Note: What follows is the first of a six part series examining success and failures of the Bush Doctrine and the conduct of the war in Iraq and the aftermath. Please note that I served as editor for this article; the author isn’t interested in publicity and will remain anonymous.
On September 11, 2001, we were forced to view the world in a new light. Most of us realized two things. First, we realized that Islamic fanatics were now willing to die in an organized effort to exact their punishment on the United States of America and that America could never win the “hearts and minds” of these Islamofacists without changing the culture that created them. Second, we realized that there were only two ways to change the culture that created the hate.
- We could relent to the Islamofacists’ demands and seek their approval for all future foreign policies.
- We could fundamentally alter the landscape of hate by eliminating the terrorists AND replace the regimes that continue to harbor, fund and assist the terrorists.
We could have pulled a “Clinton” and attempted to merely eliminate the terrorists responsible for 9/11. That strategy in dealing with terrorists (employed by Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton in previous terrorist strikes) had the fatal weakness of leaving the culture that created them, the regimes that harbored them, and the leaders who funded them alive to fight another day. Most Americans now understand that the next terrorist strike could be utterly devastating to the United States.
So, President Bush acted nearly immediately. Within days of the attack, the president put the world on notice that the United States was no longer going to look the other way while regimes continued to fund, harbor and assist terrorist organizations. In the aftermath of this ultimatum, a significant amount of terrorist funds have been frozen worldwide, operatives have been arrested in countries which never before had made concerted efforts and many terrorists have been forced into hiding.
And, within 26 days of 9/11, the Bush administration moved a massive number of troops into position, pulled over 40 nations into a coalition, negotiated extraordinary concessions from Pakistani President Pervez Musharef, including flyover and basing rights, planned humanitarian efforts to avoid human catastrophe and commenced the air war to remove al Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan. All within 26 days of 9/11.
BACKGROUND ON IRAQ, WMD AND THE U.N.
A little background is necessary to understand the decision to topple Saddam. Immediately after the first Gulf War, the United Nations imposed heavy sanctions against Saddam’s regime. These sanctions were devastating and, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam was on the verge of losing power. Iraqis were on the cusp of revolt against the dictator responsible for their misery.
But, in 1996, Europe came to the rescue by offering the vaunted “Oil for Food” program. Bill Clinton succumbed to enormous European pressure and, against everyone’s better judgment, agreed to the program. This gave Saddam new life, allowing him to provide for his citizens and illegally siphon off billions to rebuild his regime and his grip on Iraq.
All the while, Saddam thumbed his nose at more than a dozen years of U.N. Security Council resolutions, he bugged the phones and rooms of weapons inspectors, he forbade weapons inspectors to privately interview scientists, he had armed “minders” escort the inspectors 24/7 and he blocked the U.N. from entering dozens of sites they wished to inspect. He had also kicked the inspectors out multiple times before finally in 1998, after the inspectors located Saddam’s stash of deadly VX, the U.N. was kicked out for good. And, from 1998 to 2002, the U.N. inspectors were never allowed to return.
So, the last thing we knew, the inspectors had found the deadliest chemical to date, VX, and had not been able to destroy the stockpile before being escorted out of the country. Meanwhile, Saddam was busy bribing France, Russia and China (each of which are able to single handedly veto any Security Council resolution) to keep the U.N out and fight for the end of all sanctions against his regime.
By September of 2001, all attempts to renegotiate U.N. re-entry had failed and there was a major push by, you guessed it, France, Russia and China to lift ALL sanctions against the non-compliant Saddam. The Duelfer report stated that, if sanctions had been lifted, Saddam would have been in a position to restart his WMD programs and certainly would have done so.
THE DECISION TO TOPPLE SADDAM
A lot has been made that the ONLY reason Bush gave for his invasion of Iraq was weapons of mass destruction. Although this was a big part of the reason, it most certainly was not the only reason. There are two factors you need to understand in order to fully appreciate Bush’s rationale.
First, whether you agree with it or not, President Bush set out a policy to topple the Taliban, work with countries willing to help on the war on terror, freeze terrorists’ assets and replace regimes that continue to support terrorism. In his stirring State of the Union speech, he identified the top culprits, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
Secondly, you might find it interesting to reread Bush’s speech in Cincinnati which outlined the Iraqi threat. This was THE speech justifying the invasion of Iraq. Many on the left would have you believe that the only justification President Bush gave was WMD. That’s why it is so important that you reread the transcript. This speech is so long that I will not excerpt it in earnest here, but here is the link to the speech. You would be well served to reread it.
WMD was indeed a large part of the speech, but you have to remember that the last time inspectors were allowed in Iraq, they had just located deadly VX and had not had the opportunity to destroy the stockpiles. Additionally, the CIA, Britain, Russia and Jordan all said that intelligence confirmed that Saddam still had WMD stockpiles and the programs to create more. The intelligence was overwhelming.
But when you reread the Cincinnati speech, you will see that possession of WMD was not the only reason Bush gave for invasion of Iraq.
Saddam used chemical weapons against his own citizens and in his war against Iran.
Saddam launched unprovoked wars against both Iran and Kuwait in a diabolical effort to dominate the Middle East.
Saddam possessed ballistic missiles which were banned by the U.N. and which we subsequently DID find.
Saddam was harboring Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Although the president does not name him by name, he clearly states that “Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.” This could only be a reference to Zarqawi.
Saddam harbored world-renowned terrorists Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal.
Saddam’s regime gleefully celebrated the 9/11 attacks on our country.
Saddam was scamming the U.N. mandated Oil for Food program and side-stepping sanctions.
In 2002 alone, the Iraqi military had fired on American and British pilots enforcing the U.N.’s no-fly zone over 750 times.
“On Saddam Hussein’s orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.”
Saddam continued to fund terrorists organizations and even rewarded the families of Palestinian homicide bombers by sending each family $25,000 for their son or daughter’s act of terrorism.
In order to fully appreciate the Iraq rationale, you have to remember that Bush, after 9/11, had put the world on notice that the United States was no longer going to look the other way while regimes continued to fund, harbor and assist terrorists and their organizations. Saddam continued to do all three. He was a loose cannon ready to explode as soon as France, Russia and China could manage to get U.N. sanctions dropped.
What President Bush understands, that neither Senator Kerry nor the loony left seems to, is the same thing President Kennedy understood in October of 1962, “Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril.”
SO WHY NOT IRAN OR NORTH KOREA?
Unlike Saddam Hussein and Iraq,
Neither Iran nor North Korea had a 12 year track record of ignoring and defying U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Neither Iran nor North Korea had, in recent history, invaded their neighbors for regional domination.
Neither Iran nor North Korea had a history of utilizing chemical weapons.
Leaders of Iran and North Korea have a vital interest in self-preservation (Saddam wants to become an historical icon).
The world is currently involved in negotiations with both Iran and North Korea.
Invading Iran with madman Saddam next door would have been entirely too unpredictable.
Invading Iran, visually on a world map, would have made it look like America was on the march right across the Middle East. From Afghanistan to Iran… Where next, Iraq? It would have appeared to be a crusade.