Iraq was therefore transformed into an ‘evil’ state, where deterrence was impossible because of the irrationality of Saddam Hussein, who was willing to “gamble with the lives” of his citizens and “the wealth” of his nation (p.15).
Bush stated that “the fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself”(Bush, 2002b).
Realist voices within the Bush administration were “seemingly drowned out by the post 9/11 urgency to construct a more aggressive policy to deter the threat of terrorism” (p.4), and what emerged was the ‘Bush Doctrine’, primarily in the form of the NSS published in 2002, and Bush’s earlier ‘State of the Union’ address, delivered just five months after 9/11.
The Bush administration radically transformed the threat posed by Iraq, and the response needed of the US.
The New Iraqi Threat In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush labelled Iraq as part of an “axis of evil”.
The reasons for which included “seeking weapons of mass destruction”, supporting terror, murdering Iraqi citizens and flaunting “hostility toward America” (Bush, 2002a).
However, the two seemingly parted ways as Reagan shifted towards ‘détente’ upon the arrival of the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev.
Similarly, Bush Senior rejected neoconservative calls for the removal of Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War, and open letters written by PNAC to Bill Clinton calling for the removal of “Saddam Hussein and his regime from power” (PNAC, 1998) were shunned.
Neoconservatives were recruited into the government in droves, as Bush surrounded himself with numerous signatories to the 1998 PNAC letter to Clinton, and their 1997 Statement of Principles, including Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz.
Leading neoconservatives now had prominent foreign policy positions, and their unilateralist influence began to reveal itself as the administration “refused to be a party to the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court” and “decided to move ahead with the National Missile Defense Program ignoring vigorous domestic and international opposition” (Nuruzzaman, 2006, p.245).