Iran: Iraq Redux?

by on September 17th, 2007

During an interview with Fox News Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “I will tell you that I think the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge through diplomatic and economic means is by far the preferable approach.”

Prior to invading Iraq the Bush administration made similar statements. Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, said in May 2002, “The United States has no plans to invade Iraq or any other country.” Then Secretary of State Colin Powell stated on September 19, 2002, “Of course, the President has not decided on a military option…nobody wants war as a first resort…nobody is looking for a war if it can be avoided.” By December 2002 the Bush administration formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) whose purpose was marketing an invasion of Iraq to the American public. An August 2003 Washington Post article characterized WHIG as an “internal working group…to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities.”

Earlier this month the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report on Iran’s nuclear program. The report detailed the agreement between Iran and the IAEA to resolve all issues raised by the UN by December this year. The report characterized Iran’s nuclear program as “peaceful.” Article IV of the report stated the “Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use.”

President Bush dismissed the IAEA report. The U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said, “There is no partial credit here. Iran has refused to comply with its international obligations and as a result of that the international community is going to continue to ratchet up the pressure.”

Back in 2002 President Bush addressed the UN about Iraq, claiming Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed “biological and chemical weapons.” Two days later he repeated the same statement in his weekly radio address. During October 2002 Bush made numerous statements about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. The Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report which stated, “There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where Iraq has–or will–establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities.” In 2003 the IAEA disputed White House claims that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program.

President Bush mentioned Iran several times during his September 13, 2007 speech to the nation. Linking the war in Iran with Iran he stated, “A free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran.” However, no evidence exists to prove Iran has “destructive ambitions.”

During his September 28, 2002 radio address Bush linked Hussein’s regime with al-Qaeda: “The regime has longstanding and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al-Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq.” The intelligence community did not have definitive evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda were linked.

On August 31, 2007 President Bush said that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons would put the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” Condoleeza Rice said something similar concerning Iran on September 8, 2002 during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman