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Timeline of Notable Pre-war Voices
Arguing For or Against
U.S. Invasion of Iraq

by Joe Taglieri, FTW Staff 

[ Copyright 2002, From the Wilderness Publications, May be copied or distributed for non-profit purposes only.
be posted in any Internet website without express written authorization.]

Oct. 1, 2002, 17:00 PDT (FTW) -- The Bush Administration and its supporters have been waging a war of rhetoric promoting war with Iraq since shortly after 9-11. And beyond all the talk from U.S. politicians, American and British warplanes have increasingly attacked Iraqi targets since early this year. The following timeline documents significant events as this war of words evolves into military action.

1. November 2001 -- January 2002 - Bush foreign policy and security advisers, including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleeza Rice, say Saddam poses the greatest danger to the U.S. and should be the next target in the war on terrorism. Unnamed diplomatic and Pentagon sources say through press reports that the CIA and Defense Department are making plans for an Iraqi military campaign. The president remarks that Saddam will "find out" the consequences of refusing to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to return to Iraq.  [Sources: Washington Times, USA Today, New York Times and the Observer (U.K.)]

2. Dec. 5, 2001 - Members of Congress John McCain, Richard Shelby, Jesse Helms, Henry Hyde, Harold Ford Jr., Joseph Lieberman, Trent Lott, Benjamin Gilman, and Sam Brownback send President Bush a letter urging military action against Iraq.

3. Jan. 29, 2002 - President Bush refers to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the "axis of evil" in his first state of the union address. He alleges these nations possess weapons of mass destruction, which will become a familiar battle cry against Saddam over the next year.

4. February 2002 - Vice President Dick Cheney prepares to visit the Middle Eastern nations of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Kuwait, all of which border Iraq. On Cheney's trip Bush remarks, "There's nothing like looking somebody in the eye and letting them know that when we say we're going to fight terror, we mean it." Also in February on a trip to Japan, Bush reportedly tells the Japanese prime minister "We'll attack Iraq. We'll do it definitely."[Sources: The Guardian (U.K.), Kyodo News]

5. March 8, 2002 - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan cautions Iraqi officials to allow the return of weapons inspectors. [Source: Washington Post]

6. March 11-13, 2002 - As Cheney travels on his Middle East trip, the leaders of Turkey and Jordan, two scheduled stops on the vice president's travel agenda, warn a U.S. attack on Iraq could destabilize the region. Cheney first arrives in London, where British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledges support for expanding America's war against terrorism to other nations. Jordan's King Abdullah meets with Cheney and states publicly that he does not support a U.S. strike against Iraq. [Source: Washington Post]

7. March 14, 2002 - President Bush gives his first press conference since 9-11 and says, "all options are on the table," including nuclear weapons, to confront states that threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein "is a problem, and we're going to deal with him." [Source: Washington Post]

8. March 24, 2002 - Democratic Rep. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina is quoted by the State newspaper as telling a business audience in Columbia, S.C., "Before the end of the summer or fall, we'll be in a major entanglement with Iraq." He later said his comments were conjecture. [Source: Washington Post]

9. April 16, 2002 - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disputes the effectiveness of a renewed U.N. arms inspection effort. He claims when inspectors were in Iraq until 1998, they only saw weapons sites discovered through intelligence, not information volunteered by Saddam Hussein. [Source: Washington Post]    

10. April 18, 2002 - Bush tells Virginia Military Institute cadets that democratic nations must confront the "axis of evil." [Source: Washington Post]

11. May 24, 2002 - The six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are the highest ranking members of the U.S. armed forces, publicly criticize the president's desire for a swift strike against Iraq. The military commanders express fears that an early invasion would result in many American casualties, and that a cornered Saddam Hussein would not hesitate to use biological or chemical weapons. [Source: London Telegraph]

