Today marks the 5th anniversary of the resumption of the Iraq War. While many folks find it convenient to try changing the facts, it should be remembered at the start that this war did not start with President George W. Bush, nor indeed any American, but by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, for which the cease-fire provisioned clear conditions. In short, Saddam broke those conditions seriously, deliberately, repeatedly and beyond any doubt, so that the war was joined again through his malfeasance and no other.
The United States has suffered almost four thousand combat deaths in the war. While painful and a sad cost which no nation wishes upon its soldiers, in any historical context this cost is light compared to the accomplishments. Indeed, it is the historical context which matters in judging the war. While connections to Al Qaeda were lacking, there is no question that Saddam’s Iraq was friendly to Middle East terrorists of many factions.
This means that a serious war against the infrastructure of Global Terrorism required military action against Iraq. This was indeed one of the conclusions made by the Congress when it approved the use of force against Saddam’s regime, and indeed the basis for the Clinton Administration’s 1998 signature of the act making regime change in Iraq the official policy of the United States.
There are essentially only three paths to consider regarding Iraq’s relationship with the Middle East. If Saddam had not been removed from power and he was as capable as he claimed, Saddam’s support for terrorist groups would have insured another major attack upon Americans and the soil of the United States. If he was as weak as some suppose, not removing Saddam would have left Iraq open to invasion from Iran, who indeed was raising troops in apparent plan to do just that thing; the prospect of a Greater Persia in command of the territories of Iraq in addition to itself would have crippled the world economy in short order, and brought on untold horrors to the people of the Middle East as the vision of such men as Ahmadinejad would have been unrestrained, with bloody Jihad the pitiless assailant of every moderate Arab nation. Nuclear war with Israel would almost surely have occurred. The third road is the one we took, removing Saddam in hopes of creating a stable and more democratic form of government. When the shouting settles down and wiser heads speak, it turns out that while imperfect, the Iraq now in place is a better, safer alternative to what we faced half a decade ago.