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Brief Review of Events That Led Up To 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq

April 2018
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Previous to the first Persian Gulf War, otherwise known as Operation Desert Storm (2 Aug. 1990 – 28 Feb. 1991), Saddam Hussein was already known to the international community for pursuing an extensive biological weapons program, as well as his use of such weapons against Iranian and Kurdish civilians in the 1980s. In response to Iraq’s/Saddam Hussein’s belligerent acts of aggression against Kuwait, President G. H.W. Bush, father of George W. Bush, with the blessings of the U.N. launched a U.S. led invasion of coalition forces against Iraq/Saddam Hussein on 2 Aug. 1990. After little more than 6 months the war ended in a ceasefire 28 Feb. 1991 and the United Nations Security Counsel (UNSC) passed Resolution 660, which condemned Iraq’s aggressive actions against Kuwait and demanded that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally to positions that it held on 1 August 1990. In addition, UNSC Resolution 678 was adopted to back up other UNSC Resolutions (661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674 and 677also passed within that same year to try and control Iraq/Saddam Hussein from further transgressions. It had been determined early that regardless of their efforts, Hussein would forever be a problem child and continue to defy the Security Council. USNC Resolution 678 is an update of Security Council resolution 660 and ultimately gives,

authorization for invasion. Authorizes Member States to use all necessary means to bring Iraq into compliance with previous Security Council resolutions if it did not do so by 15 January 1991. 

Following the Persian Gulf War, the United Nations located and destroyed large quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons and related equipment and materials throughout the early 1990s, with varying degrees of Iraqi cooperation and obstruction. Then in the summer of 1995, Kamel Hussein, a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, member of the inner circle and one of Iraq’s highest-ranking officials defected along with his brother, their wives, both daughters of Saddam Hussein and all their children to Jordan. There he told CIA, British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors that before the Gulf War, Iraq came very close to producing a nuclear weapon and other biological nerve agents, to include the VX. However, by the time of his escape, Kamel Hussein testified that all chemical and biological weapons stocks, as well as the missiles to deliver them had been destroyed. Then in Feb. 1996, in a fatal lapse of judgment they all returned to Iraq, supposedly after Saddam Hussein had promised all of them a pardon.  What were they thinking? Immediately, both of Saddam’s daughters were quickly divorced from the Kamel brothers who were killed less than 24 hours later.  For more details of how the drama played out and what could almost read like ‘Old Testament’ revenge, click here.

Yet, even with Kamel Hussein’s declaration that Saddam’s stockpiles of nuclear ambition and biological weapon’s had been destroyed, doubt still persisted, because Saddam Hussein continued to play games, because he wanted the world to think that he possessed such weapons. Therefore, in response to diminishing Iraqi cooperation with UNSCOM, the U.S. called for withdrawal of all UN and International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) inspectors in 1998, and President Bill Clinton authorized Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets from (Dec. 16, 1998 – Dec. 19, 1998) by the U.S. and U.K.  Unfortunately, the spanking did not bother Hussein enough to change his ways.

However, the answer to why Saddam Hussein continued to play games about it’s “nuclear arsenal” with UN inspectors came later, after his capture and subsequent interrogations by American forces. In the end he regretted his decision of not permitting the United Nations to witness the destruction of Iraq’s weapons stockpile after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as “a zealot” and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda.  2 July 2009, Glenn Kessler, Washington Post

This same article by Kessler in the Washington Post also gives a little sympathetic insight into a despot, known for his cruelty. Perhaps if not for feelings of isolation and flawed judgment, Saddam Hussein was not without some understanding that Washington and Bagdad might have been able to agree on.

Hussein replied that throughout history there had been conflicts between believers of Islam and political leaders. He said that “he was a believer in God but was not a zealot . . . that religion and government should not mix.” Hussein said that he had never met bin Laden and that the two of them “did not have the same belief or vision.”

Below is a video from a CBS “60 Minutes” interview with one of Hussein’s interrogators, George L. Piro.

With America’s Armed Forces already engaged in Afghanistan, by January 2002 the Bush administration started to push for international support for an invasion of Iraq and urged the U.N. to enforce Iraqi mandates of disarmament. On 11 August. 2002, the USNC passed Resolution 1441 which demanded the government of Iraq/Saddam Hussein’s total cooperation with UN weapon inspectors to verify that they were not in possession of any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). During this period United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMDs, but remained unsure of Iraq’s claims concerning the weapons it did possessed. Such controversy over the efficacy of inspections and lapses in Iraqi compliance created too much uncertainty. Therefore, Chief inspector, Hans Blix, estimated that it would take many more months to verify and possibly disarm any weapons that did turn up.  So on 5 Feb. 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell tried but failed to gain U.N. support from the UNSC for additional UN authorization. Consequentlydespite pleas for more time to complete their tasks the UN inspection teams departed Iraq upon U.S. advisement, just four days prior to the invasion. With the clock ticking on this dilemma a Commander in Chief who has threatened military action must consider the well fare of his troops in terms of victory against the heat of a Mesopotamian summer. Therefore, to ensure better chances for success, o20 March 2003 the U.S., together with the UK and small contingents from Australia, Peshmerga (forces of Kurdistan), Poland, and Denmark launched an invasion under the authority of UN Security Council Resolutions 660 and 678. 

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