I Have This Uneasy Feeling About Iraq

As many of you know, I love and admire President Barack Obama. What he has accomplished is truly remarkable. Not only was he elected president but he has also taken over the helm at truly rocky times. We have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With escalating tensions in the Middle East, Iran and North Korea, the world is looking to us for leadership. Africa, South America and South Asia are in desperate poverty. Our polar ice caps are melting. Here at home, we’re in the middle of the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression and our political atmosphere is truly toxic. Through all of this, our president has stood tall and managed to pull together coalitions to get significant legislation passed in Congress. Yet I have this uneasy feeling, nausea really, over Iraq.

Before we unwisely invaded Iraq, there was a balance of power in the Middle East. Iraq and Iran hate each other. They would truly like to annihilate each other but after fighting a fruitless war which cost hundreds of thousands of lives and after which there is no clear victor, they were content to scowl angrily at each other. The third point in the Middle East’s triangle was Israel. So when we swooped in and took out Saddam Hussein, we tipped the balance of power. It is really unclear how this will play out in the long run, but for now Iran seems to be the big winner.

Last week President Obama addressed the nation. He told us that combat operations in Iraq had been completed. Our troops were coming home. Cool. Let’s break out the champagne. Then, before I was able to get to the refrigerator, our president stated, “a transitional force of US troops remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraqi security forces, supporting Iraqi troops and targeted counterterrorism missions and protecting our civilians.” What? Then, just for a moment, our president seemed to transform into President George W. Bush and talked about extremists, terrorist bombings and sectarian strife. We’re leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq to do the exact same job they’ve been doing for the last three years. I was flabbergasted. I began to feel like Fred Sanford, from Sanford and Son, and I grabbed my chest.

As soon as President Barack Obama ended his speech with what I thought was an overly gracious tip of the hat to President George W. Bush, the Republicans, instead of being grateful, went on the attack. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner were two of the first to step up and criticize the president for not praising the surge and George W. Bush. Did we just enter the Twilight Zone? Did the conservatives say that the surge worked? To review, the surge had six key elements. These elements were unveiled to the American public by President George W. Bush, himself. Two of the six elements were to create space for political progress and diversify political and economic efforts. There has been no political progress over the last three years. None. Elections were held. No government was formed. The Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurdish Iraqis in the north continue to argue like school children. The surge did help decrease the sectarian violence but that was only one part of the plan (one out of six is an F, isn’t it?) Iraqis were supposed to form a functional government. That has not happened. We were supposed to create the space for Iraqis to lead. This simply hasn’t happened.

With Republicans giving each other high fives and congratulating themselves on the surge, I feel uneasy. With President Obama slipping into a George W. Bush-type trance and telling us that combat missions have ended when they really haven’t, I feel uneasy. This may be my whole problem with the Middle East — my feeling of uncertainty. I’m not sure it’s clear who our friends are (with the exception of Israel) and I’m not sure who our enemies are. We are embracing the Iraqi people as our friends but does that include all of the Iraqi people, including the Sunnis? I just feel that nobody has any good answers.

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0 Responses

  1. “after fighting a fruitless war which cost hundreds of thousands of lives and there is no clear victor, they were content to scowl angrily at each other.”

    What short memories we have.

    No, far from being content to 'angrily scowl' at Iran, Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Kuwait within a few months of the end of the 8 year long Iran-Iraq war.

    Saddam wanted economic leverage over Iran and used weak Kuwait to give it a try. By controlling Kuwait's rich oilfields, Saddam could get the money to re-arm and go after Iran again as well as make Iran's economy subservient to his dominating influence.

    Saddam's Kuwait invasion sparked what is known in America as our 'First Gulf War' which featured a temporary cease fire that was continually violated and in turn caused what is know in America as 'the Iraq War' in 2003-2010. The Iraq War was simply a resumption of combat which was suspended 'after the First Gulf War ended' (a phrase that demonstrates a clear misapphrension of the context of the situation).

    Your failure to connect the dots really leads to a complete misanalysis of why we are in Iraq today.

    btw the Iran-Iraq war cost over a million lives.

    And if it were up to the wise Democrats of today, Saddam the butcher would still be in power and working to bring his plan into realization.

