Four thousand four hundred and ninety-one American military died in the last war in Iraq. A much larger number were wounded, some severely.  The numbers of Iraqis that died are unknown but estimates range from as low as one hundred and fifty thousand and as high as one million.  Today this war is a major point in the presidential elections and for the most part is being tossed around for political gain instead of looking at what lead to the war and what the real failing was.

The men and women that compose the United States Military are a noble people that should be thanked for all the sacrifices they make to keep America free and are ready to come to the aid of oppressed anywhere in the world.  That is who we are and that is what our country is all about.

The war in Iraq that ultimately toppled the tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein did not begin on March 20th 2003 when America invaded Iraq.  Nor did it begin in January of 2001 when Operation Desert Shield changed to Operation Desert Storm and the world coalition forces threw out Iraq from a defeated and destroyed Kuwait.  The framework for what led to the war began years before Desert Storm when Saddam Hussein seized power of Iraq.

In 1968 Hussein became the head of Iraq.  One year later he entered the national assemble and had the names of 68 members read out loud as members that were threatening to overthrow his government.  The 68 were arrested and 22 sentenced to death.  The firing squads were composed of high ranking leaders of his political party.  A clear message was sent that his rule was final and any attempt to oppose it would be met swiftly and brutally.  The age of Iraqi government terror and intimidation was in full force.

At the same time that he was gaining power in Iraq, the country also signed an agreement with the Soviet Union.  He was gaining power and would accept no threat to this power.  In the north of Iraq is the area inhabited by the Kurds.  Kurds are very industrious and independent.  Today they are the most pro-U.S. sect in the Middle East and is the best deterrent to ISIS.   The Kurds were also a threat to Saddam and he mercilessly handled the situation.  Saddam’s army surrounded Halabja and launched gas attacks on the Kurds.  Anyone seeing the faces of dead children in the streets will never forget the brutality of Hussein.  It is estimated that he killed 183,000 of these citizens of Iraq in an attempt to exterminate the Kurds.

The regime controlled all movement within the country.  Checkpoints were everywhere and government papers were required to move from section of Iraq to another.  Brutality was everywhere.  A video surfaced of Saddam’s two sons going duck hunting and a colleague was used as the dog to swim out and retrieve the ducks.  The would shoot beside him as sport.  Several years later the man asked to leave the country.  For speaking blasphemy, he was taken out and had his tongue cut out.  When the coalition forces demanded Saddem leave power, one of his ministers recommended that he step down temporarily and then be reinserted.  The minister was taken into custody and following the pleas of the minister’s wife for her husbands return Saddem said he would be returned the next day.  The next day a body bag was dropped off at the minister’s front door with the dismembered minister’s body inside.

Hussein also snubbed his nose at the West just before his invasion of Kuwait.  Two British journalist were arrested and charged with espionage.  One was a woman and the other a male of Iranian linage.  British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher demanded the return of the British citizens.  The woman returned to England and Saddam bragged in his parliament that Thatcher demanded the return of the male journalist and he was, in a body bag.  The journalist had been hanged.  How does an international community work with a dictator such as this; one that had previously tried to develop a nuclear complex that was bombed by Israel before nuclear weapons could be developed?

Following the end of Desert Storm much of the peace negotiations was performed by General Norman Schwarzkopf.  He stated that there was no representative from the State Department and mistakes were made.  One of these was allowing Iraq continued access and use of helicopters.  The State Department should have been leading these negotiations or at least advising.

Over time Hussein would brag that he was building his arms.  A Russia that had collapsed and could not object to a Desert Storm coalition became a new ally of Hussein.  I have heard that when it was apparent that the United States was going to invade Iraq there were a large number of military flights leaving Russia empty and returning from Iraq full.  You can only speculate what was loaded on the planes.

So the question is, “Should have we not intervened in Iraq or if we did intervene should have we done more to win the peace.”  Was this a military failure or was it a State Department failure to leave a democratic well-functioning Iraq.

 

 

 

 

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