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  • Why Did Bush Invade Iraq in 2003 ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 15th, 2015 (All posts by )

    usa-politics-bush

    There is quite a series of Republican politicians declaring that they would not invade Iraq if they knew then what they know now. JEB Bush is not the only one. Ted Cruz has made Talking Points Memo happy with a similar declaration.

    Earlier in the week, Kelly asked Bush if he would have authorized the invasion, and he said he would have. On Tuesday, Bush told Sean Hannity that he hadn’t heard the question correctly and wasn’t sure what he would have done. Cruz, on the other hand, said he knows what he would have done.

    “Of course not,” Cruz said in response to Kelly asking if he would have authorized an invasion. “I mean, the entire predicate of the war against Iraq was the intelligence that showed they had weapons of mass destruction and they might use them.

    Of course, the “WMD” argument is a more recent addition to the story. Nobody talks anymore about why Bush was forced to invade in 2003. WMD were a small part of it. That is forgotten, of course.

    Mr Speaker, thank you for recalling Parliament to debate the best way to deal with the issue of the present leadership of Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Today we published a 50 page dossier detailing the history of Iraq’s WMD, its breach of UN resolutions and the current attempts to rebuild the illegal WMD programme. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

    At the end of the Gulf War, the full extent of Saddam’s chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes became clear. As a result, the UN passed a series of resolutions demanding Iraq disarm itself of such weapons and establishing a regime of weapons inspection and monitoring to do the task. They were to be given unconditional and unrestricted access to all and any Iraqi sites.

    All this is accepted fact. In addition, it is fact, documented by UN inspectors, that Iraq almost immediately began to obstruct the inspections. Visits were delayed; on occasions, inspectors threatened; materiel was moved; special sites, shut to the inspectors, were unilaterally designated by Iraq.

    This was Blair’s speech to Parliament and it is true. However, the best argument of the decision to invade was made by Paul Wolfowitz, although it has been grossly distorted since then by the left and the anti-war press.

    The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz – who has already undermined Tony Blair’s position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a “bureaucratic” excuse for war – has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is “swimming” in oil.

    The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

    Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: “Let’s look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil.”

    This, of course, was perfectly true but his words have been taken by the left as evidence that we “went to war for oil.”

    The truth, of course, is very different. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil.

    What did he mean ? How about if we look at what happened to the sanctions and the blockade of Iraq when they violated the rules of the Ceasefire ?

    France has thus led the drive to throw down the gauntlet to Washington — and its own European Union partner Britain — by issuing what the New York Times called “the loudest ‘no!'” shouted across the Atlantic in a half century or more.” “We will do our utmost to get a majority against it,” one official, who asked not to be identified, said of a draft resolution presented to the U.N. Security Council by the United States, Britain and Spain that would authorise a war.

    Why did France and the other opponents oppose war ? What was the “Oil for Food” scandal ?

    “THE biggest financial scandal ever.” That is what one American senator called the shenanigans over the UN’s oil-for-food programme. Designed to soften the impact of UN sanctions on the Iraqi people by allowing the supervised sale of some Iraqi oil, it ended up enabling Saddam Hussein to haul in lots of money and enriching many other shady types. The affair threatened to discredit the whole United Nations system and almost brought down Kofi Annan, its then boss. Even now, the scandal is quietly claiming victims, though in a lot of places it seems to have vanished mysteriously from the radar.

    In its final report in October 2005, a committee of inquiry, headed by Paul Volcker, a former chairman of America’s Federal Reserve, found that 2,253 firms, many of them household names, had made illegal payments totalling $1.8 billion to the Saddam regime.

    That was not quite the world-beating scam claimed by some: the diversion of less than 2% of the value of transactions amounting to nearly $100 billion ($64 billion in oil sales, and humanitarian purchases worth $35 billion) looks almost squeaky-clean by the commercial standards of some energy-rich states. But it was a blot on an arrangement in which every cent was supposed to be monitored. And the Volcker panel’s access to ministry files in post-war Iraq threw light on many deals that were meant to stay secret.

    When US soldiers found nearly a billion dollars in cash in “the homes of former Ba’ath Party and Republican Guard officials some of the facts became evident.” Particularly the homes of Saddam’s sons.

    U.S. soldiers this week recovered a staggering amount of hidden money — nearly $800 million — while searching a residential neighborhood in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Officials are now trying to verify the source and authenticity of the money, but experts say without a clear paper trail, that may prove very difficult. Meanwhile, the hunt for cash goes on.

