Letters to the Editor
Vail CO, Colorado
Bush didn’t start it
A story in last Friday’s paper mentioned an anti-war group planning to commemorate the four-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war this Monday, March 19. That’s strange, I seem to remember the Iraq war beginning in August 1990 when Saddam Hussein’s army invaded Kuwait. Following Iraq’s refusal to withdrawal from Kuwait, an international force led by the U.S evicted the Iraqi forces and destroyed most of the Iraqi military in the process.
The U.N. then signed a “cease-fire” agreement with Iraq. Iraq agreed to meet certain conditions before the situation could be normalized. The conflict, or war, never ended.
Through the last years of George H. W. Bush’s presidency, all of the Clinton administration, and George W. Bush’s pre-Sept. 11 tenure, combat troops from the coalition have been stationed in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continuously. A minimum of one U.S. Navy aircraft carrier task force has been stationed in the Persian Gulf the entire time. The U.S. Air Force and Navy have dispatched combat sorties of fully armed military strike aircraft over Iraqi territory on a daily basis from 1991 all the way up to 2003.
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq continually refused to meet the obligations it agreed to with the U.N. The U.N. passed 12 separate resolutions demanding that Iraq honor the terms of the cease fire or else. Both Democratic and Republican administrations authorized cruise missile attacks and air strikes against targets in Iraq in response to Iraq’s failure to honor its international agreements.
If that is not a state of war, then I’m a little confused by the definition. Granted, George W. Bush’s administration dramatically re-escalated the situation in Iraq some four years ago. But saying that he started the war, or that that this is “his war” is like saying Poland started WWII because they shot back at the Nazis when the blitzkrieg rolled across the Polish frontier in 1939.
Was the decision to re-insert massive amounts of additional troops in an effort to force Iraqi compliance a good idea? There’s a lot of disagreement there. I for one believe that after 12 threats of “or else,” the international community had to do something in response to Iraq’s misbehavior, or risk becoming irrelevant.
While Iraq may not have been directly involved with the attacks on Sept. 11, those events critically changed the world situation. Osama bin Laden’s forces escalated their war against the west in spectacular fashion that day, and Saddam Hussein’s actions indicated that he fully agreed with that agenda.
For that reason, we must always remember that it was Saddam Hussein who started the war in Iraq. And he continued the state of war by refusing to honor the terms of the cease fire signed in 1991. George W. Bush didn’t start the war, he just tried to finish it. Sadly, that may take far longer than he ever imagined.