Why did Bush go to war, really?

Here's an interesting commentary on Bush's grounds for the invasion of Iraq. Bushites don't need to read this, since it at Alternet.org and it is critical of Bush, you can just blow it off a priori as irrelevant. War on Iraq: Why Bush Went to War is well written and balanced look at U.S. military adventurism in the Persian Gulf.

As the nation begins debate on how to reform the intelligence community, it is essential to remember that the Iraq war was not driven by bad intelligence, per se. As Bush's former director of policy planning admitted, this was a "war of choice." Intelligence was not used to make a decision for war, it was manipulated to mislead Americans into backing a war already planned.

Publicly, President Bush offered four rationales to justify the invasion:
the presence of WMD, Iraqi collaboration with Al Qaeda, the possibility of giving WMD to Al Qaeda, and bringing democracy to Iraq. Since the invasion, numerous commissions have shown the first three to be plainly false. The lack of post-war planning, the elevation of Iyad Allawi and the pervasive corruption among U.S.-funded contractors has put the lie to the
fourth rationale.

So just why did Bush choose war?

For those of you who do not assign credibility in accordance with political leaning: Patrick Doherty is associate editor at TomPaine.com, spent 10 years working on conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus and holds a Master's degree in security studies from the Fletcher School.

Comments

Good question

"America must ask its presidential candidates why they are choosing cheap gasoline over security."


The answer is sort of obvious - neither will actually answer it because its a political hot potato. But if you look at the two candidates, I'm positive you'll see that one of them has a chance to increase the CAFE standards and eliminate the SUV/light truck exemptions.

Now if we only had a media who could actually explain these sorts of policies in terms our myopic public could understand. Instead we get stories about Hummer owners upset by their high fuel bills who scream when the gas prices go up 10 cents.

10 cents?Re:Good question

It wasn't more then 2 years ago when gas was $1 a gallon.

Folks, again, no one said Iraq was involved in Sept 11, and yes the commission pointed that out. But they did not say there was no connection *at all*. Its a package deal. The entire Middle East needs to be and is being dealt with.

Re:10 cents?Re:Good question

The problems in the Middle East stem from exactly the sort of thing the U.S. is doing there today. During the Second World War, it was Britain that was doing the screwing around. The whole problem with the Middle East is imperialism and military adventurism. You are not "dealing with it", you are making it worse. The U.S. sponsored Hussein and bin Laden, and it installed a petty tyrant and dictator in Iran in 1956 thereby paving the way for Khomeini and his lunacy.

Of course, you might make things better in Iraq -- over time. It only took thirteen years to pacify the Phillipines.

Re:10 cents?Re:Good question

"Of course, you might make things better in Iraq -- over time. It only took thirteen years to pacify the Phillipines."

Whatever it takes...

9/11, al-Qaeda

Greg,Figures in the administration HAVE said on a few occaisions that Iraq had a role in 9/11, which I will quote below. What neither you or anyone else on the prowar side can deny are:1) Constant prewar drumbeat that Iraq had an operational relationship with al-Qaeda, that included weapons supplies. Given that al-Qaeda did do 9/11, this is more than enough to fix the idea of Iraq = 9/11 in the minds of the public.2) Even six months after the war, as many as 70% of the American public believed that Iraq was behind 9/11. Where did they get that impression from? From the pacifist liberal media?I think the following statements either explicitly say that Iraq was behind 9/11 or that any reasonable person w/o other information would draw that conclusion (Tell me how they wouldn't):Statement by President George W. Bush"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the 'beginning of the end of America.' By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed."Source: President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended, White House (5/1/2003).----------------------Statement by President George W. Bush"The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more."Source: President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended, White House (5/1/2003).----------------------Statement by Vice President Richard Cheney"And Saddam Hussein becomes a prime suspect in that regard because of his past track record and because we know he has, in fact, developed these kinds of capabilities, chemical and biological weapons. . . We know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization."Source: Meet the Press, NBC (3/16/2003).-----------------------Statement by President George W. Bush"He's a threat because he is dealing with Al Qaida. In my Cincinnati speech I reminded the American people, a true threat facing our country is that an Al Qaida-type network trained and armed by Saddam could attack America and leave not one fingerprint."Source: President Outlines Priorities, White House (11/7/2002).---------------------------Basically, by saying repeatly that Iraq was working hand-in-glove with al-Qaeda, the President and his advisors built the impression that Saddam must have had something to do with 9/11.

Re:9/11, al-Qaeda

Considering the poll you linked to also says that a majority of Democrats believe Saddam was directly linked to 9-11 I don't believe you can lay that at Bush's doorstep. It just doesn't make sense.

People saw that Saddam gave $25,000 to each family of a Palestinian suicide bomber. They heard the reports of communications between Saddam and Al Quaida. My own feeling is that its one big nest of vipers and you can't tell where one ends and another begins. So you take them all on. The people who contributed to that poll probably feel the same way.

Whatever it takes? Are you sure?

