truth, war & consequences
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why did we go to war?
A look at the rationales for going to war in Iraq, from WMD and terrorism to democracy in the Middle East.


A Necessary War?
Americans were told by President Bush and his administration that the U.S. was going to war with Iraq because of the imminent threat of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism. Yet to date, no such weapons or ties have been revealed. Did the U.S. launch a war of necessity in Iraq, or a war of choice? In these excerpts from their interviews, critics and defenders of the war -- Richard Perle, Richard Haass, Greg Thielmann, Kanan Makiya, and Joseph Wilson -- discuss the rationales behind it.


Selective Intelligence'
Some critics of the Bush administration charge that in the buildup to war with Iraq, policy makers were "cherry-picking" intelligence from CIA and other intelligence agencies, publicizing only the information that would bolster the case for war and ignoring contrary evidence. In excerpts from their FRONTLINE interviews, Richard Perle, Joseph Wilson, and Greg Thielmann offer their perspectives.


In Their Own Words: Who Said What When
In the months leading up to the war, the American people heard increasingly alarming statements from the Bush administration about the growing threat from the Iraqi regime's weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism. More recently, in the wake of chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay's interim report -- in which he states that his team has so far failed to find any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq -- the administration's official assertions are decidedly more guarded. Trace the evolving rhetoric in this selection of statements from President Bush, Vice President Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Colin Powell.


Trusting Chalabi
As the continuing search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq turns up little evidence, some skeptics are scrutinizing U.S. reliance on intelligence provided by Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. Here are excerpts from interviews with Chalabi, plus commentary on Chalabi's role from former State Department official Richard Haass, prominent Iraqi exile Laith Kubba, and former State Department intelligence officer Greg Thielmann. Also included are excerpts from New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who offers a journalist's perspective on working with Chalabi and his sources.


The Middle East, Democracy, and Dominoes
If the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was considerably less imminent than many were led to believe, and if Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda remain to be substantiated, was there another, more ambitious rationale for the invasion of Iraq? One based on a grand strategy of planting pro-Western democracy in Iraq and reshaping the Middle East? Richard Perle, Richard Haass, Kanan Makiya, and Joseph Wilson weigh in.

links & readings

FRONTLINE: The Evolution of the Bush Doctrine
The war with Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein can be seen as the first test case in the Bush administration's larger strategy for projecting U.S. power and influence in the post-Cold War world. Here's an overview of the people, the events, the major statements, and the policy battles behind what's become known as the Bush Doctrine. [From "The War Behind Closed Doors," Feb. 20, 2003]


FRONTLINE: America's New Approach to the World
Assessments of the Bush Doctrine and its impact on international relations by John Lewis Gaddis of Yale, defense policy expert Kenneth Pollack, former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, Mark Danner of The New Yorker, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Karen DeYoung and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post. [From "The War Behind Closed Doors," Feb. 20, 2003]


FRONTLINE: The Liberal Divide
In a Web-exclusive companion to FRONTLINE's "Blair's War," three prominent public intellectuals -- the British writer Timothy Garton Ash and the American writers Paul Berman and David Rieff -- talk about Tony Blair, Iraq, and the "liberal divide" over whether the war was justified. [From "Blair's War," April 3, 2003]


Interim Progress Report of the Iraq Survey Group
Full text of David Kay's unclassified interim report to Congress on the first three months of the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He concludes, "It is far too early to reach any definitive conclusions and, in some areas, we may never reach that goal."


Selective Intelligence
by Seymour Hersh
New Yorker reporter Hersh claims the Bush administration oversold the national security risk posed by the Iraqi regime and second-guessed intelligence provided by the CIA in favor of information from Iraqi defectors who shared the administration's ultimate goal: to take down Saddam. (The New Yorker, May 12, 2003)


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posted october 9, 2003

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