Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday that top officials in the Bush Administration pushed for war in Iraq “almost to the point of insubordination.”
Shelton was speaking specifically of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz and other Pentagon officials.
In his recently published memoir, “Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior,” Shelton called the Iraq war “unnecessary” and said that the Bush team went to war “based on a series of lies.”
“There was a very strong push in those days for us to go into Iraq, and there was absolutely no intelligence, zero, that pointed toward the Iraqis,” he told Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday. “It was all Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden. And yet there was an element there that was — that was pushing to go into Iraq at the same time.”
Shelton said that Bush resisted an early effort to go into Iraq, keeping his eyes on Afghanistan, where al Qaeda was strong.
But “below the surface,” he said, “we still had this element that said, ‘Let’s keep planning for Iraq just in case we can convince him that we can go.’”
“Afghanistan, remember, was going very, very well,” Shelton said. “The drumbeat back here in Washington was still pushing, coming out of the Pentagon, let’s go to Iraq, let’s get — take him out. And he finally said, let’s go.”
Speaking of US negotiations with the Taliban over peace in Afghanistan, “I think that we’ve got to be very careful. I think the Afghan people will be really, really concerned about… how much concern the Taliban will have.”
He said Afghanistan existed in a “fourteenth century culture” and called it “the second most corrupt country in the world.”
The following video is from ABC’s “This Week,” broadcast Oct. 24, 2010.