Iraq War A Great Success
The US withdrawal from Iraq has stimulated the smarmy Left to bash George Bush once again, and in the process denigrate the achievements of our fighting forces and diplomatic infrastructure.
While commercial television has created filmed homecomings on a regular basis -- whether or not directly related to Iraq -- National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post and their television clones have drifted back into angst over the plight of the wounded and dead. Our troop losses are compared to the Iraqi dead during the 9-year conflict, disingenuously intimating they died due to American intervention. And the cost of the conflict is on the front burner in 2011 due to the economic catastrophe that crashed down on the country in 2008.
Between these extremes there is a paucity of factual coverage that settles the account with history. Be assured the hand-wringing version will prevail. Students ten years on will be taught the war-mongering George W. Bush flung the country into a unnecessary war under false information that Iraq's dictator possessed "weapons of mass destruction" -- and to finish off Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when his father, President George HW Bush, rescued Kuwait from Saddam Hussein and chased him home to Bagdad. What really happened will be discarded into the "dustbin of history" by the usual suspects.
A review of the situation reveals that George W. Bush had to react to the 9-11 disaster, a modern-day Pearl Harbor "sneak attack" that shattered the status quo. Bush, like Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, had to react to satisfy the public's cry for revenge -- and to preserve the honor of the nation. Roosevelt declared war on Japan. But Bush's response could not be that simple.
In an address to the nation, he expressed outrage and explained the 9-11 attacks were transnational and not the act of a single polity. He said the US had identified 60 countries that harbored terrorists connected to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda and other loosely associated fanatics. Obviously, he explained, we cannot retaliate against dozens of nations harboring jihadists. But he had to do something.
His decision was to gain a foothold in the Middle East where terrorism flourished to draw a line in the sand (so to speak). From this redoubt, he felt al-Qaeda would be flushed out seeking to attack the US presence. He chose Iraq for very good reasons: dictator Saddam Hussein was a clear and present danger to his neighbors in the region; most of the world's ready oil supply was either under his control or close enough for him to attack; his regime wantonly murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens a year, bull-dozing the bodies into makeshift mass graves; only a decade before Saddam invaded his oil-rich neighbor Kuwait, eventually driven out by US and coalition forces; and Saddam made clear his intention to destroy Israel, launching SCUD rockets indiscriminately.
Saddam was a "bad actor,"as the war game modelers say, a deranged and ruthless tyrant who openly threatened to disrupt the Middle East and endanger world stability. He possessed chemical and biological weapons he wantonly employed in a ten-year war with his neighbor Iran in the 1980s. Saddam certainly was not timid about using these "weapons of mass destruction" while his nuclear capability was still in development. No one thought he would hesitate to use them when he could.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched for valid reasons, but Bush and his advisors made an unnecessary diplomatic error by trying to over-certify the war by assuring to the world Saddam's nuclear arsenal was war-ready. The nuclear intel turned out to be wrong, and the otherwise justified invasion came under attack -- and remains so today, even as the US pulled out uniformed forces this week.
The best inside information, derived from spy agency operatives who concluded Saddam had nuclear weapons, says that his refusal to admit he didn't have them during the period of sanctions imposed on Iraq before the invasion seemed to prove he did. But why would he say he had them and risk war with the US and the coalition? To avoid admitting to his hated enemy Iran that he was vulnerable. In our global approach to conflict, the US overlooked Saddam's real fear: invasion by Iran.
On such quirky and miniscule human miscalculations the world lurches illogically along. However, the roster of reasons to remove Saddam, whether or not he possessed nuclear weapons, remains valid. US and coalition forces acted efficiently and bravely -- and delivered in the theatre of conflict the new skills required today to prevail.
Our troops were educated in local customs and the stupefying intricacies of Muslim prejudices against the West and each other. Our folks built schools, bridges and dams; protected the oil supply; opened and manned schools and hospitals; sanitized water supplies; provided security for civilians; and left themselves open to danger at every turn by their presence.
And al-Qaeda did indeed arrive in Iraq, allowing our forces to eliminate their key leaders and track others to their hideouts in and out of Iraq. This success was coupled with the highly criticized and very effective "rendition" program that added a key dimension to the invasion. When settled in Iraq, the intelligence and defense intelligence agencies, working with the military, launched operations in the other 59 countries that harbored terrorists.
Some the host countries were allies, but most were not. But in either case, special teams entered surreptitiously and nabbed the bad guys, then loaded them on airplanes for an initial interrogation. If they were deemed dangerous, they were flown to secret bases in several US-friendly nations for another round of interrogation. If still considered a menace, off they went to Guantanamo Bay, an extra-legal base leased to the US by -- oddly -- Cuba, where they remained until trial. It was an elegantly designed operation that worked around the problem of foreign enemies living in other countries to do harm to the US and its allies.
Of course this complex strategy became the object of severe criticism by our enemies, foreign and domestic, culminating in a dramatic accusation that we were torturing captives, most notably by using the practice of "water-boarding." The Democrats in Congress went ballistic, although it was soon revealed many had previously approved the practice -- but not before the lives of good men and women in our intelligence agencies had their lives and reputations upended before the storm died down.
No one died or displayed wounds from this practice. Best of all it worked, as General Michael Hayden, director of NSA and then CIA, stated in August. (Without intel from the use of water-boarding and similar techniques, Osama Bin Laden would still be alive and well in Abbottabad).
Barack Obama pledged to close Gitmo during his presidential campaign, but has obviously realized the system works better than he imagined. Efforts to try prisoners on the US mainland became his next issue, and a few cases have been tried in New York. But this goal has lost meaning, as even American leftists realize the US is doing a good job meting out justice in this highly complex and effective protocol with defendants that claim Islam as their country.
Iraq was a good job well done that could not be avoided. Imagine if we had not confronted terrorism and fascism where it lives? The world-wide terrorist conspiracy would be thriving and holding us all us hostage. Thank you George Bush, and a pox on the usual suspects who disagree.