    Prague, 24 April 2003 (RFE/RL) — Where did all the money come from?

    That’s the question U.S. officials are trying to answer after soldiers this week discovered nearly $800 million hidden in two residential areas in Baghdad. One stash of more than $650 million was found hidden behind a false wall. A second stash of more than $100 million was found hidden in an animal kennel.

    The soldiers had been searching the homes of former Ba’ath Party and Republican Guard officials.

    By any measure it’s a staggering amount of money — especially in Iraq, where the average person earns just $2,000 a year. Expressed in those terms, an average Iraqi would have to work almost 400,000 years to earn what the soldiers uncovered this week.

    The initial find was confirmed by U.S. military spokesman Brigadier General Vincent Brooks: “During an action to stop a looting, soldiers from the [U.S. Army’s] 3rd Infantry Division discovered a significant amount of money behind a false wall. The amount is believed to be in excess of $600 million, in $100-bills.”

    Billions were sent to Saddam as Iraq evaded sanctions with the cooperation of French, German and Russian businessmen. Why did they help him evade sanctions. Because he had oil !

    While Saddam was bribing Our “Allies” to help him evade sanctions, The leftist press was accusing us of starving millions of Iraqis.

    A senior U.N. official said Friday about half a million children under the age of 5 have died in Iraq since the imposition of U.N. sanctions 10 years ago.
    Anupama Rao Singh, country director for the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), made the estimate in an interview with Reuters.

    “In absolute terms we estimate that perhaps about half a million children under 5 years of age have died, who ordinarily would not have died had the decline in mortality that was prevalent over the 70s and the 80s continued through the 90s,” she said.

    A UNICEF survey published in August showed the mortality rate among Iraqi children under 5 had more than doubled in the government-controlled south and center of Iraq during the sanctions.

    This, of course, was propaganda but it was effective.

    In addition to the collapsing sanctions, The Saudis wanted us out of Saudi Arabia. They resented the presence of US troops, especially female troops who resisted the restrictions on women.

    Senior Saudi rulers believe the US has ”overstayed its welcome” and that other forms of less conspicuous military cooperation should be devised once the United States has completed its war in Afghanistan, according to a senior Saudi official. The US has been using a state-of-the-art command centre on the Prince Sultan base that was opened last summer as a key command-and-control facility during the Afghan conflict.

    Saudis give several reasons for deciding that the Americans should leave, beginning with their desire to appear self-reliant and not dependent on US military support. The US presence has become a political liability in domestic politics and in the Arab world, Saudi officials say. The Saudi government has also become increasingly uncomfortable with a role in US efforts to contain Saddam Hussein, and earlier ruled out use of Saudi territory as a base for bombing raids on Iraq.

    If Bush allowed the US to be forced out, as we were not long after the invasion, it would have looked like a surrender. In fact, Osama bin Laden had made one of his motives for the 9/11 attack, our presence on Saudi “holy ground.” Mecca, of course, is the Muslim holy ground and is in Saudi Arabia.

    But with the war in Iraq winding down and continued unease in Saudi Arabia about a large American military presence in the kingdom, American commanders believe that the time is right to see if the Qatar base can serve as the United States Central Command’s air operations center of the future.

    “Whether we’ll stay there or not — not sure,” Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the chief of the Central Command, said in an interview in Abu Dhabi. “But we do know that since we have it, we want to be able to run some operations out of it. So for the foreseeable future, and I don’t know how long that is, we’re going to move it over there and going to start running some air ops out of it.”

    Had this occurred before the invasion, it would have looked as though Osama bin Laden had forced us out. This, after all, is his reason for the attack on 9/11.

    This is what Bin Laden does. But why does he do it? What does he want?

    Bin Laden is the most notorious advocate of a potent strain of militant Islam that has been gaining popularity in the Muslim world for 30 years. It is simultaneously theological and cultural. Its fundamental tenet is that the Muslim world is being poisoned and desecrated by infidels. These infidels include both outsiders such as the United States and Israel, and governments of Muslim states—such as Egypt and Jordan—that have committed apostasy. The infidels must be driven out of the Muslim world by a jihad, and strict Islamic rule must be established everywhere that Muslims live.

    Had we allowed Saddam to successfully evade sanctions, which were collapsing in 2003, we would simultaneously have allowed him to claim victory and for Osama to claim he had forced us out of the Middle East.

