Saddam Hussein was unarguably a brutal dictator.
He ruled Iraq from 1979 until 2003. Three years later, in 2006, he was hanged.
Under Saddam’s leadership and for over a decade preceding, Iraq actively researched, produced and ultimately did employ weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam was internationally condemned for his use of chemical weapons during the 1980s against Kurdish and Iranian and civilians during and after the bloody and protracted Iran–Iraq War. An extensive biological and a nuclear weapons program was also pursued by Iraq, though thankfully, no nuclear bomb was built. Following the end of the Gulf War in 1991, the United Nations, with the Iraqi government located and destroyed large quantities of Iraqi chemical weapons and related equipment and materials.
Iraq completely stopped its chemical, biological and nuclear programs.
In the early 2000s, following the catastrophic attacks of September 11th, 2001, the United States and its allies went to war in Afghanistan. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s brutal and draconian regime had been harbouring the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on the United States; Al-Qaeda and its founder, Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban were ultimately deposed but Osama was nowhere to be found.
It could seem, looking back at those times, that the administration of George W. Bush needed to find an enemy and find one fast. It could also be argued that the United States and in some respects, the Bush family had some sort of score to settle with Saddam.
They needed a reason to invade. A good reason.
Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies explains.
The administrations of George W. Bush and Great Britain’s Tony Blair asserted that Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs were still active and that large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were hidden in Iraq. There were however countries on the United Nations Security council that disputed the assertions made by the Bush and Blair administrations about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. French journalist Jean Guisnel provides an insight.
Inspections by the UN to resolve the status of unresolved disarmament questions restarted between November 2002 and March 2003, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, which demanded Saddam give immediate, unconditional and active cooperation with United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency inspections, before his country was attacked.
The Bush administration asserted that Saddam’s frequent lack of cooperation was a breach of Resolution 1441 but failed to convince the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution authorising the use of force due to lack of evidence.
Despite this, on the 19th of March 2003, with no support from the United Nations, Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched by the United States and its coalition of the willing against Iraq.
Sufficed to say, Saddam was deposed, and Iraq was liberated. It seems a little crass to use such a term with all that has happened in Iraq since President George W. Bush declared victory in a highly orchestrated and quite theatrical speech on deck of the USS Lincoln on the 1st of May 2003.
Americans were told by their President and his administration that the U.S. was going to war with Iraq because of the imminent threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his ties to terrorism. Yet to date, no such weapons or ties to terrorism have been revealed. Did the U.S. launch a war of necessity in Iraq, or was it a war motivated by something else?