Iraq War ripe for criticism

| March 18, 2013

All of the armchair quarterbacks are out in force this week, mostly criticizing the second war against Saddam Hussein, of course, most are calling it “the Iraq War” as if we were fighting against the people of Iraq, but, it wasn’t that at all. Most are saying that it was a war we should have avoided, but anyone who is saying that doesn’t remember the circumstances.

COB6 and I spent Easter, 1991 on the outskirts of Baghdad, we drove for two days unopposed from recently liberated Kuwait. At the moment of the enforced ceasefire at 8am (local time) February 28th, we had been engaged with a dismounted element of Iraqis. And suddenly we were given the order to end the engagement and turn right to drive from the battlefield with enemy bullets still pinging off our turrets.

We spent the next few weeks clearing ammunition from bunkers, destroying abandoned equipment and weapons until we were tasked to return to Iraq and screen for the Shi’ites escaping the wrath of Hussein. That’s when we went to Baghdad. Busloads of Shi’ites streamed through our hastily erected line of demarcation. We tended to the wounded and shared our food with the refugees.

In the distance we could hear the remnants of Hussein’s Republican guards having their way with the unarmed civilians. Some in our battalion set up a refugee camp tent village for the Shi’ites. Anyone who didn’t think that we’d be back to finish Hussein from our perspective was seriously deluded.

No fewer than three times in the next ten years, Hussein sent his troops to the Kuwait border again, and each time the US deployed thousands of troops to the pre-positioned equipment in Kuwait and prepared to be a speed-bump for the next annexation of the Nineteenth Provence. While our air forces patrolled the skies over the “no-fly zone”, they daily ducked and dodged the surface-to-air missiles.

Even if you disregard the weapons of mass destruction, which we all knew existed at some point before the invasion of Hussein’s Iraq, Saddam Hussein was not a stabilizing force in the region. He was paying the families of suicide bombers in Israel in order to continue the practice. There were al Qaeda training areas in Iraq, whether they operated with the permission of Hussein or not is not relevant, they existed and would continue to exist and train our enemies had we not shut down the dictator’s government.

You can argue for weeks about whether the war was fought as well as it could be fought or not, but whether it was a war we should have fought should not be in dispute. I’ll grant you that my generation should have been the force that toppled Saddam Hussein – we were the largest army in Iraq on Easter Day in 1991 and poised on the outskirts of the capital and it should have been accomplished then rather than ten years later, but there is no doubt in my mind that the war should have been fought regardless of when it was fought. My only regret was that it was my son’s generation which shouldered the task.

Category: Terror War

Comments (63)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    @44 – Sparky: I think if ANYONE knows the whys/wherefores, and would love to live in peace more than anyone else, it’s the veteran.

    Yes, it’s the veteran, we’d rather live in peace but if we’re asked to do so, we stand up, because it’s the right thing to do. That doesn’t make us mindless robots that can be chewed up and thrown away, either.

  2. SGT E says:

    @38, FOMSG, “It is a never ending source of annoyance to me to read and hear the revisionist narrative now having become the accepted story of the “Iraq War”. everyone has forgoten how much of America’s military resources were tied up in “containing” Saddam Hussien’s regime.”

    ABSOLUTELY. Furthermore, everyone compares the cost of ten years of war with the situation on the ground in February 2003. That is a false comparison – we need to compare the world in 2013 with the world that WOULD HAVE RESULTED from sitting on our asses in 2003. The sanctions were crumbling – Saddam was going to win. Who would he have been if we’d have walked away? What would have happened to his people? What would have happened to the region? He had every intent to restart WMD’s – without the sanctions, how long would he have taken before putting his pedal to the metal?

    Maybe the world would be a better place if we’d have walked away – I don’t believe it for a second, but it’s arguable. But it is a false argument to act as though maintaining the 2002 stalemate was an option – it was not.

  3. Bill says:

    Any intervention that Britain undertakes in the Middle East is a waste of time because we will come out with less than we went in with. Nothing will get these people to uderstand peace.

