Like Bamford's other books, Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, Pretext for War
is well written, well documented, and very readable. The other books did not
scare me; this one did.
Either the Bush administration chose to believe what they already believed
in spite of the facts they learned after coming to office or, worse, they
carried out a personal blood vengeance attack that cost thousands of US soldiers
their lives. Not to mention the maimed and disabled veterans and the civilian
George W Bush came to office with a grudge against Saddam Hussein rooted
in the assasination attempt on his father in 1993.
[George H W ] Bush called the reception "terribly emotional and wonderfully fulfilling" and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself as he toured oil fields once torched by Iraqi forces and greeted American troops. Then it was time for the major ceremony at Kuwait University. On the stage, Bush introduced his daughter-in-law.
"Laura Bush's husband," he said, "is the owner of the Texas Rangers team. Now that I am just a citizen, I can root for any team I want." No one on the stage or in the audience knew how close they might have come to death. Through a series of misadventures, the assassins had been caught shortly before Bush went to the university. Had the plan worked, there is little doubt that George W's father, mother, wife, two brothers, and one of their wives would have been killed.[italics mine]
According to a senior official from the Clinton administration, "From all the evidence available to it, the CIA [was] highly confident that the Iraq government at the highest levels directed its intelligence service to assassinate former President Bush." As a result, about two months later, President Bill Clinton ordered twenty-three Tomahawk guided missiles, each packed with a thousand pounds of high explosives, fired at the downtown Baghdad ...
That someone would order the killing of his wife, parents, and most of his immediate family-and almost succeed-would burn in George W Bush, as it would in anyone. In private, his raw hatred for Hussein was evident. "The SOB tried to kill my dad," he snarled at one surprised visitor. "I was a warrior for George Bush," said George W at another time. "I would run through a brick wall for my dad." Despite the magnitude of the crime, Hussein had never been brought to justice. Now, as president himself, George W Bush would have a chance to bring justice to Hussein.[italics mine]
On Jan 30, 2001, barely ten days in office, the administration was planning to attack Iraq. Listen:
Then Bush addressed the sole items on the agenda for his first high-level national security meeting. The topics were not terrorism-a subject he barely mentioned during the campaign-or nervousness over China or Russia, but Israel and Iraq. From the very first moment, the Bush foreign policy would focus on three key objectives: Get rid of Saddam Hussein, end American involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and rearrange the dominoes in the Middle East. A key to the policy shift would be the concept of "preemption." [italics mine]
The blueprint for the new Bush policy had actually been drawn up five years earlier by three of his top national security advisors. Soon to be appointed to senior administration positions, they were Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser. Ironically, the plan was originally intended not for Bush but for another world leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bamford also talks about the strategy put together by Feith, Perle, and Wurmser for establishing US hegemony in the Middle East. Even if this was not a blood vendetta on the part of Dubya, there was a lot of American imperialism going around. Perle et al had this in mind:
As part of their" grand strategy," they recommended that once Iraq was conquered and Saddam Hussein overthrown, he should be replaced by a puppet leader friendly to Israel.[ed] "Whoever inherits Iraq," they wrote, "dominates the entire Levant strategically." Then they suggested that Syria would be the next country to be invaded. "Israel can shape its strategic environment," they said.
This would be done, they recommended to Netanyahu, "by reestablishing the principle of preemption" and by "rolling back" its Arab neighbors. From then on, the principle would be to strike first and expand, a dangerous and provocative change in philosophy. They recommended launching a major unprovoked regional war in the Middle East, attacking Lebanon and Syria and ousting Iraq's Saddam Hussein.[italics mine] Then, to gain the support of the American government and public, a phony pretext would be used as the reason for the original invasion.
Whether you choose to believe that the administration came to office with War in Iraq as its primary purpose or not, the book is a well-documented history and analysis of the failure of intelligence after the end of the cold war.