Please explain how you know this. How would more of our soldiers have died if we hadn't invaded Iraq?
Let's be clear here, what I write is my opinion, however, justifiably you've seen it as a fairly strong one based on the fact I didn't qualify it.
The Mideast is a powder keg that simply isn't going to go away on it's own, and unless these sorts of situations are handled at the right time, in the right manner, they explode, and they take a lot of people with them.
Iraq was a state in the grips of an expansionist dictator who had NBC weapons, at least at one point, and he definitely had the desire to get them again. This sort of dictatorship can go one of many ways, where few to none of them good for the rest of the world. He could have continued to rule, and his programs set up again as soon as the sanctions were pulled. If he died too soon, one of his sons would have taken over.
Or he could have been overthrown, probably by the Shiites, and the best thing we could hope for would be an orderly transition to a Shiite state, most likely aligned with Iran. At worst, it would have become a free-for-all zone like Afghanistan. While I've never believed that Iraq was a huge al-Queda supporter, Iraq did/does host al-Queda as well as a bunch of other terrorist groups. If the Ba'athist regime fell apart on it's own, it could have easily been the next Afghanistan, complete with expanded al-Queda presence and oil to boot.
Without direct US intervention, I see none of the likely paths pointing towards democracy at all, and without putting out boots on the ground in Iraq, there would not be sufficent levels of involvement to do anything. Of course, by that point, it would be too late. We could have tried, at that point to invade, but we'd be (rightly) seen as invaders. Or we could do nothing and let the cards fall how they may.
We let things drop in Afghanistan, and we got spanked hard for that. Failure to deal with Iraq would be a critical failure of US foreign policy, a failure that would eventually be paid for in blood of US citizens, just as we are paying for Afghanistan now.
Do I know any of this? Nothing that I could prove with mathematical rigor, perhaps, but I see lots of disturbing things that measure up with past events in the Mideast and the rest of the world very well. Needless to say, now I won't have my chance to be proven correct, or incorrect for that matter, but I think it was the right decision to make.
We have not made it impossible for the government to "do the right thing." Ergo, we are not responsible for their dishonesty. Or if you insist on repeating this unfounded claim, please provide some support for it.
Again, I'm not saying that we're responsible for dishonesty. The Bush Administration is responsible for the actions it takes. Nevertheless, I would very much say that self-absorption of the US public limits the options of the government to do what needs to be done. That's two different things. What it does is that it puts an administration in a position of either lying, or doing nothing, and that can end up being a Catch-22 when non-action can cause the situation to get that much worse.
The fact is that we should have been able to deal with Iraq simply on the basis of them breaking their promises made at the end of the Gulf War. There's millenia of precedent of victors ensuring their terms are carried out by threat of force being re-applied. You shouldn't be able to face down a victorious power and ignore them or their sanctions. It didn't matter that Saddam had no WMD ten years later, or even that we were wrong about him having them. It was his job to prove he was complying. He didn't, and we let him get away with it for far too long.
Is that the American public's fault? Yeah, it is. The apathy, that is, not the decision to lie. I can't point to any poll figures or anything (although they might be found), but I live here and see what people are saying every day on the news and in public and have been for ten years. There's no way, short of Saddam invading Kuwait again, that we would have moved without some sort of fabulous claims and the coincidence of the terrorist attacks. No way. We won in '91 and proceeded to continue to decimate our military and intelligence assets because of the so-called "peace dividend". It took us blundering around in Somalia and Yugoslavia before we realized the mistake, but we still ignored Iraq.
I don't know what sort of proof you think will convince you, and I honestly don't have the time to do a research paper on it, although it is tempting. If you want, though, you just look around and ask yourself what would have happened if you came to the complex conclusion that Iraq needed to be dealt with in 2000. Then try to get the American people to go along with it by laying down the dry facts of it. Just see how far it would have gotten in Congress or at the watercooler, for that matter. Not far at all. And you know, if this reluctance was based simply on the premise of "give peace a chance", I might understand it, but that's not it. It's more like, "what do I care" or "how is that going to raise my taxes" or "Boo hoo, my little Danny joined the Army to get free college, not to actually be a real soldier, it's so unfair."
You may snicker at the idea that the government can be rendered powerless to act, but in reality, while the government can have a great deal of power over individuals, in terms of broad policy it really is locked into popular opinion, or more accurately, popular apathy. If you think that the government is free to do what it chooses, get yourself elected to Congress and then try and touch Social Security. See how much power you have then. Zero. How about suggesting that we begin a comprehensive program to spend an additional 100 billion dollars a year on feeding people in other countries, with the required tax hike to go with it? Heh. Now try and argue that a 200 billion dollar war can simply be forced on us by the government. No way.
What I am concerned about, and have always been concerned about is not in making the administration look better. What I care about is that we open our eyes and really look at these problems and realize that some actions are really really ugly and destructive, but sometimes they have to be taken, especially if we missed the opportunity to do it the right way the first time. I think that if Bush was determined to be lying, that there is a good chance that it will shut down any real questioning of our attitudes about decisive action in the Mideast for decades. The war will get tarred with the same brush that Bush might be, and we'll ignore the fact that our isolationism is just as much a problem as any ten politicians.