“That probably partly has to do with the fact that we’re not in the disorienting period that followed 9/11, and partly that the difficulty of long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has made ground wars a less attractive option than one might have appeared earlier,” he said. “Different presidential temperaments and notions of leadership play a role here, too.”
The Bush administration’s charges about Iraq’s alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and ties to al-Qaeda were based largely on information provided by Iraqi exiles and collected outside of regular intelligence channels by independent cells overseen by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. Many U.S. and other intelligence professionals distrusted the exiles’ assertions, many of which eventually were found to be false.
As tensions rise, administration officials said they are increasingly concerned that a miscalculation by either side could trigger both a war that sends oil prices skyrocketing and a worldwide terror campaign by Iran and its proxies such as the radical Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah.