First Stop, Iraq

How did the U.S. end up taking on Saddam? The inside story of how Iraq jumped to the top of Bush's agenda--and why the outcome there may foreshadow a different world order

"F___ Saddam. we're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.

A year later,...

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