SOMEBODY’S GOTTA SAY IT: The Noble American Effort in Iraq

Written by Allan Erickson on May 21, 2015

I have several friends who have sons who fought in Iraq years ago.  Some of those sons came home badly wounded.  Others died in Iraq.  I communicate with those dads about the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform last decade.

All the banter about the war in this presidential election cycle is demoralizing to Iraq War veterans, and active duty personnel.  It is disheartening to hear Republican candidates decry the 2003 invasion, playing right into the Democrat narrative.  No one should apologize for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, but many should be ashamed for squandering that hard-won American victory by ordering complete withdrawal in 2011.

It is infuriating to hear almost everyone reduce a complex history down to one dimension: WMD.

The contemporary shallow debate sums up like this: the entire push for invasion hinged solely on Saddam’s alleged development of WMD, the intelligence was faulty, had we known we would not find WMD, we would not have invaded.   Therefore, the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, a waste of blood and treasure.  (We’ll leave the question of chemical weapons in Syria to your own research, hinting that Assad and Saddam were great buddies.)

This simplistic and shallow ‘analysis’ caused one of my friend’s sons to ask recently: “Dad, was it all for nothing?”  This question came from an Iraq war veteran credited with hundreds of combat missions, a man who lost a leg in an IED explosion in Anbar.

It takes work to even approach an understanding of a complex situation.  This is why most people never come to an understanding of our mission in Iraq, despite the presence of WMD and the ambitions and activities of Saddam Hussein.  Yet the noble work of our incomparable military is now being ignored by talking heads with mixed motives, most of them self-serving.

Democrats like the Clintons, and majorities on both sides of the aisle, said for years prior to 9/11 that Saddam was a menace, a threat to the world, a maniac known to be developing WMD, one willing to use those weapons indiscriminately, as he had against his own people, and against the Iranians in the long war from 1980-1988.  That war saw the use of mustard gas by Saddam.   It is estimated, all totaled, the war killed 400,000 civilians, with 1.5 million KIA, and hundreds of thousands wounded, military and civilian.

No doubt, people around the world were very concerned about Saddam for many years before he invaded Kuwait in 1990.  America responded by driving Saddam out of Kuwait and imposing no-fly zones and other terms as part of the ceasefire agreement ending that conflict, known as the Gulf War.   This was the start of many years of cat and mouse, as Saddam worked to develop WMD, thwarting the efforts of U.N. inspectors, and violating the ceasefire agreement in a thousand ways. 

Saddam was involved with many projects to develop his military capability, and to support and proliferate terrorist activities, leading to this telling speech by Bill Clinton as President in 1998:   Bill Clinton: Clear Evidence of Iraqi WMD Program.  Recall these remarks were made just three years before 9/11, and just five years before the Iraqi invasion.  Essentially, Clinton said in 1998 that sooner or later, military action would be required.

Notice as well that Bill & Hillary Clinton both supported the justification for the 2003 invasion, articulated in the Oct. 2002 Resolution Authorizing the Use of Force in Iraq.   Although Saddam’s longstanding effort to develop WMD was a driving force for invasion, there were many other reasons as well, most involving Iraq’s violations of the cease-fire agreement and numerous U.N. resolutions, including the attempt to assassinate a U.S. President, and firing upon coalition forces thousands of times during the ‘cease fire.’

Here are some of the highlights of the 2002 Authorization justifying invasion:

>violations of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire terms prohibiting Saddam from seeking WMD development
>interfering with U.N. weapons inspectors
>violations of the U.N. Security Council resolutions by “continuing to engage in brutal repression of civilian population thereby threatening international peace.”
>the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United  States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime
>documented connections between Saddam and various terrorist activities (although an Iraqi connection to 9/11 was never directly confirmed)
>the presence of Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq
>continuing aggression posing a threat to neighboring states, and the peace and security of the world
In truth, the 2003 invasion was a resumption of the Gulf War based on Saddam’s numerous violations of the cease-fire agreement, as much as anything.
For 20 years, the world watched as Saddam tortured and killed his own people, waged war against his neighbors, slaughtering millions, gassed his own people, developed WMD, sought nuclear weapons, supported terrorism, harbored terrorists and aggressed against the United States.  Finally, in the wake of 9/11, based on the best intelligence available from many sovereign sources, in the face of thousands of cease-fire violations, the U.S., acting legally via Congressional Authorization and backed up by a dozen U.N. Resolutions, invaded Iraq, liberated that country and removed a lethal threat to world peace.
Sadly, cynically, and some say treasonously, Democrats almost immediately pivoted and turned against the war.  Democrats who once warned about Saddam’s weapons programs, lending full support to the Authorization to Use Force resulting in invasion, saw an opportunity to gain political advantage, reversed themselves, betrayed our military, and started to oppose the war, savaging President Bush in the process.   HRC was chief among these traitors.  Later, Biden and Obama would double reverse on Iraq strategy, condemn Bush, then reversed again, claiming Iraq their greatest achievement.  
And now Republicans want to apologize? Ridiculous.  How many times will Republicans slink away from the debate, allowing anti-American collaborators sole possession of the microphone?
How did my friend answer his veteran son who asked: “Was it all for nothing?”
He told his son history unfolds in chapters: that history clarifies with time, as hindsight provides perspective.  He added that while it’s true Obama and the Democrats squandered our sacrifices and gave away victory in Iraq, as they did in Vietnam, the story is not over.  And while it’s true Obama retreated and submitted to radical Islam, allowing for this present mayhem, the last chapter is yet to be written. 
Meanwhile, my friend told his son, ask yourself what other world power in all of history behaves the way America behaves. 
We invaded Iraq honorably for honorable reasons.  We didn’t invade to conquer, loot and subjugate, as did all other invading forces throughout history. 
We invaded to liberate and give the Iraqis a chance at freedom and prosperity, at the same time defending ourselves and the rest of the world from a dangerous tyrant. 
In the process we overcame incredible odds to liberate Iraq, then turned and decimated Al Qaeda, and put radical Islam on notice: when the American military is commanded by a courageous patriot, you will pay the price for murdering innocent people and threatening the civilized world.
Was it worth it standing up for what was right?  Was it worth it to the Iraqi civilians who braved death to vote?  Was it worth it to all people terrorized by Jihad, knowing someone stands by ready to help?  Was it worth it to rid the world of the growing threat of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East?  Was it worth it for the dream of establishing a productive democracy in the region?  Was it worth it to show the world there are some things worth dying for?
Just ask the tens of thousands of enlisted personnel today if it’s worth it, people who would gladly march on ISIS in Iraq, simply for the sake of doing what’s right, if only they had a real Commander in Chief.


Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.