15 Results from the Iraq War Started 15 Years Ago

Here are 15 results from the Iraq War, which President George W. Bush launched 15 years ago:

1. As a veteran – Cold War generation – I sometimes use the VA Hospital in Long Beach. Every time I go there, I see a young man suffering injuries from the war, such as blown-off limbs. Once I saw a young guy, about 25, who was a paraplegic in a wheel chair. No doubt others I see suffer from PTSD.

2. The war showed America was a “paper tiger,” as the ChiComs used to say. Its military, which Neocons in the 1990s dubbed the Sole Remaining Superpower, failed in the war they pushed more than any others. Contrast that with what would have happened if Bush, the day of his invasion, instead announced to the American people, “I have ordered our brave young men and women to stand down. I still don’t trust Saddam. And we’ll be working for regime change. He’s a tyrant. But war is a serious matter. He has complied with getting rid of this weapons of mass destruction, as far as we can tell.”

3. Bush and Cheney, in their memoirs, admitted Saddam had no WMDs. Their excuse for the war: Bad intelligence. Yet Chronicles at the time ran articles maintaining there was no credible evidence he had kept his WMD. Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and other inspectors said they couldn’t find any after souring the country.

4. Here’s something I wrote for the Orange County Register on August 23, 2002, as Congress was debating the “authorization of force” bill, its unconstitutional substitute for the Declaration of War mandated by the Constitution. I wrote it as Bush came to Orange County for meetings, hoping he or his staff might read the editorial and wise up.

It concluded: “Commit U.S. forces only as a last resort.

“Diplomacy still works. Saddam has indicated that he is willing to allow arms inspectors back into his country. This avenue at least should be pursued seriously.

“In conclusion, the Weinberger-Powell doctrine means that, despite America’s overwhelming global military power, that power should not be used unwisely. It means seriously thinking through whether other means, especially diplomacy, can be used to achieve an objective, looking at all the ramifications of an action and formulating an exit strategy.

“War is not the first-reach answer, even in the new War on Terrorism, even as the anniversary date of the its horrific opening round [9/11] comes into view.”

5. Bush and the whole sycophantic military establishment were unprepared for Saddam’s switcheroo. They expected a repeat of the Gulf War, 1990-91, in which Saddam’s forces, following Soviet military doctrine and using Soviet equipment, buckled before America’s military, which after the Vietnam War had been retooled to defeat the Soviets in the Fulda Gap in Germany.

But in 2003, Saddam knew what was coming. So he repealed all his gun-control laws and handed out his weapons to his elite troops, who waged Fourth Generation War (non-state war), becoming the nucleus of ISIS. Perhaps Saddam heard Mao’s aphorism, “The people are the sea that the revolutionary swims in.”

6. When the war started going badly quickly, in the summer of 2003, Condi Rice, Rumsfeld and others said these were “dead enders” like the SS “Werewolves” at the end of the Third Reich in 1945. That was almost entirely fiction. At the time, I asked my late father about the Werewolves. He had occupied Bremen as a captain with the U.S. Army. “There weren’t any,” he said. “The German troops were glad to be alive and eager to go home to help their families.”

He also said the German POWs worked for the Americans building barracks, digging ditches, etc. The krauts even drove American truck transporters to and from work. The Americans had a simple way of keeping the prisoners in line: They said any POW who escaped and was captured would be turned over to the Russians or the French.

7. The cost of the war now has soared as high as $7 trillion. That could have paid for the entire U.S. federal budget – meaning no taxes – for two whole years.

8. Iraq’s ancient Christian civilization, going back to shortly after the times of the Apostles, and surviving 1,400 years of Muslim rule, was almost entirely destroyed.

9. Those who most vehemently supported the war suffered nothing. They include Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and so many other politicians. And such pundits as David Frum, a Neocon who in National Review branded as “unpatriotic conservatives” those who questioned the wars, such as Dr. Fleming. Yet the magazine’s own founder, Bill Buckley, later said the war was a mistake.

Earlier as a White House speechwriter, Frum stuffed the lying phrase “Axis of Evil” into Bush’s mouth, meaning Iraq, Iran and North Korea – even though Pyongyang is on the other side of the globe, and the other two just fought a war, 1980-88, that killed millions on both sides.

Frum, a premier fake “conservative,” eventually went back to his liberal roots and now writes for The Atlantic as one of the more rabid Never Trumpers. and has come out with a new book, “Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic.” Why does anyone take this chickenhawk seriously? Has he ever visited a VA hospital to comfort the troops he helped maim?

10. About 4,863 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq. That’s less than the 58,000 killed in Vietnam or 400,000 in World War II. But we should remember modern field medicine is so good many of those who would have died in earlier wars were saved, but spend the rest of their lives going in and out of VA hospitals. Total casualties, including wounded, are 36,710.

