by Chuck Norton
By happenstance I found myself helping a kind young lady get her car ready for a trip. I asked her where she was going and she said “Texas”. I asked “Anything fun?” and she answered, “I hope so. I am going to a retreat for military widows”. Something had taken away my breath. Then she let it all come out. Her husband was killed in Iraq and she has two young children, the youngest never got to meet her father.
I was crushed.
I was in the military during the first Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush. This was my generation’s war and it didn’t seem right that this sweet young lady standing in front of me had to pay the price.
How is this related to citizenship?
During my time our military was in Iraq with 500,000 men led by General “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf. We were in a MUCH better position to finish the job than President Bush the younger. But Bush the elder wanted to make the United Nations happy. You see the UN did not want to offend some Islamic countries by “allowing” the Christian United States oust an Arab dictator, no matter how bad he was. Since all George H.W. Bush could talk about in speeches was “the vision of the UN’s Founders” he complied with the UN and had our military pull out with the job unfinished.
Understand; “everyone” in the military knew that some day, some way, we would have to come back to finish the job. This was the topic of many a conversation between officer and enlisted alike.
President Bush the elder encouraged Saddam Hussien’s domestic enemies to try to oust him, but without our help they were simply outgunned. Saddam slaughtered many of the Kurds in the North and genocided the Marsh Arabs in the South. He want on a reign of terror rooting out his internal enemies. The result was hundreds of mass graves and it is estimated that his reign of terror resulted in 680,000 dead – and that is only counting Kurds and Shiites. Saddam went on to fund terrorist groups including the PLO and Al-Qaeda.
You cannot do evil and expect good to come of it. Take a moment to consider the suffering brought about by a decision to just make the easy choice.
George H.W. Bush was an “establishment guy”. The “establishment” GOP had always opposed Ronald Reagan and Reagan probably would have had a convention fight on his hands if he had rejected their insistence that George H.W. Bush be brought on to the ticket as Vice President. When Vice President Bush became President Bush (41) it did not take him long to abandon the Reagan legacy, raise taxes, get all “internationalist” on us and pretty much go back to big government business as usual, which is why he ended up being a one term president. So damaging was President Bush’s single term that even Mitt Romney was saying on television that “I don’t want to go back to the time of Reagan/Bush”.
It is my generation that let this happen and the consequences of our lazy citizenship was standing in front of me in the form of this sweet, heart broken young lady who is raising two children on her own. She told me of the fights she had with the VA and other benefits the government tried to deny her and her children. It took everything I had to hold back the tears. All I could do was apologize to her and take responsibility as I explained to her how my generation had dropped the ball. She graciously accepted my apology, but of course, she had figured out long ago the reality that had just hit me in the face.
Get along to go along, big government business as usual, can never be allowed to happen again. The consequences of allowing it to happen are dire and very real. I am grateful that a new generation of Americans is at trying to get the Republican Party back on track.
UPDATE – A reader sent us the following message:
Bigger factors were happening and had to be considered before we went against the UN mandate to get Iraq out of Kuwait. Don’t think if we would have gone in and removed him that the situation would have solved itself. WW3 was diverted by not going in in which saved thousands of lives. By containing him and restricting air space proved the best course of action. Remember at that time, The UN mandate was to get military forces out of Kuwait, not to overthrow a government. This was a joint action with members. ANY aggressive action with forces in the field would have prompted a HOLY war against western aggression. The surrounding countries to Iraq, were already at this time planning the breakup of Iraq and there oil reserves. This would have caused a power vacuum in the region as it did in the second gulf war. They knew this, so they avoided the aftermath by containment not invasion.
Also consider Israel which was another BIG factor in this. In the further study of tactics used and not used in desert storm need to be looked at but not by military means but by the other political, economical, territorial and cultural aspects of the region. The Pres did what he had to do and he did it.
Political Arena Editor responds – This was the spin and conventional thinking at the time, but as a matter of political science, and as a matter of history such a case is not very convincing. How often have “containment” policies stopped madmen from being madmen? With that said, while my piece was philosophical in nature, the challenge is more policy directed so I offered this policy response:
In other words, President H.W. Bush made a political decision to please the wrong people. Sir, there are five reasons in history, mostly recognized by international law, that cause a country to lose its sovereignty:
1 – If you invade other countries – /check2 – If you screw around with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) – /check3 – If you mass slaughter your own people – /check4 – If you fund terrorism/piracy – /check5 – If you violate a cease fire agreement – which Saddam did later
And then Saddam invented a 6th – Mass eco-terrorism when he lit up the oil wells and made a huge mess that the rest of the world had to clean up.
It would have been better to let a few countries in “the coalition” drop off and finish the job. I was in the military during that time as well, and “everybody” knew that we would have to go back. Why? because it was obvious that letting such an evil to fester was going to be a problem; understanding this even at the time wasn’t rocket science. I got out of the military in ’94 and I cannot count how many conversations I had about when circumstances would cause us to come back and finish the job.
I am well aware that we asked Israel to stand down – the whole Israeli angle – I get it. Sir it is called making a trough, but correct political decision when there are no “clean” answers.
The UN Mandate? Really? Really? Was this about defending an ally we had a treaty with (Kuwait) and preserving the Straight of Hormuz and preventing Saddam from invading Saudi Arabia and toppling the House of Saud – OR was it about trying to make the UN the super-sovereign?
So let us examine the consequences of President H.W. Bush’s decision and just look at what happened before the 2003 invasion.
1 – We left and Saddam wiped out the Marsh Arabs in the south (where was the UN then huh?)
2 – He made war on the pro-Western Kurds in the North of Iraq and even used chemical WMD’s on them – for which later we had to institute the no fly zone.
3 – Saddam continued to fund terror multiple terror groups including Al-Qaeda
4 – While Saddam destroyed and/or shipped out most of his WMD cache, he continued to actively pursue a long range missile program, preserved his WMD programs in static and was stockpiling raw materials in violation of the sanctions and the cease fire agreement, so he could go back into WMD production any time he wanted (I read the David Kay and Charles Duelfer Inspection Team Reports).
5 – After we left we encouraged elements inside Iraq to try and overthrow Saddam, but without much support from us, so they got wiped out. Saddam went on a purge that would have made Stalin green with envy. There are several estimates that Saddam killed up to 680,000 people he considered political enemies – NOTE – many of those people killed threw in their hat with us and/or were sympathetic to our first war with Iraq – and now they are in thousands of mass graves that are STILL being found to this day in Iraq. Of course there were also the political prisons and torture camps.
This is why history shows us time and time again that it is beyond foolish to let evil fester. I said this before the 2003 invasion and I am saying it now and I was far from the only one.
Quite simply – George H.W. Bush’s head was misguided from the get-go, his often stated desire of achieving the goals of the U.N.’s Founders was wrong headed to put it mildly. He broke the first rule of foreign policy, which is that there are no permanent allies, just permanent interests; and look at the good people who have been made to pay the price for that one very bad decision.