Return of the Stenographer

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Bob Woodward is about to publish a new book, Plan of Attack, that argues George W. Bush planned the Iraq war less than two months after the Afghanistan invasion. However, the prez dissembled:

"I knew what would happen if people thought we were developing a potential war plan for Iraq,'" Bush is quoted as telling Woodward. "It was such a high-stakes moment and … it would look like that I was anxious to go to war. And I'm not anxious to go to war."

Is that news? Maybe, but London's The Observer had a story not long ago (anticipating a Vanity Fair piece) that suggested Bush had Iraq on his mind right after 9/11.

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  1. it’s my understanding that there are ALWAYS plans to invade many different countries, should the need arise.

  2. So Woodward has another book out? Must be that time. From what I’ve heard so far, there’s not a single revelation that wasn’t widely known already. I don’t know what’s more embarrassing, Woodward’s annual bloviation fests, or Bernstein’s once-in-a-decade fiascos.

  3. The New York Times had an editorial urging the Bush Administration not to go to Iraq in November 2001.

  4. During that period when everyone was asking “what’s taking so long, why haven’t we invaded Afghanistan, yet?” I remember a friend who lived in Washington telling me directly about the long-range plans for a war on terror that would start with the Afghans, move on to Iraq and then out from there. He was not a high official either, this was just common knowledge.

  5. “…suggested Bush had Iraq on his mind right after 9/11.”

    So did I. Because of the WTC bombing in ’93. I told my wife that I expected to see the 82nd Airborne in downtown Baghdad soon. I got the division wrong, but no surprises here.

  6. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and the other neo-naz… er conservatives had plans to erase Iraq since Bush the elder. On 9/11 they got their hands on the strings.

  7. Woodward says Bush got Rummy started to work on a new war plan for Iraq Nov 21, 2001. Bin Laden and Omar gave us the slip out of Tora Bora the first week of December, never to be seen again. Busy typing, Rummy barely noticed.

  8. George W. Bush planned the Iraq war less than two months after the Afghanistan invasion

    Well, duh. He gave the “Axis of Evil” speech on January 29th, 2002 — after which pretty much everybody (except, supposedly, John Kerry) realized that we would be going after Hussein next. So it doesn’t strike me as surprising that Bush had the Iraq war plans brought up-to-date two months before that.

  9. “…The end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn’t know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. …”

    No distraction at all.

  10. “In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.”

    Nope. No distraction here, either.

  11. These stories are very odd to me. Doesn’t anyone else remember events as they actually happened? There was constant talk about invading Iraq from about 9/12/2001 until they invaded. It was clear that they were thinking about it long before even the Axis of Evil speech.

  12. I think its been well established that it was planned once Bush entered the presidential campaign.

  13. I seem to recall that toppling Saddam was official US policy well before GWB took office. The Pentagon was constantly developing plans for it. So in reality it was always being considered, even before 9/11.

    Further, we were already at war with Iraq. We just ended the cease-fire (that was frequently ignored by Iraq) from the 1991 War.

  14. You, sir, are a dumbass.

    Al-Queda/Afghanistan = target

    Iraq = lies

  15. Wow politicians lie. You have an incrdible grasp of the obvious Gadfly.

  16. I wonder if Woodward has any new quotes from William Casey. Ouija boards work, don’t they?

  17. I’ll bet he had been planning it since the day he was selected into office

  18. Why is this news? It was Clinton that first articulated the need for “regime change” in Iraq, using the very phrase, even. Indeed, Diego, it WAS official US policy before Bush to topple Hussein.

  19. Afghanistan = justified target

    Iraq = justified target

    anti-war kooks on Iraq = lies

  20. The only line that the administration never officially stated, but was often bluntly made by the likes of Jonah Goldberg and others, that really seemed to capture the essence of the war in Iraq is simply this:

    “We needed to kick someone’s ass in the Middle East to show the rest of the region that we mean business, and Iraq is the best option because of our history with them.”

    That’s it. That’s why we went to war with Iraq. Anything else is just boilerplate.

  21. “It was Clinton that first articulated the need for “regime change” in Iraq, using the very phrase, even.”

    There’s a big difference between vague policy statements and plans for a full-scale, mostly unilateral invasion.

    It’s like the difference between just saying “I am going to be a millionaire” on the one hand, and planning a million dollar armored car heist on the other. Planning the heist means you’ve decided to forgo other, better options, like working to earn the money.

  22. Tell me one single thing the Bushies have said about Iraq that has been proven true.

    WMD – false
    Links to Al Quaeda – false
    They’ll welcome us as liberators – false
    “I haven’t decided yet” to invade – false
    Chalabi’s intelligence – false
    Mission accomplished – false
    Coalition of the willing – false
    Powell’s UN speech – false
    Oil revenues will pay for the occupation – false
    We’ll need far less than 200,000 troops – false
    One year tour of duty – false

    Rich, you are a dupe.

  23. Buckley had his mind on Iraq right after 9/11, and in fact laid out the Bush strategy on 9/14 http://www.nationalreview.com/buckley/buckley091401.shtml

    Bush’s certainties are not naive certainties, but determination. “This had better work.”

    Because the alternative to producing freedom and a city on the hill there is that we kill them all.

    Opposition that works by misunderstanding this is beyond apology and almost beyond commentary. It tells them: just hold out until November, and then we’ll cave. So then, instead, we kill them all. Good job.

    Opposition that has another idea entirely though is worth listening to.

  24. “It was Clinton that first articulated the need for “regime change” in Iraq, using the very phrase, even.”

    There’s a big difference between vague policy statements and plans for a full-scale, mostly unilateral invasion.

    A bill passed by Congress, signed by Clinton, making the removal of the Ba’athist regime in Iraq the official policy of the United States, is not a “vague foreign policy goal”. It is a specific foreign policy goal, with a specific end in mind.

    I’m also unclear on the relevance of “multilateralism”. The official Iraq policy was not “regime change so long as other countries think it’s ok”. It was “regime change, period”.

    We needed to kick someone’s ass in the Middle East to show the rest of the region that we mean business […] That’s why we went to war with Iraq. Anything else is just boilerplate.

    Why does there have to be precisely one reason for going to war with Iraq? I had more than one reason for buying a car!

    Certainly we went to war with Iraq to show the Middle East we mean business (although for obvious reasons we didn’t admit to that sentiment). But it is undeniable that both parties (and most foreign nations as well) were convinced that Hussein had WMDs, and programs for creating more — and that was another reason. Establishing a new base of operations in the Middle East was another; establishing a democracy, both for humanitarian reasons and out of enlightened self-interest, was yet another. Hussein’s proven links to terrorism were yet another (even if you don’t accept an al Qaeda tie, he openly funded terrorists in Israel). Etc, etc.

    Hell, I’ll add another — Hussein praised the 9/11 attacks. Reason enough to kill him.

  25. Dan writes: “A bill passed by Congress, signed by Clinton, making the removal of the Ba’athist regime in Iraq the official policy of the United States, is not a “vague foreign policy goal”. It is a specific foreign policy goal, with a specific end in mind.”

    The bill said nothing about an invasion. Other means could be considered, such as supporting opposition groups.

  26. Dan is actually Cheney’s bastard son. He’s shooting for a line cook job with Halliburton.

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