In Bob Woodward’s latest book, Plan of Attack he describes the road to the Iraq war as it was traveled by those (the drivers and the reluctant passengers) in the Bush administration.
Feith Based – Powell was strongly against major military action in Iraq. He believed that Dick Cheney was obsessed with the notion and had a habit of turning ambiguous information into intelligence fact in order to bolster his opinion. Powell also called Douglas Feith’s office a “Gestapo” where the Veep’s minions had, in essence, created their own separate government.
Pottery Barn – Powell and Richard Armitage warned Bush of what they called the Pottery Barn rule: “You break it, you own it.”
Joe Public – President Bush’s initial reaction when presented with the overview of intelligence that indicated the presence of WMDs in Iraq: “Nice try. I don’t think this quite — it’s not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.”
The Dunk Tank? – Later in the above referenced meeting:
Bush: “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we’ve got?”
Tenet: “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk case.”
Duty – Bush defending the war after it was clear there were no WMDs: “I believe we have a duty to free people.”
Like a Prayer: On the role religion played in his decision: “Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord’s will … I’m surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case I pray that I be as good a messenger of His will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for personal strength and for forgiveness.”
Past Tension – On how history will view this war: “History. We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.”