There's an argument being floated that Bush is no more culpable for taking military action against Iraq than is Clinton, who launched missile strikes in 1998. If life were a debating society, the point might be good. But I can't help but note that (1) The Bush Administration had five more years of intelligence; (2) there are serious questions whether the Bush Administration tweaked the intel to suit their ends-oriented analysis; (3) when no WMD were found, the Bush Administration shifted their alleged motivation for war to "the fight against global terror"; (4) evidence indicates that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq even before 9/11; and most importantly, (5) The Clinton Administration's military action against Iraq did not cost (to date) 2,065 American lives and many thousands more maimed and wounded.
I also have a long enough memory to recall just what the Administration said, both explicitly and by innuendo: that Saddam had WMD, that he would use them imminently, and we had to take military action right away, or else. The Bush Administration resorted shamelessly -- and effectively -- to the worst kind of fear-mongering.
The Administration had an unrealistic assessment of the presence of WMD, it had an unrealistic assessment of the cooperation of Iraqis, and it had an unrealistic assessment of how to win the peace. When collectively pink with embarassment for not having found any WMD, the Administration resultingly resorted to attempted political retribution against Joe Wilson when he went off the reservation to expose the Administration's shortcomings in the decision to commit to war.
In its zeal to find out something -- anything! -- to justify the war decision, the Administration has condoned, nay, approved the use of torture to extract information of questionable reliability from prisoners. In short, the Bush Administration, acting for the United States, has acted contemptibly, and has caused us, in the eyes of the world, to become that which we detest the most.
Before I'm castigated for being unpatriotic, let me say that this discussion has nothing to do with our troops on the ground. They are simply soldiering. But we went to war in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, because we, the people, were misled about the necessity for military action.
Americans don't like to be lied to, and the public is just now starting to suspect they were duped into support for this war. There will be a price to be paid ultimately by this Administration.