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The Dishonest Pursuit of War

Remembering Downing Street

President George W. Bush’s recent attempt to generate public support for his Iraq policy comes as even more evidence emerges that the invasion of Iraq was a war of choice.  His argument that we must persevere because Iraq has become “a central front in the war on terror” sounds like the man who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court for being an orphan.

It has long been evident that leading White House officials desired war against Iraq well before September 11.  Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and others had pressed the Clinton administration for regime change.  In 2002, then-NSC advisor Condoleezza Rice told Richard Haass, the State Department’s policy chief, “that decision’s been made.”  A CIA analyst concerned about the unreliability of the defector code-named Curveball was told by his supervisor that “the powers that be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he’s talking about.”

Thus, the year-long debate in the United States and at the United Nations was mere Kabuki theater, irrelevant to the preordained result.  The war never was in doubt.

This makes the Bush administration’s lack of preparedness for the consequences of war particularly shocking.  Having taken a year to plan the invasion, why did the President’s aides not do a better job preparing...

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