""Of course, you might make things better in Iraq -- over time. It only took thirteen years to pacify the Phillipines."Whatever it takes...Are you sure you know what the Phillipines involved? A sampling from the Army War College paper I linked to:--------------Destruction. Since the guerrillas used the population as a source of logistics, information, manpower, and shelter, the Americans were soon driven to punish individuals and communities. US soldiers destroyed crops, farms, boats, and livestock in areas suspected of aiding guerrillas and exacted what one officer termed “most just retribution and retal-iation� for attacks on American troops. Such destruction grew in frequency and scope.20 While these sanctions were justified under military law, they also reflected the conviction among many officers that “the judicious application of the torch is the most humane way of waging such a war.�21 However, it is important to note that the level of retaliation reflected officers’ perceptions of both the strength of the guerrilla forces and their popular support.One officer, in a province widely, if mistakenly, believed to be pacified, wrote to his wife, “I have never burnt a house yet or cut a tree, or whipped a native or hung one, and I don’t intend to. If we can’t conquer these savages without resorting to Spanish methods, my notion is that we had much better quit these islands, and let them have them.�22 On Panay for much of 1900, there appears to have been an effort to restrict punishment only to the guilty.23 In southeastern Luzon, an area where the level of resistance was perhaps the greatest in the archipelago, there was far more support for retaliation. As early as February 1900 the district commander ordered that “communities that harbor criminals and permit them to operate against the United States will have to suffer in some way for the acts of the criminals themselves.�24Despite some protest, most officers in the area appear to have accepted this principle of collective responsibility. One officer commented of an especially recalcitrant area that “it will be extremely difficult to control that section of the district except by burning all the towns where Insurgents are harbored thereby compelling people to come into the towns during the wet season.�25 Similarly, another officer directing a sweep through the countryside commented, “My suggestion is to burn freely and kill every man who runs.�26 By 1901 the amount of American destruction had grown considerably; one patrol burned 180,000 pounds of rice and 60,000 pounds of corn in slightly more than a week.27 Such measures imposed great hardships on both the guerrillas and noncombatants, but they proved essential in shattering guerrilla resistance and winning popular acceptance, however grudgingly, of American rule.----------------By the way, this author is actually supportive of some level of collective punishiment:"A third lesson concerns the unavoidable necessity of controlling punitive or retaliatory policies. Quite frankly, it is either naive or dishonest to pretend that soldiers will continue to take casualties without responding, and that in some (probably in many) cases, this retaliation will either accidentally or deliberately lead to physical abuse, property destruction, and even death. Moreover, the likelihood is that such punitive measures will increase over time. Punitive measures have always been part of American counterinsurgency, and they have often been cited, by both American commanders and their opponents, as highly effective. I am not advocating mindless destruction, but I am warning against unrealistic rules of engagement that essentially prohibit troops from performing their most important missions. If soldiers cannot strike back, they will simply avoid combat, resulting in US troops hunkering down behind wire and waiting for the gymnasiums and fast-food courts to arrive while the guerrillas control the countryside. A fourth lesson stresses the need for local auxiliaries, even if it means embracing rather unsavory allies. We need more Macabebes, and we have to be willing to accept the fact that their behavior will sometimes be motivated by revenge, tribal vendettas, or just bad character."However, if the Administration wants to take this course (I'm not saying it does) then the President needs to dump his Jesus rhetoric immediately.Some principles are worth dying for -- refusing to meet barbarism with more barbarism is one of them. Blindly calling for "whatever it takes" and calling numerous human rights treaties (Geneva Conventions, etc) is a call to barbarism which America must not succumb to. Aside from being poor policy, it isn't the right answer to the question WWJD?

Saudis gave money to suicide families, too...

Plus they had 15 of the 19 hijackers, yet the US Public didn't believe the Saudi's had anything to with 9/11?Because the Administration kept saying "Iraq and al-Qaeda, Iraq and al-Qaeda, you are getting very sleepy, Iraq and al-Qaeda" while simultaneously praising the Saudi's non-existent cooperation.By the way, "Take them all on" was EXACTLY what bin Laden was hoping for when he took down the towers. I say in all seriousness you are endorsing a main plank in al-Qaeda's platform -- a clash of civilizations. You want our side to win, but you're giving the guy what he wants.

Clash of Civilizations

That. is. what. this. is.

If you don't get that, I can't help you.

Re:Whatever it takes? Are you sure?

The point in the original post was that it took 13 years to do the job. I'm saying that's fine by me.

In reference to 'collective punishment', if a specific town is harboring terrorists more then any other I have no problem in making that town suffer. When we went into Afghanistan it wasn't because of the Taliban, but because they were harboring Al Quaida they suffered as well.

Re:Whatever it takes? Are you sure?

I believe the current WWJD CW is he'd slay his enemies with flames shooting from his fingers.


Funny, I don't remember that from Sunday school...

Re:Clash of Civilizations

That. is. what. this. is.

But that isn't what it has to be. It is a clash of civilizations only because George Bush operates by the same thinking you are exhibiting: Nits make lice; Kill them all, God will know his own; Might makes right; Whe have a manifest destiny.

As usual, the U.S. is going about this clash in exactly the wrong way.

And the point of my comment above is that your government is so fucking blind to the lessons of history that the citizens of the U.S. cannot see that you are likely to be baby-killing in Iraq for the next ten years.

By the way . . . since you seem to think that killing any number of innocents will be a good thing, when do you plan on joining up? Or will you follow the example of your leader and just leave the dirty work to others?

Re:Clash of Civilizations

If you really believe we're killing babies Fang why don't you sign-up with the enemy?

And no it doesn't have to be, but it is and needs to be.

Re:Clash of Civilizations

The terrorists aren't killing babies in my name, George Bush is killing babies in yours. And I notice that you didn't say anything about when you were going to sign up so you could go and kill a few for yourself. I'll assume that you'll just leave the dirty work up to the others the way Bush does.

Re:Clash of Civilizations

Yup.

Re:Clash of Civilizations

Well, at least you're being honest about it.

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