Greenspan or Gates: I do not see why the analysis of whether we went to war in Iraq, as Greenspan said, for oil or, as the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, because of WMD, has to be an either or scenario. We went to war in Iraq for both and for many other reasons as well. There is no question that the Middle East holds special import for US policy. It is a region like none other for the obvious oil reasons. Combine that fact with the reality of 9/11, the Bush penchant for war and one had a special brew ready to ignite. The US probably invaded due to a plethora of reasons some of which were buttressed by the occurrence of 9/11, some of which were based on fear, some because of neocons philosophic fantasy and some because of the strategic oil importance of that region. Many on team Bush wanted the footprint of the US there to the ensure oil lines keep flowing, profits keep generating and to guard against any real or fancifully perceived terror threats. Some others, too, had pipe dreams of a democratically metamorphosed Middle East.
Were those reasons rationally correct to risk blood and treasure? Senator John Warner perceptively asked is the war in Iraq keeping us safe? I believe the Iraq invasion was a grievous error. Not only are we not safer but we are more at risk. There are Al Qaeda in Iraq where there never were before the invasion. We know, Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 nor did Iraq have anything to do with the emergence of new Al Qaeda terror cells before Gulf II. We have opened up a potpourri of insurgent groups, terrorists and unsavory characters who would and will do us harm when the opportunity to do so arises. We also have let loose a hornets' nest of many thousands of angry Arabs all over the world lying in wait for the possibility of avenging the west's occupation on their perceived holy land.
The oil would have kept flowing as it always had after the first Gulf war without an invasion of Iraq again. We could have fought the real terrorists, caught Bin Laden, and kept watch on the Hussein modus operandi at the same time which we had been doing for many years before the Gulf War II. The IAEA could have continued to monitor their nuclear capacity. The terrorist threat would have been containable. If we did not invade, we see in hindsight, we would have saved 4000 American lives, avoided the physical destruction of so many more lives, saved billions maybe trillions of dollars, and we would have rescued the lives of thousands of killed, maimed and displaced Iraqis. If only team Bush were honest before the war ensued. Hindsight is indeed 20/20.