Here’s Where Bush’s Fight Against Terrorism Went Wrong

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President George W. Bush’s verbal missteps were legendary. Take, for example, his September 2006 interview with Katie Couric on CBS News, in which he said, “one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.” Comments such as that one hinted at the ramifications his errors had on the course of U.S. history. Bush started planning for an invasion of Iraq two months after the September 11 attacks, according to his 2010 memoir, though military operations did not begin until March 2003.

The criticisms heaped on Bush were numerous. In the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq began, reporters in Knight Ridder’s Washington, D.C., bureau questioned the links between Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, and international terrorism made by the Bush administration. Other political experts accused Bush of starting and sustaining a “rhetoric of war fever.” However, supporters of the Iraq war, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have argued that the removal of Saddam made the Arab Spring possible.

Gore Vidal, author of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, theorized in January 2003 that Bush wanted to be a wartime president with the ability to “suspend much if not all of the Bill of Rights.” Richard Falk, co-editor of Crimes of War, said in an April 2003 interview that the “war against Iraq is very questionable constitutionally, as well as dubious under international law.” An argument also circulated that the U.S. was doing more to encourage terrorism than eradicate it.

More from The Cheat Sheet