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WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Bush cried wolf once; he must not do it again

As governmental rhetoric against North Korea increases in pitch, the Bush administration should take care to avoid the mistakes that plagued our nation's attack on Iraq.

In the months leading up to the start of the Iraq war, the administration periodically released snippets of information, apparently gauging public support for a war. After several of these rhetorical onslaughts, Americans became incensed. The administration's carefully crafted image of Saddam Hussein had taken root.

Problem was, most of the rhetoric was false. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was not harboring al-Qaida terrorists. Iraq had not tried to purchase nuclear weapons. The war was not — still is not — a quick and easy copy of the first Gulf war.

As the fallacy of Mr. Bush's various assertions became apparent, he deftly redefined his justification for the war. The "liberation of Iraq," a minor part of the pre-war rhetoric, is now the administration's primary justification for American lives lost.

The rhetoric dribbling from the White House on the threat posed by North Korea sounds a lot like the pre-war rhetoric in 2002.

Mr. Bush's miscalculations on Iraq boosted public support for the war. That history will make it much more difficult for him to find support for a military action against North Korea. He needs to take care that North Korea is indeed a legitimate threat before raising the rhetoric another notch.

Give it to us straight, Mr. Bush, or don't give it to us at all.

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