President Bush's War on Iraq
Since the war on Iraq began on March 20, 2003, at least 1,402 coalition troops have died and 9,326 U.S. troops have been wounded in action. This is no small number and the count grows daily. One would hope, then, that these men and women were sent to war with just cause and as a last resort. However, as the cloud of apprehension and rhetoric surrounding the war has begun to settle, it has become clear that the Bush administration relied on deeply flawed analyses to make its case for war to the United Nations and to the American people, rushing this country, and its soldiers, into war. This is not to say that this war was waged against a blameless regime or that our soldiers have died in vain. Rather, that the Bush administration took advantage of the vulnerability and solidarity of the American people following the attacks of September 11 to create an environment in which any scrutiny of the justifications given for war was deemed unpatriotic and a threat to our nation’s security. In this way, the war, and Bush’s bid to maintain power through the 2004 election, went forward despite evidence that the reasoning behind going to war was, at best, misleading.
The Case for War:
The case for war put forward by the Bush administration rested on the establishment of Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States’ national security (see Table 1), which could only be lessened by attacking Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime. In outlining the Iraqi threat, the Bush administration brought together two incidents—the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda and U.N. efforts to disarm Iraq following the Gulf War—which in reality had nothing to do with one another. The logic went as follows: We have intelligence showing that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Iraq maintains relationships with Al-Qaeda—the perpetrators of 9/11—and other terrorist groups, Iraq could give these WMD to these terrorists at any time, and they could then attack the United States. Therefore, by creating linkages in the minds of the American people between the all-too-real tragedy of September 11 and a supposed Iraqi threat, the Bush administration justified bringing Iraq into its War on Terror. These linkages lent a sense of immediacy and vindication to the War on Iraq, which would have otherwise been nearly impossible to engender.
The first step in establishing an Iraqi threat was to demonstrate that Iraq possessed WMD, meaning chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver these weapons. The possession of these weapons would be in direct violation of U.N. resolutions put into effect after the Gulf War and hopefully justify any use of force under international law. Time and time again the Bush administration put forth statements that, “Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving even closer to developing a...