  4. DaveO says:

    #50 CI: you were expecting a Busby Berkeley musical production? “Here Come the WMDs!”?

  5. A Proud Infidel says:

    @53, Bill, Amen to that. They haven’t gotten along with each other for millenia, but these idiot politicians think they can change it all with talk, which is of course, cheaper than life in the Middle East.

  6. I do agree with most of what is being said. I left the Army (UK) Before all this blew up but I was back into the recruiting office to try and rejoin.(no luck) However my son was there for both and needless to say I was very proud. As to the people of the UK raising objections (Ex-PH2) I can assure you that it was a very small section of the people! you know the type be nice to the terrorist, try not to shoot your gun at anybody. I want to voice my opinion even though I’m clueless.
    I refuse to believe that you don’t have the same wishy washy liberal minded people in the USA. Sorry folks didn’t mean to get on the old soap box then. It is sickening when your in the no win debate. It’s wrong to let the innocent die but it’s also wrong going in and stopping it. At the end of the day War is a failing of the politician that has to be rectified by the military!!!

  7. Common Sense says:

    I hate the phrase “blood for oil”, it shows a complete ignorance of economics and how world commodities work. Maybe an Econ 101 class instead of “social justice” is in order, maybe a history class too.

    Do you think we went over there to build a pipeline directly to the US and siphon off oil? The US buys oil on the world market, just like every other country. We get it from a variety of places, just like most other countries. In fact, Canada is our leading supplier, NOT any country in the Middle East. When dictators there get out of hand, it can restrict world supply and therefore raise prices, affecting the standard of living for billions of people.

    Also, preserving the oil supply IS in our national interest as well as the world. Without it, we would be tossed directly back to the Middle Ages – little heat, no cooling, no refrigeration, transportation only as fast as horses can walk, few of the products we depend on, little of the top-of-the-line medical care that we currently have access to (well, until Obamacare kills it), no more living 24/7 lives, we’d be restricted to daylight hours, etc., etc., etc.

    Wind, solar, biofuels, etc. come nowhere near to replacing even a fraction of what oil provides. In addition, they all required the power that fossil fuels provide in order to be manufactured. None of them can replace oil for making plastic, a substance that provides millions of different products essential to our lives, including medical supplies and devices.

    Without oil, you would no longer be sitting in a ‘social justice’ class, you’d be out working the fields, trying to provide enough to eat for you and your family and maybe keep a rudimentary roof over your head. You would live the rest of your life within 20 miles of your home. Without oil and the standard of living it facilitates, there would be far fewer lives to value.

    It’s amazing how people who spout ‘blood for oil’ are usually ‘saying’ it by typing it on a keyboard that is mostly made out of plastic and powered by electricity that is created with fossil fuels.

  8. Hondo says:

    Common Sense: there’s also a second consideration. Just how good would it be for US security – or that of the rest of the world – to allow an evil madman with

    (1) a vision of becoming a modern-day Saladin and reestablishing the Caliphate, who
    (2) had already demonstrated a willingness to commit mass-murder on an industrial scale against his own people (see Halabja), as well as
    (3) possessing a demonstrated desire to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction

    dominate the Persian Gulf and its economic resources?

  9. WOTN says:

    I agree with most of the comments here (as is normally the unstated case).

    Mike/#31: Having fought in the majority of the wars discussed in this thread, I can tell you that I have no regrets of having done so, short of, those few times I have come to believe that those here, those for whom I fought, remain so clueless, that no amount of logic, or blood, or sacrifice will convince them to look at the facts, and stop buying into the propaganda.

    I will admit, that I went to Desert Storm, fearing it would be “the next Viet Nam” the MSM was claiming, and I was more than happy it was over. I will admit, given the circumstances at the time, that I believed it was over. In the lenses of hindsight, I see that it wasn’t.

    Today, we don’t have as many Troops IN the Army, as we did on 24 FEB 1991, in Saudi Arabia.

