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Reflections on the War in Iraq - Part I: The Build Up [112a]

Updated on May 3, 2012


OBSTINSABLY TO PREVENT SADDAM HUSSEIN from 1) helping al Qaeda or other terrorists from carrying out additional attacks on the United States, 2) further accumulation of weapons of mass destruction, and 3) continuing is reign of terror on the Iranian people; at least that is what the triumvirate of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld convinced the people of America was the case. No one will probably ever know the true motivation of the President and his closest advisers had to invade Iraq and it is not my intent to speculate on it here; it is enough to know they believed they had good reason to take America into a second regional war before the first one was over.

I must note that I was emphatically against opening this second front at the time President Bush did. The first two reasons he put forward were certainly sufficient reasons ... if they were true. In foresight at the time, I doubted it; this was based solely on readily available news reports of the day' reports from enough credible sources to cast enough doubt on the pronouncements of the Administration which were leading us to certain war as to demand caution before pulling the trigger that commit, irrevocably, American treasure, and American lives into that conflict.

A few intrepid Democrats in Congress, based on the same evidence I had plus some classified information to which I was not privy, had the unbelievable courage to stand up to Joe McCarthy-like harangue about being unpatriotic and anti-American after the carnage of 9-11 to vote against President Bush's plan to invade Iraq March 30, 2003. They, and I, were vindicated in their stance on July 9, 2004, some 15 months after President Bush announced Mission Accomplished and seven years and five months before the war actually ended, the Senate Report on Iraqi WMD Intelligence announced there was insufficient intelligence to have warranted the invasion of Iraq on the basis used by the President.

So, to the question fo "Why Were We There?", It was my opinion then, and since validated as I have said, that America should NOT have invaded Iraq. That is not to say, President Bush should not have done all the things he did leading up to the invasion. Those were appropriate and necessary based on the intelligence he had, or at least what I saw reported in the news. It was credible enough to warrant that amount of response, just not enough to pull the trigger and invade.



Not only was there inadequate national security reasons to invade Iraq, there were significant military reasons not to as well; not the least of which leaving the job in Afghanistan, and the war on terror there, unfinished. Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were very aware that the United States military, under its current configuration and without a general draft, was not sufficiently strong to fight two regional conflicts and defend against a third, which was our National Military Strategy in 1996-1997 (unclassified); it has been modified since then and now reflects more current requirements, but, in 2003, that was still the basic strategy.

How do I know Cheney and Rumsfeld knew we weren't militarily ready for both Iraq andAfghanistan, because it was, in 1996-1997, my job to know. Back then, I was a senior analyst, career-broadening in the Readiness branch of the Office of Personnel and Readiness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). What I spent my time doing was trying to determine what 11 years, from 1986 to 1996 of budget cuts, during the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton administrations, did to military readiness; the answer was, we were barely able to sustain one major regional conflict, let alone two major conflicts and defending against another; the American was a true "hollow" force by 1997. In 1998, after returning to the Air Force, I was part of a small team who put together an analysis that showed a direct correlation of budget cuts in the spare parts and maintenance accounts to a decline in what is called "mission capable" (MC) rates of AF aircraft; other Services did the same. I briefed my portion of the anaysis up to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. This analysis was then briefed by others to OSD and then the President and Congress. As a result, in the 2000 budget, the military was given its first increase in its operations account in 12 years.

However, the damage had been done. It took 10 years of heroic effort by our maintainers to keep our equipment war ready, but by 1995, they could do no more and my charts and graphs showed sharp across-the-board fall-offs in MC rates for all AF aircraft (unclassified); the other Services had a similar experience. Beginning in 2000, the funds slowly started coming in and didn't increase substantially until well after 2003. Bottom-line, America was NOT ready for war and our leadership knew it.

Given the above, I knew and our leadership knew that America had sufficient forces to fight only on one front, on March 30, 2003, when President Bush committed his first, of many, strategic military blunders; he, like General Custer, split his forces between Iraq and Afghanistan instead of concentrating them at the enemy's weakest point; one of the first things I was taught as an Infantry offcer in the Army.



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    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 6 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thank you Credence; it does seem that way with all of the Right's sabre-rattling, but, the truth is the Liberals, well, non-Conservatives, have been at the helm much more often than Conservatives at the beginning of American hostilities, 11 of the 19 listed in Wikipedia, to be precise. Ironically, it is Conservatives who have been at the helm for most of American economic failures, however, go figure, lol.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      It is always the conservatives that are quick to resort to the sword. To this day, the cost in lives and treasure in Iraq has not really been justified, and has been a fools errand. Bush's ego would not allow him to admit that saber ratttling was a costly mistake. Are there any lessons to learn here? Great article Cred2

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 6 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks HS, it helps being right there, it gives a little different perspective. The only thing I am fairly sure of about President Bush, although I can't say the same of Cheney and Rumsfeld, is that whatever the reasons he had, they were honest and deeply felt, and only partly off-the-mark. As I mentioned, I think there was just cause for the build up, just not for crossing the line into full commitment. It might have cost a lot to hold short of the line to keep Hussein at bay, but not as much as a full-fledged war.

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      Howard Schneider 6 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very well stated My Esoteric. I also do not know why the Bush Administration really initiated the Iraq War. I suspect it was a combination of the neo-Conservative theory of actively intervening in the Middle East to transform it into democracies and Bush retaliation against his father's attempted assassination. No matter the reason, Afghanistan was the real problem and it was left undone. Invading Iraq gave Al-Qaeda a public relations boost as well as a recruiting boost. The Iraq War was moronic and possibly criminal. We were not prepared as you wrote and we had no real reason to be there. Great analysis as usual, My Esoteric.