12. June 20, 2002 - Cheney says Saddam represents a "gathering danger" to the U.S. "Wars are not won on the defensive," he told an audience at a Republican fundraiser in Detroit. "We must take the battle to the enemy anywhere necessary, to preempt greater stress to our country." [Source: Reuters]

13. July 9, 2002 - Bush tells reporters, "It is the stated policy of this government to have a regime change [in Iraq], and we'll use all the tools at our disposal to do so." [Source: Associated Press]

14. July 21, 2002 - Senators Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., tacitly endorse "regime change" in Iraq, though under certain conditions. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Fox News Sunday that he would be in favor of a military strike against Saddam Hussein if a link between the Iraqi leader and Al Qaeda could be established. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on CNN's "Late Edition," "We continue to make it clear that we would like Saddam out of there." But he cautioned, "Our rhetoric has got to be much more complex, our thought processes more complex. There are a lot of real problems here, and the first ones to recognize that...are the uniformed military leaders, who are very cautious. Much more cautious than the president's rhetoric." [Source: Associated Press]

15. July--September 2002 - On numerous occasions, former U.N. Iraqi weapons inspector Scott Ritter criticizes the Bush Administration for its Iraq policy. Ritter maintains that Saddam's military capability is negligible and Bush wants to invade Iraq for political purposes. [Sources: CNN, Washington Post, New York Times]

16. early-August 2002 - Members of Congress begin to choose sides on the Iraq debate more publicly. Republican Senators. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Richard Lugar of Indiana come out in favor of a preemptive U.S. attack. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, also chimes in support for Bush's war aspirations. Rep. Dick Armey, Republican House majority leader from Texas, breaks ranks with Bush and says the U.S. should not attack Iraq without legitimate provocation. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin toughens his anti-war stance, telling NBC's "Meet the Press" that Saddam does not pose a significant danger to the U.S. [Source: New York Times, Aug. 11, 2002]

17. Aug. 12, 2002 - The Washington Post runs an opinion article by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that warns of the potentially dangerous precedent for international relations set by the Bush Administration's "new principle of preemption." [Source: Times of India]

18. Aug. 15, 2002 - National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice continues the anti-Saddam mantra, telling BBC radio, "We certainly do not have the luxury of doing nothing. We believe the case for regime change is very powerful." Rice says Saddam had twice come close to acquiring nuclear weapons and refers to him as "an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and , if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, on all of us." [Source: Reuters]

19. mid-August 2002 - The New York Times runs a story outlining the Republican opposition to the Bush Administration's Iraqi war plans. Some of the dissenters listed include Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush's national security adviser, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Richard Perle, a leading hawk who chairs the Defense Department's Defense Policy Board, defends the administration's pro-war stance. "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." [Source: New York Times, Aug. 15, 2002]

20. Aug. 18, 2002 - Richard Perle is quoted in a Washington Post story by political reporter Dana Milbank headlined, "White House Push for Iraqi Strike Is on Hold." The subhead reads, "Waiting to Make Case for Action Allows Invasion Opponents to Dominate Debate." Perle says, "Timing is everything when you do this. If you launched [a public campaign] too far in advance and nothing followed, that would raise questions and fuel a debate that would not be helpful to the administration...If you join the debate now, but don't act for months, you pay a worse price."

21. Aug. 18, 2002 - Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, says on ABC's "This Week" that if Bush decides "we need to take action to minimize the threat that [Saddam] now poses,...he will do so in a way that will clearly be articulated to the American people, clearly articulated to our friends and allies." Bartlett added, "The president hasn't asked for support because he hasn't made up his mind. But I think you'll find many people rallying to such a noble cause." [Source: New York Times]

22. late-August 2002 - The White House begins tempering its hard line position on an Iraqi invasion as a result of recent criticisms from leading Republicans in Washington and NATO allies, such as German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder. [Source: Stratfor Global Intelligence Report, Aug. 19, 2002]

