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George W. Bush Was Contemplating Invading Iraq in 1999

Comment: Among the disclosures in the brilliant recent book Family of Secrets by Russ Baker are statements by Bush family associate and author Mickey Herskowitz that Bush felt that starting a war was key to being a successful leader, and that W was contemplating invading Iraq in 1999.

Bush clearly felt that a successful posture as a military conqueror would enable realization of his reactionary domestic agenda. After reading the following excerpts, recall his comment after his re-election in 2004 that he had “some political capital” and that he was “going to spend it.”

Read a Mini-Review of Family of Secrets here.

” . . . Herskowitz keeps thinking about what might have happened if the public had learned how W. really thinks. ‘He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake,’ Herskowitz said. ‘That was one of the keys to being a leader.’

There were other things that W. told Herskowitz about what makes a successful leader. Prominent among them, the future President of the United States confided, was the benefit of starting a war. [Italics are mine–D.E.] . . . .

. . . While W. seemed somewhat hazy on specifics, on one point he was clear: the many benefits that would accrue if he were to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Herskowitz recalled that Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to realize his legislative agenda without the high approval numbers that accompany successful–even if modest–wars.

‘He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,’ Herskowitz told me in our 2004 interview, leaning in a little to make sure I could hear him properly. ‘It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander in cheif.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade . . . if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it.’ I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed, and I’m going to have a successsful presidency. . . .” (Family of Secrets; pp. 422-423.)

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