Why did the administration start planning for Iraq early after September 11?
Iraq, of all of the “axis of evil” candidates out there, was the easiest to defeat, was the closest to Israel and posed the biggest threat. And there was a feeling that because Saddam was a dictator and brutal, and a human rights violator, that you would be greeted with open arms if you removed him. And among the neocons, Iraq is an obsession; there’s no doubt about that. It’s been an obsession going back prior to ’91, so this is their chance. And it makes sense to them because they believe that Iraq is either now connected to bin Laden in some way or will be in the future. So why not preempt that problem, in their view? And Rumsfeld, why does he sign on? I think that he must also believe that Iraq is a threat. … Remember that until we focused on Al Qaeda, our focus vis–vis enemies was always on a state, and that it would require the help of a state to help a terrorist organization. You have Syria helping Hezbollah, and you have other state sponsors; the Iranians help out other terr
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