  2. You know Joe is right the democrats would have gotten Bin Laden instead of invading a country that had nothing to do with attacking the US. Iraq may have had a dictator who was evil but so do alot of the African nations. Do we invade and tell them who not to fight with. If Iraq and Iran wanted to throw stones at each other we stood back. It was because they invaded a neutral country of Kuwait. If the republicans really wanted Saddam out of power instead of putting him back in his box then the first president Bush would have done that.

    There are evil rulers all over the world and how many other countries step up and take them out of power? I am glad you wish to spend our money wisely. But make sure you don't raise my taxes to be the world's caretaker.

  3. 🙂

    You are making up reasons that we went to war. No republican stated that we went to war as a continuation of the previous war. No matter. If you want to look at it that way, fine. The Bush administration knew that they couldn't sell Saddam has broken UN sanctions to the American people as a reason to go to war. Instead the American people were fed other reasons, Saddam was a threat to the US. That's was the selling point. We had troops stationed in Kuwait and SA., So, Saddam was not a threat to our oil supply.

    Sure Saddam was an awful man. There are many awful men in the world. Several of them lead countries through brutal means. Yet, we haven't attacked all of those countries. Iran who has an awful regime sponsored terrorist acts in the Middle East yet we didn't attack them.

    Finally, I don't think that you appreciate where we were in 2003. Saddam was a caged tiger. He had been de-fanged and de-clawed. He didn't have means to do anything but roar loudly. He didn't have a massive army. He didn't have nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. He had Scud missiles that's it. I simply isn't true to say that we didn't really know what weapons he had. We had inspections and they were working.

    I appreciate you trying to weave a tale but it is only half of the information.

    Thanks again.

  4. It's not either/or.

    It's both.

    Bin Laden and Saddam were dangers to the US for different reasons.

    Saddam harbored and financed terrorists who were not Taliban but they were still terrorists. No one denies this.

    Saddam purposefully deceived his neighbors and the Western intelligence communities into thinking he had and/or was pursuing wmd's. The Western countries had no choice but to take that seriously since Saddam had previously used wmd's on his own citizens and since he had shown an eagerness to attack his neighbors (Iran and Kuwait) and since he was in breach of the cease fire on a regular basis.

    Saddam knowingly led his country back into armed conflict with the US.

    If a madman runs into the street waving a gun, and the cops shoot him only to find later that the gun was unloaded, are the cops somehow the bad guys? I dont think so.

    I'm sorry that Democrats only seem to be able to see one narrow piece of the complex international picture. The world is not as black and white as they would like it to be.

  5. What are you talking about?

    What do you think all the discussion of the violation of UN sanctions was about?

    Didn't have a massive army? You better check your facts, doc.

    Saddam was in material breach of the cease fire on a continual basis and on numerous points.

    Democrats who voted to authorize action knew this as well as Republicans did. Other countries who voted at the UN to authorize action knew it as well.

    The interesting part was when those other countries realized that (unlike Clinton) Bush would actually perform the actions they authorized in order to enforce the UN sanctions.

    Saddam harbored and financed other terrorist groups. Deny it, I dare you. (We can look at President Clinton's statements on the same subject.)

    Far from being 'defanged and declawed' Saddam was a very dangerous psychopath.

    He played a game of chicken, using the 25 million lives of his own citizens.

    When he lost, many of them lost their lives as well.

  6. “We woulda………..”

    What nonsense. Clinton spent down the military over an 8 year period and when 9/11 came the defense infrastructure was still in woeful disrepair with parts shortages, lack of funds, and huge gaps in readiness.

    The only place Clinton was willing to cut spending was the military, just like Obama now and just like Carter before him.

    Democrats don't take military readiness seriously, but they want the feds to undertake every unconstitutional task they can think of while neglecting the clear cut constitutional directives to defend the country and it's borders. Look at the way Obama plays politics with illegal immigration while diddling away time on forcing people to purchase a product whether they want it or not.

    Democrats have little respect for keeping federal power within constitutional limits and they treat the military as a social experimental playground.

    Don't tell me what a Democratic commander in chief “woulda done” . We've had enough examples of inept Democratic CiC lately.

  7. Joe –

    What are you talking about? ? Getting bin Laden had nothing to do with spending during the Clinton administration. It had everything to do with Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and President Bush making a conscious decision of not sending resources into the Tora Bora mountains.

    Your political bias is showing. It is foolish if not uninformed to assume that Democrats do not take military readiness seriously.

