Political speechwriters have the unenviable task of making dull minds seem bright and vicious ones seem noble. Without their help, it would be much more difficult to persuade nations to do dumb or evil things. When we vote in a modern election, we are often voting for who has the best speech writer and PR team. The candidates themselves are often a mystery to us.
David Frum was a speech writer during the Bush years. In the Newsweek article linked below he discusses his role in the rush to war with Iraq. Here is a brief excerpt:
I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to U.S. dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.
You might imagine that an administration preparing for a war of choice would be gripped by self-questioning and hot debate. There was certainly plenty to discuss: unlike the 1991 Gulf War, there was no immediate crisis demanding a rapid response; unlike Vietnam, the U.S. entered the war fully aware that it was commencing a major commitment.
Yet that discussion never really happened, not the way that most people would have imagined anyway. For a long time, war with Iraq was discussed inside the Bush administration as something that would be decided at some point in the future; then, somewhere along the way, war with Iraq was discussed as something that had already been decided long ago in the past.