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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


What Drove Us to War in Iraq?

Never mind that North Korea has threatened us with nuclear war. Forget the links between al Qaeda and Chechnya or Saudi Arabia. The neocons would have us believe that Iraq posed the greatest threat to not only the United States but the entire world. But did everyone in the Bush administration agree?

Consider the following remarks Sec. of State Colin Powell made in Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 24, 2001:
We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions - the fact that the sanctions exist - not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue.
Then, in May of 2001, speaking before a Senate subcommittee, there was this exchange between Powell and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT):
Bennett: Mr. Secretary, the U.N. sanctions on Iraq expire the beginning of June. We've had bombs dropped, we've had threats made, we've had all kinds of activity vis-a-vis Iraq in the previous administration. Now we're coming to the end. What's our level of concern about the progress of Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons programs?

Powell: The sanctions, as they are called, have succeeded over the last 10 years, not in deterring him from moving in that direction, but from actually being able to move in that direction. The Iraqi regime militarily remains fairly weak. It doesn't have the capacity it had 10 or 12 years ago. It has been contained. And even though we have no doubt in our mind that the Iraqi regime is pursuing programs to develop weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological and nuclear - I think the best intelligence estimates suggest that they have not been terribly successful. There's no question that they have some stockpiles of some of these sorts of weapons still under their control, but they have not been able to break out, they have not been able to come out with the capacity to deliver these kinds of systems or to actually have these kinds of systems that is much beyond where they were 10 years ago.
Colin Powell wasn't the only one at odds with those who had been gunning for Iraq since Bush's inauguration. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in an interview on CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, pointed out that President Bush was the one who "considers Saddam Hussein to be a threat to his neighbors, a threat to security in the region, in fact a threat to international security more broadly." When asked about how well sanctions against Hussein had been working, she noted that Saddam "does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

Many argue that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, changed the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq. That certainly would explain why the president was so bold in using 9/11 as a springboard to war. In a White House Rose Garden address in September of 2002, he said, "[Saddam's] regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. And there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq." But he soon realized (if he didn't know already) that the evidence linking Iraq and al Qaeda was rather flimsy. During a Jan. 31, 2003, press conference, when asked if there was a link between Hussein and the 9/11 terrorists, Bush replied, "I can't make that claim."

Yet the administration continued to push for war in Iraq. Why? What motive could the Bush administration possibly have had for attacking a Third World nation that posed no immediate threat to the United States?

The answer may lie in Bush's most recent press conference:
Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve.

We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned.

And my job as the president is to lead this nation and to making the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing.
Note that he is not asking privately funded charitable organizations or individual citizens to take action. He is letting you know that he requires your tax dollars and the lives of your sons and daughters in his Wilsonian quest to make the world safe for democracy. Perhaps this is exactly what his father had in mind when he spoke of a "new world order."

In the mind of this "compassionate conservative," the U.S. is little more than a global welfare provider. He is determined to continue on his holy crusade - and as the war on terrorism has demonstrated, those who believe they are following a higher calling are not easily dissuaded.

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