23. Aug. 25, 2002 - In a New York Times op-ed, former secretary of state under the president's father James Baker warns Bush not to "go it alone" against Saddam. "The costs in all areas will be much greater, as will the political risks, both domestic and international, if we end up going it alone or with only one or two countries," writes Baker. [Source: CNN, Aug. 26, 2002]

24. Aug. 25, 2002 - The Associated Press releases a story headlined, "White House Lawyers Say Iraq Decision is Bush's." The story is sourced by "two senior administration officials speaking on condition of anonymity" and reports White House counsel Al Gonzales advised Bush that the Constitution gives the president authority to wage war without the explicit consent of Congress. [Source: Associated Press]

25. Aug. 26, 2002 - Cheney tells another group of supporters, this time a veterans group in Nashville, Tenn., that America "will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terrorist regimes" and once again reiterated the warning on Saddam's supposed intentions to use weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. "What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness," Cheney said. The vice president downplays the usefulness of U.N. weapons inspectors returning to Iraq, saying that would increase the danger by providing "false comfort." [Sources: Associated Press, New York Times, Aug. 27, 2002, The Guardian, Sept. 2, 2002]

26. Aug. 27, 2002 - Sen. Chuck Hagel responds to the question of the president's legal status for committing troops to an Iraqi invasion without Congressional approval. "I don't play this game so much on what's legal and what's not legal," said the senator. "If the president is going to commit this nation to war, he'd better have the support of the Congress and the American people with him." [Source: Associated Press]

27. Aug. 28, 2002 - China, a member of the U.N. security council, says it does not support the use of military force to Iraq to settle its differences with the U.S.

28. Aug. 29, 2002 - French President Jacques Chirac and Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin decry Bush's leanings toward a unilateral strike against Iraq. Cheney tells another veterans group, this one in San Antonio, Texas, that Bush welcomes a domestic debate on invading Iraq. "I know that he will proceed cautiously and deliberately and consider all possible options to deal with the threat that Iraq ruled by Saddam Hussein represents," said the vice president.

29. Sept. 1, 2002 - Nelson Mandela urges Bush to show restraint and says a unilateral strike could destroy the United Nations. [Source: BBC]

30. Sept. 2, 2002 - Colin Powell in an interview with the BBC contradicts Cheney's remarks from the previous week downplaying the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq. The secretary of state echoes the opinion of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the European Union which holds that inspectors should return to Iraq as a "fist step" toward dealing with the threat posed by Saddam. [Source: The Guardian]

31. Sept. 3, 2002 - The New York Times reports that the Veterans Administration (VA) decided in August to stop marketing its healthcare services to veterans who may not be aware of them. A VA official told FTW, "In order to free up hospital bed space and clinic appointments for wounded soldiers from the war zone in Iraq, VA halted the outreach and enrollment of new veterans in the VA healthcare system.  Of course, VA and DoD will deny it, they'll say there's a budget problem."

32. Sept. 8, 2002 - The United Kingdom's Independent reports "more than 100 U.S. and British aircraft attacked Iraqi air installations last week in the biggest raid for more than three years." [Source: The Independent (U.K.)]

33. Sept. 9, 2002 - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells CBS's "Face the Nation" that the U.S. can successfully execute multiple wars at the same time while maintaining a sound domestic defense. "We will have, and do have, a capability in the United States to provide for homeland defense, to undertake a major regional conflict and win decisively -- including occupying a country and changing the regime if necessary -- and simultaneously swiftly defeat another aggressor in another theater," Rumsfeld said. [Source: New York Daily News]

34. Sept. 12, 2002 - President Bush addresses the United Nations and states his case for "regime change" in Iraq. Bush stated clearly that if the U.N. failed to act, then the U.S. would act alone. Bush's strategy was to throw a series of un-enforced sanctions dating back to the Gulf War in the Security Council's collective face. Few, however, expressed support for military action to oust Saddam Hussein. [Source: CNN]

35. Sept. 12, 2002 - Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Israeli prime minister, advocates a U.S. attack on Iraq in an interview with CNN's Paula Zahn. [Source: CNN]

