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Why Did the Bush Administration Really Decide to Invade Iraq?
by David T. Pyne, Center for the National Security Interest
16 July 2003Paul Wolfowitz, Neo-conservative

Following 9-11, neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration tried to create the illusion of a connection between Iraq, a secular socialist state, and Al Queda, an Islamist extremist terrorist group.  This effort was unsuccessful.



Three months after US military forces smashed the last major Iraqi resistance to the US invasion and captured Baghdad, and in view of the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have yet been found, Americans are starting to wonder what really motivated the Bush Administration to take the nation into a war against a country like Iraq. This is particularly the case since it has become increasingly clear in retrospect that Iraq did not pose anything resembling the imminent threat to the United States that President Bush repeatedly alleged that it did prior to the US invasion.

The Administration’s motives for the war were several. First and foremost was the President's desire to avenge his father's failure to achieve a lasting victory over Saddam and more particularly his desire to get back at Saddam for an alleged assassination attempt against former President Bush Sr. in 1993.

Second, the Bush Administration neoconservatives invaded Iraq in furtherance of their grand plan to remake and democratize the Middle East by the force of arms in an attempt to make it safer for Israel. Of all the members of the axis of evil for the Bush Administration to wage war against, Iraq was the most “doable,” owing to the incessant demonization of Iraq stemming from 1990 onward by both Bush Administrations and the Clinton Administration. In addition, Iraq, which once boasted the fourth largest army in the world, had seen its armed forces decimated to only forty percent of its pre-Gulf War One military strength by US military action in Gulf War I.

What the neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration fail to realize is that Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite, and Syria majority radical Sunni, so that if these countries were to become true democracies they would elect anti-American tyrants and terrorists as their leaders. In fact, Iran is a democracy today and has done precisely that. Moreover, Iran is a far greater threat both in terms of their nuclear capability, IRBM capability and support of terrorists including Al Queda, which is far more pronounced than was ever the case with Iraq. 

Realist conservatives opposed the neo-conservative internationalist plan to invade Iraq out of fear that our invasion would merely serve to transform Iraq into a carbon copy of terrorist-supporting Iran that would truly threaten the US homeland as secular Baathist-led Iraq never could or would. Now, the United States is faced with a no-win scenario. If the US withdraws from Iraq, as it is in its national interests to do, it will leave behind a country dominated by supporters of international terrorism against it where one did not exist before. If the US continues to occupy Iraq with 150,000 troops, it will begin losing an increasing number of soldiers, as recent news headlines have indicated, and waste billions without any real hope of achieving a pro-Western democracy as the population continues to radicalize against those they perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be foreign occupiers and invaders.

Third, the Administration invaded Iraq in an attempt to re-empower the United Nations by forcing it to enforce its resolutions even more aggressively than it wanted to. Far from opposing the UN like all conservatives should, the Bush Administration consistently used Iraq's alleged violation of eighteen UN sanctions as their prime justification for the war. Furthermore, the Administration initially attempted to avoid getting approval from Congress, the only constitutional authority on whether the US can or cannot initiate the use of military force against another country which has not first attacked us.

The Bush Administration attempted to use every possible justification they could come up with in the hopes of obtaining greater popular support for the war both at the national and international level. They needed to do so because Saddam and Iraq had committed no aggression or act of provocation to justify an all-out attack against it by the United States. In a dozen years since Gulf War One nothing had changed. Saddam was firmly in the box and everyone knew it. In fact, in 1998 there was tremendous international pressure to drop UN sanctions against Iraq due to their prior large-scale compliance with UN mandates. Almost immediately following 9-11, neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration led by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Dick Cheney and others tried to create the illusion of a connection between Iraq, a secular socialist state, and Al Queda, an Islamist extremist terrorist group. In this attempt they were almost entirely unsuccessful.

Secretary Wolfowitz actually admitted that the WMD justification was “the only one that stuck” despite scanty evidence of a continuing Iraqi WMD program and the fact that Iraq had already destroyed most of its WMD arsenal under UN supervision. Iraq posed a far lesser threat in 2002 than in 1990 before the First Gulf War. Ultimately the Administration's justification of "liberating" the Iraqi people was just an afterthought. The American people didn't hear a word about the need to “liberate” the people of Iraq until just before the war. The Administration used that word to cover up the fact that they were using US military forces illegitimately to launch an aggressive war upon a country that had never attacked us, and, as Secretary of State Colin Powell eloquently put it less than two years ago, “threatened not the United States.”

Once the war began, suddenly we were told that finding WMD was no longer a top priority and international inspectors were told they would not be welcome in the new US occupied Iraq. One wonders if the Administration might have obtained intelligence that Saddam had in fact destroyed what little was left of his arsenal before the US invasion, but decided not to release this info to the American public to avoid the embarrassment and a major loss of US prestige and credibility which was by then firmly on the line in Iraq. With their credibility already badly damaged by this deception wrought upon the American people over the real rationale for the war, we may never know for sure.

It is high time for the American people and their duly elected representatives in Congress to demand that President Bush, who proclaimed “mission accomplished” in Iraq in a speech over two months ago, to declare victory and withdraw all US troops from Iraq by Christmas. The indefinite commitment of over one-third of our Army to the occupation of Iraq leaves the US incapable of sending reinforcements to help defend against hypothetical attacks against our allies on the Korean peninsula and Taiwan, where the next conflict will likely erupt.

The Administration’s attempt at nation-building and indeed empire-building in Iraq constitutes the very antithesis of conservatism and is doomed to ultimate failure. If continued, it will further provoke an increasingly visible global backlash of anti-Americanism which will likely culminate in further catastrophic terrorist attacks against the US homeland, resulting in the deaths of hundreds and perhaps thousands more Americans. The prompt withdrawal of our forces from Iraq is absolutely necessary to minimize further loss of life among our heroic and selflessly-serving military servicemen. It is also essential to do so in order to conserve our military strength and save untold billions of dollars in taxpayer funds for winnable missions that clearly advance, rather than jeopardize the US national security interest.

David T. Pyne, Esq. is a national security expert who serves as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, a national security think-tank based in Arlington, VA. This article published originally at EtherZone.com; republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.

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