    We have to go back to the rationale for the First Gulf War in 1991 to create a viable alternative history. Should we have allowed Saddam to take over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ? That is the real argument but the left does not want to face those choices. After all, that was 25 years ago, forever in the poor memories of contemporary non-historical students.

    Would the Democrats have preferred that Saddam own Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields ? Nobody asks them.

     

    36 Responses to “Why Did Bush Invade Iraq in 2003 ?”

    1. dearieme Says:

      “why Bush was forced to invade in 2003”: “forced”? So you are arguing that there was no moral merit in the decision because it was forced on him? Odd.

      If you have to call in aid that nasty little crook Blair as a chief witness in your cause, you are on shaky ground.

      Since the whole fiasco ended up as a huge strategic defeat for the USA, hindsight says it was a lousy decision. But foresight said so too. At least mine did.

    2. dearieme Says:

      P.S. I confess to plenty of ignorance about the whole thing; for instance, I’ve never seen a persuasive account of why Bush decided as he did. It has occurred to me that after 9/11 he wanted piles of dead Arabs, even if they were conspicuously the wrong Arabs. In other words, it was essentially about hysteria. I hope that’s not true.

    3. Mike K Says:

      Dearieme, I could have made the post much longer with further information but was assuming, perhaps unwisely, a level of information in the reader.

      Can I then assume you would have preferred that Saddam succeed in his invasion of Kuwait and his planned invasion of Saudi Arabia ? He made a bad mistake by pausing before going into Saudi. Had he done so, we would have had a hard time getting our troops over there. He would have won.

      My point about “being forced” is about decisions and circumstances. We were not “forced” to go to war with Hitler. It is true that he declared war on us but Roosevelt forced his hand with aggressive resupply of the British and escort of convoys all the way to Iceland. He also put great pressure on Japan. We could have survived a Japanese occupation of China.

      If we want to do revisionist history this morning, how about World War I ? I think a fair argument can be made that we should have stayed out of it. I startled a friend a few years ago with that comment. He is a retired Royal Army Medical Corps colonel. I added that maybe they should’ve stayed out, as well.

      Revisionist history can be fun and I have made something of a hobby of it over the years.

    4. Mike K Says:

      I think Andrew McCarthy has a reasonable discussion of the Iraq invasion here.

      His conclusion is President Bush initially defined “victory in Iraq” as “helping the Iraqi people defeat the terrorists and build an inclusive democratic state,” such that Iraq would be “peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.” Most of those goals were fanciful and immaterial to the promotion of American national security. That is the most important lesson learned.

      I agree but, having said that, it still does;t answer what Bush should have done in the wake of 9/11.

    5. TMLutas Says:

      Our strategic failure is ongoing. The United Nations system remains irretrievably corrupt. It has, as hostages, a large number of essential international governance institutions including the system that permits us to make weather forecasts (WMO) and international telecommunications links (CCITT). Not one person has to die to fix this but we do not make the moves to extract these hostages and replace the UN with something better.

    6. dearieme Says:

      “Can I then assume you would have preferred that Saddam succeed in his invasion of Kuwait?” Sorry, I’m getting confused here. I remember Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in Bush the Elder’s time; I thought B the E carried it off very well, and had good reason to fight it. That’s one of the reasons that I like to refer to the old boy as being the last adult president of the USA. It was the decision of his son I thought both mysterious as to motive, and foolish as to action.

      “Most of those goals were fanciful and immaterial to the promotion of American national security.” Indeed; as listed they are essentially childish. That’s why I found it hard to believe that they could have much relation to the real motives. But maybe they were the real motives, and a gormlessness about the world infected the whole of the US ruling elite. All very odd.

      “what Bush should have done in the wake of 9/11”: well a punitive expedition to Afghanistan would have been understandable, but to opt for a war of occupation was another act of folly.

      The idea that fighting non-state religious terrorists is best accomplished by deploying lumbering conventional forces doesn’t seem likely to me. So I’d guess that he should have announced that the bulk of the revenge would be taken slowly, surely, nimbly, and clandestinely, as the US developed suitable techniques. Alternatively, he could have pointed out that most of the terrorists were Saudis and turned his weaponry on that Kingdom. But attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while apparently seeking to persuade the US population that it did, was the opposite of statesmanship. Shame on him.

