The debate over why we went to war in Iraq has raged ever since the current Bush administration began to publicly discuss removing Saddam Hussein from power in 2002, almost a year before the war began. It is difficult to think of any important decision in US Presidential history where the motivations were so viscerally questioned. Republicans seem to have little problem with Bush's two step from presenting American security from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction as the primary reason from war, to a shift to "Democracy in Iraq" and removal of a dictator harmful to his own people when WMD were not found. Democrats, for their part, have offered a number of theories as to the 'Real' reasons we went to war in Iraq, from a grab of Iraqi oil, to correcting a mistake of the President's father, former President George H. W. Bush or avenging a botched attempt on the former President's life. I have listened to every theory and carefully researched each one. What I have discovered is that none of the popular theories or explanations on either side of the political aisle makes sense. I will list and discuss each theory below, and then I will explain what I have deduced to be the correct reason and why it is the only one that makes sense given the facts.
1) We went to war to protect the United States from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. There are three reasons why this theory did not make sense as of March 26, 2003, the day we went to war in Iraq.
a. Iraq possessed no method to deliver WMD to the United States. Iraq had no Strategic Bombers capable of making the trip, had no submarines capable of getting within range of the United States to deliver the weapons, and had no ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. In fact, Iraq had no delivery systems capable of delivering WMD beyond Asia Minor.
c. In a last minute attempt to avert war, 24 hours before hostilities began, Saddam Hussein made an offer to Bush that in effect said, he will allow US military forces into the country to check any sites they wish for WMD if we still doubted his word that Iraq had no more WMD, but he didn't want war and didn't want to be removed from power. Bush refused. The administration has successfully prevented widespread dissemination of this information.
2) We went to war to bring Democracy to the Iraqis and remove a brutal dictator from power.
b. Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, just to cover some of the Middle East, are all countries whose regimes were, and continue to be as brutal as that of Saddam Hussein. In just one example, in 2002, 15 schoolgirls were burned to death in Saudi Arabia because police would not allow them to flee a burning building without donning the proper attire for a Muslim woman.
c. The most brutal period of Iraq and Saddam Hussein occurred in the late 1980s, during the Presidencies of Reagan and George H. W. Bush. It was during this time that Saddam used poison gas against the Kurds and other dissident groups in Iraq. The US simply looked the other way because he was our ally.
d. China, among other countries, not only is not under consideration for attack from the United States but it enjoys Most Favored Nation Trading Status with us despite having a horribly repressive and non democratic regime regularly guilty of torturing and killing political dissidents.
3) We went to war to get Iraqi Oil.
a. If this were the case, one would expect that getting Iraqi oil production up to prewar and even pre Desert Shield/Desert Storm levels would be a priority for the administration and for those whom they granted Iraq contracts. This has not been the case. The administration has failed to provide adequate security for Iraqi oil facilities and pipelines and production has lagged far behind previous milestones. See http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/business/worldbusiness/22petrol.html?ex=1285041600&en=41dc08c53ea78d1f&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
b. Aside from production, the above article also points to the fact that Iraqi oil companies are still firmly in control of Iraqi oil. This does not bode well for the theory that US went to war in Iraq to grab Iraq's oil.
4) George W. Bush went to war in Iraq to avenge a botched attempt on his father's life or to finish the job that his father started. This was a pleasant side effect for George W. Bush, but hardly the primary reason. In fact, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz among other future members of the Bush administration, had been pulling for war against Iraq to remove Hussein since 1998 when they were both members of the same Right Wing think tank, the Project for the New American Century. They wrote a letter to then President Clinton that outlined their reasoning http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm . This letter, sent on January 28, 1998 was almost a full three years before George W. Bush was even sworn in as President. Clearly, the architecting of a reason to attack Iraq did not start with George W. Bush, and had little to do with the events of September 11th. When Clinton did not respond, Project for a New American Century wrote to the Republican leaders of congress a few months later, also with minimal response. In fact, Iraq was contained. UN Weapons Inspectors were on the ground, and the US Air Force was flying combat air patrol missions over more than 60% of Iraq around the clock. Any Iraqi military forces that even hinted at aggression were immediately bombed. There was no way Iraq was able to present a danger to any other country with US Airplanes constantly flying overhead.
So, if none of these popular theories are the reason why we went to war with Iraq, why did we go to war? The answer I have come up with might sound a bit improbable, a little like a conspiracy theory, but to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." When George W. Bush assumed the Presidency, one thought was firmly in his mind. He wanted to ensure he would avoid the mistakes of his father's Presidency and be reelected. If you look at George W. Bush's entire first term, it was completely run with this in mind. Each major decision was first given over to Karl Rove for careful consideration as to how it would play in election 2004. Taxes were cut and other bones were thrown to the conservative faithful to ensure they would not desert him like they did his father. But, Rove wanted something more. Actually, he wanted two 'somethings more'. To further shore up the conservative base, Rove had Bush enact the faith based charity initiative and Bush vehemently attacked the idea of gay marriage or gay civil unions. To bring in the independent, non party and conservative Democrat vote, Rove came around to the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz line on Iraq. Being the student of history and politics that he was, Rove realized that no American President had ever lost reelection while the country was at war. The plan was hatched shortly after the President was elected, they only needed an immediate justification. While they were contemplating what form that justification would take, 9/11 happened and the administration took full advantage. The only decision that remained was 'When'. Even here Rove's opinion clearly held sway. To ensure that US forces were still in Iraq when election 2004 came around, the invasion of Iraq was delayed until March of 2003, more than 18 months after the supposed justification of September 11th.
Why is being in power so important to Republicans? Well, I am sure it is important to Democrats too, but it has a special importance for Republicans. The reason becomes clear when one of the first pages of the new Bush administration was being written back in late December of 2000 after the recount. One of the first newspaper articles written discussed overhearing Cheney talking with a supporter or lobbyist (the article doesn't say). The supporter/lobbyist indicated that several prominent businesspeople were looking for the new administration to issue executive orders striking down regulations that were costing these businesses money, regulations enacted by the Clinton administration. Cheney told them to send him the information and he would take care of it. This is the real reason for being of a Republican administration, to hand out special favors for prominent businesspeople. They need to be in power and stay in power to be able to do this. In return, Republican administration personnel can look forward to insanely high paying jobs for themselves and their families and friends once they leave government service, but I digress.
The war in Iraq was deliberately conceived by the Bush administration for one purpose, to ensure the American public would feel so uncomfortable with changing administrations during a war that they would return George W. Bush to office in 2004. None of the other reasons put forth for this war stand up to scrutiny. Obviously, I am not privy to official White House discussions, nor would my usual attempts to call sources likely pay off. I doubt that any administration members would talk to me, let alone would they be candid and reveal uncomfortable truths if they did. But that isn't necessary; we know and can see what was important to this President and his top advisor and how that would play into decision-making. I am certainly open to be proven wrong if other fact emerge but barring that, I think my theory has a good chance of being the truth concerning why we went to war, and if it is, it is a real shame that over 2000 Americans and between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqis had to die to return a Republican administration to power. Shame on this administration and on George W. Bush.