The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Confusing headline of the day

December 15, 2005


Say what?

Did Bush say, in effect, “I’m to blame for the bad intelligence”? Is he taking the blame for using bad intelligence? I know he didn’t take the blame for Iraq’s enduring struggle against poor intel.

Turns out, none of the above:

“It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq, and I am also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities and we’re doing just that,” he said.

What Bush actually said is that he was responsible for the decision to invade, and that he’s responsible for reforming the intelligence agencies.

He’s right.

As the head of the Executive Branch, he is indeed responsible for Executive agencies. Given that Congress long ago lost the battle (War Powers Act notwithstanding) for control over the decision to use American military force to the Executive Branch, Bush is indeed responsible for the US invasion of Iraq. It was, after all, his decision.

But nothing in this statement – or any other ones I’ve been able to find from his Fox News interview – suggests that he’s taking any real blame for the gross inaccuracies his administration used to justify the war.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.