Edited by Gerald Boerner

    

    
Commentary:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbFollowing the events of September 11, 2001, the United States along with the United Kingdom and some support from NATO, fought the War on Terrorism. Yesterday, we dealt with the initial thrust against Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Two years later, the US took evidence (which may have been only partially true) that Saddam Hussein and Iraq was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction to use as a terror weapon. both within the region and internationally. The UN Security Council eventually passed Resolution 1441. With that resolution in hand, George W. Bush proceeded to prepare for the invasion of Iraq even though he did not have an Arab coalition behind him.

Bush_announces_Operation_Iraqi_Freedom_2003

The Iraq War of 2003 was named Operation Shock and Awe. It was designed to neutralize the Iraqi Republican Guard with a coordinated attack by stealth fighters, cruise missiles, and motorized heavy armor. After the initial victory over the government of Saddam Hussein, the war turned into an ongoing battle to keep the peace. The Iraqi opposition groups fought using a variety of modern weapons, and a new type of weapon — the IED, Improvised Explosive Device. These devices caused a bulk of the injuries and deaths among our service personnel.

Was this a just military action? Personally, I do not think so. Our goals in entering Iraq were not based upon the proffered discovery of Weapons of Mass Destruction. But, that is my opinion; I admonish you to examine this military action, that has lasted ten years now, to determine for yourself if it was justified. None the less, those brave men and women who have been injured, lost limbs, or have given their lives for their country should be welcomed back home with open arms and given the respect of one who has put his or her all on the line of battle.

But now let’s jump into the exploration of the Iraq War, and determine if it really fought against the spread of terrorism in the world… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3834 Words ]
    

    

Quotations Related to Veterans Day:

    

“This was not an act of terrorism, but it was an act of war.”
— George W. Bush

“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
— Noam Chomsky

“If Clinton had only attacked terrorism as much as he attacks George Bush we wouldn’t be in this problem.”
— Dennis Miller

“This is not a battle between the United States of America and terrorism, but between the free and democratic world and terrorism.”
— Tony Blair

“Terrorism has once again shown it is prepared deliberately to stop at nothing in creating human victims. An end must be put to this. As never before, it is vital to unite forces of the entire world community against terror.”
— Vladimir Putin

“I think what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A. I wouldn’t say it’s the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts.”
— Jimmy Carter

“I’m as frustrated with the French, I think, as anyone, but look, there’s going to be other challenges and there are going to be other issues. As long as there’s a war on terrorism going on, we’re all going to have to work together.”
— John McCain

“Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism have reduced the pace of military transformation and have revealed our lack of preparation for defensive and stability operations. This Administration has overextended our military.”
— Barack Obama

    

Veterans Day: Remembering the War against Terrorism — Iraq…

    

    
War_on_Terror_montage1The War on Terrorism (also referred to as the Global War on Terror, World War III, World War IV, or Overseas Contingency Operation) is the common term for the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against Islamic terrorism and Islamic militants, and was specifically used in reference to operations by the United States, the United Kingdom and its allies since the September 11, 2001 attacks’ and later the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

The stated objectives of the war in the US are to protect the citizens of the US and allies, to protect the business interests of the US and allies at home and abroad, break up terrorist cells in the US, and disrupt the activities of the international network of terrorist organizations made up of a number of groups under the umbrella of al-Qaeda.

Both the term and the policies it denotes have been a source of ongoing controversy, as critics argue it has been used to justify unilateral preemptive war, human rights abuses and other violations of international law. In March 2009, the Obama administration requested that Pentagon staff members avoid use of the term, instead using "Overseas Contingency Operation". The administration has re-focused US involvement in the conflict on the withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan.

Iraq_header_2The Iraq War, also known as the Occupation of Iraq or Operation Iraqi Freedom, is an ongoing military campaign which began on March 19, 2003, with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force led by troops from the United States and the United Kingdom beginning on March 20, 2003.

Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies. In 2002, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with U.N. weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Weapons inspectors found no evidence of WMD, but could not verify the accuracy of Iraq’s weapon declarations. At the time Hans Blix, the lead weapons inspector, advised the UN Security Council that while Iraq was cooperating in terms of access, Iraq’s declarations with regards to WMD still could not be verified.
    

