusing too much on Iraq while 49% felt there was a balance of focus on the Iraq war and al Qaeda terrorists.

CBS News/New York Times Poll. April 23-27, 2004.
N=1,042 adults nationwide. MoE +- 3 (total sample).

"Do you think the Bush Administration has focused too much on the Iraq war and not enough on the Al Qaeda terrorists, OR too much on the Al Qaeda terrorists and not enough on the Iraq war, OR has the balance been about right?"
  Too Much On Iraq Too Much
On Al Qaeda
About
Right
Don't
Know
  % % % %
4/23-27/04 43 3 49 5
3/30-4/1/04 41 3 48 8

Although 49% of Americans felt that the Bush Administration had an equal amount of attention focused on Iraq and al Qaeda, the question if the War with Iraq was valid still needed to be addressed. Our initial reasons for the so-called weapons of mass destruction were not found. The independent committee that was investigating the events that led up to September 11, 2001 had yet to prove there was a link to the Iraqi government and a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda terrorists. If there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which interests was the United States government trying to protect?





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