    I will also profess that in 2003, I had my doubts that we were sending in a large enough force. But we did defeat Saddam’s Iraq, quickly, and we WERE welcomed by Iraqis, not least of which were the Kurds, whom we threw under the bus multiple times in the 90’s, and could have only have remained loyal to us, because everyone else were such staunch enemies of them.

    But I will also staunchly state that at NO TIME were forces drawn down in Afghanistan. The war went better there, when SF were in charge, but the assets there only increased, despite the propaganda.

    MIKE, I have looked into the eyes of ordinairy Iraqis and Afghans, and yes, I know it was “worth it” to them, to have a chance at Freedom, and a piece of candy, or a pencil, from the American with a gun.

    Mike, I have seen the absolute glee of a kid playing with a shoebox on 4 tin cans for wheels and a string to pull it along, and seen the temper tantrum of the kid that doesn’t get the latest Playstation and 10 new games.

    Mike, I have seen the satisfaction in life of the person with no shoes, that can find his next meal on the next tree, and the dissatisfaction of the person given free health care, free internet, free cellphones, and free rides.

    The FREEDOMS and RIGHTS Americans take for advantage, and vote away for “free things,” are highly prized, far more than any material thing, by those that don’t have them, UNTIL an American Soldier shows up with a gun.

    Are there “Just Wars?” Ask the Kurds, ask German gypsies, and the victims of the Khmer Rouge. And if you can’t find a “just war,” revoke your citizenship and return to England (or other point of ancestral origin), since American Citizenship would not have occured with out a JUST WAR for Independence. Or if you can truly find that there is no just war, try living in North Korea, or Iran, or Syria, or Lebanon.

    Make that Southern Lebanon, where 3 decades of a UN “Peacekeeping Force” still hasn’t brought “social justice” to the an atheist, a Catholic, a Zoroastrian, a Hindu, or a Jew.

  10. Garrysr says:

    Jonn, thank you for a well written piece. I watched Desert Storm on tv, waiting to be called up. I went to OIF I, and my son and son-in-law went a couple of years later. We did it because we were told to, and after getting there, and driving through that country, it was needed and just for someone to do what we were doing.

  11. You know that England ( United kingdom For our Scot, Irish and Welsh troops ) has allied America in the last four major conflicts. WWI, WW2, Korea and the gulf.
    As to the war on terrorism we have been fighting it for many years. Due to American pressure The British & French armed forces left the Suez. I would further like to add that the only losers in WW2 were the Brits. Most of your population to begin with were Brits. Those were the people that fought in the American war of Independence. People now flock from the four corners of the world to live in America and become American. Up until the early 70’s the British Navy were hosts to the American 6th fleet in the med. Yes I know we now are the poor relative but please remember There would be no America, There would be no free world, and there would be nobody to pass the buck when things go wrong without this little Islands Fighting forces. You may think I’m going on a bit and a little to sensitive but I’m bloody proud of my countries history. I’m proud of my grandfather who lost a leg at Dunkirk. I’m proud of my uncle Bill who passed on in Malay. I’m proud of my Father who fought along side Americans in Korea. 23 years service dragging a wife and four brats round the world until he became “ILL” There was no such thing as post-trauma anything in them days. I hold my head up high for my time in the Army and for my Son’s Time done and what he has left to do. I am on this site because of causes. I like the way the veterans are remembered and treated in the states and when something is out of order you all get together and tell it how it is. Up till a few years ago all our ex forces had in form of remembrance was Remembrance Sunday. It was considered bad form to show to much emotion when you remembered sad times. At one time We only thought of our pride but the Americans go out full in the face and shout it from the roof tops Yes I served and yes I love my nation I love my fellow servers and yes I love my Regiment!!!! That is what we are trailing the American in. PASSION We will get there one day but until that day show my Nation some respect and yes I know i’m going on a bit so goodbye (for now)

  12. PintoNag says:

    @61 toeknee2sticks: If it hasn’t been said yet, I’ll say it. Welcome. It’s great to hear from “the other side of the pond.” What you said above was important and interesting, and you have every right to be proud. Hope to hear more from you in the future.