    

Background

    

The Iraq War (or War in Iraq) began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by the United States under the administration of President George W. Bush and the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The war is also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the US military.

George-W-BushPrior to the invasion, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom asserted that the possibility of Iraq employing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threatened their security and that of their coalition/regional allies. In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that it was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction and cruise missiles. The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was given access by Iraq under provisions of the UN resolution but found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Additional months of inspection to conclusively verify Iraq’s compliance with the UN disarmament requirements were not undertaken. Head weapons inspector Hans Blix advised the UN Security Council that while Iraq’s cooperation was "active", it was not "unconditional" and not "immediate". Iraq’s declarations with regards to weapons of mass destruction could not be verified at the time, but unresolved tasks concerning Iraq’s disarmament could be completed in "not years, not weeks, but months".

Following the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical, and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion but that Iraq intended to resume production once sanctions were lifted. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been the main argument to justify the invasion. Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found. Other reasons for the invasion given by the governments of the attacking countries included Iraq’s financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, Iraqi government human rights abuse, and an effort to spread democracy to the country.

WeaponsInspectorA UN weapons inspector in Iraq
    

The invasion of Iraq led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Saddam, who was later tried in an Iraqi court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups soon led to the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and the emergence of a new faction of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2008, the UNHCR reported an estimate of 4.7 million refugees (~16% of the population) with 2 million abroad (a number close to CIA projections) and 2.7 million internally displaced people. In 2007, Iraq’s anti-corruption board reported that 35% of Iraqi children, or about five million children, were orphans. The Red Cross stated in March 2008 that Iraq’s humanitarian situation remained among the most critical in the world, with millions of Iraqis forced to rely on insufficient and poor-quality water sources.

In June 2008, U.S. Department of Defense officials claimed security and economic indicators began to show signs of improvement in what they hailed as significant and fragile gains. In 2007, Iraq was second on the Failed States Index; though its ranking has steadily improved since then, moving to fifth on the 2008 list, sixth in 2009, and seventh in 2010. As public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take responsibility for security, member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces. In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through January 1, 2012. The Iraqi Parliament also ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S., aimed at ensuring cooperation in constitutional rights, threat deterrence, education, energy development, and other areas.

State_of_the_Union2003 State of the Union Address given by President George W. Bush
    

In late February 2009, newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for combat forces, with approximately 50,000 troops remaining in the country "to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to provide intelligence and surveillance". General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, said he believes all U.S. troops will be out of the country by the end of 2011, while UK forces ended combat operations on April 30, 2009. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said he supports the accelerated pullout of U.S. forces. In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country." Beginning September 1, 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New Dawn." The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops are now designated as "advise and assist brigades" assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary. Two combat aviation brigades also remain in Iraq. According to the Associated Press, however, "combat in Iraq is not over," and "U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended."

However on October 21, 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end.

    

Alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction

    
Yellowcake Uranium

Before the Gulf War, in 1990, Iraq had stockpiled 550 short tons (500 t) of yellowcake uranium at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex about 20 kilometers (12 mi) south of Baghdad. In late February 2002, the CIA sent former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to investigate reports (later found to be forgeries) that Iraq was attempting to purchase additional yellowcake from Niger. Wilson returned and informed the CIA that reports of yellowcake sales to Iraq were "unequivocally wrong." The Bush administration, however, continued to allege Iraq’s attempts to obtain additional yellowcake were a justification for military action, most prominently in the January 2003, State of the Union address, in which President Bush declared that Iraq had sought uranium, citing British intelligence sources.

In response, Wilson wrote a critical New York Times op-ed piece in June 2003 stating that he had personally investigated claims of yellowcake purchases and believed them to be fraudulent. After Wilson’s op-ed, Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was publicly identified as an undercover CIA analyst by a columnist. This led to a Justice Department investigation into the source of the leak.

TenetTenet (left, in pink tie) in the Oval Office with
President George W. Bush.
    

On May 1, 2005, the "Downing Street memo" was published in The Sunday Times. It contained an overview of a secret July 23, 2002, meeting among British government, Ministry of Defence, and British intelligence figures who discussed the build-up to the Iraq war—including direct references to classified U.S. policy of the time. The memo stated, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

In September 2002, the Bush administration, the CIA and the DIA said attempts by Iraq to acquire high-strength aluminum tubes that were prohibited under the UN monitoring program and which they said pointed to a clandestine effort to make centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. This analysis was opposed by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and INR, which was significant because of DOE’s expertise in such gas centrifuges and nuclear weapons programs. The DOE and INR argued that the Iraqi tubes were poorly suited for centrifuges, though it was technically possible with additional modification. A report released by the Institute for Science and International Security in 2002 reported that it was highly unlikely that the tubes could be used to enrich uranium.

    
Poison Gas

The CIA had contacted Iraq’s foreign minister, Naji Sabri, who was being paid by the French as an agent. Sabri informed them that Saddam had hidden poison gas among Sunni tribesmen, had ambitions for a nuclear program but that it was not active, and that no biological weapons were being produced or stockpiled, although research was underway. According to Sidney Blumenthal, George Tenet briefed Bush on September 18, 2002, that Sabri had informed them that Iraq did not have WMD. Bush dismissed this top-secret intelligence from Hussein’s inner circle which was approved by two senior CIA officers. The information was never shared with Congress or CIA agents examining whether Saddam had such weapons.

    
Biological Weapons

Based on reports obtained by the German intelligence service from an Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball", Colin Powell presented evidence to the United Nations security council that Iraq had an active biological weapons program. On February 15, 2011, the defector—a scientist identified as Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janafi—admitted to journalists working for The Guardian newspaper that he lied to the Bundesnachrichtendienst in order to strengthen the case against Saddam Hussein, whom he wished to see removed from power.

    
Result

In December 2009, former Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that he "would still have thought it right to remove [Saddam Hussein]" regardless of whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or not.

… [MORE]

    

Preparations for Iraq War

    

During 2002 the amount of ordnance used by British and American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones of Iraq increased compared to the previous years and by August had "become a full air offensive". Tommy Franks, the allied commander, later stated that the bombing was designed to "degrade" the Iraqi air defense system before an invasion.

Bush_auth_jbcPresident George Bush, surrounded by leaders of the
House and Senate, announces the Joint Resolution to
Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces
Against Iraq, October 2, 2002.
    

In October 2002, a few days before the U.S. Senate voted on the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, about 75 senators were told in closed session that Iraq had the means of attacking the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. with biological or chemical weapons delivered by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs.) On February 5, 2003, Colin Powell presented further evidence in his Iraqi WMD program presentation to the UN Security Council that UAVs were ready to be launched against the U.S. At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the U.S. military and intelligence communities as to whether CIA conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate and other intelligence agencies suggested that Iraq did not possess any offensive UAV capability, saying the few they had were designed for surveillance and intended for reconnaissance. The Senate voted to approve the Joint Resolution with the support of large bipartisan majorities on October 11, 2002, providing the Bush administration with a legal basis for the U.S. invasion under U.S. law.

The resolution granted the authorization by the Constitution of the United States and the United States Congress for the President to command the military to fight anti-United States violence. Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement. The authorization was signed by President George W. Bush on October 16, 2002.

Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix remarked in January 2003 that "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance—not even today—of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace." Among other things he noted that 1,000 short tons (910 t) of chemical agent were unaccounted for, information on Iraq’s VX nerve agent program was missing, and that "no convincing evidence" was presented for the destruction of 8,500 liters (1,900 imp gal; 2,200 US gal) of anthrax that had been declared.

Powell-anthrax-vialUnited States Secretary of State Colin Powell holding
a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation
to the United Nations Security Council
    

In the 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush said "we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs". On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the UN to present American evidence that Iraq was hiding unconventional weapons. The French government also believed that Saddam had stockpiles of anthrax and botulism toxin, and the ability to produce VX. In March, Blix said progress had been made in inspections, and no evidence of WMD had been found. Iraqi scientist Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi codenamed "Curveball", admitted in February 2011, that he lied to the CIA about biological weapons in order to get the US to attack and remove Hussein from power.

