"(Iraq) was not a 'war for oil', it was a war to stop the flow of oil"
Simon weighs in:
Karen Kwiatowski at least concedes the possibility that the decision, as she somewhat euphemistically puts it, to "do" Iraq goes back to 1991. She doesn't believe, or doesn't want to believe, that all of this occurred just because one man wanted to show his own dad that he was a finer cut made of the same cloth.
We have to go back to 1991 to explore whether any of this could be true.
On January 9 1991 President George Herbert Walker Bush sent a letter to Saddam Hussein via his Secretary of State James Baker. Mr. Baker in turn handed the letter to Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, at a six-hour meeting to discuss possible Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait before the expiration of the U.N. deadline, then just five days away, as called for by U.N. Resolution 678, which demanded that Iraq complied fully with resolution 660 , and subsequent resolutions 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677, with full regard to Iraq withdrawing immediately and unconditionally from Kuwait. Mr. Aziz read this letter, and considering it to be threatening, refused to accept the missive. As part of the letter, President Bush had written:
"Let me explain that the United States will not tolerate the use of chemical or biological weapons, nor the destruction of the oil wells and installations in Kuwait. Furthermore, you will be held directly responsible for any act of terrorism against any member of the coalition. If you order any such reckless act, the American people will ask me for the hardest reprisal and you, as well as your country will pay a terrible price. I am writing this letter not to threaten you, but to notify you I am doing this without the least sense of ease because the American people is not at odds with the Iraqi people."
On January 15 President Bush signed National Security Directive 54. This document authorised US forces to act in support of the UN resolutions; furthermore it broadly placed the above conditions into the form of a Presidential Directive for all time, this from Paragraph 10:
"Should Iraq resort to using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, or be found supporting terrorist acts against the U.S. or coalition partners anywhere in the world, or destroy Kuwait's oil fields, it shall become an explicit objective of the United States to replace the current leadership of Iraq. I also want to preserve the option of authorizing additional punitive actions against Iraq."
It now appears that Saddam Hussein did commit many of these acts despite being specifically warned against doing so by the US President. In committing these actions he deliberately and knowingly called the US President's bluff. In fact it is highly likely that the only one of these acts which he did not commit was that of using a nuclear weapon, this was simply because he did not possess one.
President Bush later demonstrated great remorse for not being able to remove Saddam Hussein from power at this time. Whilst being interviewed by ABC's This Week his then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, upon being asked why Operation Desert Storm had not gone "all the way" to remove Saddam Hussein from power, said: "I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire" and: "Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Baath party, would it be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all."
This was not really the predominant motive for promoting and accepting the ceasefire, although it was patently germane (then if not now). The overriding reason for ending the war when and as they did was because a major assault on Baghdad may have provoked Saddam into more serious use of his not-insubstantial stocks of biological weaponry. His line of reasoning is exposed in the Iraq Survey Group Final Report>Regime Strategic Intent>Annex D:
Saddam: We will never lower our heads as long as we are alive, even if we have to destroy everybody.
Given all of this, can anyone really be surprised that President George Bush '43 wanted to put an end to what President George Bush '41 could not because he thought Saddam was a dangerous man?
Did 43 invade Iraq because he thought Saddam was dangerous? That certainly has the benefit of being a simple explanation. (Although 'dangerous' implies both intent and capability, and there are serious doubts about 'capability' in 2003.)