"Worse than a crime, it was a blunder," was how the cynical Talleyrand famously described Napoleon's murder of the Duke d'Enghien.
The same may be said of President George Bush's attempts to murder the leader of a sovereign nation, Saddam Hussein, and his foolhardy eagerness to invade Iraq.
Thanks to Bush's blundering, nearly 50% of U.S. Army combat units are now stuck in a spreading guerrilla war in Iraq , costing $4 billion US monthly, that is becoming the biggest, most expensive, and bloodiest foreign mess since Vietnam. This when the U.S. is threatening military action against North Korea.
As the furor in Washington grows over Bush's admission of now-discredited claims about Iraqi uranium imports from Africa in his keynote state of the union address, administration officials are viciously blaming one another.
George Tenet, the CIA's meek director, became the fall guy for the uranium fiasco, though he repeatedly warned the White House its claims were unsubstantiated.
Blame rightly belongs to Bush himself, and to his woefully inadequate national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Either they knew the uranium story was false, or they were unfit for high office.
For one thing, uranium ore is no more threatening than cake mix.
To weaponize it, ore must be laboriously transformed into uranium hexafluoride gas, then separated and enriched in huge, highly visible plants, equipped with "cascades" of thousands of high-speed centrifuges.
The U.S. knew there were no such nuclear plants in Iraq. French intelligence warned it the Niger story was bogus.