This is an old topic to old a2k hands, but it's recently surfaced due to an article called The Israel Lobby
by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, profs at University of Chicago & Harvard. i found an interesting exchange between Richard Zelikow, counsellor to Condoleezza Rice, and Mearsheimer & Walt in the London Review of Books, concerning remarks Zelikow made on 10 Sept. 2002 at a University of Virginia symposium. this will be rather lengthy, but i trust the topic merits an in-depth examination.
Zelikow objects to this passage in Mearsheimer & Walt's article:
without going into details, Zelikow disputes this account on 3 fronts:
The claim still has three holes. First, like most of the world, I did think that, if Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons, this would endanger the interests of America and the world in several ways, including the direct threat of a possible strike on Israel. Second, I did not state an opinion about whether this should be a cause for war in 2002-03. Third, I did not state an opinion - or even have any special knowledge - about the motives of the Bush administration in going to war in 2003.
Mearsheimer & Walt respond to Zelikow's retort with a much lengthier quotation from Zelikow's UVA remarks than the brief excerpt that's been widely disseminated by critics of the US and Israel. here it is:
Finally. . . I wanted to offer some comments on Iraq. . . . I beg your patience, but I think there are some points that are worth making that aren't being made by either side in the current debate.
The Iraq situation this administration inherited is and has been unsustainable. Ever since 1996 the Iraqi situation has basically unravelled. . . . So then the real question is, OK, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to end up fixing it? And if you don't like the administration's approach, what's the recommended alternative?
Another thing Americans absorb, and this administration especially, is the lesson of Afghanistan. Because remember we knew that international terrorist groups were plotting to kill Americans in a sanctuary called Afghanistan. . .
so, did he or didn't he? personally, it seems to me that he did believe Iran had WMD, but not necessarily that such weapons posed an immediate threat to the US. on the other hand, he certainly seemed to be in favor of immediate military action against Iraq, contradicting his claim that he "did not state an opinion about whether this should be a cause for war in 2002-03." finally, assuming his remarks were reproduced accurately, there's no proof that his views represented the views of the Administration at the time he made those remarks.
you can access the entire exchange between Zelikow and the academics at this url: