The Left

Al-Qaeda in Iraq

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti born, April 28, 1937 in Al-Awja, Iraq and died by hanging on December 30, 2006 in Kadhimiya, Iraq was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was buried December 31, 2006 in Al-Awja, Iraq. | Photo: | Saddam Hussein, Iraq, Cartoon, Beard, President, Hanged, Dictator, Crime, Trial, Conviction,

Because we had dishonest leaders, American soldiers died.

Take a hard look at these passages from a column I wrote in 2003 on the first day of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"The architect of this situation is George Bush. No man worked harder for it. He planned it before the Sept. 11 (World Trade Center) attacks took place.

When the (Bush) Administration couldn't get the United Nations to go along with its attack on Iraq, Bush fabricated a fictional list of supporters called "Willing Countries," a ploy so transparent, so cynical with a title so patently phony and idiotic, it couldn't fool a five-year-old kid.

You've got your war Mister Bush, but it won't be over when our forces enter Baghdad.

The conquest of Iraq is not the end, only the beginning. The blood of our soldiers is on your hands."

I had opposed the Iraq War from day one. Prior to this I was out at a restaurant visiting with acquaintances and we discussed the likelihood of an upcoming Iraq War to oust Saddam Hussein. I made the dreadful mistake of thinking I had a right to an opinion and stated it. I called Saddam a "stabilizing influence."

One of my acquaintances flew into a rage and made an ugly scene at the restaurant and I bowed my embarrassed head and silently took the abuse. I don't believe in displays of childish anger, yelling back like two monkeys fighting over a coconut, and I didn't want to spoil dinner for 100 other diners at the restaurant.

No apologies were given. I haven't spoken to these acquaintances in years.

I did not mean that Saddam was a good man. He was a killer. But I didn't support supplying and equipping and encouraging him as the administrations of Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. had done. Look at the photo of Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense under Bush) posing with Saddam shaking his hand. In another photo, Saddam and Rumsfeld are dressed in tuxedos smiling for the camera like they're drinking buddies on their way to a senior prom.

America has a long history of befriending ruthless dictators, the most famous being Joseph Stalin, until we had a falling out over the Cold War. Saddam patterned himself after Stalin.

At the time we were using Saddam as a counter weight to the growing influence of Iran, in fact, we guaranteed Saddam in his war with Iran in the 1980's that we wouldn't let him be defeated.

I simply meant by "stabilizing influence" that by ousting Saddam, a situation of anarchy could result that could be worse than even Saddam was. I felt there was a less costly way to deal with Saddam than an over-the-top invasion that might kill thousands of people. This has happened in history before. When Czar Nicholas of Russia, an autocrat during World War One, was overthrown, the western democracies England, France and the United States, rejoiced. They had no understanding that the Czar would be replaced by something much worse, the Bolsheviks and eventually Stalin.

In the beat-the-war-drum-hysteria of the opening of the Iraq conflict I was one of the few dissenters. I felt like a lone voice. I was called a traitor.

I knew Bush and Cheney were lying about the false weapons of mass destruction they said were supposedly possessed by Saddam and this was just a ploy to get the American people to go along with the war. They also tried to tie Saddam to 9-11 until Bush himself publicly admitted this was false. There was no public uproar.

In 2010 President Obama declared Iraq a "No Victory War" after nearly a decade of conflict and millions spent that helped tank the American economy into the most severe economic depression since the 1930's, not to mention the loss of 5,000 American lives. I felt somewhat vindicated by Obama's declaration.

As bad as Saddam was, he wasn't as bad as Al-Qaeda, which is today taking over parts of Iraq in the power vacuum the U.S. itself created by ousting Saddam and then pulling out its troops after eight years of war. Remember, Al-Qaeda and Saddam didn't like each other. Al-Qaeda viewed Saddam as a reactionary dictator (which he was). Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq until after the U.S. invasion.

I'm not going to say I told you so. That would be taking advantage in a smug and petty way of a tragic situation, and I have no proof how events would have unfolded had we not ousted Saddam. I have no way of knowing how it would have worked had we done what I wanted, to work through the UN to constrain Iraq and impose sanctions of the kind we placed on Iran.

Perhaps Saddam would have fallen like the dictators of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt during the so-called "Arab Spring" uprisings, or perhaps the situation would mirror the current chaos in Syria that to date has claimed thousands of lives.

This much I do know. Without the weapons of mass destruction Bush and Chaney falsely claimed Saddam had, and they were selling the war to the compliant American people by claiming he possessed an A bomb and intended to use it on the United States. Without that, Iraq was not a direct threat to the U.S. What was described falsely as a "preemptive strike" and became a long war was unnecessary.

The central reason for the war did not exist.

America should only go to war when its national security is threatened for real.

I hate to say this but I will. In a country which can't admit a mistake or understand Murphy's Law, that anything that can go wrong sometimes will. A country that can't understand the limits of what military power can realistically hope to accomplish.

Because we had dishonest leaders, American soldiers died needlessly.

Go ahead and call me a traitor. It won't do you or the country any good.

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Updated May 10, 2017 9:58 AM EDT | More details

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