“We know that (Saddam Hussein) has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.” Senator Al Gore, 2002
On March 20 of 2003 the United States and its allies invaded Iraq. Six weeks later they captured the nation’s capital and drove dictator Saddam Hussein from power. The war was politically controversial; conservatives supported the war effort, and liberals vociferously opposed it. Initially a majority of Americans joined with conservatives in supporting the war, as shown by polling data from the period.
Since 2003 liberals in the media and academia have worked tirelessly to win the American people over to their side. As early as 2006, college history textbooks were being updated to include sections about the Iraq war, with most portraying it as an immoral exercise in imperialism. According to the leftists who make up most universities’ history faculties, the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had nothing to do with protecting Americans from terrorism, and everything to do with the personal ambitions of US President George W. Bush.
The World in 2003
The problem of international Islamic terrorism was brought forcefully to the attention of the Bush administration in 2001. Prior to the events of September 11 of that year, President Bush and his predecessor had shown only mild concern about the issue, despite a 1993 attempt to destroy the World Trade Center with explosives; and subsequent deadly attacks on two US embassies, a US naval vessel, and a residential building occupied by US soldiers in Saudi Arabia.
The 2001 attack on the World Trade Center did not differ from the 1993 attack in the evil of its intentions; each time the intention was to bring down both of the Twin Towers and kill thousands of innocent people. Both attacks were orchestrated and funded by the same shadowy network of terrorist groups. The only reason the second attack prompted a global “war on terror,” where the first one didn’t, is that the second attack was successful. President Bush and millions of other Americans watched footage of an airplane plunging into one of the towers, and of both towers crashing to the ground, and terrorism became a front burner issue.
The horror of the 9/11 attacks made Islamic terrorism real to millions of Americans who had previously viewed it as only a minor problem. President Bush was one of them. A few days after the September 11 attacks, the President addressed a Joint Session of Congress and said “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” 1
In 2001 the two nations most guilty of harboring and supporting terrorism were Afghanistan and Iraq. United States forces invaded Afghanistan on October 7 of 2001, and quickly toppled the existing Afghan government. The US invaded Iraq on March 20 of 2003 with the same effect.
The View from the Ivory Tower
Mainstream history books today contain many of the talking points used by anti-war activists in 2003, starting with the claim that Hussein had nothing to do with September 11, and should therefore not be viewed as an enemy of the United States. In his widely used freshman history textbook, Professor Eric Foner portrays the Iraq war as an act of unjustified violence by a rogue Republican President: “Although Hussein was not an Islamic fundamentalist and no known evidence linked him to the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Bush administration in 2002 announced a goal of “regime change” in Iraq…Early in 2003, it announced its intention of going to war with Iraq, with or without the approval of the United Nations.”2
Dr. Foner goes on to state, as “history,” one of the political slogans most widely used by left wing critics of the Iraq war; that removing Saddam Hussein from power distracted the United States from its fight against “real” terrorists: “Foreign policy ‘realists,’ including members of previous Republican administrations like Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser (sic) under the first President Bush, warned that the administrations preoccupation with Iraq deflected attention from its real foe, Al Qaeda, which remained capable of launching terrorist attacks.” 3
The real result of the war, Dr. Foner tells his students, was that “Charges quickly arose that the United States was bent on establishing itself as a new global empire.”4
The freshman textbook Nation of Nations also repeats some of the talking points popular among left wing magazines and websites: President Bush justified his imperial ambitions in Iraq, goes the narrative, by dishonestly claiming that Hussein was building and stockpiling “WMD’s”, or Weapons of Mass Destruction:
Under renewed pressure from the United Nations, Hussein allowed inspections to resume, but Bush grew impatient. “If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons – and we do – “ he proclaimed, “does it make any sense for the world to wait … for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud?”
…UN weapons inspectors, however, reported that they could find no evidence of WMD’s or programs to build them. The Security Council refused to support an American resolution giving the United States the authority to lead a UN-sponsored invasion.
…Although a large majority of Americans supported the invasion of Iraq, a vocal minority had opposed the war. Some believed that a doctrine of preemption was not only morally wrong, but also dangerous. If the United States felt free to invade a country, what was to stop other nations from launching their own wars, justified by similar doctrines of preemption? Opponents also argued that no solid evidence linked the secular Saddam Hussein with the religious al Qaeda. 5
The Other Side of the Story
Conservatives who approved of the invasion of Iraq offered lots of arguments in support of their side, but these arguments tend to be left out of mainstream history books. The most compelling reasons for overthrowing the Hussein government had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks per se, and nothing to do with the United States “establishing itself as a new global empire.” Conservatives supported the invasion because Hussein’s government had long been one of the most important state sponsors of Islamic terrorism. In 2003 two thirds of the American people agreed with the conservatives, because the events of September 11 had finally made it apparent that terrorists could kill Americans in large numbers.
