Friedman on Why We Went to War
Thomas Friedman on why we went to war:
[T]here were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.Here's the question I'm left with: I want you to let me do something. You might not like my reason for wanting to do it, so I give you three other reasons I think you'll like better. As a result, you let me do what I want. Was I being dishonest with you?
The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world... [A] terrorism bubble had built up over there -- a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured...
The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble... [W]e hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world...
The "right reason" for this war was the need to partner with Iraqis, post-Saddam, to build a progressive Arab regime... Helping to build a decent Iraq as a model for others -- and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- are the necessary steps for defusing the ideas of mass destruction, which are what really threaten us.
The "moral reason" for the war was that Saddam's regime was an engine of mass destruction and genocide that had killed thousands of his own people, and neighbors, and needed to be stopped.
But because the Bush team never dared to spell out the real reason for the war, and (wrongly) felt that it could never win public or world support for the right reasons and the moral reasons, it opted for the stated reason: the notion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate threat to America.