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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq: Predictions for post-Saddam Iraq

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Late March 2002

       Philip Gordon of the Brooking Institution tells the Associated Press, “Removing Saddam will be opening a Pandora's box, and there might not be any easy way to close it back up.” [Associated Press, 3/31/02]
People and organizations involved: Philip Gordon
          

Summer 2002-2003

       Current and former top US military brass dispute White House claims that Iraq poses an immediate threat to the US and that it must be dealt with militarily. In late July 2002, The Washington Post reports that “top generals and admirals in the military establishment, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” believe that Saddam Hussein's regime “poses no immediate threat and that the United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade Iraq to force a change of leadership in Baghdad.” The report says that the military officials' positions are based “in part on intelligence assessments of the state of Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and his missile delivery capabilities.” The newspaper says that there are several reasons why these dissident officers disagree with their civilian bosses. They worry that if Saddam Hussein is removed, Iraq could “split up, ... potentially leading to chaos and the creation of new anti-American regimes and terrorist sanctuaries in the region.” It is also possible, they say, that an invasion of Iraq could provoke Saddam Hussein into using whatever weapons of mass destruction he may have. And even if the invasion is successful, the aftermath could see “mass instability, requiring tens of thousands of US troops to maintain peace, prop up a post-Saddam government, and prevent the fragmentation of Iraq,” the military brass warns. Their position is that the US should continue its policy of containment, specifically sanctions and the enforcement of the US- and British- imposed “no-fly” zones. [The Washington Post, 7/28/02] Responding to the dissenting opinions of these military officials, Richard Perle, current chairman of the Defense Policy Board, says that the decision of whether or not to attack Iraq is “a political judgment that these guys aren't competent to make.” [The Washington Post, 7/28/02] A few days later, The Washington Post publishes another story along similar lines, reporting, “Much of the senior uniformed military, with the notable exception of some top Air Force and Marine generals, opposes going to war anytime soon, a stance that is provoking frustration among civilian officials in the Pentagon and in the White House.” Notably the division has created “an unusual alliance between the State Department and the uniformed side of the Pentagon, elements of the government that more often seem to oppose each other in foreign policy debates.” [The Washington Post, 8/1/02 Sources: Unnamed senior military officials] The extent of the generals' disagreement is quite significant, reports the Post, which quotes one proponent of invading Iraq expressing his/her concern that the brass' opinion could ultimately dissuade Bush from taking military action. “You can't force things onto people who don't want to do it, and the three- and four-star Army generals don't want to do it. I think this will go back and forth, and back and forth, until it's time for Bush to run for reelection,” the source says. [The Washington Post, 8/1/02 Sources: Unnamed US official] During the next several months, several former military officials speak out against the Bush administration's military plans, including Wesley Clark, Joseph P. Hoar, John M. Shalikashvili, Tony McPeak, Gen James L Jones, Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni, Henry H. Shelton and Thomas G. McInerney. In mid-January 2003, Time magazine reports that according to its sources, “as many as 1 in 3 senior officers questions the wisdom of a preemptive war with Iraq.” They complain that “the US military is already stretched across the globe, the war against Osama bin Laden is unfinished, and ... a long postwar occupation looks inevitable.” [Time, 1/19/03]
People and organizations involved: Kim Holmes, Richard Perle, John M. Shalikashvili, Tony McPeak, James L. Jones, Joseph Hoar, Wesley Clark, Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni, Thomas G. McInerney, Henry H. Shelton  Additional Info 
          