36. Sept. 13, 2002 - Democratic congressman Nick Rahall tours Iraqi hospitals beleaguered by a decade of economic sanctions and states, "What I want to give here is peace a chance." While in Iraq, Rahall also addresses the Iraqi legislature. [Source: CNN]

37. Sept. 13, 2002 - Reps. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, declare Saddam's efforts to amass weapons of mass destruction pose no immediate threat to the U.S., and Bush' real motive for a military strike is to make a grab for Iraqi oil. "Oil is a factor. How much [of a factor] is anybody's guess, but to discount it as a factor is, I think, misleading," said Kucinich. "It's not a conspiracy theory to bring it in because, after all, it is the second largest oil supply in the world." [Source: CNN]

38. Sept. 14, 2002 - Leading Democratic senators offer support for Bush's aggressive Iraqi stance. The list includes House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, John Edwards of North Carolina, and John Kerry of Massachusetts. [Source: Washington Post]

39. Sept. 16, 2002 - Iraq says in a letter to Kofi Annan that it will allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country. In a statement the White House countered, "This is not a matter of inspections. It is about disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi regime's compliance with all other Security Council resolutions." The statement called the apparent Iraqi capitulation to U.N. demands a ruse and "a tactic that will fail." [Source: CNN, Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2002]

40. Sept. 16, 2002 - Nelson Mandela increases his verbal offensive against the Bush Administration hawks. "What right has Bush to say that Iraq's offer is not genuine?" asked Mandela. "We must condemn that very strongly. No country, however strong, is entitled to comment adversely in the way the U.S. has done. They think they're the only power in the world. They're not and they're following a dangerous policy. One country wants to bully the world." [Source: BBC]

41. Sept. 19, 2002 - President Bush submits a draft of a congressional resolution authorizing him to take military action against Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., predicts Congress will vote on the resolution before November elections. The draft resolution says, "The president is authorized to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce the United Nations Security Council resolutions [pertaining to Iraq], defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region." [Source: Washington Post]

42. Sept. 20, 2002 - The Bush Administration releases its "National Security Strategy of the United States" document, which outlines military strategy for preemptive actions against terrorists and nations hostile to U.S. interests. The document is the first of its kind to state that the U.S. will never allow its status as the world's premiere military super-power to be challenged as it was during the Cold War. [Source: New York Times]

43. Sept. 20, 2002 - The president bluntly challenges the United Nations to expedite compliance from Saddam to completely disarm his weapons of mass destruction programs.  "It is very important that the members understand that the credibility of the United Nations is at stake, that the Security Council must be firm in its resolve to deal with a true threat to world peace, and that is Saddam Hussein," said Bush. "The United Nations Security Council must work with the United States and Britain and other concerned parties to send a clear message that we expect Saddam to disarm. And if the United Nations Security Council won't deal with the problem, the United States and some of our friends will." [Source: Washington Post]

44. Sept. 21, 2002 - Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., criticizes the administration's proposed congressional resolution authorizing plans to invade Iraq on the floor of the Senate. "This administration, all of a sudden, wants to go to war with Iraq," said Byrd. "The [political] polls are dropping, the domestic situation has problems...So all of a sudden we have this war talk, war fervor, the bugles of war, drums of war, clouds of war. Don't tell me that things suddenly went wrong. Back in August, the president had no plans...Then all of a sudden the country is going to war." [Source: Charleston Gazette]

45. Sept. 21, 2002 - Iraq says it will not agree to new U.N. Security Council resolutions favored by the Bush Administration that would require a deadline for the return of weapons inspectors or consequences if Iraqis fail to comply with U.N. mandates.

