So now they admit it: it was all about flexing our muscle.
Layer by layer, like the skins of an onion, the surface lies are peeled away only to reveal the deeper lies.
The purpose of the war was to preempt Iraq's impending attack on the US. Also to take weapons of mass destruction away from a country that sponsors terrorism. Besides, Saddam was a bad guy and had to be removed.
Well, maybe the attack wasn't impending, but it was possible. Theoretically.
So the purpose of the war was removal of the WMDs, and regime change, and prevention of an attack on the US at some indefinite future time. We knew he had those weapons, after all.
Well, at least he was trying to get them. We had proof of that much. They had tried to buy uranium from Niger, and they had special, hardened aluminum tubes that could only have been useful in making nuclear arms.
Actually, the papers purporting to document the attempt to buy uranium were fairly obvious fakes, and the aluminum tubes were for conventional weapons, useless for nuclear applications. But we found other stuff too. Remember? Drums of suspicious chemicals. A warehouse full of bodies. Reports of multiple-warhead chemical-payload rockets. And the fact that the chemicals were agricultural pesticides, the bodies were Iraqi casualties from the Iran-Iraq war, and the rockets didn't exist, meant only that Iraq was hiding their WMDs more efficiently than we thought. We'd find them eventually. Besides, our real aim was to liberate the Iraqi people. Regime change first--then seek and destroy the WMDs. Because they had them, for sure.
Or else they were sneaking them into Syria. Yeah, that's it, they took them to Syria!
Or, the President said, maybe the reason we can't find any WMDs is because the Iraqis destroyed them all! Yeah, that's it! They destroyed the evidence, those sneaky bastards! They destroyed their WMDs after we attacked them, just to make us look bad. While they were running around like headless chickens, dodging bombs and abandoning tanks, they somehow found the wherewithal to thoroughly eliminate not only their nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, but also every bit of concrete evidence that they had been rearming. Or maybe they destroyed them before we attacked.
But wasn't destroying their WMDs exactly what we said we wanted them to do? Wouldn't that mean we didn't need to sacrifice 125 American lives and kill hundreds or thousands of Iraqi civilians?
OK, they admit now, we thought they had WMDs, and we knew Saddam was a nasty guy, but the real reason for going in there was to show the world we meant business. See, 9/11 changed everything. Because of 9/11, we needed to flex our muscle and show the terrorists that we could hunt them down anywhere they went. Or if not them, we could hunt somebody down. Maybe not Saddam, who might have gotten away, but somebody. Anybody.
Because of 9/11. Yeah, that's it.
Except that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Jeb Bush, and others in and close to the Bush administration happen to be members of a neo-conservative Fight Club that said we needed to do just that in September of 2000--a year before the 9/11 attack. A month and a half before Jeb's machinations resulted in his draft-dodger of a brother usurping the Presidency, their neoconservative manifesto said we needed to invade and occupy Iraq for the sake of showing the world we could do it. Regardless of whether or not they had any weapons of mass destruction. Regardless of whether or not Saddam consorted with terrorists. Regardless, in fact, of whether Saddam should still be in power when they got their chance.
Of course the Fight Club (which calls itself the PNAC) is motivated, like all good conservatives, only by a desire to do the right thing--the right thing in this case being to rule the world. They see a "new manifest destiny" for the US.
By establishing and demonstrating our dominance, they say, we will usher in a Pax Americana and make the whole world a safer, happier place. Of course you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Thus, in the name of peace, we will militarize space. We will resume nuclear tests and revive our own biological and chemical weapons programs. We will develop the capability to mount "cyberattacks" on our enemies. We will fight and decisively win multiple simultaneous major theater wars. And we will "deter" the rise of any other world power that could possibly threaten our dominance.
"We," in the above paragraph, means a partnership of the US government, particularly the US military, and US business.
And it's just a coincidence that the people planning all of this happen to be very well connected in both government and business, and will make themselves as rich as Croesus in the process.
Yeah, that's it. Coincidence.
It's just like peeling an onion: when you strip a layer of deception off the neoconservative movement, all you find is more of the same.