In the comments section to the previous entry, Iva (aka my mother) asked:
"Can anyone tell me why we started this war (with any kind of logic at all?)"
Okay - my take on why:
They (not "we") decided that the U.S. needed a Western-friendly region in the Middle East. (When we say "Western-friendly" what we're mainly talking about is "friendly to Western business interests" but our political system is so entwined with our economic system that most in government can not picture one without the other). Basically, they wanted a US-friendly puppet government, similar to what the Soviets created in Eastern Europe during the cold war. In addition to access to Iraq's resources, the US would be able to establish the military bases necessary for gaining more control of the region.
Our other ally in the region, Israel, has never been stable enough for the US to use as a base of operations without creating a full-blown occupation. And Israel's problems are going to get worse, not better. I read an article a while ago that mentioned that Israel's population is declining and a number of younger Jews don't want to live in war-zone, whereas the Palesinian population has been increasing. Within a generation or so, the Israelites will be surrounded by even more people unsympathetic to their cause and in need of what few resources they have. The name "Custer" comes to mind.
So the Middle East was the Gordian Knot and invading Iraq became the answer to all of the US' problems. Want a Western-friendly region in the Middle East but want to avoid a conflict with Islamic clerics? Invade Iraq - a country with a secular leader unpopular with much of the Arab world. Need access to oil to put off the coming energy crisis as long as possible? Invade Iraq - second largest oil reserves in the world. Need a home for military bases from which we can, when the time comes, start moving into other countries? Invade Iraq. Need a country we know we can beat since we did it 15 years ago? Invade Iraq.
I'm sure there were other questions I don't even know about which "Invade Iraq" was the answer. Hussein was a US ally in the 80's - I'm sure he had some dirty laundry that the Bush administration preferred be burnt. It wouldn't surprise me if Saudi Arabia mentioned they'd like a US-friendly Iraq as a buffer between them and the rest of the Arab world.
This sort of theorizing ("We want to control this, how do we do it? If we do this, how will another country react?") is what conservative thinktanks do. It's what they're for: endless theoretical arguments are created, predictions made, schemes hatched. Most of those schemes come to nothing because there's no way to legally put them into practice. But with the carte blanche given to the Bush administration after 9/11, neo-conservatives seized on a rare opportunity and decided to invade another country on manufactured pretenses according to plans drawn up in right-wing thinktanks.
I'm sure the original plan was for a quick war and takeover of Iraq, then, after a year or two, boostered by support from the American public, begin the process again with another country. Syria: maybe. Iran, if feeling particularly ambitious. However, it didn't work. For all their funding and ideas, the conservative think tanks were wrong. No plans for post-invasion Iraq were made because (it sounds incredible) the planners of the war truly believed that the Iraqis would fall in line and create a mini-America once Hussein was gone.
In an interview with Salon.com, Seymour Hersh, author of Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, was asked what he thought the real purpose of the war was. Hersh replied:
"...But these guys, do you realize how much better off we would be if they really were cynical, and they really were lying about it, because, yes, behind the invasion would be something real, like support for Israel or oil. But it's not! It's not about oil. It's about utopia. I guess you could call it idealism. But it's idealism that's dead wrong. It's like one of the far-right Christian credos. It's a faith-based policy. Only it wasn't a religious faith. It was the faith that democracy would flourish.
"Q: So you don't think that this is some Machiavellian, cynical, manipulative ...
"I used to pray it was! We'd be in better shape. Is there anything worse than idealism that doesn't conform to reality? You have an unrealistic policy."
So that's my take on why we invaded Iraq: a grand experiment in imposing a "democracy" overseen by the US on an unstable region with a history of inter-tribal conflicts. Neo-conservatives and the Bush administration truly believed that they could transform the Arab world by converting it to a Western-style democracy. Other nations would see how well it worked in Iraq and change their governments and the region would become more stable. It's odd that Bush would be such a fan of democracy, considering how he had to circumvent it in order to become president. But, as I've written before, my cynicism and finding little ironies doesn't help the horror of a situation that has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people.