    7. Mike K Says:

      “a punitive expedition to Afghanistan would have been understandable, but to opt for a war of occupation was another act of folly.”

      I agree and thought Bush was acting wisely to leave that to Special Forces who wore Muslim clothing and ride around on horses calling in air strikes.

      “The idea that fighting non-state religious terrorists is best accomplished by deploying lumbering conventional forces doesn’t seem likely to me.”

      I agree here, as well, but when states get involved, the state must be punished.

      My point was that Bush W was pressed (if you don’t like forced) to do something to avoid a catastrophic loss in the wake of 9/11. The first Gulf War ended with a disastrous cease fire that allowed Saddam to keep his Republican Guard and his helicopter forces. The war probably ended two days too soon but we were too successful to be allowed to complete the job.

      My question still stands. Would you prefer that Saddam be allowed to keep Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ?

    8. TMLutas Says:

      Dearieme – When did the war started by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait end? Nailing that date down should clear up your confusion.

      Mike K – Wars do not end with cease fires.

      Non state religious terrorists can be fought with conventional forces but you have to have a clear understanding of what these people are doing and actually enforce the state system. We tried to do so and have somewhat failed in that endeavor. The idea of mercenary warfare and a regression to pre-westphalian conditions has become more accepted rather than less. This failure is mostly during the Obama administration though the Bush administration shares some of the blame for not being clear about our goals.

    9. Veryretired Says:

      Pointless.

    10. Mike K Says:

      ” the Bush administration shares some of the blame for not being clear about our goals.”

      Oh, I agree. The idea of a free Arab state was a possibility given that Iraq had been secularized, or at least seemed so. The experience of Serbia should have given pause to that hope. The Serbs were ruled for a thousand years by the Ottomans and, if you read Rebecca West’s book “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon,” you learn that societies become more tribal when under the force of a lawless ruler.

      David Pryce-Jones book, “The Closed Circle” should also be a cautionary story of Arab culture. It was an interesting experiment to see if the Iraqis could be ruled by someone other than Saddam. I actually had hopes of a general who was more like al Sisi in Egypt. Bremer, in my opinion, destroyed any chance of success by disbanding the army and opting to rule without the Iraqis.

      Jay Garner had done a good job with the Kurds and I would like to see a good book about his experiences some day. Emma Sky’s book, “The Unraveling ” is a nice description four failure to understand Iraqi society but she make clear the good intentions and the rapid learning curve of our army, at least Petraeus and Odierno. The junior officers were terrific but Casey and other brain dead brass stifled what could have been maybe success.

      I did a post about one of those junior officers in 2007.

    11. Jim Says:

      The invasion of Iraq after 9/11 made not the slightest rational sense at the time in terms of US interests (perhaps the neocons loyalty was to Israel so they didn’t care about the interests of the US). The Bush administration lied shamelessly to the American people on the matter of WMD. It’s no wonder that Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are trying to distance themselves from that disaster. In the interests of bashing both parties more or less equally I will say that few Democrats had the guts to oppose Bush’s stupendous error.

      Obama has added to the record of US incompetence in the Middle East with his own disasters such as the Libyan intervention. I think little of Obama but on balance he is not quite as big of an idiot as George W. Bush.

    12. Jim Says:

      TMLutas – “somewhat failed”? – We fucked up totally.

    13. TMLutas Says:

      Jim – We somewhat failed to defend the westphalian system. Had we “fucked up totally”, we would be seeing more things like ISIS.

    14. Jim Says:

      The “Westphalian system” has zero relevance to the Middle East.

    15. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Mistakes: 1991: Betraying the Marsh Arabs to Saddam: Bush 41 pulled his punches because he was afraid of leaving Iran without an opponent.

      2001: Not declaring war against Pakistan, our real enemy and a co-sponsor of 9/11.

      2004 — 2008: Allowing sunni and shia terrorists safe haven in Syria and Iran.

      Not reimbursing ourselves for our troubles out of Iraqi oil assets.

      Not building garrison bases in Eastern Iraq and Western Afghanistan to control Iran, which would have been the true geo-political reason for invading Iraq.

      Failure to use force to obtain Iranian compliance with non-proliferation.

      2009 – current: failing to control the Iraqi regime to prevent oppression of the Sunnis and destruction of the Iraqi army.

      Withdrawing from Iraq.

      Ramping up Afghanistan efforts while failing to confront the real enemy in Pakistan.

