That the Bush administration went to war with Iraq based on a mistake—or, perhaps, a lie—has long been obvious. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill writes that, just ten days after Bush’s inauguration, the National Security Council met to discuss how to dispatch Saddam Hussein. That was over seven months before September 11.
The seizure of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer. Just consider the elevated terrorism alert over the holidays; the parade of security forces on streets and rivers; the delayed and cancelled airline flights; the continued killings of American soldiers; the escalation of suicide bombings in occupied Iraq.
If Hussein threatened America’s security, it was as a brutal dictator whose country was making weapons of mass destruction and trafficking with terrorists. The pitiful thug hiding in a small, underground chamber had no ability to threaten the United States. With only two bodyguards and no satellite phone, Hussein was not even the center of the resistance. His capture may have disheartened some opponents of the occupation, but evidence suggests that most insurgents are not fighting for him. Moreover, some Iraqis, freed from any fear of a Hussein restoration, are now pushing the United States more forcefully to hold elections and yield control.
Before the war, President Bush said that “the threat from Iraq...