Glad we did not give Saddam the benefit of the doubt
To paraphrase that famous tune about the sergeant who taught the band to play, it was really 20 years ago that President George W. Bush sent the troops to Iraq. We salute the thousands who served with honor and the 4,500 who lost their lives, including a young man from our church. I was at Mass with his father the day they knocked on his door with the sad news. There was another young man from our neighborhood who was killed, too.
At the time, I supported the military decision because the U.S. could not give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt after 9/11. Today, I have the same view. We are clearly better off that another tyrant with weapons, a big ego, and a penchant for fighting his neighbors is out of the game.
Did we find those warehouses full of WMDs in Iraq? No. Did Saddam have, hide, or ship them somewhere? I don't know that, but I do know that he used them twice. Just ask the Iranians and the Kurds. Yes, we stayed on the sidelines when he used them against Iran in that awful war. What were we supposed to do about those two killing each other off? On another matter, the world remained silent when he dropped gas on the Kurds. Again, I am not sure what we could have done, but we learned that Saddam was not shy about using weapons.
On 9/11, the towers collapsed, and we were given a clear-cut example of what brutal terrorists could do with whatever they could get their hands on. Am I the only person who thought they would use a more powerful weapon against us? I remember the first Friday after 9/11, when one of our sons had his fall baseball game canceled because none of their parents wanted to be out. That's what I remember, along with looking up to a Dallas sky without planes landing at our two busy airports.
Was I willing to give Saddam the benefit of the doubt that he'd never sell or pass a WMD to an anti-U.S. group? Not after 9/11, and not when Saddam kicked out the inspectors and gave everyone the finger. By late '98, it was clear that Saddam Hussein had no intention of respecting any international agreement or the ceasefire that ended the First Gulf War.
Between 1991, when the ceasefire went into effect, and 1998, Saddam shot at U.S. planes enforcing the no-fly zone and did not allow U.N. inspectors access to Iraq's labs and military bases, plus he tried to kill the first Bush during a private visit to Kuwait. Last but not least, he did not comply with any of the ceasefire requirements. This is why the Clinton administration supported the Iraq Liberation Act making regime change the policy of the U.S.
Saddam was given one more chance in September 2002. That is when President George W. Bush went to the U.N. and enumerated all the violations. The U.N. then passed one more resolution calling on Saddam to do his duty or face consequences. The inspectors went back in after a four-year absence. Like before, Saddam did not allow the inspectors to move freely and do their work. Once again, were we supposed to give such a man the benefit of the doubt? Not to my mind.
So President Bush acted, and Saddam was removed! The bottom line is that the world is better off without Saddam in Iraq.
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