      Failure to support the Iranian people’s protest of the Iranian regime.

      Pretending that Iran is a rational regime.

      Not standing up a Kurdish state to control Northern Iraq and eastern Anatolia. Yes, cut Turkey in half. They deserve it.

      Generally, failure to use sufficient force early, has lead to worse outcomes.

    16. Kirk Parker Says:

      RS: great list, thanks for saving me the time to compile it.

      And to Jim (though I expect my breath will be wasted): when such “non-entities” (as The Best And The Brightest would define them) as Richard Fernandez and Steven den Beste give you better analysis, and better advice, than the previously-mentioned TBATB… well then we’re pretty much fooked as a nation, aren’t we?

    17. TMLutas Says:

      Jim – I’m trying to find a charitable explanation for what you said. I’m failing miserably. As Westphalianism is breaking down, war is gearing up across the ME, to a great extent on pre-westphalian lines as people grow willing to cross borders to aid their co-ethnics and coreligionists. Westphalianism was never perfectly internalized and the ME version was less well rooted than in Europe but “zero relevance” is just not accurate.

    18. Jonathan Says:

      Dearieme:
      The idea that fighting non-state religious terrorists is best accomplished by deploying lumbering conventional forces doesn’t seem likely to me.

      You need conventional forces to punish the state supporters of “non-state religious terrorists”. Trying to kill every mosquito is a fool’s errand. You have to drain the swamp. And you have to drain the whole swamp, not just the small area from which the mosquitos that bit you came.

      The Iraq invasion worked. The main problem was that we didn’t use enough force, fast enough, on enough of the players. We left Iran and Syria alone. We didn’t rapidly enough replace failed US commanders. We allowed ourselves to get bogged down in an occupation. We didn’t explain adequately what we were trying to do. I blame W for these mistakes. I think Cheney would have handled most things better. OTOH, W made the correct decisions – to invade the strategically central country, and to change tactics in 2007 instead of cutting and running as conventional wisdom counseled. We won because he got those highest-level decisions right. When he left office Iraq was pacified and stable and we dominated the Middle East. We could have continued to dominate if Obama had merely left 100,000 troops in Iraq and some Special Forces in Afghanistan. Instead Obama wilfully reversed W’s main strategic decisions (and decades of hard-fought US policy) and brought about the current catastrophe.

      The only lies I see are by members of our political class who mostly supported the 2003 invasion but who now claim not to have supported it or to have been tricked by W. Shame on them. They supported it because there were no better alternatives or better information available at the time. Decisions have to be made in the here and now, not later with benefit of hindsight.

    19. Jim Says:

      TMLutas – The peoples of the Middle East are tribal and clannish. The model of Western nation-states is meaningless there (as well as in Africa). Iraq was never a nation anymore than Yugoslavia was. There were never any “Iraqi’s” just as there were never any “Yugoslavs” or unicorns for that matter.

    20. Mike K Says:

      “There were never any “Iraqi’s” just as there were never any “Yugoslavs” or unicorns for that matter.”

      I think that is true but in retrospect. It seemed as though Iraq had a suppressed middle class. I have friends who are Iraqi immigrants. They are Christian, however, and that is probably the answer. I suspect the long term lesson will be that Muslims can’t rule themselves without tyrants. It will be generations before another western country believes that Muslims are like the rest of us post-Enlightenment people.

      I think it is the height of foolishness to allow large numbers of Muslims to immigrate and establish Muslim enclaves. It will end badly, including in Britain.

    21. Ginny Says:

      Of course, I agree with Michael Kennedy and Jonathan Gewirtz, even though I know little about war and perhaps less about the Middle East. But I do have a memory – and I remember those years. Perhaps the first thing I remember is that it took us a long time to go in and during that time a lot of shipments were going into Syria. And poison gas had been used in Iraq.

      At the time, some of the biggest arguments weren’t WMD.

      VDH kept returning again and again to the decade in which American pilots flew over Iraq to keep the government there somewhat in check – perhaps out of guilt at leaving the Marsh Arabs and keeping the oil flowing, but partially because they had some idea of what that homicidal maniac was capable of – and doing.

      And then: Early on one of the cultural geography faculty had said, if you wonder why Bush wants in, look at a map. Bush’s thinking (perhaps, as I am, heavily influenced by a sense of America’s responsibility and the universality of ideas like the Bill of Rights – thinking that may well be, well, wrong) surely was that getting rid of a dictator who was Stalin/Hitler on a small scale and therefore stoppable relatively easily at this point was a good thing.

