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Reconsidering Iraq: What If We Had Been Greeted as Liberators?

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"A man always has two reasons for doing what he does:

the one that sounds good, and the real one." J. Pierpont Morgan

Karl Rove, in his new book Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, maintains that George W. Bush did not "lie us into war" in Iraq in 2003. According to Rove, Bush truly believed Saddam Hussein harbored a secret cache of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear weapons coming soon. That was the real reason we went to war in Iraq.

Sound-good Reasons for War

Maybe Rove is right: maybe in the upside-down world of George W. Bush, the fact that no weapons of mass destruction could be found proved their existence. They could have been destroyed, or moved, or secreted away in another country but they existed.

Maybe Bush sincerely believed that. But his actions when the weapons of mass destruction theory was debunked suggest otherwise. At that point, the U.S. did not acknowledge a horrible mistake, withdraw, apologize, and offer to rebuild Iraq and make reparations to its people. Instead, Bush advanced a new reason for going to war: Saddam Hussein was harboring and sponsoring terrorists.

Iraq thus became a front in the War on Terror. Soon enough, though, we learned that Iraq was not connected to 9/11. Saddam Hussein disliked and distrusted al Qaeda and if anyone knew the minds of terrorists, it was Saddam Hussein. There was no way they were going to set up shop in his country.

So a third reason for war emerged: Iraq was a war of liberation. We were going to free the Iraqi people from Saddam's iron grip and establish a democracy in Iraq. The fact that they did not ask to be freed was immaterial; they were going to be freed whether they liked it or not. "The world will be a better place without Saddam Hussein."

The fact that the Bush Administration gave at least three different reasons at different times for invading Iraq suggests that none of them was the real reason for the war. They were just reasons that sounded good. Rove's claim that Bush did not "lie us into war" only tries to restore a reason that was discredited and dismissed years before. We do not know even now the real reason for the Iraq War.

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Rick Wise is an industrial psychologist and retired management consultant. For 15 years, he was managing director of ValueNet International, Inc. Before starting ValueNet, Rick was director, corporate training and, later, director, corporate (more...)
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