The Executive, the Magistrate, and the Maverick
4. “Our War on Terror Is Well Begun, but It Is Only Begun”: The Case for the Invasion of Iraq
4 “Our War on Terror Is Well Begun, but It Is Only Begun”: The Case for the Invasion of Iraq
The decision to invade Iraq came at the end of a process that differed fundamentally from the decision to invade Afghanistan. The key actors in both decisions for military intervention were essentially the same, but the urgency to be seen to act quickly and decisively drove the relatively narrow focus on Afghanistan. That decision was “on rails” and so long as bin-Laden and al-Qaeda sheltered under the Taliban regime, the only matters up for debate were the timeline for the ultimatum and the scope of military action in Afghanistan. In the September 2001 deliberations, President Bush signaled clearly that his first priority was to act against those directly responsible for the attacks on United States soil and citizens, and Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld prioritized Afghanistan despite their long-standing animosity toward the Hussein government in Iraq. While the articulation of a War on Terror held much broader implications, the urgency at that point justified a narrow response and, to extend the railroad metaphor, an express timetable. By the beginning of 2002, operations in Afghanistan failed to deliver al-Qaeda leadership despite toppling the Taliban regime, questions of whether bin-Laden himself had escaped through the border with Pakistan drove intelligence and media assessments of the war, and the Bush administration considered an expansion of its response.
The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 appears by...
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