      Setting up governments that could serve as a model of this transparency on either side of Iran, occupied for a decade or more by American troops, would be helpful in containing and, eventually, overthrowing Iran. I thought – indeed, many in the military thought – this wasn’t going to be a short term deal. Getting in was, getting out would not be. I’ve never understood those who said Bush didn’t have a plan to get out – I suspect that it may be age (his father must have been a constant reminder of what the Greatest Generation did after WWII) and so his model was that war. For the left, the war is always Vietnam.

      Bush had his faults of communication and planning, but his speeches were often eloquent as Obama’s are not. And perhaps the arguments of our founders were parochial and shouldn’t be applied to nations too riven by tribalism & religious fanaticism. Jonathan is right, Cheney was and continues to be both more forceful and more clear. They had a purpose. Maybe Bush thought too little about the differences and assumed too much the similarities. Of course, it would have helped if most in America didn’t see the war through the prism of journalists modeling themselves on their heroes, the journalists who went to Vietnam.

      I realized in the last years that I’d been perhaps too cheerful about war, but another image has long had a hold on mind: that graph of war dead/democide in the 20th century. Only one year – during trench warfare in the teens – was the war line above the democide one; Saddam Hussein was killing his own people at a rate higher than our bombs would once we moved in. The “never again” is absurd and we need to stop mouthing it. For the left, it is the thinnest of charades about their beliefs; for the right, it is far too optimistic. We can’t stop something as much and terribly a part of human nature. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do what we can.

      And finally, I do think that Americans have lost two important characteristics that stood us in good stead for the first centuries here – the sense that difficulties are challenges that test our mettle rather than reasons for failing and the sense that we have been given a precious and wonderful heritage that is at base a belief in the intrinsic rights of each man and in a rule of law, before which every man (and his property) will be protected. That is not the way most of history has been – nor in most continents today. One wonders if it is in Baltimore. We have squandered this heritage, ignoring its power to give peace, encourage productivity, and preserve life. Denigrating that importance leads some to greedily want “positive rights,” ignoring the fact that positive rights come at the expense of the “negative” ones so beautifully laid out in our Constitution.

    22. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I expect that I ought to weigh in with my answer as well … sorry, been distracted by real life and all that.
      Why Iraq?
      1.Unfinished business. And patrolling the no-fly areas (protecting the Kurds and others) had been going on for … how many years?

      2. Pour decourager les autres. Saddam Hussein was the largest and most obvious low-growing fruit. A demonstration and a projection of power – do NOT piss us off.

      3. And because – a sort of independent and democratic Iraq MIGHT have become something like South Korea, given certain odds for. It took a couple of decades for South Korea to sort itself out, given the constant low-key presence of American troops. Strategic presence, a fairly educated and Western-looking elite. This potential is what Obama threw away. Imagine if Eisenhower had bailed on defending the Sorks after a couple of years post-armistice.

      4. Afghanistan is a nasty, treacherous, superstition-ridden backwater – better to have a couple of units of Special Forces playing the 21st century Great Game with the inhabitants, maybe stake out Kabul and one or two other cities as strongholds, let the rest of the place go on being medieval. No skin of mine … as long as they are kept from hosting vicious and rich Islamicists like what’s-his-fern, currently rancid fish food in whatever deep ocean they dropped him into.

      A gamble, but one worth taking, when I considered it, long-term. Be reminded, that my daughter was one of the Marines deployed there in 2003. Essentially, GWB was risking her life on all this – hers and the lives of her friends and buddies.

    23. Mike K Says:

      I agree with both of you. And with Jonathan.

      I do think Bush was too optimistic. Cheney has always been the realist and that is why he is so hated by the left. I like that he seems to revel in their hatred. He is like a character in a story I once read. I can’t recall it just now, maybe a character in the French Revolution.

      Bush was also an honest man in a profession that does not value honesty. I reread Angelo Codevilla’s Ruling Class every once in a while. We saw him speak at an event last fall.

      I fear that eight years of Obama has infested the executive branch with an entire generation of leftist social justice warriors. They have no morals, as we saw in the Ted Stevens prosecution. It will take years to get rid of them.

    24. PenGun Says:

      It’s sad. Nobody ever learns anything.

