Have you stopped to think what the world would look like if we hadn’t gone into Iraq? Well, let’s take a look at what Iraq and it leader, Saddam Hussein, were up to at the time, because if you want to see the future you need to look at the past.1 – First and foremost, I would guess, should be the Weapons of Mass Destruction issue. After all, its IS one of the main reasons we went after them in the first place. We knew after the end of the first Gulf War that Iraq possessed and used WMD’s. They openly used those weapons against the Kurds, Shiite’s and others of those that rose up against it. WE and the world (through the UN) insisted that it disarm and dispose of its WMD’s. We took the possession of WMD’s by Iraq very seriously as they had shown that they had no qualms using those weapons against its enemy’s, as they had used them against Iran in the previous war with them.
Various pressures and sanctions were placed on Iraq by the Clinton administration in order to get them to stop producing and do away with its stockpile of WMD’s. Finally, after much wrangling with the issue, Iraq agreed to stop its WMD program also dispose of the weapons it already possessed. A UN Inspection Team was formed and sent into Iraq to monitor its progress. This team, while able to observe, inspect and document the dismantling of most of its program, and the destruction of many of the weapons known to exist, was unable to say with any amount of certainty that Iraq had stopped its program 100%, and many of those weapons known to exist went unaccounted for. Iraq stalled, misdirected, and outright refused access to many of the documents and facilities that the inspection team wanted to see. Iraq chalked many of the missing weapons up to there destruction not being documented. The monitors where forced to watch as truckloads of whatever were removed from depots and storage facilities before they were allowed in, often to find only empty buildings. The weapons Inspectors felt that Saddam was trying to pull a fast one. Even up until the point of their being withdrawn the UN Inspection Team felt that with more time Weapons of Mass Destruction WOULD and COULD be found.
One of the key issues about Iraq and WMD’s was their continuing ability to construct them. The leadership and scientists that had worked on those programs were still in place and new weapons could have easily been manufactured. Had we not gone into Iraq, Saddam could have easily expelled the inspectors (as he had in the past) and restarted production unencumbered. And with the terrorist community craving weapons of this type, its perhaps a market that Hussein, with his known support for them, could not have resisted.
After we invaded many of the scientists that worked on WMD’s were found to have the base ingredients for those weapons stored away at their own homes. These scientist, still loyal to Saddam, could have easily destroyed those elements, but instead chose to keep and conceal them, and one can only speculate as to why and what future purpose.
It should be noted here that approximately 500 of those missing WMD’s for which the inspection teams searched (those known to exist prior and for which no documentation existed) have been found in Iraq.
It should also be noted that while Hussien did declare the he had no WMD’s he kept indicating through innuendo and actions that he did possess them. Both the past administration as well as the present were equally adamant in their belief that Iraq still possessed WMD’s. In fact no Western government took issue with the thought that WMD’s existed in Iraq, only the amount of time to be allowed for the search for them.
2 – Second would be Saddam Hussiens outspoken support of terrorist around the world. He gave moral support to the Palestinian Suicide Bombers and monetary support to the families of those bombers. Saddam continued saber rattling and threatening his neighbors. He tried to rally support to become the leader of the Arab world and he openly advocated the overthrow of several of the moderate Governments in that region. He proved during the First Gulf War that he had no problem attacking a fellow Arab country as he launched several missiles against Saudi Arabia. He also launched missiles against Israel with the hopes that Israel would retaliate and draw the anti-Israeli states into the conflict against us.
While Saddam Hussien did not like Osama Bin Ladan and al Quada, nor their form of Islamic fundamentalism, he did make overtures to them in an offer to explore how he may support them. Bin Ladan and al Quada did not support Hussien and rebuffed his overtures, only setting up a few training facilities in Iraq. However, some of the medical facilities in Baghdad are thought to have been used by wounded al Quada fighters from Afghanistan, and this most certainly would have required his approval.
3 – Saddam brutally invaded his neighbor Kuwait in a land grab to gain its oil wealth. Saddam viewed the United States and the west as weak and did not think we would dare retaliate. He thinks of himself as a great strategist, and brilliant leader worthy of a place of leadership in the world politic.
4 – After the First Gulf War, beaten as they were, Saddam proclaimed that Iraq was victorious in its war with the coalition led by us. He would often direct surface to air missiles be fired at aircraft patrolling the no fly zones set up to protect the Kurds in the north and coalition interests and Shiites in the south of Iraq. He also plotted and attempted to have ex-President Bush assassinated on a trip to the Middle East.
