George Bush and the Decision to Invade Iraq

Looking at some old on line pictures of my first trip to Iraq I was thinking of current events triggering some opinions  I have harbored for a long time.  The rather small-scale missile  attack on a few Syrian targets, the predictable political fallout, and mostly ignorant “expert” pontification,  brought me back to the decision to invade and liberate Iraq. And I write liberate because it was a liberation. Bush made the right decision, and by staying the course I give him full marks. His decision to increase the troop levels when all the political heavy hitters were advising him to reduce our involvement was politically courageous.  A profusion of writers, journalists and self-proclaimed military and Middle East “experts” ( that word again) produced volumes of articles and books denouncing or belittling the decision…… “The war of choice”  as one of the more glib characterized it.  Many of these  won acclaim  from the “knowledge  class,”and some acquired quite a bit of money as well.   If there were contrary opinions  they were drowned in a torrent of sarcasm and contemptuous disbelief.

at saddam hunting club

CONTEMPLATING AT THE IRAQI SADDAM HUNTING CLUB JUNE 2003

After commending President Bush for those two decisions  I find little else for fulsome praise to bestow upon him.   He left the presidency and became “presidential”  a term invented to laud former presidents who go quietly into the sunset and bask in the glow of senior statesmen.  In reality what it meant was that Bush allowed the Obama administration people and Obama himself to trash the Iraqi war on a daily basis   If it were only a political attack on Bush, that should be considered just hardball politics, as is normal in American politics. But  by going AWOL after his tenure and hardly ever defending the liberation of Iraq, he left the field to all the elitists so entrenched in government, academia and journalism to create a “truism” that the war at best was a tragic mistake and at worst  moral depravity.

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One of Hunting clubs after missile strike

By his silence , his non-existent or tepid defense has inferred that the sacrifice of so many  was  worthless.   So much for being “presidential.”  Going to war was the right decision , the only decision that the leader of the free world could take. But by going into some sort of Greta  Garbo seclusion  and leaving the field of battle, Bush diminished the achievements  of the men he sent to war. Whether or not one believes the war was worthwhile, it seems pusillanimous to me that Bush walked away from the decision as if he no longer had a stake in it. It  allowed the Obama foreign  policy  amateurs to  make the calamitous  decision to  withdraw our fighting units from Iraq, inviting another eight years of war and a horrendous price paid by  Iraqi civilians. The removal of the U.S, troops from Iraq diminished our influence and allowed Iraqi Premier Nouri Al Maliki to stuff the army with incompetent leadership, his loyal supporters. That in turn gave rise to the Islamic State  and the Iraqi army humiliation at Mosul  in 2014 . Understand the fact that the core leadership of the ISIS were former Ba’thi army officers…. the same people the “experts” were so willing to have assume power in Iraq after Saddam was ousted. Iraq was plunged into the most bloody portion  of the war which continues to the this day. Pulling the troops out  was an easy political decision given that there were very few to provide a contrary view to the public.  Why throw  good money ( and lives)  after bad?  That was the prevailing opinion.

The top Bush advisors and officials all wrote books either claiming ignorance, poor intelligence, being conned by the Bush inner circle, or blaming each other. No loyalty. Bush’ book is a dreary narrative of meetings. No passion. No attack on the sophomoric nay sayers. The only exception was VP Cheney who stuck to his guns.

I heard so often that the American public was tired of the war. In my mind it was and is a ridiculous claim. Was there gas rationing? Did people have to use ration cards for food? I do not remember the millennials  in the clubs paying much attention to Iraqi news. After all only .5 % were involved in the war. For the overwhelming  mass of the American people it has no consequence one way or another …go stay…whatever.

saddam bust

Bust of Saddam “The Great Leader”  As one CIA “expert” wrote , we really did not need to to invade Iraq  because Saddam was deeply involved in writing love novels and no was  longer involved in his political thuggery.

Much of the American top military leadership in Iraq were inept, but  they too  avoided responsibility for the  course of the war. Reading their books is often more painful than enlightening.  There were exceptions but for years, too few to make a difference or they were not at the right place at the right time. For example, It took years for the military leadership to figure out how to secure the road from the airport to Baghdad. How credible to the journalists were  the claims  of U.S. success when  they did not feel safe traveling the road from the airport to the Green zone?

middle east experts

As the war progressed I noticed how many generals and journalists became anthropologists  and Academics became counter-insurgency strategists.

finally I am happy that the State  Department saw fit to honor a particularly courageous lady who saved many lives oy young cadets when their base was overrun by ISIS savages

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As a Vietnam veteran I am at least glad that the troops  returning from Iraq are  not  being harangued as “baby killers”  as many of us were.  In fact the pendulum may have swung a bit  too far in the other direction when I read of “heroes” returning from six months of duty in Kuwait.

About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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2 Responses to George Bush and the Decision to Invade Iraq

  1. Connie Piper says:

    HI dear Tex, as usual I adore reading your postings. If more people had moral courage to speak out we wouldn’t get into so much trouble, right? Obama getting our Forces out of Iraq was a HUGE SIN; he and his cronies are to blame for US and Iraqi civilians (on our side) deaths. As you know, my Chris was there, and he almost died on that road going to the airport. Connie Piper

    Like

  2. Tex says:

    Thanks Connie. I wish more observers and writers on the Middle East would try to separate themselves from the group think that plagues Academia.

    Like

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