George W. Bush has publicly experienced an �Oops! I made a
mistake� moment. During an interview conducted at Camp David by ABC�s Charlie
Gibson, the US president admitted that the flawed intelligence concerning Iraq�s
nonexistent weapons of mass destruction was the �biggest regret of the
presidency.� When he was asked whether he would have gone to war if he had
known the truth he was coy. �This is a do-over that I can�t do,� he answered.
No doubt O.J. Simpson, who has recently been sentenced for
forcibly trying to retrieve property that used to belong to him, knows how he
feels. �I did not know that I was doing anything illegal,� he told the judge. �So
I am sorry.� Sorry didn�t cut it for Simpson, who is facing up to 33 years jail
time. Bush, whose mistake cost the lives of something like a million innocent
souls, is likely to get off scot-free.
If Bush had made a genuine �mistake,� I might be able to
dredge up a modicum of sympathy. After all, it can�t be easy to go through life
knowing that an error of judgment had led to bloodshed, at least not for most
of us ordinary mortals who would lose sleep if we ran over a dog let alone a
human being. However, I do not believe he made an innocent mistake. There is
too much circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
Let�s first revisit the notorious Project for a New American
Century (PNAC) paper entitled Rebuilding America�s Defences -- a blueprint for
a global Pax Americana penned in September 2000 and signed by individuals who
were later appointed senior figures in Bush�s cabinet. On Iraq, the document
has this to say: �The United States has for decades sought to play a more
permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with
Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American
force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussain.�
So now we have a motive, which has nothing to do with WMD and
all to do with the will to gain power of those closest to Bush.
If that was, indeed, their motive then, from their point of
view the invasion has been a success. The US does have a far stronger presence
in the Gulf than it did pre-war and it has negotiated a Status of Forces
Agreement with the current Iraqi government, allowing American troops to stay
at least until 2011. Who�s to say it won�t be renewed?
We should cast our minds back to the expos�s of former
administration figures, such as former Treasury Secretary Paul O�Neill, who
revealed that war with Iraq was being discussed as early as January 2001.
He told CBS News� 60 Minutes that during cabinet meetings
the president �was like a blind man in a room of dead people.� O�Neill
disclosed that �from the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam
Hussain was a bad person and that he needed to go� and �Saddam was topic �A�
just 10 days after the presidential inauguration.�
This was backed up by Bush�s former anti-terrorism czar
Richard Clarke, who on another occasion told the 60 Minutes team that just a
day after the September 11 attacks, the then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
was pushing for a retaliatory strike on Iraq even though he knew Afghanistan
was Al Qaida�s base.
Clarke thought Rumsfeld was joking when he commented, �There
aren�t enough targets in Afghanistan.� He further recalled that Bush took him
aside, saying, �Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there�s a connection� in what Clarke
refers to as �a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with
Then there were Vice President Dick Cheney�s Energy
Taskforce documents released by the US Commerce Department in response to a
court order under the Freedom of Information Act dated March 2001. These
include maps of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals as well as
a paper titled �Foreign suitors for Iraqi oilfield contracts.�
The oil factor
All this proves, of course, that Cheney and friends had
their eye on Iraqi oil at least two years before the invasion. It isn�t in the
least surprising that the Bush administration is still pushing the Iraqis to
acquiesce to an oil law that would open the door to foreign oil companies.
As for Iraq�s so-called nuclear capability, which Bush used
mercilessly as an entrance into the country, Saddam Hussain�s son-in-law,
Hussain Kamel, who defected to Jordan as long ago as the summer of 1995, told
the CIA that Iraq had destroyed its WMD following the 1991 Gulf War, which was
Last but not least were Tony Blair�s dodgy dossiers and let�s
not forget Colin Powell�s hysterical presentation to the UN, which his
aide-de-camp, Lawrence Wilkerson, was later to describe as a �hoax on the
American people� and the forged yellowcake from Niger documents, which Bush
referred to in his 2003 State of the Union address.
If you truly think Bush made an innocent mistake when he
ordered �Shock and Awe,� then I�ve got an Egyptian pyramid going cheap.
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.