The Dems most certainly did come along gor the ride, and many of them voted for the war. It is interesting that there are actually people in the news and at protests claiming the the President went into Iraq without the consent of the Congress when the Congress approved the war.On the matter of Congressional consent, there's a case to be made that the war was technically illegal, but since the offended party isn't speaking up, it's sort of consent by silence.
As for the WMDs, well . . . Saddam had used them in the past on multiple occasions. He refused to provide proof of their destruction or to let weapons inspectors into the country, he defied 16 UN resolutions that all promised military repercussions if he did not cooperate. The US simply enforced what those eunuchs at the UN would not.
The argument is basically that the War Resolution was contingent on a Presidential determination that the invasion was both necessary to defend the US and consistent with the War on Terror -- this was a compromise arrangement, since the prominent argument at the time was that the resolution was primarily to support the President's position in demanding cooperation.
Such a document was submitted, but it was basically a rehash of the talking points, and actually cited the preamble of the War Resolution as evidence. So the argument that Congress didn't technically consent may have some legitimacy to it, but it's pretty pointless and not likely to go anywhere.
As to enforcing UN resolutions, Scott Ritter (who was the chief inspector before the mission was withdrawn -- not kicked out -- in anticipation of Operation Desert Fox) asserts that we basically turned the inspections process into an intelligence-gathering operation in support of attempts to assassinate Saddam. Now, that may be an admirable goal, but it's very difficult to make a legitimate case against him based on his resistance to being killed.
Beyond that, it's just not true that Iraq "refused to provide proof" that WMDs had been destroyed. What appears to have happened is that they destroyed many weapons secretly, either not wanting to admit that they had ever existed or wanting to conceal the fact that they had been continued after the sanctions were instituted. For example, when the claim was made that Saddam's son-in-law had defected and told inspectors that a nuclear program had been continued after the ban, I was able to go find the interview -- and read where Kamel went on to explain that:
They realized that if chamical weapons were used, retaliation would be nuclear. They must have a revision of decision to start production. All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons -- biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.This interview took place in 1995. Kamel hoped his revelation would spur somebody to go ahead and remove Saddam. When that didn't happen, he returned to Iraq and was executed as a traitor. And yet Kamel's words were taken out of context to assert that Saddam was still hiding weapons in 2002.
Ritter gave several examples of such cases -- in one, they were looking for a weapons program that they suspected had existed, and were pointed at a building that had been flattened by bombs during the Gulf War. Excavating the site, they found documents and materials relating to a program that had never been officially declared -- but was by no means ongoing.
He also talked about how they were taken to a site in the desert where drums of nerve agent had allegedly been dumped into holes. They tested the ground and found that large quantities of the agent had indeed been dumped there, but there was no way to be positive exactly how much had been dumped there. That sliver of doubt was translated into an allegation that Iraq was still hiding the stuff.
Ritter was able to go down the administration case point by point, and every part of it was founded on exaggerations and things taken out of context. At the end of the day, he was the person in the best position to estimate the status of Saddam's programs, but he was ignored, and worse. So damaging was his rebuttal that many war proponents started accusing him of being on Saddam's payroll, and even intimated that he was a pedophile. Which just confirmed the suspicions of those of us predisposed to be skeptical of the administration.
And this is why the whole "Bush lied" thing keeps coming back up. They can get the CIA and the UK and the Dems and anybody else to back their play, but it doesn't change the fact that there was another side to the story that went completely ignored. It seems obvious, to me at least, that the administration had made up its mind to have a war (for reasons I've already gone into) and said whatever it felt it needed to to get its way.