God Told Me
To Invade Iraq
By Rupert Cornwell
08 October, 2005
George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack
Osama bin Laden's stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission
to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state
for the Palestinians.
George Bush believes
he is on a mission from God, according to the politician Nabil Shaath.
Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP
The President made the assertion during his first meeting with Palestinian
leaders in June 2003, according to a BBC series which will be broadcast
The revelation comes
after Mr Bush launched an impassioned attack yesterday in Washington
on Islamic militants, likening their ideology to that of Communism,
and accusing them of seeking to "enslave whole nations" and
set up a radical Islamic empire "that spans from Spain to Indonesia".
In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on
Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr
Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian
President: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell
me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did,
and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,'
and I did."
And "now again",
Mr Bush is quoted as telling the two, "I feel God's words coming
to me: 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their
security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God, I'm gonna do
Mr Abbas remembers
how the US President told him he had a "moral and religious obligation"
to act. The White House has refused to comment on what it terms a private
conversation. But the BBC account is anything but implausible, given
how throughout his presidency Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, has never
hidden the importance of his faith.
From the outset
he has couched the "global war on terror" in quasi-religious
terms, as a struggle between good and evil. Al-Qa'ida terrorists are
routinely described as evil-doers. For Mr Bush, the invasion of Iraq
has always been part of the struggle against terrorism, and he appears
to see himself as the executor of the divine will.
He told Bob Woodward
- whose 2004 book, Plan of Attack, is the definitive account of the
administration's road to war in Iraq - that after giving the order to
invade in March 2003, he walked in the White House garden, praying "that
our troops be safe, be protected by the Almighty". As he went into
this critical period, he told Mr Woodward, "I was praying for strength
to do the Lord's will.
not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless,
in my case, I pray that I will be as good a messenger of His will as
possible. And then of course, I pray for forgiveness."
sign of Mr Bush's religion was his answer to Mr Woodward's question
on whether he had asked his father - the former president who refused
to launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq after driving Saddam Hussein
from Kuwait in 1991 - for advice on what to do.
The current President
replied that his earthly father was "the wrong father to appeal
to for advice ... there is a higher father that I appeal to".
The same sense of
mission permeated his speech at the National Endowment of Democracy
yesterday. Its main news was Mr Bush's claim that Western security services
had thwarted 10 planned attacks by al-Qa'ida since 11 September 2001,
three of them against mainland US.
More striking though
was his unrelenting portrayal of radical Islam as a global menace, which
only the forces of freedom - led by the US - could repel. It was delivered
at a moment when Mr Bush's domestic approval ratings are at their lowest
ebb, in large part because of the war in Iraq, in which 1,950 US troops
have died, with no end in sight.
It came amid continuing
violence on the ground, nine days before the critical referendum on
the new constitution that offers perhaps the last chance of securing
a unitary and democratic Iraq. "The militants believe that controlling
one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow
all moderate governments in the region" and set up a radical empire
stretching from Spain to Indonesia, he said.
aim was to "enslave whole nations and intimidate the world".
He portrayed Islamic radicals as a single global movement, from the
Middle East to Chechnya and Bali and the jungles of the Philippines.
He rejected claims
that the US military presence in Iraq was fuelling terrorism: 11 September
2001 occurred long before American troops set foot in Iraq - and Russia's
opposition to the invasion did not stop terrorists carrying out the
Beslan atrocity in which 300 children died.
Mr Bush also accused
Syria and Iran of supporting radical groups. They "have a long
history of collaboration with terrorists and they deserve no patience".
The US, he warned, "makes no distinction between those who commit
acts of terror and those who support and harbour them because they're
equally as guilty of murder".
"Wars are not
won without sacrifice and this war will require more sacrifice, more
time and more resolve," Mr Bush declared. But progress was being
made in Iraq, and, he proclaimed: "We will keep our nerve and we
will win that victory."
© 2005 Independent
News & Media (UK) Ltd.