46. Sept. 22, 2002 - Prince Nayif ibn Adbulaziz, the Saudi interior minister says a U.S. attack on Iraq will create problems in the region "faster than any Iraqi operation against its neighbors." [Source: Los Angeles Times]

47. Sept. 23, 2002 - Former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify before Congress and agree that the U.S. should only invade Iraq as a last resort. "We must be very, very careful about going to war, and to do so only when all other attempts to resolve the threat to us have failed, and to do so only with the support of the United States Congress and the American people," said retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman John Shalikashvili. [Source: New York Times]

48. Sept. 23, 2002 - Al Gore, the former vice president, delivers a speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco criticizing Bush's Iraq war intentions. "By shifting from his early focus after Sept. 11 on war against terrorism to war against Iraq, the president has manifestly disposed of the sympathy, goodwill and solidarity compiled by America and transformed it into a sense of deep misgiving and even hostility." [Source: Washington Post]

49. Sept. 24, 2002 - Tony Blair unveils a dossier of evidence on Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction. The dossier, based on British and U.S. intelligence, was criticized for not revealing convincing evidence pointing to the need for Saddam's immediate removal. [Source: Associated Press]

50. Sept. 25, 2002 - Sen. Tom Daschle accuses President Bush of politicizing the Iraq debate. "That is wrong," he said. "We ought not politicize this war. We ought to politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death." [Source: Associated Press]

51. Sept. 26, 2002 - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says at a Pentagon briefing, "We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical- and biological-agent training." [Source: New York Times]

52. Sept. 26, 2002 - Former secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger testify before Congress on whether the U.S. should invade Iraq. Both agree that Saddam poses a threat to the security of the Gulf region as well as to the U.S. states through potential alliances with terrorists. [Source: C-SPAN]

53. Sept. 27, 2002 - House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt writes an op-ed in the New York Times calling for support for the president as he carries out the war against terrorism. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., says "The administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, preemptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary. [Sources: New York Times, Los Angeles Times]

54. Sept. 27, 2002 - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announces that the Bush Administration cited a non-existent report said to be from 1998 on Iraq's supposed imminent nuclear capability. "There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," said Mark Gwozdecky, an IAEA spokesman. [Source: Washington Times]

55. Sept. 28, 2002 - The U.S. and Britain attempt unsuccessfully to get other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to back a resolution threatening Iraq with military action. China, France and Russia remain unconvinced of Bush and Blair's case against Saddam. [Source: The Guardian (U.K.)]

56. Sept. 28, 2002 - Between 150,000 and 400,000 protesters march against war in Iraq in central London. (Estimates vary according to which news organization is reporting). [Source: New York Times - CNN, The Guardian]

57. Sept. 29, 2002 - Congressmen Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and David Bonior, D-Mich., visit Iraq to assess humanitarian conditions and criticize Bush's war plans. "They [Iraqi officials] said they would allow us to go look anywhere we wanted," said McDermott on ABC's "This Week." "And until they don't do that, there is no need to this coercive stuff where you bring in helicopters and armed people and storm buildings." [Source: Reuters]

58. Oct. 1, 2002 (Time approximate 12:00 EDT)  - In Vienna, Hans Blix, the head U.N. weapons inspector, announces a tentative agreement with Iraq to allow inspectors to return beginning in two weeks. Search protocols of Hussein's Presidential palaces remain unresolved. Source: Washington Post]

59. Oct. 1, 2002 (Time Approximate 16:30 EDT) - Within hours of the Blix announcement President Bush reacts negatively to the agreement reached between Iraq and weapons inspectors. "We're just not going to accept something that is weak," he said. Bush urges the U.N. to "put some calcium in the backbone" of an alternative resolution for dealing with Iraq. On an alternative congressional resolution drafted by Senators Biden and Lugar of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bush says, "I don't want a resolution that ties my hands...What I won't accept is something that allows Saddam Hussein to continue to lie, deceive the world," Bush said. "I'm just not going to accept something that is weak. It's not worth it - the United Nations must show its backbone and we'll work with members of the Security Council to put a little calcium there, put some calcium in the backbone, so this organization is more likely to keep the peace as we go down the road." [Sources: Washington Post, Associated Press]

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