This is fascinating, horrifying, sick-with-a-knowing-recognition reading.
The opening excerpt from Why George Went To War by Russ Baker, published June 20, 2005, in Common Dreams. Read the entire article here.
The Downing Street memos have brought into focus an essential question: on what basis did President George W. Bush decide to invade Iraq? The memos are a government-level confirmation of what has been long believed by so many: that the administration was hell-bent on invading Iraq and was simply looking for justification, valid or not.
Despite such mounting evidence, Bush resolutely maintains total denial. In fact, when a British reporter asked the president recently about the Downing Street documents, Bush painted himself as a reluctant warrior. "Both of us didn't want to use our military," he said, answering for himself and British Prime Minister Blair. "Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option."
Yet there's evidence that Bush not only deliberately relied on false intelligence to justify an attack, but that he would have willingly used any excuse at all to invade Iraq. And that he was obsessed with the notion well before 9/11—indeed, even before he became president in early 2001.
In interviews I conducted last fall, a well-known journalist, biographer and Bush family friend who worked for a time with Bush on a ghostwritten memoir said that an Iraq war was always on Bush's brain.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and Houston Chronicle journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He went on, 'If I have a chance to invade…, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.'"
Bush apparently accepted a view that Herskowitz, with his long experience of writing books with top Republicans, says was a common sentiment: that no president could be considered truly successful without one military "win" under his belt. Leading Republicans had long been enthralled by the effect of the minuscule Falklands War on British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's popularity, and ridiculed Democrats such as Jimmy Carter who were reluctant to use American force.
Indeed, both Reagan and Bush's father successfully prosecuted limited invasions (Grenada, Panama and the Gulf War) without miring the United States in endless conflicts.
Herskowitz's revelations illuminate Bush's personal motivation for invading Iraq and, more importantly, his general inclination to use war to advance his domestic political ends.
Furthermore, they establish that this thinking predated 9/11, predated his election to the presidency and predated his appointment of leading neoconservatives who had their own, separate, more complex geopolitical rationale for supporting an invasion.
Be sure to read the rest.....