I'm at the library reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq (2004) by Joseph Tragert. The author of the foreword, W. Thomas Smith Jr., asserts:
"Whether a high school or college student, a member of the armed forces, a Ph.D. historian searching for elusive facts and figures, a print or broadcast reporter, or anyone else interested in broadening their knowledge of the Middle East, Tragert's The complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq, Second Edition, will no doubt become the reference of choice".
By the time you get to page four, however, you realise that this book should not be your reference of choice if you want to understand why Iraq was invaded. According to Tragert, "Once George W. Bush took office in 2000, his administration became increasingly preoccupied with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Government officials were +convinced+ that Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction and they were determined to remove that threat to +U.S vital interests+" (my emphasis).
How does Tragert know that Bush and his collaborators were convinced that Saddam Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction? They may have +claimed+ they were convinced that he still possessed them, but shortly before Iraq was bombed, they also stated that Saddam "has not developed any significant capabilities with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours". To be fair, in contrast to Helen Boaden and Jonathan Steele et al, Tragert does hint at the truth. The neocons were actually preoccupied with the threat that Saddam posed to "U.S vital interests" long before they came to power.
In January 1998 U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton. In it, he asserts that Clinton should "aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power" because if Saddam is allowed to remain in power then "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will be put at hazard". As Neil Mackay explains in his book The War on Truth (2006):
"Saddam wasn't targeted by a White House full of jitters about rogue states linked to terror groups and building deadly piles of doomsday machines. He was targeted by a White House full of jitters that Saddam, a lunatic who hated the United States and its allies with the passion of a Beelezebub, was sitting on top of the world's second biggest oil reserve".