Ryan Henowitz, an Iraqi war veteran, confronted Karl Rove about his stance on the war, asking if he will take responsibility and apologize for helping to start the conflict. In summary, Karl’s answer was “no.”
Henowitz challenged Karl Rove, a former adviser to the Bush White House, during a speaking event at the University of Connecticut on Tuesday. He explained that he’s dealt with his demons and asked if Rove can say the same.
“I have taken responsibility for my actions and dealt with my demons while advocating for a peaceful resolution of a war that was an act of aggression with no clear goal. Can you take responsibility and apologize for your decision in sending a generation to lose their humanity and deal with the horrors of war, which you have never had the courage to face?”
Karl Rove went into arguing mode, dug in his heels, and started defending the rationale for the invasion.
“It was right thing to do. I appreciate your service for our country. I’m sorry for what you went through but it was the right thing to remove Saddam Hussein from power.”
According to the Huffington Post, Rove’s defense went into many of the talking points the Bush administration has used for over a decade. Karl Rove explained Saddam Hussein was a sponsor for terrorist activities, which represented a renewed threat to the U.S. after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Karl Rove went on to say Hussein was maintaining networks of scientists and engineers to rebuild his weapon facilities, and had distant plans to reconstitute his WMD programs.
Rove kept his nose clean of direct claims that have since been proven false, like the idea that Hussein had WMDs or the ingredients for one. According to Politifact, the dictator did claim he had wanted to rebuild all of his WMD programs, citing an FBI interview with sources close to the dictator.
From there, Karl Rove went from defense to offense, claiming the president’s decision to pull-out of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS.
“We should have stayed there and remained there like the Iraqis wanted us to. We would not have seen the rise if ISIS, would not have seen the displacement of millions of people in the country and we would not have seen the death of hundreds of thousands of people simply because they believed in Jesus Christ or were [inaudible] or were Shia.”
Of course, plenty of blame has been hurled from both sides of the aisle when it comes to the creation of ISIS. Vox did an in-depth breakdown of the rise of terrorist organization, citing the repressive policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against the country’s Sunni population as the greatest single contributing factor. Down the list of guilty parties, they claimed the rise of ISIS would never be possible without the 2003 invasion.
Chris Mathews went one step further and claimed Dick Cheney set up ISIS’ rise to power by invading Iraq and eliminating Hussein’s former Ba’athist henchmen. Politifact ultimately found Mathews’ statements to be mostly false, even though experts agree ISIS couldn’t have flourished without the Iraqi invasion.
Karl Rove jumped over those key points to explain that the current administration should have taken a lesson from the Korean War and World War 2 and stayed put.
“We should be proud of what we were able to do in Iraq and we should be sorry that we left them alone, because when we left them, things deteriorated, the same as they would have deteriorated if in 1955 Dwight Eisenhower had said, ‘You know what? We’ve had this horrible civil war in Korea—let’s wash our hands of it and go home.’ The world could have looked a lot different had we done so. If in 1950 we said, ‘You know we’ve been in Europe for five years, we defeated the Nazis, but you know what, let’s go home.'”
Of course, Karl Rove’s assertions make a number of leaps, like that the U.S. military would have stamped out ISIS from an early stage before it gained ground in Syria, but disproving a hypothetical is always difficult, if not possible. In the end, Rove thanked the veteran for his service but said he would not apologize.
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