This is an incredible story in the NY Times today. Apparently we had Saddam Hussein backed so far into a corner by March of this year that he was ready to make almost any kind of deal that we wanted.
“Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct a search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.”
So before Bush pulled the trigger on this bloody invasion that we are currently embroiled in, he had an opportunity to take U.S. troops into Baghdad to search for WMDs to his heart’s content. But the Bush administration was already too busy ignoring and covering up mounting evidence that these stockpiles of WMDs were illusory. If the whole purpose of the invasion was to disarm a dangerous dictator who had acquired the means to threaten not just his neighbors, but the entire world, then why didn’t he pursue this opportunity? Is it because such a course of action might have left Saddam’s regime in power? Does that mean the real reason we went to war was not to rid Iraq of WMDs, but to allow Bush to settle a personal score with Saddam?
But even in this case, the deal being offered contained this intriguing “pledge to hold elections” which we could have pursued as a means to force Saddam to step down peacefully the same way we arranged for the former dictator Charles Taylor to step down in Liberia. If Bush had any diplomatic skills whatsoever, he could have taken advantage of this opportunity and achieved much better results than we are faced with today.
But noooooooo. Bush just had to have his war. He wanted to be able to flex his military muscles and show off how macho we can be. None of this wussy diplomacy stuff like most of our allies were suggesting. Bush is a man of action - just as long as it is somebody else’s butt on the line.