Part One of a three part series looking at the Iraq Debate, takes a look at the historical beginnings of this conflict.
If there is one issue polarizing our nation, it is the debate over our involvement in the war in Iraq. This issue has been hotly contested from the very beginning, prior to our ever entering into conflict with Saddam Hussein.
In this article we will examine the core issue that troubles so many Americans; the question of whether Iraq possessed WMD. Though this was one of 4 or 5 reasons for toppling Husseins regime, it is the one that has remained in the forefront of every mainstream media outlet for the last 4 years.
In order for any of us to make an informed opinion about Iraq, we need to become well informed as to how this administration made the decisions it did, regarding the existence of WMD's. It will also increase understanding of why Iran maintains its hostile position with us-at least in part.
According to Nathaniel Hurd (Campaign Against Sanctions) these facts are part of the events leading up to the Iraqi conflict, and the question of WMD's:
- "In 1980 the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency filed a report asserting that Iraq had been actively acquiring chemical weapons capacities for several years. [Subsequent events proved that this estimate was very likely correct.]
- In 1982 Iraqi forces reportedly started deploying chemical weapons against Iranian troops. In 1983 the use was reportedly greatly increased.
- In 1982 the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the U.S. State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism. This opened the gate to U.S. trade and support of Iraq during the war with Iran. In 1983 the Reagan administration secretly administered the channeling of U.S. aid to Iraq, after special envoy Donald Rumsfeld helped formally reestablish relations cut off in the Six-Day War of 1967.
The Washington Post reported that in 1984 the CIA secretly started feeding intelligence to the Iraqi army. This included assistance in targeting chemical weapons strikes. The same year it was confirmed beyond doubt by European doctors and U.N. expert missions that Iraq was employing chemical weapons against the Iranians.
Despite this the Reagan administration re-established full diplomatic ties with Iraq on 26 November the same year and continued supplying Iraq with intelligence and equipment.
With more than 100,000 Iranian soldiers as victims of Saddam Hussein's Chemical and Biological weapons during the eight-year war with Iraq, Iran today is the world's top afflicted country by Weapons of Mass Destruction, only after Japan.
The official estimate does not include the civilian population contaminated in bordering towns or the children and relatives of veterans, many of whom have developed blood, lung and skin complications, according to the Organization for Veterans." ref; Wikipedia-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction
It is estimated that more than 20,000 Iranian soldiers were killed immediately, with approximately 90,000 more surviving, and around 5,000 still needing treatment . Where did Saddam get the components for these chemical weapons? From France, Germany and the U.S. Because Iran feels strongly that our failure to immediately punish Saddam Hussein for the use of these agents, hostilities increased.
When an estimated 5,000 Kurds and Iranians in Halajba, Northern Iraq, between March 15-19, 1988, were found slaughtered by the use of poison gas, there was no immediate outcry from the international community. It wasn't until two years later, after we had pulled support away from Saddam, that this massacre was attributed to his regime. Yet here is a quote cited from terrorism central about this slaughter: TerrorismCentral states, "The poison gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja was the largest-scale chemical weapons (CW) attack against a civilian population in modern times.
The agents used included the nerve agents sarin, mustard gas, tabun, VX and a blood agent: hydrogen cyanide. Questions were raised as to whether this attack truly emanated from Iraq, or was it Iran, when CIA discovered traces of what appeared to be blood agents were found on shell casings. After extensive analysis, and close examination of all available data, it was concluded that Iraq was in fact responsible for the devestation.
These well documented historical facts clearly indicated a leader who was willing and able to deploy WMD's without compunction, as he saw fit. Iraq had agreed to and ratified a non -nuclear proliferation on October 29, 1991. It had not agreed to signing the Chemical Weapons Convention.
In 1991 UNSCOM was formed, after the Gulf War , to ensure Iraq's compliance with the terms of the cease fire. These terms included:
"Iraq was forbidden from developing, possessing or using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Other items proscribed by the treaty included missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres"
Economic sanctions were to be lifted, upon proof that compliance with these conditions were met. They never were. UN Weapons Inspectors were frustrated continually by refusals to inspect certain sites and "missing" documentation. The UN issued over 9 declarations regarding Iraq's non-compliance prior to 2003, when we entered into conflict.
Just before Operation Desert Fox commenced, UNSCOM withdrew at our request, and no further inspections were carried out for 5 years. Here is a link to a report assessing Saddams weapons program capabilities issued in October 2002; http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd/Iraq_Oct_2002.htm
David Kay, former Chief of Iraqi Survey Group spoke with Chris Wallace of Fox News February 1, 2004 stated during the interview "
KAY: I think Iraq was a dangerous place becoming more dangerous, because, in fact, what we observe is that the regime itself was coming apart. It was descending into worse the part of moral depravity and corruption. Saddam was isolated in a fantasy land capable of wreaking tremendous harm and terror on his individual citizens, but corruption, money gain was the root cause.
At the same time that we know there were terrorist groups in state still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened."
In addition, immediately after the fall of Baghad, nuclear materials were discovered in the front yard of Iraq's top nuclear physicist Dr. Mahdi Obeidi. He authored a book "The Bomb In My Garden", in which he bitterly explains he had to hold on to the material, as it was the key to Saddams nuclear program.
Dr. Rihab Taha, known as Dr. Germ, lost her temper with UN Weapons Inspectors, screaming and throwing chairs, insisting all the while she ran a chicken feed plant. When confronted with evidence of suspicious materiels, she finally admitted she had been grown 8,000 litres of anthrax, 19,000 litres of botulism, 2,000 litres of aflatoxins, which can cause liver cancer, plus varying amounts of other agents, including ricin.
The fact is, there was evidence discovered both prior to and immediately after the fall of Baghdad. That our DIA believes that given the delays and prolonged preparations for entering into Iraq, Hussein had ample time to shift much of his more dangerous materials out of Iraq, and into neighboring countries, is something I can agree with. Giving him so much time to prepare himself for our arrival, and given the fact he was cunning enough to plan ahead, it is a logical conclusion.
The issue at hand I believe is one of words, and political gaming on both sides. That there were no fully assembled WMD's in Iraq, is a fact, but there were certainly enough components, including the nuclear centrifuge in Dr. Obeidi's front garden, to justify our concerns.
If we are going to continually find reasons to try and discredit this administration, it behooves us to at least care enough to research the facts.