06/02/2004: In summary....
Juan Cole was featured in an online Q&A session on Iraq, courtesy of the WaPo. Transcript of the full session at the link, but this may be the gem of the "interview":
Irvine, Calif.: Mr. Cole:Note the absence of the current justification du jour: bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.
The following question was not taken up by Mr. Bennett. Could you help?
Why is the U.S. in Iraq?
Juan Cole: The purposes for which the Iraq war was fought remain opaque to most Americans outside the inner circle of the Bush administration. It is quite alarming that the supposedly democratic US government can be essentially hijacked by about 8 key officials under the right circumstances, especially with regard to foreign policy. Until, like Robert McNamara, these 8 officials repent in their old ages and come completely clean, we can only speculate. Paul O'Neill suggests that Dick Cheney saw lots of opportunities for US companies to explore, drill and refine Iraqi petroleum (in the long term, Iraq's daily capacity could be 10 million barrels a day, something close to that of Saudi Arabia. Although the US cannot hope to own the petroleum or the receipts for it, there is a lot of money to be made in development and refining). Some think that the old Cold War hawks wanted to finally kill off the Vietname Syndrome and give back to the US government the ability to fight "small wars" at will, especially given that the US is now the only superpower. Iraq would be their test case. It may be that some Department of Defense officials were tired of the stand-off in the Persian Gulf and the lack of a security architecture after the British withdrawal in 1969. Two-thirds of the world's proven petroleum reserves are in this region, and it lacked any real security. An Americanized Iraq with a division or two permanently stationed there would solve the problem. For a handful of Neocons, this move may have been seen as a way to improve Israel's security posture. It was complex, with a lot of different strands coming together. I don't believe anyone seriously believed in Washington that Saddam posed a military threat to the US.
Len on 06.02.04 @ 11:50 AM CST