5 – Saddam Hussien rose to power through shrewdness and murder. In his early years he studied and admired Adolph Hitler. He earned his political strips working as a killer and terrorist. After (on the same day) he took power he had virtually any and all of the people that might turn against him killed. He maintained power through a secret police he had formed and a cold blooded iron grip on the population. He placed family and personal friends into positions of power in Iraq and ruled it absolutely as a dictator. He advocated the use of torture and killing in controlling the Iraqi population. He placed his children into positions of power that even included their murdering of those they disliked. One is even said to have had Iraqi Olympic Athletes tortured and killed for their performance. One of them killed his best friend just for fun, its reported. After our invasion torture chambers and rooms designed and used to rape women where found. Saddam showed no favor even to his own family as he had some of his own children’s spouses killed. The mass killing of his own countrymen was ordered by him. Even young children were not spared in retaliation to those he though opposed him. Mass graves of Iraqi civilians have been found all over Iraq.
Upon his overthrow, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis rejoiced in the streets and took retribution against Saddam’s Palaces and government institutions in reaction to thier repressed hatred of him. Looting and destroying in an unexpected and shocking outpouring of pent up rage against him and his government.
6 – Animosity , rivalry, and outright hatred between the various sect of Muslims has been brewing in the region for years. Though out the area Shiites, Sunnis, and other sects have been vying for dominance, and a rise in fundamentalism, Wahabbi, and Shuria Islamic ideas has been clashing with the more traditional Islamic leadership and governments in the region. The rise of the Talaban in Afghanistan along with the growth of al Quada and its radical fundamentalism was a growing threat, not only to the west, but to the stability of the region as a whole. In Iraq, this rivalry had been held somewhat in check by gunpoint, with the minority Sunni allowed to dominate the other sects. Iran, dominated by Shiites, was a destabilizing force, which while the Shiite population was initially celebratory of our liberation of the, used its considerable influence to turn many against us. Much of the sectarian violence has been stirred by outside influences that are taking advantage of the immaturity of the government there. While overwhelming support for our over-throw of Hussein was shown in the beginning, old and new rivalries vie for control and payback for wrongs both perceived and real. Our attempts at maintaining civil control has been construed by those that opposed us as proof of an attempted domination of the country by us. Al Quada has sought to use the instability there in there terror campaign against the west, bringing many of there fighters to the region, opening another front on our war against them. Nationalistic and sectarian pride has been used by those that wish to control or dominate different regions or parts of the area, or those that seek to create an anti-western atmosphere there.
Strengthening the new bipartisan government and training a adequate military and police force has been chosen as the best way to return the country to normalcy and allow democracy to function in the country. An successful democracy with the active participation by the different sects in the region will do much to counter the anti-western views held by many of the Muslims of the region and help bring about better and more normal relations with the west.
Now, let’s explore what might have been, had we not gone into Iraq.
Sure it’s all speculation, but the continued support for terrorists by Saddam Hussein could also most assuredly be guaranteed. Nothing has happened that would have changed Saddam’s views toward Israel, the United States, and the west. It’s highly probable that Iraq would have become another safe haven for known terrorist groups such as al Quada and the Talaban. Saddam had approached them before, and a safe, protected, training ground and a place for some R&R might not have been so easily rebuffed as the Afghanistan expedition went foreword. Iraq still had business relations with Russia, France, and Germany, and with the Oil for Peace fiasco continuing, Saddam most probably would have kept the resources to fund terrorism around the world.
Hussien may have seen an opportunity to become aggressive toward Iran or Kuwait again. If not with full intention to invade, just as an aggravation to us as we fight the war against terrorism.
Hussien would have certainly continued using his bully pulpit in rallying uprisings against the moderate Governments of the Middle East.
Hussien would have certainly continued his support for terrorist activity in Israel, possibly using the latest Israeli/ Lebanon /Hezbollah conflict as pretext to attack Israel hoping to start a war in the whole of the region.
The front for the fight on terrorism would not be confined to a very few limited geographic areas, but spread throughout the capitals and cities of Europe and America.
Libya would most probably not have renounced terrorism, given up its WMD program, and approached us to regain normalcy in government relations.
Above all else, almost certainly Iraq would have started production of WMD’s again. He still had all of his scientist and family in place that had run the program beforehand. He would have been hard pressed resisting his cousins call to at least produce on a limited, covert basis. And an almost certainty, too, would have been the placement of those weapons into the hands of terrorist to attack Israel and, most probably, us here at home. And their use somewhere on the battlefield would, too, almost be guaranteed.
The anti-western and anti-American sentiment in the region would have continued, with fundamentalism and radicalism spreading unchecked, without any chance of spreading democracy in the region.
Almost guaranteed too, Saddam would still be terrorizing his own people. Raping, torturing, and killing those that opposed him, and adding to those 300,000+ in mass graves we found there.
Bottom line on Iraq is this: Whether he possessed WMD’s at the time of the invasion or not, he had the capability and expertise to easily construct them. Would or could the world trust him not to use them himself, or supply them to terrorist to use against us? We know Saddam wanted to be THE main player on the world stage. We chose not to trust him.