July 21, 2002

       The British Cabinet Office issues an eight-page briefing note to prepare officials for an upcoming meeting (see July 23, 2002) on Britain's role in the United States' confrontation with Iraq. The paper, titled “Conditions for Military Action,” addresses a number of issues including US invasion and post-war planning, legal justification for the use of military force, and what the US and British hope to achieve through “regime change.” [London Times, 5/2/05; Newsweek, 6/15/2005 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]
British support for use of military force against Iraq - The briefing summarizes the main points of Prime Minister Tony Blair's April meeting (see April 6-7, 2002) with President Bush, recalling that Blair pledged British support for “military action to bring about regime change” as long as “certain conditions” were met. Blair told Bush that the US and Britain would have to first develop a strategy to build a coalition and “shape public opinion.” Additionally, Britain would prefer that all “options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors [are] exhausted” and that the Israel-Palestine crisis be quiescent before going to war against Iraq. [Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US objectives in Iraq - The briefing paper reports that US military planners see the removal of Saddam Hussein as the primary objective, to be “followed by [the] elimination of Iraqi WMD [weapons of mass destruction].” The briefing notes that within the British government there are doubts that “regime change,” by itself, would be sufficient to gain control over any WMD present in Iraq. [Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

Creating conditions necessary for legal justification - Noting that “US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community,” the briefing paper makes it clear that the British government believes “[r]egime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law.” Because Blair told Bush in April that the British would support military action against Iraq, it will be necessary develop a realistic political strategy that would involve, among other things, working with the US to create “the conditions necessary to justify government military action.” It is suggested in the briefing note that an Iraqi refusal to cooperate with weapons inspections could help create such conditions. Saddam Hussein would “likely” agree to admit inspectors and allow them to operate freely during the first six months of inspections when UNMOVIC is in the process of establishing a monitoring and verification system. After this point, the briefing notes, Hussein would probably begin limiting cooperating with inspectors. This would likely not occur until January 2003. Another alternative—one that would provide a legal basis for “regime change” much sooner—is that “an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject ... and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Daily Telegraph, 5/4/05; Guardian, 5/2/05; London Times, 5/2/05 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US invasion plan - According to the briefing paper, US military planners seem to favor an invasion plan that would provide a “running start” to the ground invasion. It would consist of “[a]ir strikes and support for opposition groups in Iraq [that] would lead initially to small-scale land operations.” It would likely begin around November 2002 “with no overt military build-up,” followed by the ground invasion that could commence as early as January 2003. The other option under consideration is the “generated start” plan, which would involve a longer build-up. [London Times, 5/2/05 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US post-war plan - The briefing paper notes that US “military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace” —but with “little thought” to issues such as “the aftermath and how to shape it.” It predicts that a “post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise.” The Pentagon's plans “are virtually silent on this point,” the document notes, warning of the possibility that “Washington could look to [the British] to share a disproportionate share of the burden.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, George W. Bush
          

August 1, 2002

       A panel of experts on Iraq warns the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that administering Iraq after the toppling of Saddam's government will be expensive and difficult. The panel says that “there are no obvious successors to Saddam Hussein and that the Bush administration should be prepared to help install and protect a pro-American government if it decides to topple him—a proposition, they added, that would be long and expensive,” the New York Times reports. “Nearly all the experts argued that setting up a stable, pro-Western government in Baghdad would require a huge infusion of aid and a long term commitment of American troops to maintain peace.” [New York Times, 8/2/02] Phebe Marr, a professor from the National Defense University who has written prolifically on Iraq, tells the panel, “If the US is going to take the responsibility for removing the current leadership, it should assume that it cannot get the results it wants on the cheap.” Scott Feil, a retired Army colonel who studies postwar reconstruction programs, says that 75,000 troops will be needed in Iraq to stabilize the country after Saddam is removed from power. He estimates that such a deployment will cost in excess of $16 billion per year. After the first 12 months, the colonel says that the force could be reduced in number, possibly to as low as 5,000, though this military presence would have to be maintained for at least another five years. In contrast, Caspar W. Weinberger, the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan argues that the United States will not need to undertake a major effort in rebuilding Iraq. [New York Times, 8/2/02]
People and organizations involved: Phebe Marr, Caspar Weinberger, Scott Feil
          

