Arthur Herman has a great piece on "Why Iraq Was Inevitable" at Commentary Magazine.
The Left and their accomplices in the "mainstream" media have been hard at work since the war itself trying to ignore and rewrite history, but Herman does a thorough job of cataloging what led to the 2003 invasion and why, under any standard of common sense, it was inevitable.
Among the key milestones cited by Herman:
- Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons. . . . Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: he has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. . . . I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again. - President Bill Clinton, December 16, 1998
- Six weeks earlier, Clinton had signed the Iraq Liberation Act authorizing Saddam’s overthrow
- You allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons. How many people is he going to kill with such weapons? . . . We are not going to allow him to succeed. - Vice President Al Gore
- The U.S. had already been at war with Iraq for a decade when George W. Bush took office; the end of the Persian Gulf War was a cease-fire, not a formal surrender followed by a peace treaty. That cease fire agreement required regular weapons inspections to ensure Saddam's weapons were destroyed, and sanctions to prevent Saddam from building more WMDs
- On February 17, 1998 President Clinton said there was an “unholy axis” of rogue states and that “There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”
- In October 1998 Iraq threw out ten American weapons inspectors and ceased cooperation with the UN inspection team.
- In December 1998 Richard Butler said Saddam was engaging in obstruction and deception
- John Kerry and several other Democrats sent Clinton a letter urging him to act against Iraq and the “threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its WMD programs.”
- On December 16, 1998 Clinton launched Operation Desert Fox against Iraq, which involved days of bombing by U.S. and British warplanes and missile attacks. Unobstructed inspections still did not resume
- In 1999 Clinton looked at options to invade Iraq, since many Democrats were supportive, like John Kerry who had said Saddam was determined “to build WMD’s no matter what the cost,” and that the U.S. “must be prepared to use force to achieve its goals.”
- By the end of 1999, the UN passed yet another ineffective resolution demanding inspections cooperation. But even that weak option split the Security Council; France, Russia, and China were either ideologically aligned with Iraq or on the take from the "Oil for Food" program kickbacks or selling weapons systems to the Iraqis, or both, and refused to back the measure.
- After 911, the Bush White House found that al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi had received safe haven in Iraq. There was also evidence that other al Qaeda had joined Zarqawi in Iraq.
- A March 2002 New Yorker article said members of Ansar al-Islam were being trained in al Qaeda camps and paid through Saddam's intelligence service
- In September 2002 the CIA released the "Iraqi Support for Terrorism" report which said "Iraq continues to be a safe haven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States.”
- Captured intelligence shows that Saddam was involved with Palestine Liberation Front, Hamas, and other terrorist groups.
- The UN estimated there were 1.5 tons of VX gas for which there was no proof of destruction
- The UN also believed Saddam still had SCUD missiles which could be used to deliver WMD payloads.
- By October 2000 Saddam was working militarily with Syria despite the UN policy of "containment"
- Saddam had been firing on US and British warplanes over the no-fly zone for years
- "Hussein’s vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, and his present and potential future support for terrorist acts and organizations . . . make him a terrible danger to the people of the United States." - Senator Chuck Schumer, September 2002
- "My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMD’s." - Senator Hillary Clinton
- "Every day [Saddam] gets closer to his long-term goal of nuclear capability." - Senator John Edwards
- "There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the U.S. and our allies." - Howard Dean
- 81 House Democrats voted to authorize President Bush “to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq”
- France, one of the nations on the take in the corrupt "Food for Oil" program, declared “nothing! nothing!” could justify invading Iraq, and the opposition of other UN nations on the take effectively de-toothed any effectiveness sanctions might have had.
- The "mainstream" media's much-touted "rush to war" took something like 7-8 months, roughly from August 2002 to March 2003.
- In November 2002, the UN finally passed Resolution 1441 requiring Saddam to disarm and prove it or face “serious consequences.”
- In late November, Saddam dropped tons of irrelevant documents on UNMOVIC, which would require months to sift through the mess, buying himself even more time with no real compliance.
- Even Bob Woodward (no Right-winger for sure) said in his book Plan of Attack that Bush had been “a study in patience.”
- It was Saddam's failure to comply with his own burden of proof, not Bush's doctrine of preemptive war, that resulted in the March 2003 invasion
- Despite Powell's later back peddling, in February 2003 he provided more than 100 examples of Saddam’s deceptions which were backed up by eyewitness testimony, radio intercepts and satellite photos.
- Even Democrat Senator Joe Biden said "Saddam is in material breach of the latest UN resolution. . . . The legitimacy of the Security Council is at stake, as well as the integrity of the UN." (I would add that even more importantly, the United States' credibility was at stake)
- After the invasion, the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) reported “dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment”
- David Kay said “Iraq indeed had WMD’s” and told the Daily Telegraph that he had found evidence that some of them had been moved to Syria before the invasion
- Kay also said in Senate testimony that “the world is far safer with the disappearance and removal of Saddam Hussein”
Given the logic of the situation, at what point could Bush have avoided war? To have taken the military option off the table before going to the UN would have undercut everything his analysts and policy advisers, including at the CIA, had been saying since 9/11—and brought howls of protests from leading Democrats in Congress. Doing so after the passage of Resolution 1441 would have made a mockery of the rationale for going to the UN in the first place, and, as Powell explicitly recognized, undermined the resolution itself.
Herman also cites other negative consequences of not invading Iraq, but I'll leave you to read them on your own.
Saddam should have been removed under the Clinton administration when it first became apparent that there would be no meaningful or lasting peace with him. Clinton decidedly lacked the courage or conviction to do that, however; lobbing a few missiles at the problem from a safe distance was as much political risk as he was willing to take.
George W. Bush has not been another Ronald Reagan, but he has kept the country safe since 911. And he had the courage of conviction to do what needed to be done in Iraq, despite the political cost. For both of those accomplishments, I salute him.
And I resist attempts to rewrite history by cowards and political opportunists.
Herman's entire piece is over 6,800 words long, so grab a Coke before you sit down, but it's worth it.
It might surprise a few of you Bush-hating "blood for oil" disciples...if you can open your mind up long enough to read it.