11. The number of Iraqis killed so far is estimated at 280,000, mostly civilians. For those who survived, Iraq remains a living hell.

12. The Iraq War set off a chain reaction of war and terror in the Middle East. In 2011, President Obama destroyed the Qaddafi regime in Iraq, even though the dictator was tamed and cooperating, and destabilized the Assad regime in Syria. The result has been chaos, mass murder and the exile of millions of people, mostly to Europe, permanently altering the continent’s character. In just one recent act of terror, illegal immigrants and far-left fanatics stormed the Basilica of Saint-Denis, which houses the remains of the French kings, including, of course, crusaders.

13. After carving up the Middle East with the French, in the 1920s the Brits used their usual imperial strategy of putting a minority in charge of a majority; in Iraq’s case, Sunni Muslims, especially Saddam’s tribe from Tikrit, ruled over the two-thirds of the country who were Shia Muslims. The war deposed the Sunnis, and put in charge the Shia – who are related to the Shia who run Iran – which has problems with the United States, of course.

14. In addition to the $7 billion cost, the war, as with Vietnam under President Johnson, was run on a “guns and butter,” with domestic spending also rising at a rate not seen since the LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s. The budget surpluses bequeathed to Bush by President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich soon turned into Bush deficits of $500 billion, then $1 trillion under Obama; and now the deficit is reaching to $1.1 trillion, much of it due to wild new military spending on the global empire.

15. Despite losing the Iraq War, America’s top generals – Kelly, McMaster and Mattis – have found top spots in the Trump Administration. If they were so great, why didn’t they warn the American people about the Iraq disaster by resigning their commissions in protest? Didn’t Trump say he only likes winners?

Here’s my Register editorial.

Introduction from the Register website on March 16, 2006:

Back on August 23, 2002, the Register ran an editorial that I wrote warning President Bush, who was visiting Orange County, that invading Iraq would prove to be a quagmire. We certainly were right about that one. Too bad he didn’t listen to us.

That was more than 6 months before he began the invasion. As this weekend marks the third anniversary of the beginning of this constitutional, military, political, and diplomatic disaster, I thought I’d republish the editorial here.

The edit appears below. (Note: Out of Cold War habit, I wrote “Kim Il Sung” when I meant “Kim Jong Il.”)

The editorial:

Powell Doctrine as applied to Iraq

President Bush comes to Orange County today for a variety of meetings, including a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon at the St. Regis hotel in Dana Point. The president arrives after Wednesday’s decision by him to loosen logging regulations in the nation’s forests in order to reduce the chance of fires. Environmentalists are critical, but his decision seems reasonable to us, especially given the intensity of recent fires and the need for better forest management.

But the big issue on the minds of Orange Countians, as with most Americans, is a possible war against Iraq with the goal of removing dictator Saddam Hussein.

In the clash of values, opinions and history that are so much a part of the debate, we believe it’s worthwhile to return to the six points of the Powell Doctrine on the proper use of U.S. military force to help sort the issues. The Powell Doctrine is sometimes called the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine because, as a military adviser in 1984, Secretary of State Colin Powell crafted it with then-Defense Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in the Reagan administration.

It was designed to avoid a quagmire like the Vietnam War that divided our country, killed thousands of American troops and Vietnamese, weakened the military and in the end was lost. It is not a doctrine of weakness, but rather of prudent strength.

We applied the six points in an editorial last Sept. 18, just after the 9/11 attack, and concluded that the requirements of the doctrine had been met for military action against the terrorists who attacked our country. Here’s how we see the six points concerning an attack on Iraq:

1. Commit only if our or our allies’ vital interests are at stake.

Saddam Hussein, though brutal, does not pose an immediate threat to his neighbors, nor to America. And despite a year of the government looking for proof, it has not shown any indisputable connection between Saddam and the 9/11 terrorists. Even National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, one of the hawkish members of the Bush administration, in a notably hawkish speech on Aug. 15, was cautious. “This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, all of us. [It] is a very powerful case for regime change … Clearly if Saddam Hussein is left in power doing the things that he is doing now this is a threat that will emerge, and emerge in a very big way.”

We added the italics to emphasize that even she doesn’t see this as a threat that exists today, but could develop in the future. There’s still time to find means other than war to defuse the problem.

2. If we commit, do so with all the resources necessary to win.

Some administration plans leaked to the press indicate only 80,000 troops might be used, dropped into cities to try to locate and kill Saddam. But as we noted in an editorial yesterday, U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton are preparing for deadly, complicated city fighting. Any more involved war would involve at least the 250,000 troops that more serious Pentagon strategists have discussed and a major mobilization of military and domestic resources. As Colin Powell said of the Gulf War, “I don’t want a strategy that might work; I want a strategy that will work.”

3. Go in only with clear political and military objectives.

Getting rid of a nasty dictator isn’t a good enough objective. Will Robert Mugabe, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro and dozens of other dictators also be removed?

