Despite the fact that the public justification for going to war in Iraq was the supposed existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the real fact of Saddam Hussein’s unwillingness to comply with a United Nations backed inspection regime — a reluctance that, given the fact that there were no weapons to begin with, may do down in history as one of the dumbest diplomatic moves in history — Scott McClellan says that there was an entirely different motive for returning to the Persian Gulf inside the Bush Administration:
In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw “his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness,” something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.
The president’s real motivation for the war, he said, was to transform the Middle East to ensure an enduring peace in the region. But the White House effort to sell the war as necessary due to the stated threat posed by Saddam Hussein was needed because “Bush and his advisers knew that the American people would almost certainly not support a war launched primarily for the ambitions purpose of transforming the Middle East,” McClellan wrote.
“Rather than open this Pandora’s Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth,” he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used “innuendo and implication” and “intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary.”
“President Bush managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option,” McClellan concluded, noting, “The lack of candor underlying the campaign for war would severely undermine the president’s entire second term in office.”
Bush’s national security advisers failed to “help him fully understand the tinderbox he was opening,” McClellan recalled.
In other words, Bush was being advised by a cadre of neocon foreign policy advisers who wanted to engage in a crusade to make the Middle East safe for democracy. Considering how well that turned out when we tried it in Europe, and the millions who died thanks to Woodrow Wilson’s naivety, one would have thought that someone somewhere would’ve said something to the President.
But, then again, I don’t think that he would have listened.