August 4, 2002

       Appearing on CBS's “Face the Nation,” Brent Scowcroft warns that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could destabilize the Middle East and undermine efforts to defeat international anti-American militant groups. Scowcroft says: “It's a matter of setting your priorities. There's no question that Saddam is a problem. He has already launched two wars and spent all the resources he can working on his military. But the president has announced that terrorism is our number one focus. Saddam is a problem, but he's not a problem because of terrorism. I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror.” [Times, 8/5/02]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft  Additional Info 
          

August 15, 2002

       Brent Scowcroft is the source of major embarrassment for the administration when he authors an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing against the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He says that the toppling of Saddam's regime would destabilize the Middle East and thus “turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror.” Noting that “there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks,” he calls on Bush to abandon his designs on Saddam Hussein and instead refocus his foreign policy on the war on terrorism. [Wall Street Journal] It is suggested that Scowcroft's criticisms probably reflect the feelings of the president's father. The Los Angeles Times reports: “Several former officials close to Scowcroft said they doubted he would have gone public with that posture without clearing the move first with the senior Bush, heightening questions about the latter's view on confronting Iraq. The former president has not commented publicly, which has only fed speculation.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft, George Herbert Walker Bush  Additional Info 
          

August 21, 2002

       Following a trip to several Middle Eastern countries, which included meetings with several diplomats and foreign dignitaries, US Representative John Larson warns that “the innocent slaughter of Muslims will create, in essence, what Osama bin Laden was unable to do, a united Islamic jihad against us.” [New Britain Herald, 8/22/02]
People and organizations involved: John Larson
          

September 4, 2002

       The Washington Post publishes an op-ed piece by James Webb, a former assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy, warning that the neoconservatives' plan to invade Iraq would commit the US to a long term occupation of Iraq. “The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay. This reality was the genesis of a rift that goes back to the Gulf War itself, when neoconservatives were vocal in their calls for ‘a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad.’ Their expectation is that the United States would not only change Iraq's regime but also remain as a long term occupation force in an attempt to reconstruct Iraqi society itself.” [The Washington Post, 9/4/02]
People and organizations involved: James Webb
          

September 15, 2002

       In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lawrence Lindsey says he believes the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq could cost between $100 and $200 billion. But he dismisses that such spending would significantly increase interest rates, add much to the federal debt, or cause a recession. Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget subsequently disputes the figure, saying it is “very, very high.” He suggests the total costs would run between $50-$60 billion. [Wall Street Journal, 9/16/02; Reuters, 9/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Lawrence Lindsey, Mitch Daniels
          

September 23, 2002

       Three retired four-star generals testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee and warn Congress that a unilateral strike against Iraq without UN approval might limit aid from allies, create more recruits for al-Qaeda and subvert long term US diplomatic and economic interests. A fourth general urges the committee to support the use of military force against Iraq. [New York Times, 9/24/02]
People and organizations involved: Kofi Annan, US Congress, Amir Moussa, Wesley Clark, Naji Sabri  Additional Info 
          

September 30, 2002

       The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that a “heavy ground war” with three months of fighting, followed by a five-year occupation force could cost more than $272 billion. [Associated Press, 10/1/02; CNBC, 10/21/02]
          

November 2002

       Former US Diplomat Joseph Wilson warns in an interview with Knight Ridder that a post-Saddam occupation could turn into “a very, very nasty affair.” He explains: “There will be vengeful killings against the Sunnis, against the Tikritites [Hussein's clan], against the Ba'aths. There will be Shi'ia grabs in the south and probably Baghdad. There will be Kurdish grabs for power.... And in the middle of that will be an American occupation force.... This war is not going to be over when we get to Baghdad. In fact, the war will have just essentially begun.” [Knight Ridder, 11/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson
          

