Democrats and the left-wing media have been sadly successful at creating a now widely held belief surrounding the 2003 Iraq War. They have relied on the public’s short memory span to re-cast history.
The current narrative goes something like this.
The Iraq War was a huge diplomatic and military failure. It was entered into by the United States unilaterally because President Bush wanted to take out Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The War was solely predicated on the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the Hussein regime. Bush lied to the public regarding such weapons to justify his personal decision to affect regime change in Iraq. His administration concocted phony intelligence. The War was Bush’s personal decision – and turned out to be an expensive failure – in life and assets. The most prominent Democrats point to the Iraq War as Bush’s failure.
The problem with the above narrative is that NONE of it is true. Let us look at the FACTS.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
The existence of WMD’s was not the only predicate for the War. It was not even the most important consideration. The reasons to affect regime change in Iraq was that Hussein was a dangerous rogue leader whose personal expansionist ambitions were destabilizing the entire Middle East. He had already undertaken aggressive military actions against neighbors, resulting in the 1990-1991 Gulf War that pushed back the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
By 2000, the International intelligence community established that Hussein was developing nuclear weaponry. That was not a theory but an established fact. It led to several resolutions by the United Nations condemning Iraq.
It was also well established that the concern over WMDs at the time was not limited to the nuclear program, but to chemical weaponry. Again, that was not a matter of theory. Hussein had repeatedly used such weapons on his own people and others.
On the eve of the War, satellite intelligence showed the movement of massive equipment into Syria. It was theorized at the time that equipment being exported were WMDs. Post War investigation showed what appeared to be the remnants of facilities engaged in the research and production of WMDs.
But again, the existence of WMD’s was not the only issue.
There is no doubt that SOME of the intelligence was inaccurate. Hussein did not possess WMDs – at least at that time. But he was developing nuclear weaponry. The error in intelligence was not created in the White House. It came from both the American and British intelligence operations. Bush was as susceptible – no more or no less – to the erroneous information as were all those members of Congress. In fact, the Senate Intelligence Committee had its own sources of misinformation – contrary to the narrative that it was the White House deceiving the Congress.
In the final analysis, the flawed intelligence was NOT the deciding factor in the need to oust Hussein. The case was much bigger than one issue.
Role of the United Nations
Hussein was condemned by more than a dozen resolutions of the United Nations – warning him to cease his belligerent activities, end his development of nuclear weaponry and comply with international inspection agreements. Failure to do so would result in international military action against his regime.
In fact, the United Nations authorized an invasion of Iraq for the purpose of removing Hussein. Sixty-five nations participated in the action. It was not a solo performance by the United States.
The Role of Congress
In addition to seeking the support of the world community through the United Nations, President Bush also took the case to Congress to authorize American participation in the UN-authorized operation. Congress gave overwhelming support to the War. He did NOT act alone. It was approved by the votes of many who have since re-cast history – including then Senators Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden.
Winning the War
Considering the objectives laid out by the UN and the United States, the War, itself, was a great victory. Under the leadership of the United States, the UN forces advanced surprisingly quickly to the gates of Baghdad. In a display of military might labeled “shock and awe,” Hussein was quickly toppled and went into hiding. He was later found, tried and executed by the new Iraq government. The people of Iraq were in the streets celebrating – mobs were tearing down images and statues of Hussein — and America was heralded as a friend of the people. The War was essentially over in approximately one month. All this with very limited loses to the UN forces.
The War of Peace
Some revisionists refer to the 2003 action as the “first phase” of the War. That is not entirely accurate. The WAR was over. It was now a matter of building post-war Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki was selected to lead that effort . THAT was the big mistake. Rather than fulfill his promise of a government of all the people, Maliki’s partisan policies triggered a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. This is when American interests and American presence got even more problematic. The United States was drawn into the internal secular battle.
Battleground Iraq War
What was essentially an internal civil war was transformed to Iraq being a field of battle for international forces when President Obama pulled out American troops and created a vacuum filled by ISIS, Iran, Syria and Russia – leaving behind billions of dollars of military equipment that was seized by our enemies.. Essentially, this was yet another third war in Iraq – the one in which we are engaged to this day.
For better or for worse, the United States must play the ball where it lies in the Middle East. But nothing can be gained – and much can be lost – if we allow the mendacious and hypocritical political accusations based on false narratives to muddy the situation.
So, there ‘tis.