Why We Went to War With Iraq Term Paper

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War in Iraq

Should we have gone to war with Iraq based on the reasons given at the time the war started? When we went to war with Iraq, Bush gave three reasons for doing so. First, he claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda (Richelson, p. 44, p. 69). Secondly, he said that Saddam Hussein at the very minimum was attempting to acquire nuclear weapons and in fact might have already gotten them. Third, he claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Of the three claims, the third one regarding WMD was instantly believable, because American news had been full of pictures of dead Kurds, citizens of Iraq, killed with Iraq's chemical weapons. Hussein had used WMD's in the past on his own citizens, and so it seemed likely that he could easily use them on people he regarded as enemies of his country. In addition, he used Scud missiles (short-range, and easily moved) to attack Saudi Arabia and even Israel during the Gulf War (Richelson, p. 75), demonstrating his willingness to attack other nations. The second concern, that Iraq might already nuclear weapons, had less direct evidence people could recall easily, but was also quite scary. Since the end of the Cold War, a recurring fear was that a terrorist-driven country would use nuclear weapons to try to force its will on other countries. The first claim, that Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda, was unproven but both believable and scary. If Hussein could get al-Qaeda to do its bidding, they might well be willing to use both WMD's and nuclear bombs, such as small 'dirty bombs' that would do little destruction but cause considerable radiation contamination. We knew that other countries had built ties to terrorists with disastrous results. He was our President, and he claimed to have proof.

In fact there is evidence that in 1990 Saddam Hussein believed that he needed to have chemical warfare weapons and that he viewed himself as the potential "protector" not only of his own country but of all of the Middle East (Richelson, 93). However, considerable pressure was brought on Iraq to rid itself of such weapons between the end of the Gulf War and the beginning of the Iraq War, and in fact U.N. inspectors searched assiduously in the months leading up to the beginning of the Iraq War and failed to find any substantive evidence of WMD's (Richelson, p. 47).

It all seemed reasonable and even righteous. In a world where small cells of terrorists could sneak in dirty bombs and set them off in, say, the New York Subways, just as terrorists released poison gas into the Tokyo suburbs some years ago, a pre-emptive strike might be the only way to protect ourselves. After all, we waited in 1941, and the result was the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Some claim that George W. Bush had no clear vision for U.S. foreign policy when he took office, and the result was a cabinet made up of two factions: one lead by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who aligned himself with Clinton's more moderate policies, and the other lead by Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, more prone to an aggressive and pre-emptive stance toward Iraq (Barry & Lobe, p. 2). The second faction became the dominant one and subsequently their views set foreign policy.

However, in his book The Price of Loyalty, Paul O'Neill, the former Secretary of the Treasury, claims that President George W. Bush wanted to get Saddam Hussein out of office from the very beginning of his term, well before the attacks of September 11, 2001 (5,-PAGE), and that he went so far as to ask the military to explore the feasibility of a ground invasion of Iraq, again, before the events of September 11. O'Neill's claims are of grave concern because of the way Bush has presented the war. He…

Sources Used in Document:


Barry, Tom and Jim Lobe. 2002. "U.S. Foreign Policy -- Attention, Right Face, Forward March." Foreign Policy in Focus, April. Accessed via the Internet 4/8/04. http://www.fpif.org/papers/02right/

CNN. 2003. "Bush sends Iraq war letter to Congress." CNN Edition Inside Politics. Accessed via the Internet 4/15/04 http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/03/19/sprj.irq.bush/

Cochran, John. 2004. "Corroborating O'Neill's Account." ABC News, Jan. 13. Accessed via the Internet 4/8/04. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/U.S./oneill_charges_040113.html

Richelson, Jeffrey.2004. "Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction." National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 80. Feb. 11. Accessed via the Internet 4/15/04. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB80/

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