The Bush administration has long maintained they had not decided to invade Iraq until the days before it actually began and that they did “everything” they could to “avoid war in Iraq.” President Bush even claimed that the “American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war.”
Yet there is evidence that the Bush administration, from its very early days, was actively plotting to go to war with the Arab country. From a British memo that noted that “Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme” to memoirs by administration members Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill, there have been numerous disclosures that strongly suggest that the Bush administration was plotting a war against Iraq while recognizing it was not a threat to the United States.
Now, with the help of a Freedom of Information Act request, the National Security Archive has obtained a newly declassified document that details talking points that emerged from a meeting between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks in November 2001.
The talking points mainly revolve around the logistical planning for a war in Iraq. They detail the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government by U.S. forces and make regime change the goal. Interestingly, they already mention U.S. forces “coming out of Afghanistan” to join the invasion of Iraq. Yet the most alarming part of the document is a bullet point titled, “How start?” (which is a discussion that actually appears after the planning of the entire war). The participants in the Rumsfeld-Frank meeting discussed possible ways to provoke a conflict with Iraq, including an attack by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish north, the U.S. discovering a “Saddam connection” to 9/11 or the anthrax attacks, or a dispute over WMD inspections. It appears from the language of the talking points that the Bush administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq and was looking for an opportunity to invade:
Another document obtained by the National Security Archive shows that the Bush State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research created an assessment of international support for a war against Iraq in December 2001. It noted that the “UK’s Blair would publicly support a US decision to bomb Iraq but would face considerable criticism.” It worried that going to war in Iraq could “bring radicalization of British Muslims, the great majority whom opposed the September 11 attacks but are increasingly restive about what they see as an anti-Islamic campaign.” These fears appear to have been prescient, as in July 2005 British Muslim extremists apparently radicalized by the war in Iraq detonated bombs throughout London.
Gary Herstein says: “What makes this significant is that…it is ‘hard’ evidence, not subject to dismissal by attacking the author’s credibility.”