Twenty-Year War in Iraq
by Laurence M. Vance: Noah’s
Ark and the Sanctity of Private Property
should a single American die for the Emir of Kuwait?"
~ Pat Buchanan
war in Iraq – now near the end of its seventh year – did not really
begin on March 20, 2003, when George W. Bush ordered the United
States military to invade Iraq. It actually began twenty years ago
on January 17, 1991, when another Bush, George H.W., ordered the
United States military to invade Iraq the first time.
a green light from the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, who
told Saddam Hussein: "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab
conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has
directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in
the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America,"
Hussein invaded Kuwait, on August 2, 1990. But even after John Kelly,
the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, testified
to Congress that the "United States has no commitment to defend
Kuwait and the US has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is
attacked by Iraq," Bush the elder sent 500,000 U.S. troops
to that caldron known as the Middle East.
sanctions on Iraq in August, the United Nations in November set
a date of midnight on January 16 as the deadline for Iraq to withdraw
its troops from Kuwait. Congress – ignoring the Constitution and
refusing to issue a declaration of war – issued a resolution authorizing
the president to use military force against Iraq, "Joint Resolution
to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Pursuant to United
Nations Security Council Resolution 678." The vote was 52-47
in the Senate and 250-183 in the House. Only two Republicans in
the Senate and three in the House voted against the resolution.
When Iraq failed
to withdraw its troops from Kuwait by the deadline, the United States
commenced bombing as Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation
Desert Storm. The 88,500 tons of bombs dropped widely destroyed
both military and civilian infrastructure. The U.S. ground assault,
Operation Desert Sabre, begin on February 24. A cease-fire was declared
four days later. For the United States, there were 148 battle deaths
and 145 non-battle deaths. This means that 293 Americans did die
for the emir of Kuwait. Among the dead U.S. soldiers were 15 women
and 35 killed by "friendly fire." The first American casualty
of the war, LCDR Scott
Speicher, was actually the last of the U.S. military dead to
be identified, and just a couple of years ago.
Tens of thousands
of Iraqi soldiers were also killed, plus several thousand Iraqi
and Kuwaiti civilians. The current war in Iraq is but a delayed
campaign in the war against Iraq. During the intermission there
were tensions, threats, missile strikes, enforcement of no-fly zones,
bombing raids, brutal sanctions that resulted in the deaths of hundreds
of thousands of Iraqi children, infamously said to be "worth
it" by U.S. ambassador to the UN (and later Secretary of State)
Madeleine Albright, and a continued presence of U.S. troops in Saudi
Arabia, which inflamed the Muslim world, created terrorists, and
led to the attacks of 9/11.
So, what should
the United States have done when one autocratic Muslim state (Iraq)
invaded another autocratic Muslim state (Kuwait)? The answer is
the same no matter what country invades, bombs, attacks, or threatens
another country – absolutely nothing.
It is not the
purpose of the U.S. government to be the policeman, security guard,
mediator, and babysitter of the world. The preamble to the Constitution
mentions providing for the common defense, promoting the general
welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty "to ourselves
and our Posterity," not to the tired, poor, huddled masses,
and wretched refuse on distant shores.
States should be a beacon of liberty, leading the world by example,
and not intervening or meddling in the affairs of other countries
– for any reason. Not isolationism, of course, but in the words
of Thomas Jefferson: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship
with all nations – entangling alliances with none," yet doing
"what is right, leaving the people of Europe to act their follies
and crimes among themselves, while we pursue in good faith the paths
of peace and prosperity."
And as I have
maintained over and over again, the U.S. military should be engaged
exclusively in defending the United States, not defending other
countries, and certainly not attacking, invading, or occupying them.
The U.S. military should be limited to defending the United States,
securing U.S. borders, guarding U.S. shores, patrolling U.S. coasts,
and enforcing no-fly zones over U.S. skies instead of defending,
securing, guarding, patrolling, and enforcing in other countries.
To do otherwise is to pervert the purpose of the military.
The world is
full of evil, and conflicts between peoples have existed since the
beginning of time. The United States has neither the responsibility
nor the resources to resolve every conflict and stamp out all the
evil in the world. Any American concerned about oppression, human
rights violations, sectarian violence, ill treatment of women, forced
labor, child labor, persecution, genocide, famine, natural disasters,
or injustice anywhere in the world is perfectly free to contribute
his own money to or go and fight on behalf of some particular cause.
Just don’t expect U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for and U.S. soldiers
to die for your cause.
from Iraq – even if "only" 293 Americans died, even if
Saddam Hussein had been deposed, even if it hadn’t resulted in brutal
sanctions, even if it hadn’t led to another war, and even if it
had ensured the free flow of oil at market prices – was not worth
one cent from the U.S. treasury or one drop of blood from an American
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The
Revolution that Wasn't. His newest book is Rethinking
the Good War. Visit his
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