Partial credit for this one.
“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties…. We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11 attacks.”
— George Bush
Well, 50% accuracy on those particular facts is a step up for him. But what’s that imply about his determination to go after Iraq as soon as possible post-9/11? And isn’t it clear that Pakistan had much stronger Al Qaeda ties? So why Iraq first?
1) The US had, or people in the administration believed they had, diplomatic influence over Pakistan, thus other options in that area, while having none over Iraq.
2) Iraq (as far as they knew at the time) might or might not have nuclear weapons, and might or might not have useful delivery systems. Pakistan very certainly did.
Point 2 — exactly.
Thus, by going after Iraq instead, we reinforce the perception that you can get a free pass from us by developing nukes. I don’t think it’s a concidence that the other two members of the “Axis of Evil” are in a rush to get their own nuke programs up and running.
Oh, for crying out loud, that’s not a ‘perception’, and the pass isn’t free. It is, however, a fact that nuclear-armed states are qualitatively different in their ability to project power.
You seem to be implying that the US is to blame for hurrying Iran and NK down that particular path here. Is this a fair reading of your statement?
You could phrase it that way. My observation, however, is that there was no reason to threaten countries other than Afghanistan in pursuit of Al Qaeda. To the degree that the US made such threats in the context of the “War on Terror,” yeah, the US is to blame for the consequences.
In these cases, the consequences may only be “they got nukes a little faster than they would have otherwise.” (Pakistan, of course, already had ’em.)