[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.