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The Iraq War Wasn’t Inevitable

Thomas Chiapelas offers up some strange Iraq war revisionism:

The Bush administration should have emphasized Saddam’s whole dark history instead of focusing so much on stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

I call this strange revisionism because Chiapelas’ article reads like a series of Bush administration talking points from 2002-03. He recites the usual bills and resolutions (the Iraq Liberation Act! UNSCR 1441!) as if these vindicated or authorized the horrible decision to invade. The Bush administration did attempt to make Hussein seem uniquely deserving of regime change by dwelling obsessively on his past crimes in an effort to make the entirely unnecessary and unjustified invasion of Iraq seem like the right thing to do. Despite having done exactly what Chiapelas claims they didn’t do, the administration’s case for war was flimsy and riddled with holes.

Even more strange is the assumption Chiapelas makes that confrontation with Iraq was “inevitable,” when it was anything but that. Iraq war hawks hate the phrase “war of choice” when it is applied to Iraq because it reminds everyone that the war was easily avoidable and didn’t have to happen. The Bush administration was not alone in wanting the war to happen, or at least it far from alone in supporting the decision to go to war, but had it not been for the administration’s determination to invade Iraq the war wouldn’t have happened. Naturally, those that continue to defend the indefensible decision to invade want to cling to the idea that the war was “inevitable” and something “forced” on the U.S. by Hussein, since this relieves the previous administration and supporters of the invasion of their responsibility for one of the greatest and most destructive blunders in the history of modern U.S. foreign policy. It’s completely untrue, and a Republican Party that clings to this falsehood is one that shouldn’t and won’t be trusted on foreign policy and national security anytime soon.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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