As a result of Bush’s appeal, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to present Saddam with an ultimatum, and a 30-day deadline to expire on December 7, 2002. By that date he was to honor the truce and destroy his illegal weapons programs or “serious consequences would follow.”
The ultimatum was UN Resolution 1441 – the seventeenth attempt to enforce a truce in the Gulf War of 1991. The deadline came and went without Saddam’s compliance. Saddam knew that his military suppliers and political allies, Russia and France, would never authorize its enforcement by arms. This is the reason the United States and Britain went to war without UN approval, not because George Bush preferred unilateral measures, which is simply another Democratic deception.
Since war was not the president’s preference, first, last or otherwise, the United States did not immediately attack. Instead, the White House spent three months after the December 7deadline trying by diplomatic means to persuade the French and Russians and Chinese to back the UN resolution they had voted for and to force Saddam to open his country to full inspections. In other words, to honor the terms of the Gulf War truce that they, as Security Council members, had ratified and promised to enforce.
A third Democratic lie, regurgitated by Gore, is the famous accusation about the sixteen words Bush used in the State of the Union address on the eve of the war. According to Gore, Bush claimed “that he had documentary proof” that Saddam Hussein attempted to buy fissionable uranium from the African state of Niger. According to Gore the “documentary proof” was revealed to be an Italian forgery for which Bush failed to apologize. According to Gore, there was no inquiry into how this happened. According to Gore, the Niger claim was one of the key falsehoods on which Bush based the “rationale” for the war.
Every one of these assertions is a distortion of the facts and false.
First, the Niger claim was not part of the rationale for the war. It is not mentioned in the Authorization for the Use of Force legislation or in UN Security Council ultimatum 1441, which constitute the actual reasons the United States and Britain went to war in Iraq. In his State of the Union address the president did not say he had “documentary proof” of an Iraqi mission to obtain uranium in Niger. He said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
Those sixteen words were all he said. Every one of these words, moreover, was true then and remains true today. The British did report that Saddam “had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” and they have stuck by their report, which, contrary to Gore’s malicious assertion, has indeed been investigated by a Senate Intelligence Committee, and has not been found to be false as Gore (and legions of unprincipled Bush critics) have falsely claimed.
Moreover the forged Italian document, which was not mentioned in the State of the Union Address, as Gore falsely suggested, was quickly acknowledged by the White House to be a forgery.
The Niger claim, along with the administration’s claims about aluminum tubes and Colin Powell’s February 2003 speech to the UN, which are falsely presented by administration critics as rationales for the war, were all made more than a month after Saddam defied the December 7deadline. They were not rationales for the war, but were strictly for the benefit of the appeasement parties in Britain and France. They were put forward as part of an attempt to secure a second Security Council resolution to reinforce the 1441 ultimatum. This was requested by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, even though a second Security Council resolution would have been redundant. It was needed by Blair to respond to the attacks he was under from Britain’s anti-American Left.
For Gore and the president’s Democratic critics, all these facts count for nothing.