The Iraq War Begins: March 20, 2003

By | March 20, 2018

[March 20, 2018]  It’s hard to believe for those of us who served, but the Iraq War began on this date 15 years ago.  The war also had the unintended consequence of driving a wedge between the political right and left in our country.  Many of our citizens were opposed because “Bush lied” about Saddam Hussein having Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and, it was thought, Saddam was about to use them.

War, it is said, is “a continuation of politics by other means.”1  Military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote this in his classic On War, Chapter 1: What is War?  He was trying to explain war, its causes, and principles to the general population of educated citizens in Western nations so to put an end to the notion that war was independent of diplomatic efforts and political leadership nation-state decision making.

So too, in the Iraq War, was the result of many months of failed diplomatic efforts at the United Nations to force the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to give up his WMD.  Inspectors had failed to any, although they had discovered a number of facilities that had clearly been used for the development and production of chemical weapons.  Later, after the invasion, weaponized Sarin and Mustard gas were found in huge quantities.

U.S. President Bush had done a marginal job of providing justifications for an invasion of Iraq.  However, proper resolutions at the United Nations and with approval from the U.S. Congress, he allowed the military to strike.  Conventional forces swarmed across the border from Kuwait and into Iraq, sweeping aside all Iraqi Army efforts to stop them.

Despite the failure of diplomacy to prevent the war, a “coalition of the willing” nations (mostly U.S. troops) provided an overwhelmingly successful campaign to topple the Ba’athist government.  President Hussein had approved the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in northern Iraq and had justly brought down the efforts of more civilized nations to end his dictatorship.

I wrote a five-part series on my personal observations of the Iraq War.  They can be found linked here: the Iraqis, US troops, the terrorists, hometown folks, and the media.

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  1. http://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/clausewitz-war-as-politics-by-other-means
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

23 thoughts on “The Iraq War Begins: March 20, 2003

  1. Tony B. Custer

    In the war, I learned that some people perform poorly but the vast majority are excellent at what they do. That is the lesson I take from the Iraq War and one lesson I will never forget.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Tony: In my limited experience during 3 years of combat in Iraq was that most soldiers were better off emotionally after their return home. They were more mature, didn’t let the small things in life get to them, and had improved family life. This is something you don’t hear about.

  2. Joe Omerrod

    Everything changed with the 911 attacks. Don’t expect our enemies to care. The history books have not been closed so continue to push the truth. Thanks.

    1. Jerry Jones

      Joe: THank you for your emphasis on overcoming the political leftist attacks on what actually happened during this war. But is also true of all recent wars from Korea to present. The “Progressive” ideology has legions of useful idiots willing to parrot this tripe.

  3. Danny Burkholder

    I was a tank commander and part of the 3rd Infantry Division in the initial wave. If you saw the video of the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled donw; I was there when it happened. People were celebrating the fall of the dictatorship that had held them back for so long. It cannot be described the euphoria we saw.

  4. Jerry Jones

    I remember well the pride I had at the forces of good destroying an evil. If we had done that in the early days of Hitler, we would have avoided the horrors of WWII. I equate the evil of Nazism and extremist Islam as the same evil.

  5. Georgie M.

    My favorite political cartoon published during the war was by Michael P. Ramirez. It shows a soldier with a bloody knife in his back with the words “Congress” written in the blood. I couldn’t find it on his website but can be found by an easy search on the Internet.

  6. Jonathan B.

    Less than 1% of the population defends the remaining 99%. We don’t hear about that 1% in the liberal lapdog press. I’d like to be a one-percenter.

  7. Janna Faulkner

    Most Americans’ don’t even know a military service member because so few do so much for us. I admire our military today but perhaps the draft would be a good idea to force our lazy people to join and buck-up. Too many weak, effeminate, lazy, boneheaded college students make trouble; spend a couple of years in the US Marine Corps will change that attitude.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Janna: The draft has been debated on and off for decades since its elimination in 1972. President Obama promised to look into universal service for our youth; in some capacity. I don’t know whatever happened to it but the idea is sound.

  8. Andrew Dooley

    Thanks for reminding us about our great military. I am one of the patriotic citizens that supports our military (firefighters and police also) and will salute them when they pass.

  9. Dennis Mathes

    Another socialist dictator gone. That’s another good day for the world.

  10. Jung-hoon Kim

    I was in Irbil up north and did speak with many Kurd leaders. They were angry about the gas attacks on them.

  11. Billy Kenningston

    Getting rid of dictatorships that suppress their peoples by using chemical weapons on them like Saddam Hussein did with the Kurds is the moral thing to do. For those who were against the war, you should take a good look at the thousands of photos of dead families after chemical attacks on the Kurds in northern Iraq. To deny Iraq had WMD you have to be totally blind to history. BTW, they are still finding chemical weapon stockpiles in the country.

  12. Shawn C Stolarz

    Sun Tzu wrote two millennia ago that the five basic factors for a commander of military forces to consider are:
    1. The Moral Law, or discipline and unity of command
    2. Heaven, or weather factors
    3. Earth, or the terrain
    4. The Commander
    5. Method and discipline, which included logistics and supply
    We may use different words today but what he wrote so long ago is still true.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Sun Tzu mixes what we would call Grand Strategy, Military Strategy, and Tactics. That is why we so often find the principles of warfare listed differently today.

  13. Edward Kennedy III

    The technology may change but the principles of warfare (mass, surprise, economy of force, etec.) have largely remained unchanged since the beginning of mankind. Just like the Korean War differed in tactics and strategy from WWII, Vietnam War differed from Korea, and so was the Iraq War different from Vietnam. However, humans mostly have the same wants and needs. As long as that is true, warfare will not change much. It still means closing with and destroying the enemy.

  14. Army Captain

    My unit was not part of the main attack but we cleaned up what remained of any Iraqi Army resistance. There was not much resistance once our forces had swept through. The amount of destruction of Iraqi army equipment was massive but little damage to the towns, roads, and other infrastructure (except for a few bridges). The population was also largely untouched. This was probably a first in warfare where civilians were not directly affected. They had to deal with no electricity and shortages of water but their homes and businesses were untouched. I’ll never forget my time there.

  15. Max Foster

    I remember this day all too well. My brother was a “Tanker” with an armor brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division. He came through it okay. He told us stories that would raise the hair up on the back of your neck.

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