Most of us believe that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) served as Bush's lynch pin for starting the war with Iraq more than five years ago. But Bush used a different criterion to trigger the war.
The context to Bush's ultimate trigger was that the WMD inspections were going well, unless like Bush you wanted to use WMDs as the excuse for starting a war. 731 inspections between November 2002 and March 2003 had found nothing, despite using intelligence from the US. As an aside, this puts the lie to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's claim that....
We know where they are (Iraq's WMD). They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.
On March 7, 2003, Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector in Iraq, told the UN Security Council that his inspectors faced "relatively few difficulties," and
Asked how long it would take to address the remaining issues, Blix said it:
at this juncture are able to perform professional, no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance.
will not take years, nor weeks, but months.
Bush's excuse for starting the Iraq war, disarming Saddam Hussein, was seriously threatened. He had to come up with a guarantee to ensure he could have his war. At the 11th hour Bush changed his criterion for triggering a war. On March 17, 2003 Bush gave an ultimatum that he knew Hussein would not accept:
Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict.
There you have it. Bush's final excuse for starting a war of agression was that Hussein and his sons would not leave Iraq upon his demand.
1. Interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News This Week, March 30, 2003.
2. Vincent Buliosi, The Prosecution of George Bush for Murder. See pages 130-135 for more on this.