      ISI, the military part, is composed largely of, very experienced, ex Iraq army people. You dismissed these people and declared victory. It is certainly among the most stupid things ever done by a nation state. One could almost say it’s Darwinian in it’s essence.

    25. Ginny Says:

      Sgt. Mom,

      Thank you and your daughter.

      Some where I read that the Germans in a poll in 1947 said they wanted Hitler back. The idea of such a poll asking such a question in early days of polling probably means it wasn’t scientific. But it took occupation and a bulwark against Russia to get Europe to move toward the stability they now have – though perhaps they took too much for granted, since some seem intent on throwing it away.

      Some here are arguing a more transparent, more western government won’t ever work in the ME and perhaps they are right. But I wonder how many thought Germany and Japan could change as they did mid-century. If we were powerful enough and economically strong enough (which I assume we won’t be until someone turns this big ship around 180 degrees), it might be a gamble worth taking. Now, well, I can’t imagine after this slaughter any degree of civility can be built on top of ISIS, etc., if and when they are defeated. And I can’t imagine if our president literally can’t get the names of the vips representing those states straight that they are going to trust us to get much else right.

    26. TMLutas Says:

      Jim – So because there never were any Iraqis, westphalianism is irrelevant to the ME. That’s like saying that because there never were any yugoslavs, westphalianism is irrelevant to Europe. Really?

    27. Mike K Says:

      “You dismissed these people and declared victory. ”

      I agree. The dissolution of the Iraqi army by Bremer was a huge mistake. Among other problems, it left a huge number of men unemployed who could have been used to clean up the country and restore order. Some of the reasoning was that the officers were Sunni and the troops Shia but that has not worked out as any improvement.

    28. Jim Says:

      Mike K – Allowing the immigration of large numbers of Muslims into Europe is simply insane.

    29. Mike K Says:

      I was scolded and my comment deleted by Facebook when I made such a comment there. Muslims are the next protected class and nothing can be said negative on Muslim immigration on “social media.”

      Also, a very non-PC letter to the editor by an old lefty professor on the Baltimore riots. What is the world coming to ? Common sense ?

      But the blacks get symbolic recognition in an utterly incompetent mayor who handled this so badly from beginning to end that her resignation would be demanded if she were white. The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.

      Read the whole thing. It is hilarious.

    30. Mike K Says:

      Another piece of the picture of 2003 and the reasons to invade.

      This is from a science teacher who was a military Intel guy in 2001 and after. Interesting reading.

      From April of 2000 to October of 2002, I was a cryptanalyst, breaking codes in addition to listening. In this job, we heard the Iraqis regularly lock on or attempt to lock on SAMs against our planes patrolling the no fly zone. There was no doubt in our minds that Iraq still had the WMDs it had used against its own people in the 90s and against Iran in the 80s.

      Read the rest, as they say.

    31. Jim Says:

      MikeK – “helping the Iraqi people defeat the terroists and build an inclusive democratic state”.

      There weren’t any “terrorists” in Iraq to be defeated. Hussein was an enemy of Al Qaeda. If you’re looking for state-sponsership of Al Qaeda or similar organizations you might try Saudi Arabia or Pakistan (which of course was hiding Osama all along).

      There are few if any people in the territory called Iraq who have any interest in an “inclusive democratic state”.

    32. Jim Says:

      Mike K – “the rest of us post-Enlightenment people” – The post-Enlightenment Westerners are the real weirdos among the world’s population, not the peoples of the Middle East.

    33. Mike K Says:

      ““helping the Iraqi people defeat the terroists and build an inclusive democratic state”.

      There weren’t any “terrorists” in Iraq to be defeated. Hussein was an enemy of Al Qaeda.””

      Yes, you fit the profile of the left quite well. When you are beheaded by a “friendly Muslim” you might suspect the narrative you have been taught.

    34. Jim Says:

      You’re not even bothering to deny anything I said because what I said is true.

    35. Grurray Says:

      There was a terrorist group operating in Iraq at the time of 9-11 – ISIS.

      There was also one prominent terrorist in Iraq at the time who was our sworn enemy and had killed hundreds of thousands of people – Saddam Hussein.

    36. Mike K Says:

      “You’re not even bothering to deny anything I said ”

      See my next post, Jim.

      I can’t tell if you are a troll or just very poorly informed. Maybe you are a conspiracy theorist like the authors of all those books that bin Laden read.