Interesting question,and one which I think we may well be asking ourselves for some time to come. One of the biggest conundrums has been trying to actually sort out what the hell has been going on. This is one of the reasons I tried to keep my mouth wide shut during the whole Iraq crisis. Not being convinced by either the pro or the anti camp, I had a hard time figuring out what was happening (and I still do, Blair in the end swung it for me since - if there were no WMD's - I couldn't believe he would risk so much for so little. Incidentally, and this would be truly comic if it were not so tragic, didn't Idi Amin just die in Saudi Arabia?)
As Elliott Oti points out "not privy to the deep wisdom of the US Administration, we proles have had to do the grunt work of rationalising the US's motives, from either a pro-war or pacifist viewpoint. Liberation, oil, revenge, neocon conspiracies ... blogs, print and online media have covered the various angles in exhausting depth". But still we are non the wiser.
My best bet would be to see what just happened in Iraq as an attempt to facilitate the Israel-Palestine peace process, since on the one hand the US can never realistically hope to be free of Islamic Fundamentalist inspired terrorism while the conflict there continues, and on the other neither Sharon, nor any other conceivable Israeli prime minister, would be in any position internally to make substantial concessions to the US with Saddam in Iraq. But you just try explaining this at the UN. This I take it is what Wolfowitz had in mind when he referred to the bureaucratic factors behind the decision to highlight WMD's. But as Elliott points out this now makes US foreign policy a hostage to fortune of what may, or may not, happen in Iraq. Having taken the decision which was easier in the short-term the longer-term problem is much bigger. Looking around the planet I cannot bring myself to understand what it is that makes Iraq so different. Sure there is the petrol money, but this often seems to cause more not less problems (even in Texas). Nation building may be a worthy aim, but for all the same reasons which mean a centrally planned economy doesn't work, surely a centrally planned national identity won't either, and certainly not on the sort of timescale envisaged by the US administration. So one day or another we're going to be back with multilateralism. The only thing which really puzzles me is why people as apparently intelligent as Wolfowitz and Rumsfeldt turn out to be so stupid that they imagine they can see a solution where no-one else can. (No please don't try to answer this one for me, it is rhetorical).
In August 2002 it became obvious that the US was going to invade Iraq no matter what, and in the months leading up to the actual conflict it was also obvious that the presented rationales - weapons of mass destruction, Al-Qaeda - were flimsy and largely unconvincing. Not privy to the deep wisdom of the US Administration, we proles have had to do the grunt work of rationalising the US's motives, from either a pro-war or pacifist viewpoint. Liberation, oil, revenge, neocon conspiracies ... blogs, print and online media have covered the various angles in exhausting depth.
Almost no-one buys the WMD theory any more, not even its more prominent supporters at the start of the year; the pro-war segment of the blogosphere is gradually shifing towards the idea that the Liberation Of Iraq and the Transformation Of The Middle East has been the true goal all along, and that the glorious leaders of the free world lied out of necessity in order to get us doubting thomases down with the program, to mangle a metaphor or two. Fine. I can almost buy that story. But.