Why We Went to War in Iraq

There's never been any consistent or consensual explanation for why we embarked on this foolish war. The Vietnam War at least had reasons, albeit that they were bad reasons, but Bush's War doesn't seem to have any reason or purpose. This should be intensely frustrating for all Americans, yet the wingnuts seem to celebrate the Iraqi War as ... as what? a great Demonstration of American Freedom?

When Colin Powell appeared before the U.N. General Assembly and said that Osama's calling Iraqi Arabs ``his brothers'' constituted ``proof'' that there was Saddam collusion in terrorism, I was embarrassed to be a citizen of a country that would believe that U.N. diplomats could be so easily confused.

We're there now to ``finish what we started' of course (by the same logic we must continue torturing at Al Ghraib since we started to) but why did we start the war in the first place? Surely not to help the Iraqi people: there are several places in Africa where a ``humanitarian war'' would cost far less, alleviate far more suffering, and have far greater local and international support. And not because of the 20-year old mass graves and gassing of the Kurds -- those Reagan-era crimes were committed by Saddam with encouragement and financial support from Rumsfeld and Cheney!

The conservative intellectual Richard Haass has said that he expects to go to his grave not knowing why the Bush Administration embarked on its foolish Iraqi adventure.

It is confusing to untangle the motives -- each member of the Bush-Rove cabal had his or her own reasoning -- but I think I've done it. Here's why the Bush Administration went to War:
Rove: everything is all about winning the next election.
Rice: an easy victory against a weak opponent might intimidate real foes like Iran.
Kissinger: to humiliate Islam -- defeating only Afghanistan wouldn't humiliate them enough.
Powell: a good corporal follows his sergeant's direction, however foolish.
Cheney: the war helped leverage my value to corporate sponsors.
Rumsfeld: the war was a triumphant end to my career (Peacetime SecDef? Been there, done that.)
Feith: the Christian Elves needed to take the Ring of Power to Mordor before ``realists'' regained control of Middle Earth.
Wolfowitz:   Boys just want to have fun.
Bush: Making decisions is so boring. Make this one, and I'll never need to make another!
Bush: I got to ride fighter planes and use words like `Freedom' frequently in my speeches.
Bush: My Mom always loved Dad more than me ... He'd never have dared to do this, but I showed him!

I show three reasons for the Enigmatic Abomination himself. Many don't think of him as much of a thinker, but I think at least three different thoughts played a role in his decision.

Henry Kissinger, who is Bush's closest advisor outside his immediate cabal, is the only one who has ever stated his real reason for the War publicly. (His public statement uses ``radical Islam'' but this distinction seems confused given that Iraq's pre-invasion culture was secular and multi-ethnic.)

For rationalists like McCain or Kerry, support for the war followed from a failure to grasp that an American administration could be so abominably cynical and incompetent.

My above analysis will seem almost as simplistic as our leaders' thinking, but I suspect there's far more truth in it than most Americans would dare to imagine.