American Elephants

Iraq: Ten Years Ago Today by The Elephant's Child

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.



2 Comments so far
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All that money could have been used better else where. The war was such a waste and based on a sales job. We should have focused on Afghanistan and spent the 2.2 trillion we spent in Iraq in Afghanistan.

The Saudi’s spend far fewer dollars funding radical schools in East Pakistan. That money is used to pay poor farmers to educate their young boys so that the farmer can feed his family.

And, what do we do? Spend trillions going after terrorist and occasionally killing innocent farmers, in Afghanistan and East Pakistan. I would say the Saudi’s are spending their money much more wisely. But, then again, war feels better.

The problem with us Americans is that we have it so good we have a hard time getting into the heads of people that live in these countries. We are too arrogant with our American exceptionalism. Arrogant pride will always come crashing down hard.


Comment by Mark Baird

I trust, Mark, that what you were saying was purest sarcasm. You very likely missed the part at the end of the post where it was pointed out that Obama’s stimulus ALONE cost more than the war in Iraq, and we’ve spent slightly more than half that in Afghanistan.

And your comments on American exceptonalism simply show you know nothing of what those words mean.


Comment by Lon Mead

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