In her case for getting rid of Saddam, Ms. Rice said, “History is littered with cases of inaction that led to grave consequences for the world.” But there also are cases where the proper action was not to attack, but to contain. Containment worked against Stalin and Mao, two mass-murdering dictators armed with nuclear weapons. Containment also has worked against Saddam since the 1991 Gulf War.

4. Be ready to change the commitment if the objectives change, since wars rarely stand still.

One of the major lessons of history is that wars never turn out as planned. Saddam’s troops might collapse quickly as they did in the desert in 1991. But this time, defending their own cities and families, they might be joined by civilian guerrillas and fight like the Somalians did in 1993. If this war spills over to other countries in the Middle East — Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia — what then would America’s commitment be? Would it involve more hundreds of thousands of American troops and hundreds of billions of dollars?

5. Only take on commitments that can gain the support of the American people and the Congress.

It is Americans whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters would die in a war. The people have a right to be heard on whether it’s necessary to make that sacrifice. In recent weeks, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Sen. Chuck Hagel and other members of Mr. Bush’s Republican Party have questioned the need to attack Saddam. We believe a declaration of war should be passed by Congress before any war. Before attacking Iraq in 1991, Mr. Bush’s father at least first got Congress to approve the use of “force.” His son should do no less.

Mr. Bush also should read “On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War,” by the late Col. Harry Summers, which described how the failure to gain the support of the American people through Congress led to the Vietnam debacle.

6. Commit U.S. forces only as a last resort.

Diplomacy still works. Saddam has indicated that he is willing to allow arms inspectors back into his country. This avenue at least should be pursued seriously.

In conclusion, the Weinberger-Powell doctrine means that, despite America’s overwhelming global military power, that power should not be used unwisely. It means seriously thinking through whether other means, especially diplomacy, can be used to achieve an objective, looking at all the ramifications of an action and formulating an exit strategy.

War is not the first-reach answer, even in the new War on Terrorism, even as the anniversary date of the its horrific opening round comes into view.

John Seiler

John Seiler

4 Responses

  1. Harry Colin says:

    An excellent piece…the 15th anniversary of this debacle provides ample opportunity to cite 15 “fruits” that have fallen to us. Sadly, even at the 50th anniversary – presuming we haven’t destroyed the planet yet through incessant war-mongering – there will be opportunity to get up to 50 more without a struggle.

    One of the worst outcomes of the Afghani and Iraqi conflicts is the horrific number of suicide among veterans. Because our Congress is both corrupt and inept, oversight and authorization of war falls to the executive branch and whomever holds sway over it. If our foreign adventures were properly debated, perhaps the obvious issue of overdeployment to war zones would get some attention. We are woefully short of the force structure necessary to play Globo-cop. Soldiers subject to multiple tours to these war-ravaged hellholes are going to crack. Yet it’s much easier to have fighter jet flyovers at NFL games and pass out “Support the Troops” hats and T-shirts than to seriously examine what the hell (pardon my Hungarian) we are doing with our military and foreign policy.

  2. Andrew G Van Sant says:

    When will our leaders (and all Americans) recognize that if we really support our troops we should stop putting them in harms way in foreign countries. We even put military dependents at risk in Korea and other areas.

    $7 Billion in item 14 should be $7 Trillion. See item 7.

  3. Robert Reavis says:

    Mr. Seiler,
    We are the post christian generation of Americans that not only initiated the unjust war and then stood by while Christians disappeared almost entirely from the ancient homelands they had occupied since the days of the New Testament but also elected a President who campaigned against the war as a foreign policy disaster but then just recently appointed one of the biggest cheerleaders for the unjust invasion and occupation as his new national security adviser.

  4. Ken Rosenberger says:

    And now we have John Bolton in the White House as National Security Adviser. Bush: the gift that keeps on giving. Does Trump even think of calling up Pat Buchanan (let alone someone like Dr Fleming) for advice anymore? Get ready for President Kamala Harris, 1/20/21.

    When the smoking guns were not found in Iraq, I seem to recall the Bushies’ defense: You can’t blame the president. EVERYONE thought Saddam had WMD! But, as Mr Seiler points out, plenty of good people (unpatriotic conservatives apparently) knew otherwise. And none of them (us) were even privy to the same intelligence the White House was receiving constantly. Which leads to the conclusion that the people in charge were either lying (evil) or stupid. Given the bipartisan support for the War, one can’t help but recall Sam Francis’s Law that stupid and evil both apply.

    And yet the Frums of the world keep getting better and better jobs, failing upward (it’s the American Dream!), and the prescient Cassandras continue to go unheeded and unrewarded. Ain’t democracy grand? I begin to think that only about twelve people in America should really have the franchise, and I don’t mean the Supreme Court.