In early 2003, the U.S., British, and Spanish governments proposed the so-called "eighteenth resolution" to give Iraq a deadline for compliance with previous resolutions enforced by the threat of military action. This proposed resolution was subsequently withdrawn due to lack of support on the UN Security Council. In particular, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members France, Germany and Canada and non-NATO member Russia were opposed to military intervention.

… [MORE]

    

2003: Invasion

    

The first Central Intelligence Agency invasion team entered Iraq on July 10, 2002. This team was composed of members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division and was later joined by members of the U.S. military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Together, they prepared for the invasion of conventional forces. These efforts consisted of persuading the commanders of several Iraqi military divisions to surrender rather than oppose the invasion, and to identify all of the initial leadership targets during very high risk reconnaissance missions.

Most importantly, their efforts organized the Kurdish Peshmerga to become the northern front of the invasion. Together this force defeated Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan before the invasion and then defeated the Iraqi army in the north. The battle against Ansar al-Islam led to the death of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a chemical weapons facility at Sargat.

M1abrams_UmmQasrM1 Abrams tank fires its 120mm cannon at Iraqi
forces during fighting in Al-Faw peninsula near Umm
Qasr, 23 March 2003.
    

At 5:34 a.m. Baghdad time on March 20, 2003 (9:34 p.m., March 19 EST) the military invasion of Iraq began. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, led by U.S. Army General Tommy Franks, began under the codename "Operation Iraqi Liberation", later renamed "Operation Iraqi Freedom", the UK codename Operation Telic, and the Australian codename Operation Falconer. Coalition forces also cooperated with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north. Approximately forty other governments, the "U.S.-led coalition against Iraq," participated by providing troops, equipment, services, security, and special forces, with 248,000 soldiers from the United States, 45,000 British soldiers, 2,000 Australian soldiers and 194 Polish soldiers from Special Forces unit GROM sent to Kuwait for the invasion. The invasion force was also supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upwards of 70,000.

The stated objectives of the invasion were; end the Hussein regime; eliminate whatever weapons of mass destruction could be found; eliminate whatever Islamist militants could be found; obtain intelligence on militant networks; distribute humanitarian aid; secure Iraq’s petroleum infrastructure; and assist in creating a representative but compliant government as a model for other Middle East nations.

T-54s,_T-55s,_Type_59s_or_Type_69s_at_Diwaniyah,_IraqDestroyed remains of Iraqi Tanks near Al Qadisiyah,
Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
    

The invasion was a quick and decisive operation encountering major resistance, though not what the U.S., British and other forces expected. The Iraqi regime had prepared to fight both a conventional and irregular war at the same time, conceding territory when faced with superior conventional forces, largely armored, but launching smaller scale attacks in the rear using fighters dressed in civilian and paramilitary clothes. This achieved some temporary successes and created unexpected challenges for the invading forces, especially the U.S. military.

… [MORE]

    

    

    

    

    

    

Please take time to further explore more about Veterans Day, War on Terror, Iraqi War, Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction, UN Security Council Resolution 1441, George W. Bush, 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Terrorism by accessing the Wikipedia articles referenced below. In most cases, the text in the body of this post has been selectively excerpted from the articles; footnotes and hyperlinks have been removed for readability…

    

    

References

    

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: Veterans Day…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day

Wikipedia: War on Terror…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Terror

Wikipedia: Iraqi War…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_War

Wikipedia: Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

Wikipedia: UN Security Council Resolution 1441…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resolution_1441

Wikipedia: George W. Bush…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush

Wikipedia: 2003 invasion of Iraq…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq

Wikipedia: Terrorism…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism

Brainy Quote: Veterans Day Quotes…
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/veterans_day.html

    

Other Posts on related Topics:

Prof. Boerner’s Explorations: Revisiting Archives — Veterans Day: America’s Foreign Wars…
http://www.boerner.net/jboerner/?p=15194

Prof. Boerner’s Explorations: Veterans Day: War against Terror — Iraq and Afghanistan…
http://www.boerner.net/jboerner/?p=4253