President Bush launched a war of choice against a country that posed no imminent threat to the United States by misrepresenting intelligence to the American public (or by not vetting intelligence fully enough and not seeking dissenting opinions, if you want to be kinder). That war of choice led to the death of over 4,000 young American men and women and the dismembering and disfiguring of 30,000 more. The number of Iraqis dead counts in the hundreds of thousands, most just civilians. Anti-Americanism has increased dramatically around the world, in both states we count as allies and as enemies, and terrorism has gone up along with it. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, black sites, rendition, waterboarding, and torture exacerbated all of these problems. Americans saw photos of detainees that our soldiers had hooked up to wires or attacked with dogs. President Bush threw fuel on the fire with a bellicosity and an insensitivity that helped turned even his own country against him. “Bring ’em on.” “Now watch this drive.” “Nope, no weapons over there.”
But former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, creator of the phrase “axis of evil,” needs you to understand — incivility is key. Incivility will ruin this country.