We now know that Iraq had no "weapons of
mass destruction" and that the Bush Administration manipulated evidence
to justify its war plans. Even then, it was clear that the specter of
such weapons was just a pretext. The U.S. made no secret of its
underlying war aims -- to install a pro-U.S. regime in Iraq and increase
U.S. military and political power in the Middle East. Bush, therefore,
had little use for U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq.
George W. Bush: Get those *%&# inspectors out of the way -- I'm getting
ready to bomb the place! 
The U.N. refused to endorse the invasion, but the U.S. and Britain went
ahead anyway. The Iraqi army was decimated and thousands of civilians
who were unlucky enough to get in the way were also killed. 
As soon as U.S. troops captured Baghdad, elated American officials began
issuing threats to Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Iran. The message was: Go
along with the American program or else ...
"This doesn't mean, necessarily, that other governments have to fall.
They can moderate their behavior." -- Senior U.S. official, April 2003.
The Bush Administration had big plans. Based on Iraq's tremendous oil
wealth and U.s. military might, American officials hoped to create a
client regime in Iraq and use it as a base of U.S. power in the heart of
the Arab Middle East. They brought in a group of emigre politicians,
intending to install them as leaders of a new government. Their favorite
was Ahmed Chalabi, a wealthy businessman who was convicted of bank fraud
George W. Bush: Don't sweat it buddy -- we all get accused of financial
malfeasance now and then. 
Chalabi won the hearts of White House officials in part by declaring
that he favored pulling Iraq out of OPEC, and then privatizing Iraqi oil
and selling it off to foreign companies.
"American companies have a big shot at Iraqi oil." -- Ahmed Chalabi,
Sept. 2002 
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