A Safe Haven for Terrorists
Before the invasion, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was well known as a safe haven for international terrorists. Terror mastermind Abu Nidal, for example, had moved his base of operations from Libya to Iraq in the 1990’s. By that time he had been implicated in murders and bombings in several different countries, including attacks on commercial airliners in Scotland and England. In 2002 the Hussein government reported that Nidal had shot himself. It is widely believed that Hussein had actually ordered the assassination of Nidal, fearing that Nidal would turn against him during the expected American invasion.
Nidal was not the only foreign-born terrorist living in Iraq before the invasion. He was not even the only one whose first name was Abu. Palestinian-born terrorist Abu Abbas was another guest of the Hussein government, living in Iraq apparently without the knowledge of the American government. Abbas had planned and led the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, among other atrocities. He was discovered and arrested, along with several members of his terror entourage, when American forces entered Baghdad in 2003.
PLO leader Yasser Arafat was another terrorist leader who enjoyed Hussein’s active support. Arafat supported Hussein’s invasions of Iran and Kuwait, and Hussein provided funding for the PLO’s terrorist activities, including a $25,000 bounty for the family of any PLO member who would detonate a suicide bomb in an Israeli restaurant or shopping mall.
Salman Pak: Terrorist Boot Camp
Hussein’s government did more than finance foreign terrorists. They also operated a training facility called Salman Pak where Arab volunteers from around the Middle East could train for various kinds of attacks against “enemy” civilians. The facility was even equipped with a commercial aircraft for use in hijacker training.
Guerilla War against America
One of the cited reasons for the Bush administration’s decision to remove Hussein from power was the dictator’s obvious hostility to the United States, which dated back to the 1991 “Gulf War,” in which an American-led military operation repelled Iraq’s invasion of neighboring Kuwait and badly damaged Saddam’s army.
President Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, had been the President who led the US into war against Iraq back in 1991, and Hussein had promised vengeance. In 1993 Hussein’s Intelligence Service attempted to assassinate the elder Bush when he visited Kuwait after his retirement from the Presidency. President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes against Iraqi Intelligence headquarters in retaliation for the attempt on the Sr. Bush’s life.
Another thing mainstream history books fail to mention about the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq is Hussein’s apparent involvement in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil before the September 11 attacks. There is abundant evidence that Hussein’s Intelligence Service provided material support to Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the time leading up to their deadly attack on the Oklahoma City building.
On Those Weapons of Mass Destruction
College professors and other left wing radicals make much of the fact that very few “WMD’s,” or Weapons of Mass Destruction, were found in Iraq after the invasion, despite President Bush’s repeated pre-invasion references to the probability of Hussein having and/or developing such weapons. The other side of the story is that President Bush was not alone in his concerns.
His predecessor in office, President Bill Clinton, spoke in very strong terms about the threat posed by Hussein’s WMD capabilities, after ordering air strikes against suspected WMD factories in 1998.
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President Clinton was not the only Democrat who expressed such concerns. In the months leading up to the 2003 invasion virtually every leading Democrat in Congress described Hussein’s WMD programs as an imminent threat to the United States. Senator Ted Kennedy, to cite one example, said in 2002 that “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”
Some of the fears expressed by both Republicans and Democrats were fueled by the CIA’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, which detailed the CIA’s reasons for believing that “Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions.”
The intelligence services of key American allies like the United Kingdom were saying the same things.
It is easy to say now, with 20/20 hindsight, that Hussein’s WMD programs were nowhere near as dangerous as everyone thought they were in 2002; but it is tendentious to the point of dishonesty to say, as many history books do, that President Bush was not expressing honest concern for our nation’s welfare when he discussed the evidence of WMD programs in Iraq.
And with or without WMD’s, Hussein was a major terror broker who had demonstrated his hostility to our country. Removing him from power was a major step forward in protecting the security of the United States and the American people.
The one-sided treatment of the Iraq war in mainstream history books is one more example of how university faculties are trying to indoctrinate, rather than educate, their students. Any student who wants a well-rounded education would do well to look for the other side of the story in sources outside of the classroom.
2 Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty (2006 edition) p. 974
4 ibid: p. 973
5 Davidson, Gienapp, Geyrman, Lytle, and Stoff; Nation of Nations (2006 edition) pp. 999-1,000
One thought on “The Iraq War from Both Sides”
Good article and great assessment. The 20/20 hindsight observation is so true. Winston Churchill once remarked that he never had a choice between a good solution and a bad solution; it was always a choice between a bad solution and an even worse solution.