Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iraq, Media Bias, Military, National Security, Politics | Tags: Congressional Endorsement, Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, Operation Iraqi Freedom
Today is the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the War on Iraq. Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author, most recently of The Syrian Rebellion is an authority on the Middle East.
Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds. …
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament.
On March 19, 2003, President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He said U.S. forces launched a strike against targets of military opportunity in Iraq, describing the action as the opening salvo in an operation to disarm Iraq and free its people.
From the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Oct. 31, 1998
Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs. . . .
On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that ‘the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’ and urged the President ‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.’ . . .
It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.
Fouad Ajami’s account goes on to recall:
The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of 2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its own—and many of its former supporters claimed that this wasn’t what they had signed up for.
The mainstream media, of course, turned sharply against the war, not that they were ever really for it, but they became really vicious.
Here, you might find some of the articles by Douglas Hanson at American Thinker at the time, of interest. Hanson was a US Army reconnaissance officer for 20 years and a veteran of the Gulf War I. He has a background in radiation biology and physiology and was an Atomic Demolitions Munitions Security Officer, and a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Officer. He was assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
•March 2, 2004: “Case Not Closed: Iraq’s WMD Stockpiles”
•May 20, 2004: “Pesticides, Precursors, and Petulance Revisited”
•August 10, 2004: “WMDs in Iraq – the real story begins to emerge”
•April 27, 2006: “The Yellowcake Connection”
•June 28, 2006: “Saddam’s WMD: Discovery and Denial“
Fouad Ajami continued:
A skilled politician, Mr. Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant to be turned down—a residual American force that could hardly defend itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraq’s rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the U.S. The choice was made easy for them, the Iranian supreme leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.
Heading for the exits, Mr. Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as “the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq.” The praise came even as Mr. Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.
The historians will deal with the Iraq War in time, when the emotions have died down.
According to CBO numbers, August 2010, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. The cost of Obama’s failed stimulus, which passed in February 2009, was $862 billion.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Military, National Security | Tags: 4th Stryker Brigade, Leaving Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom
The “final combat unit”, the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division — is leaving Baghdad, and formally ending Operation Iraqi Freedom.
There will be 50,000 troops remaining to provide security assistance and training. They still have the same combat capabilities. Nevertheless, we can say a heartfelt thanks to the 4th Stryker Brigade, and welcome home.
Remember the pictures of proud Iraqi’s holding up their purple fingers after the first election, on January 30, 2005, after the removal of Saddam Hussein? Would there be an uprising of dissidents in Iran if it were not for the example of the freedom of the Iraqis next door? Free elections in Iraq were like an earthquake in the countries of the Middle East.
The country is in a much better place today than any reasonable observer could hope. The country has a future, and it rests in their hands what the people will make of it. The world is well rid of one its most brutal and dangerous thugs in Saddam Hussein. Freedom isn’t easy. How long will troops need to remain there? There is no forecasting the future. Freedom may lose its momentum. Iraq has yet to form a government. Iraq has dangerous neighbors who are not enthusiastic about a free people disrupting the neighborhood.
The senior Iraqi general has just made a statement that he would like American forces to remain in the country until 2020. There is plenty of evidence of Iran’s continuing interference in Iraq. Obama, with his deadlines for withdrawal, and demands for again hollowing out the Military, seems to offer a future designed to please the peaceniks of the far-left who despise the military and always believe in a peaceful and unprepared America, until the next crisis strikes and it is too late.
Filed under: Freedom, History, Iraq, Military | Tags: David Bellavia, Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Battle of Fallujah
If you haven’t read House to House, I recommend it highly. It is one of the great combat stories of all time, searing, honest and compelling.
But don’t miss his post “Our Mission is Finally Accomplished… Anyone Care?”
The gentlemen of PowerLine add:
Gabriel Ledeen served two tours in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. He is now studying at Stanford Law School. He writes to ask his friends to “read this article, written by decorated combat veteran and author David Bellavia. It is an almost perfect expression of what it feels like to be a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (now concluded), trying to assimilate back into a society that doesn’t understand what our war was and is.” Readers may know Bellavia by House to House, his account of the Battle of Fallujah as seen through the eyes of an infantryman who was there and who played a heroic role in it.
JOHN adds: House to House is one of the most riveting books, and maybe the best book about warfare, I’ve read. If you haven’t read it, you should.