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2003/04 — A World Transformed by War

How much has the Iraq war changed global politics — and global thinking?

January 2, 2004

How much has the Iraq war changed global politics — and global thinking?

When the United States attacked Iraq in March 2003, it was not the first time. Two things about the invasion, however, were unprecedented: First, the reason — namely, the Bush Administration’s foreign policy of preemptive strike. Second, the willingness to go it alone — thus changing the global political landscape. Our Read My Lips examines the effects of the Iraq war.

“Iraq was a war of choice. We did not have to go to war against Iraq, certainly not when we did.”

(Richard Haas, former director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State)

“The world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership — and America is more secure.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush)

“The Americans have lit a match in a room full of gas.”

(French senior official)

“This was never destined to be an easy mission. As it plays out, we shall learn much about Iraq. And in no small measure, we shall learn about ourselves.”

(Fouad Ajami, professor at Johns Hopkins University and contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report)

“We probably have given this president more flexibility, more latitude, more range, unquestioned, than any president since Franklin Roosevelt — probably too much.”

(U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.))

“The mighty beacon of globalization was pushed off center stage by the war on Iraq — but is returning with a strangely diminished glow.”

(William Greider, columnist at The Nation)

“My belief is money is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send troops.”

(U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.))

“Not since Vietnam had a U.S. administration made the mistake of going for ‘guns and butter’ simultaneously — or asked so little of an American people at a time of crisis.”

(Wesley Clark, 2004 U.S. presidential candidate)

“There’s a sinking feeling that if the United States screws up, we’re all going to suffer.”

(Josef Joffe, co-editor of Die Zeit, weekly German newspaper)

“You can’t expect European taxpayers — who felt particularly hostile to military intervention — to feel hugely enthusiastic about spending a large amount of money in Iraq.”

(Chris Patten, EU external affairs commissioner)

“One supremely powerful nation or a small group in concert can win a war. But it takes many nations to win peace.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair)

“If we wanted to invade a country to steal its oil, we would do Venezuela. It’s got plenty of oil, it’s nearby — and it doesn’t have an army that can defend it.”

(Joshua Muravchik, author of “Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism”)

“How many deaths must we count before we realize that we must change the approach?”

(French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin)

“If there was something that was really underestimated, it was how really awful Saddam Hussein was to his own people.”

(Condoleezza Rice, U.S. National Security Advisor)

“I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do. I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that’s the last I remember.”

(Former U.S. prisoner of war Jessica Lynch)