Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From An Angry Reader:

To: Prof. Victor Davis Hanson

 

At the end of your interview with Scott Simon on 8 July 2017 I heard this: “And look how they took a good man like George Bush and turned him into a monster”. It caught my attention.

 

One of the few things I agree with Donald J Trump about is what he had to say on the campaign trail about George W Bush, his administration, 911, and the Iraq war. I don’t think I need to remind you but: The Bush Administration was informed repeatedly by the outgoing Clinton administration that Osama Bin Laden was determined to attack the US on its own soil. So the Bush Administration failed to act on the real intelligence it had. Donald J Trump said as much. Donald J Trump thought that the George W Bush and his Administration lied to congress and the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He said so. Now I don’t believe this is true because Trump said so, I believe it because I used the same straight up news reporting to come to my conclusions Trump did. Reporting by people with years of credibility at major news organizations brought me the following:

 

  1. The ‘Yellowcake from Nigeria’ paper is a phony. With real yellowcake, billions of dollars, the right people, and a couple of years perhaps you have a deliverable weapon.
  2. Iraq had been under embargo since the first Gulf war. They didn’t even have GPS for their troops in the desert, much less centrifuges, aluminum tubes, or a way to get a nuclear weapon to the US.
  3. Hans Blixt and his team had found all but nothing that suggested a current WMD program. No program.
  4. Secretary of State Powell’s presentation at the United Nations was unconvincing. If the Bush Administration had something real to show let the public see it.
  5. All assertions of great danger to the public in the press were coming from the Bush and Blair administrations or parrots in Commons, Congress and the Right wing press.
  6. Real reporters have ways of getting information out of places like Iraq under Saddam Hussein There was silence. No intelligence is intelligence too.
  7. Finally an ‘intelligence estimate’ (which is all they had), is an estimate. Not a ‘slam dunk’.

 

On the basis of the above I believed there was little chance Iraq had wmd’s. There is no Bill Maher or Steven Colbert or any one like them leading to my conclusion that the Bush and Blair Administrations lied. If George W Bush’s reputation suffers from this so be it. I have in laws who still think of George W Bush as a “lovely Christian man” I don’t. I think “monster” is not as accurate as war criminal. He’s a war criminal along with Cheney and Rumsfeld et al. who supported this lie. My opinion of George W Bush is not based on Left wing comics and commentators and I don’t need to use foul or abusive language. I’m as angry as those who do. So no weapons of mass destruction. Plenty of lies and death. America should face up to this. I hoped to hear more when Trump brought it up. All I heard was the sound of pearls being clutched Left and Right. Let’s not let something so wrong happen again. We would be living in a different world if the SCOTUS cared about who won Florida in 2000.

 

Have a nice day.

 

Reuel Kenyon

______________

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Reuel Kenyon,

 

Bill Clinton is not a good source for bin Laden on any matter; his appeasement after terrorist attacks emboldened bin Laden, and he turned down an offer from Middle Eastern nations to arrest bin Laden and extradite him to the U.S.

 

All these issues have been adjudicated. Bush did not “lie” but relied on the intelligence of the era—from the CIA (“slam dunk”), NSA, and DIA, and from foreign intelligence services such as those in Jordan and Egypt that warned us that our troops would come under missile chemical attack while mustering in Kuwait (was that an international conspiracy, one that prompted tens of thousands of chemical mask protection kits to be issued to our troops?).

 

But more importantly, did you ever read the joint Congressional authorizations of October 2002 for the war—the official and legal basis for undertaking the war?

 

There were some 23 writs; only 3-4 concerned WMD. Most cited genocide, violation of UN accords, destruction of the Kurds and Marsh Arabs, the Clinton era liberation act, bounties for suicide bombers on the West Bank, harboring of terrorist killers from the first World Trade Center attack and other operations, attempts to kill George H.W. Bush, violations of no-fly-zones and 1991 accords, etc.

 

They were passed with sizable Democratic support—with stirring speeches from Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. Biden later suggested a stable Iraq was perhaps the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement,” a characterization echoed by Obama when he prematurely pulled out peace-keepers from a stable Iraq in late 2011—ensuring the chaos that followed.

 

Your angry letter is a calcified relic of 2006-7 and the hysteria of the Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan era. In the words of progressives—time to Move On.

 

Have a nice day,

 

Victor Hanson

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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