Recently, I mentioned that I had been considering spelling out just why I thought the war in Iraq was justified, and what good has come from it so far. In light of last night’s Oscars (which, darn it, I missed) and yet more “the war was wrong” schlock from Hollywood, I figured I’d dust it off and toss it out.
The main justification for the war is simple — Saddam Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of his surrender during the first Gulf War. When a nation signs an agreement to end a war, those terms are binding. And when the surrendering nation violates those terms, the victors are entirely justified in imposing sanctions, performing selected attacks, or restarting the war entirely — the peace agreement is null and void.
(Trying to avoid Godwinizing myself here…) Here’s a concrete example from history. In the early 1930’s, Germany began flagrantly violating the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. At that point, the allies would have been justified (and, in my opinion, well advised) to act forcefully, even to the point of attacking Germany, to force their compliance with their treaty. Instead, that failure of resolve directly led to the European, African, Mediterranean, and Atlantic portions of World War II.
(Phew, that was close…)
1) Iraq had many obligations under the terms of surrender from the first Gulf War. And they repeatedly, willfully, violated those terms.
A) Iraq had to renounce the possession and development of weapons of mass destruction. Further, they had to publicly destroy all their stockpiles and research, and cooperate with inspectors to guarantee their compliance. Iraq repeatedly blocked inspectors, harassed them, stonewalled demands for documentation, and on several occasions kicked them out of the country.
B) Iraq agreed to abide by certain economic sanctions until such time as the allies agreed it was ready to rejoin the community of nations. It repeatedly violated those sanctions, both overtly and covertly.
C) Iraq agreed to cooperate with a full accounting of prisoners taken during the war. To this day, many Kuwaitis have absolutely no idea what happened to family members who were taken during Iraq’s invasion and occupation.
2) Iraq sought to assassinate former president George H. W. Bush during a visit to Kuwait. Let’s skip the fact that he is the father of the current president, and look at the facts: Iraq attempted to kill a former President of the United States in retaliation for actions he had taken while carrying out his duties as President.
If we were to let that go by, then every president from now on will always have to bear in mind that once they leave office, they may be targets for retaliation. It would cripple their effectiveness, as they would likely be swayed not by principle or the good of the nation, but simple self-preservation when dealing with other nations. Irritating other nations is part and parcel of the job of being president. We simply can not allow that to happen. The message must be loud and clear: attempting to assassinate our presidents — past and present — constitutes an act of war against the United States, and will not be tolerated.
3) Iraq repeatedly attacked our aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone, another condition of the surrender. Firing on United States Air Force and Navy aircraft is an act of war.
4) Iraq continued its support of terrorism. They provided training, money, and material support to many terrorist groups — including Al Qaeda. One Al Qaeda leader (I forget his name) wounded in Afghanistan fled to Iraq for medical treatment, where he was given a quiet hero’s welcome. (No, I don’t think Iraq was involved or knew about 9/11, but I chalk that up to operational security on Al Qaeda’s behalf — Iraq had no need to know about it in advance, so they weren’t told. Likewise, I don’t believe Japan informed Germany about their planned attack on Pearl Harbor — there was no reason to tell them, and plenty of reasons not to.) Iraq was paying the families of suicide bombers $25,000 after each attack. That had to be stopped.
I’ve dismantled the “Bush lied about WMDs” canard previously, but I want to bring it back to call people’s attention to Al’s comment. I don’t know who Al is of if he really has the qualifications he seems to possess, or even if he’s telling the truth, but he sure as hell seems to know what he’s talking about. And he gives even more weight to the WMD issue.
In my followup piece, I’ll be looking at the under-reported good developments from the war in Iraq.