Bush on Iraq One Year Later: “There have been disagreements in this matter, among old and valued friends. Those differences belong to the past. All of us can now agree that the fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability in the Middle East. It’s a good thing that the demands of the United Nations were enforced, not ignored with impunity. It is a good thing that years of illicit weapons development by the dictator have come to the end. It is a good thing that the Iraqi people are now receiving aid, instead of suffering under sanctions. And it is a good thing that the men and women across the Middle East, looking to Iraq, are getting a glimpse of what life in a free country can be like.”
Even if you agree about what the “good things” are, Bush’s speech did little to defuse what some of our allies see as the bad things. And simply announcing that open wounds, unresolved arguments, a deepening dearth of trust, and festering points of contention now “belong to the past” will not do the trick. The “get over it, it’s the past” model works no better in international affairs than it does in private ones.