January 9, 2003

       A UN report, titled, World Economic Situation and Prospects 2003, observes that tensions over an imminent war in the Middle East are “having a negative impact on global economic growth through the higher price of oil, rising economic uncertainty and the decrease in business and consumer confidence that they have generated,” and that therefore “an escalation of conflict in that area would only have damaging effects.” The report notes that despite the two-year economic slowdown, “stock prices remain[ed] high relative to traditional benchmarks,” suggesting that continued stagnation in the major equity markets could “send the global economy into a tailspin.” [Associated Press 1/10/03; UN, 1/9/03]
          

January 17, 2003

       Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of Hamas, warns, “If Iraq is attacked... all American targets will be open targets for every Muslim, Arab or Palestinian. Any attack against Iraq will be answered by resistance everywhere and American interests everywhere will be targeted. We say that all American targets will be open targets to every Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian.” [Ha'aretz, 1/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Mahmoud al-Zahar
          

January 19, 2003

       Appearing on Fox News, Donald Rumsfeld, responding to a question, says, “... the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up [sic] with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the US burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.” [US Department of Defense, 10/21/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

February 4, 2003

       The Australian reports, “The US is understood to estimate the prospect of terrorism will rise by about 75 per cent if it launches military action against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.” [Australian, 2/4/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials]
          

February 16, 2003

       The New York Times publishes an op-ed authored by Gordon Adams, the White House's senior defense budget official from 1993 to 1997 and professor of international affairs at George Washington University, and Steve Kosiak, director of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. They provide several estimates on the cost of invading and occupying Iraq. A worst-case scenario, they conclude could cost as much as $682 billion over five years. [New York Times, 2/16/03]
Estimated Military Deployment, Combat and Redeployment Costs - It would cost the US $17 billion for an invasion that involves 150,000 troops for one month. This figure could be as high as $79 billion, however, if the fighting continues for six months and requires as many as 350,000 troops. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

Estimated Costs of a 5-year Military Occupation - They estimate that the lowest a 5-year occupation would cost would be $26 billion. This figure assumes that 50,000 troops would be needed the first year, 25,000 troops the second year, and 12,500 troops for the remaining 3 years. In a worst-case scenario, the US would have to keep 150,000 troops in Iraq for the first year, scaling it down over the next four years to 70,000 troops at a total cost of $105 billion. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

Humanitarian Assistance - If the US provides humanitarian assistance for only the first year, the estimated cost would be between $1 and $3 billion. However, this figure could be as high as $10 billion, if assistance is needed for up to four years. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

Recovery/Reconstruction - They estimated that reconstruction would cost between $10 and $105 billion. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

Debt/Claims/Reparations - Iraq might have to pay as much as $361 billion in debts, claims and reparations to Kuwait. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

Aid to Allies - They estimate that the US will spend between $6 and $10 billion in aid to allies as a result of the decision to invade Iraq. [New York Times, 2/16/03b]

People and organizations involved: Gordon Adams, Steve Kosiak
          

November 1, 2003

       The International Herald Tribune publishes an op-ed piece written by Youssef M. Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In it, Ibrahim warns: “Al-Qaeda, according to the CIA and the Pentagon, is reconstituting itself. In fact every Middle East and Muslim affairs expert is saying that Al-Qaeda's ranks will be fattened by new recruits right now and will have more of them when the United States attacks Iraq.” [International Herald Tribune, 11/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Youssef M. Ibrahim
          

December 3, 2003

       The American Academy of Arts and Sciences publishes a study titled, War with Iraq: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives, in which one of its authors, D. Nordhaus of Yale University, writes that the Bush administration's planned invasion of Iraq and post-invasion occupation could cost anywhere from $99 billion to more than $1.9 trillion over a decade. The study notes that the macroeconomic cost of such a military operation could be as high as $400 billion as a result of a disruption in oil markets and an ensuing recession. [American Academy of Arts and Sciences (the report), 12/02; American Academy of Arts and Sciences (press release), 12/3/02; AP, 12/06/02]
          


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