Ted Cruz is breaking from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) about whether or not he would have ordered the U.S. military into its eight-year war in Iraq.
“Knowing what we know now, of course we wouldn’t go into Iraq,” the Texas Republican told The Hill on Tuesday.
“At the time, the intelligence reports indicated that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction that posed a significant national security threat to this country. That’s the reason there was such widespread bipartisan support for going into Iraq,” he added. “We now know in hindsight, those intelligence reports were false.”
“Without that predicate, it is difficult to imagine the decision would have been made to go into Iraq, and that predicate proved erroneous,” Cruz said.
I said in 2006 that “the war was a mistake given what we know now, but it was the right call based on what we knew at the time.” And I elaborated that the reason was the lack of WMD:
I may be the last remaining conservative who (reluctantly) signed on to the war almost wholly because of the threat of WMD. I understand that numerous other arguments for war were made from the very beginning, including the desire to liberate the Iraqi people from the tyrannical dictatorship of Saddam, and to plant the seeds of democracy. I have met Iraqis who have benefited from our policy, and I don’t want to minimize that. But I wouldn’t have signed on to risking our soldiers’ lives for that goal, and neither would have most Americans, I think.
Since then, I have become even more skeptical of war in general, and indeed of the notion of spreading democracy: a system that encourages total war between nations and an ever-increasing government. But that’s another topic.
The bottom line is that Ted Cruz is right. There was one valid reason to go to war in Iraq, and it was wrong. The war was a mistake. Jeb Bush won’t say it. Ted Cruz just did.