There were numerous reasons to remove Saddam — 23, according to the Congress that authorized the war — but the administration privileged just one, the sensible fear of weapons of mass destruction. That was legitimate and understandable, and would prove effective so long as either a postwar weapons-trove turned up or the war and its aftermath finished without a hitch.
Unfortunately neither proved to be the case. So with that prime rationale discredited, the partisan Congress suddenly reinvented itself in protesting that it had really voted for war on only one cause, not 23. And when the news and evidence both went bad, that lone reason was now pronounced null and void and hardly a basis for war.
Indeed, the WMD argument was the primary focus as it was the most logical "in" to plead for the UN's Security Council to get off their duffs, and finally start doing something more tangible than fingershaking at Saddam for repeated offenses.
And, as Hanson put it, that also didn't prove to be the case. No way the UN would agree to removing Saddam, or to take action for his refusal to obey the UN's resolutions. Even other western nations backed away. Why? Some for money... not excluding the UN's infamous Oil for Food debacle. And also for that "let Mickie eat it... he'll eat anything" syndrome. No one wanted to be responsible for removing Saddam. So it was "let the US do it". Again from Hanson's article:
(Sixth) Europeans who profited from Saddam probably wanted Saddam gone, but wanted the U.S. to do it. In the same manner they profit from Iran, yet want Iran quieted and the U.S. to do it. In the same manner they want terrorists rounded up, jailed, and renditioned, but the U.S. to do it.
All the while a Chirac abroad was whipping up the Arab Street, or a Schroeder was awarding financial credits to Germans doing business with the Iranian theocracy, or a Spain or an Italy or a Germany was indicting the very American military and intelligence officers who protected them.
The European philosophy on the Iraq war was to play the anti-American card to envious European crowds all the way up to that delicate point of irrevocably offending the United States. Then, but only then, pull back abruptly with whimpers about NATO, the Atlantic relationship, and Western solidarity, just before a riled America gets wise and itself pulls away from these ingrates for good.
But back to those 23 other reasons Hanson mentions. We coddled Americans tend to conveniently forget recent history, and our short term memories are encouraged by a Congress who skillfully uses research-deficient journalists to aid and abet their desperate attempts to rewrite history in order to save political face.
So what were some of those other reasons Congress loves to ignore? From the resolution itself, linked above.
"....continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;" Note... we've found more than a few weapons stashes that were supposed to not be there. As for the terrorists, among others, Zarqawi had been in Iraq since 1998, and was also recovering in a Baghdadi hospital after his injuries fighting in Afghanistan. However AQ was not the only terror organization that rolled thru Iraq's revolving door. ANd as far as "actively seeking"? Even a NYT's article on Jan 9th, 2007 about the Saddam trial had tapes that made it clear Saddam had, and was pursuing, and underground nuke program.
"... Iraq persists in violating resolution of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;" For all the feel good talk about Darfur's genocide, do they even remember Iraq's mass murders and genocide? Or is that knowledge been exorcised from their minds?
"...the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;" Yes, Saddam's unarguable intents are also tossed carelessly aside.
"...Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;" His arrogance towards the UNSC... has that too gone away?
And here's where they were sentient enough to realize that a Saddam who thwarted sanctions, UN resolutions and acquired WMDs on the black market was more than capable of providing them to terrorists for a price.
"Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;"
But perhaps my favorite one is where they underscore that this has been their policy since Clinton/Albright days...
"Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;"
For those who now stand before a microphone saying "I didn't vote to go to war" or "the President doesn't have the right to go to war", I'd love to have them reread the second to the last paragraph of the Joint Resolution.
"Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);"
What was that Pelosi was saying that Bush would have to ask Congress before any action... not that he's planning any... against Iran? The woman is obviously senile.
And while I'm at it.... repeat after me over and over...
THE IRAQI MISSION IS TO HAVE A SELF-SUSTAINING and FREE IRAQ WHO IS A PARTNER IN WORLD TRADE and A WILLING SUPPLIER OF INTEL FOR THE WAR ON TERROR.
Is that so difficult for people to absorb and retain? Hard to believe that, when asked this direct question from David Letterman, McCain couldn't even articulate this simple and obvious goal. Not a good moment for one who wants to be CIC in these difficult times.
I have to thank Mr. Hanson for this... because he made me look back at the text of the Joint Resolution. And there is much there has nothing to do with "made up intelligence". But then... that's not convenient for Congress and their low approval numbers, is it?