Buencamino does foreign and political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was Editorial in Today, 14 July 2004 edition.

If we were asked, “Given the chance, what are the questions you would
pose to US Vice President Cheney regarding his views on Iraq?”, we
would reply that we have only one question in mind.

That question would be: “Mr. Cheney, the Bush-appointed 9/11 commission
and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee reported that Iraq had
no links with al- Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, and no nuclear
weapons program, yet you continue to believe and insist otherwise. So,
Mr. Cheney, do you also believe that Elvis is still in the building?”

Bush invaded another sovereign country under false pretenses. Iraq
posed no imminent threat to America. As someone said, “the ‘mushroom
cloud’ in Condoleeza Rice’s pictorial warning of what could happen if
Saddam was not overthrown turned out to be nothing but smoke blowing
out of the Bush administration’s collective ass.”

When Arroyo told Bush, “Friends don’t ask why, they ask how,” it was
because she believed a friend’s claims. She cannot be faulted for
believing the “best available evidence” provided by that friend. But
now that the truth is out, the choice is clear. An unprovoked attack on
another sovereign country is a crime, pure and simple. If she stays
with Bush in Iraq, she will be a party to a continuing crime.

Nowadays, Bush has been shifting gears from making false claims about
Saddam to telling allies that pulling out of Iraq is wrong because it
would be a sign of weakness and lack of resolve in the war on terror.
Moreover, he claims that the occupation of Iraq ended when sovereignty
was handed over. This, even as coalition troops remain in place because
it’s what his Iraqi appointees want in their fight against those who
still believed in the previous regime. It’s difficult to know if the
majority of Iraqis accept Bush’s gift of sovereignty and if his chosen
few are also their choice, but history offers many interesting
comparisons to what today’s conquering “hero” is saying.

Sixty years ago, Japan claimed the Philippines was suffering under
Western domination. Accordingly, Japan invaded the Philippines,
appointed a new government, and handed over sovereignty. Japan kept
troops in place because the newly liberated Philippine Government
needed help to fight those who still believed in the previous regime.

A century ago, America claimed the Philippines was suffering under
Spanish domination. Accordingly, America… and the previous verse
repeats itself as you go back and forth through time in the
never-ending fables of conquering “heroes.”

President Arroyo must continue to wage war on terrorists but not by
remaining in Iraq. She must draw a clear line between the war on
terrorism and the war based on lies. Blood, especially that which is
shed in the commission of a crime, does not wash off easily. As Lady
Macbeth said, “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of
Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” Arab perfumes may not
sweeten a murderess’ hand but Arab oil has certainly burned America’s.

If Bush asks his friend why she is walking out, Arroyo can say, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”