There is no doubt that the events unfolding in Iraq today are a direct result of the Bush administration’s wars of choice in the region in order to topple Saddam Hussein and grab control of that country's oil sources. An article in today’s Salon makes that case very effectively, however, the author then goes into a lengthy discussion of how events unfolded in the Middle East after 9/11, arguing that the attacks and everything that followed were all a carefully orchestrated plan by Osama bin Laden to draw the U.S. into an unwinnable struggle on foreign soil that would bankrupt the country. It was a strategy used to great success against Russia in Afghanistan.
So in the author’s assessment, Bush and company essentially got suckered into invading Afghanistan and then Iraq, and the diabolical bin Laden was laughing all the way to the mosque. I think there are serious problems with this narrative and that it disregards historically significant facts.
First, we know that from the very first days of the Bush Administration plans were being drawn up for an invasion of Iraq. Bush was intent on toppling Saddam Hussein. Far from being tricked into invading Iraq, Bush, Cheney and others were drawing up plans for an attack well before 9/11.
We also know that despite what Bush and Rice and others said immediately after 9/11, there were numerous warnings related to terrorists flying planes into buildings. People in the intelligence community and in the administration knew this was a distinct possibility, yet did next to nothing to prepare for it and then lied about it after the fact.
There is also a glaring omission in this article, as there is in many other pieces written about 9/11 and its aftermath, regarding the attitude of Bush and the Neocons in his administration toward the Middle East. Many of Bush’s closest advisors were members of The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). PNAC issued a 90-page report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” in 2000 that outlined the Neocon worldview. At the time, William Rivers Pitt wrote,
“The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call 'Pax Americana' across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' codifies this plan, which requires a massive increase in defense spending and the fighting of several major theater wars in order to establish American dominance. The first has been achieved in Bush's new budget plan, which calls for the exact dollar amount to be spent on defense that was requested by PNAC in 2000. Arrangements are underway for the fighting of the wars.”
In what is perhaps the most chilling line in the document, the authors’ note (again, this is 2000) that their goals would be extremely difficult to accomplish with alacrity "absent some galvanizing event like a new Pearl Harbor."
Contrary to popular opinion even on the Left, Bush and his administration were not dupes fooled into a Middle East trap. They were planning to move against Saddam Hussein well before 9/11, and from their standpoint, the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon just happened to be their new Pearl Harbor. Almost unbelievable how that worked out. Isn’t it?