After the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, U. S. President George W. Bush began to make the case for war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. On January 9, 2002, Bush orated his famous “axis of evil” speech in his State of the Union Address. The President declared:
“States like these [Iran, Iraq, and North Korea], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.”
The United Nations thereafter attempted to inspect Iraq for weapons, but Iraq rejected inspections in July, 2002. In compromise, it invited UN inspector Hans Blix to Iraq for further technical talks about disarmament. Then, on October 8, 2002, Congress voted to give Bush the power to disarm Iraq by force.
The UN, soon after, unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, which created an enhanced weapons-inspection program. Iraq accepted the resolution five days later, and wrote 12,000 pages of information about the country’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs on December 7, 2002. The document insisted that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Hans Blix, however, did not believe the words in the document, and told the UN Security Council of his skepticism.
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN in February, 2003, promoted these doubts. Powell presented more evidence of WMD sites such as satellite pictures, excerpts from communications among Iraqi officers, and testimony about Iraqi mobile weapons factories and dual-use facilities. A month later, President Bush gave the UN a choice: join the United States in its confrontation of Iraq, or stand aside as America confronts Iraq alone without UN approval.
This angered the leaders of many countries in the UN, and Russia and France promised to veto any UN resolution that gave the United States the power to use military force against Iraq. Six days later, Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar met at Azores Summit and agreed to use force for the disarmament of Iraq.
The next day, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to flee Iraq. If Hussein did not meet the deadline, the United States would send its military to oust Hussein. He refused to leave, and on March 20, 2003, the United States launched a pre-dawn missile attack on Baghdad. The US strategy was to initiate a massive attack by land and air to “shock and awe” the enemy into surrender.