Iraq War refresher course

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please, especially you BCCs — belief—challenged conservatives.  I beg your indulgence and your patience while we run through a brief refresher course on the war in Iraq, on why we are fighting there, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.

I believe this has become necessary due to the daily barrage of lies, obfuscations and general argy—bargy being generated by democrat presidential candidates and their media echo chambers about the nature of and the rationale for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

I take as my text House Joint Resolution 114 of 2 Oct. 2002 authorizing the use of force in Iraq.  It passed the House by a vote of 296—133, and in the Senate, 77—23.

We return now to the year 1990 when the US—led coalition drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in operation Desert Storm.  Besides liberating Kuwait, the stated war aims were 1. to defend America's national security and 2. enforce UN resolutions.

In the war's aftermath, Iraq agreed to a UN—sponsored cease—fire agreement to unequivocally eliminate all its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, their means of delivery, and to end support for international terrorist organizations.

Iraq proceeded to violate those 1991 UN agreements by thwarting the work of inspectors seeking stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons known to exist so they could be destroyed.  They also sought information on the advanced nuclear weapons development program Iraq was known to have begun.  The inspectors left Iraq 31 Oct. 1998.

In 1998 congress concluded that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program threatened vital US national security interests, declaring Iraq to be 'in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the president to 'take appropriate action in accordance with the constitution and US laws to bring Iraq into compliance' (Public Law 105—235)

Iraq, meanwhile, continued to harbor international terrorists and terrorist organizations that threatened the lives and safety of Americans in the post—9/11 world.  9/11 served to amplify the gravity of the threat posed by such terrorists, who might gain access to WMD via Iraq, Saddam Hussein having already proven that he'd no qualms using WMD on his own people and on Iranians.

The potential threat of terrorists using WMD acquired from Iraq against the US and the ensuing havoc such an attack would wreak constitutes sufficient justification for the US to take actions to defend itself, including pre—emptive actions.

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 678 authorized the use of all necessary means to enforce UNSCR 660 and subsequent resolutions compelling Iraq to cease all activities threatening international peace and security.  At the time, Iraq was in violation of UNSCRs 687, 688 and 949.

Congress authorized the use of military force against Iraq by authorizing the president 'to use US Armed Forces pursuant to UNSCR 678 (1990) to achieve implementation of UNSCRs 660—667.'

On Sept 12, President Bush committed the US to work with the UN Security Council to meet the common challenge posed by Iraq and to work for the necessary resolutions, while making it clear that 'the Security Council resolutions will be enforced; the just demands of peace and security will be met, or actions will be unavoidable.'  The end result of this was UNSCR 1441.

But as the US continued prosecuting the global war against terrorism and the campaign in Afghanistan, Iraq continued to violate numerous UNSC resolutions while harboring and helping to train al Qaeda and other terrorists.

In a Joint Resolution passed Sept. 18, 2001 (Public Law 107—40) congress authorized the president to use force to deter and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States.

The House and Senate passed HJ Res. 114, which enumerated and reiterated the grim, unalterable facts on which President Bush  made his momentous decision. Operation Iraqi Freedom was soon underway, and a long repressed and tyrannized people were liberated.

John B. Dwyer is a military historian.