Jon Schwarz says that Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech last night had a lot of rhetoric that was dangerously similar to that used by George W. Bush in his 2002 and 2003 State of the Union speeches before he launched the criminal and disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Anyone who was paying attention during George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses in 2002 and 2003 would have found Trump’s statements frighteningly familiar: Trump used exactly the same justifications for war with North Korea as Bush had for war with Iraq when standing at the same podium.
To begin with, Trump claimed, the United States simply cannot accept a North Korea with weapons that could “threaten our homeland.” Moreover, the danger from Kim Jong Un is not just to America: His regime constitutes “a menace that threatens our world.”
Similarly, Bush had ruled out living with an Iraq armed with unconventional weapons that could be used against America. “Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein,” said Bush, “is not a strategy, and it is not an option.” And this was not just for our sake: A nation such as Iraq, he had proclaimed, was “the gravest danger facing America and the world.”
We know what happened next with Bush and Iraq: a gigantic, catastrophic war based on what turned out to be the shoddiest of lies.
What Tuesday’s State of the Union address demonstrated is that Americans – and the world – need to start taking seriously the possibility that the same thing may happen with Trump and North Korea, except on a much larger and even more terrifying scale.
I did not of course watch or listen to the speech. I rarely do for these ceremonial occasions and there is even less reason to do so with Trump because with a liar like him, anything he says can be repudiated by him within minutes.
But the danger is that the same people who are easily frightened and stampeded into going to war may do so again.