    There was a time when I thought you were reasonable and thoughtful. This clearly proves that I was wrong. This is nothing but partisan rhetoric. There's no data to back up your outlandish claims.

  8. Unfortunately, thisis an election year, and both parties are playing the wars (and everything else) to play power politics. If, there is logic as to why we are in either Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other country in the Middle East, then BOTH parties have done some good things, and BOTH have done some unacceptable things. AND even in Iraq, soldiers are still being killed and injured. In Afghanistan they are having demonstrations in the street AGAINSt the Americans. and in Florida a Preacher is threatening to burn Qurans on 9/11/2010 And in a speech today President Obama, mentioned the name of ONE Republician in Congress 8 times, in an attempt to overly criticize him. Partisan politics. I am very un easy that we have signaled whoever are our enemies in Afghanistan that we are pulling out next year, and therefore, should probably pull out tonight. Neither is a wise military decision. The non DOD people in Washington DC just do not get it, regardless of which party they belong to. It is going to be an interesting November 2010

  9. KM –

    Thanks for stopping by. I truly appreciate it. I will have a post on the burning or planned burning of the Qurans later on tonight.

    There does seem to be a craziness which has settled over our country and our politics.

    Thanks for your comments.

  10. Dr Thompson wrote:

    “We, the American People, didn’t care that he (Saddam) had links to terrorists”

    A few weeks ago, you told me “I don't speak for the black community”, but now apparently you think you speak for everyone in America.

  11. Dr Thompson wrote:

    “Saddam Hussein was not a state sponsor of terrorism. At least not in 2003 when we invaded.”

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Sponsors_of_Terrorism
    “it was put back on in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait. It has since been removed following the 2003 invasion. The State Department's reason for including Iraq was that it provided bases to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and the Abu Nidal organization (ANO). Following the invasion, U.S. sanctions applicable to state sponsors of terrorism against Iraq were suspended on 7 May 2003 and President Bush announced the removal of Iraq from the list on 25 September 2004.”

    With factual boo-boos like that, it's no wonder that you quickly closed the comments off on that other thread.

    Wouldn't it just be easier to admit you were wrong?

  12. Of course there's data. It's everywhere. Clinton slashed the US military by nearly 1/2 million men.

  13. I dont see a poll question “Do you care if Saddam finances and harbors terrorists?”

    Care to point it out specifically?

  14. Your link says:

    “During the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam commissioned several failed terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities……..In February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN Security Council that Iraq was harboring a terrorist cell led by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a suspected al-Qaeda affiliate and chemical and biological weapons specialist. Powell said al-Zarqawi had both planned the October 2002 assassination of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan and set up a camp in Ansar al-Islam’s territory to train terrorists in the use of chemical weapons. Powell added that senior Iraqi and al-Qaeda leaders had met at least eight times since the early 1990s.”

    ————-

    A little more info while you remain in denial:

    “Saddam Hussein supplied financial support, training and shelter for an array of deadly terrorist organizations right up until the onset of the Iraq war a year ago, including such notorious groups as Hamas, Ansar al-Islam, the Palestinian Liberation Front, the Abu Nidal Organization and the Arab Liberation Front, according to a comprehensive report released by the Hudson Institute.

    Titled “Saddam's Philanthropy of Terror,” the report details the role played by terrorists supported by Saddam's regime in an array of infamous attacks that have killed hundreds of American citizens both inside and outside the U.S. before and after the Sept. 11 attacks – including the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the Palestinian Intifada.

    Compiled by Deroy Murdock, a Senior Fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va., and columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, the report chronicles Saddam's support for:

    * Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was indicted for mixing the chemicals for the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six New Yorkers and injured over 1,000. Yasin fled to Baghdad after the attack, where he was given sanctuary and lived for years afterward.

    * Khala Khadar al-Salahat, a top Palestinian deputy to Abu Nidal, who reportedly furnished Libyan agents with the Semtex explosive used to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. The attack killed all 259 passengers, including 189 Americans. Al-Salahat was in Baghdad last April and was taken into custody by U.S. Marines.

    * Abu Nidal, whose terror organization is credited with dozens of attacks that killed over 400 people, including 10 Americans, and wounding 788 more. Nidal lived in Baghdad from 1999 till August 2002, when he was found shot to death in his state-supplied home.

    * Abu Abbas, who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, during which wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer was pushed over the side to his death. U.S. troops captured Abbas in Baghdad on April 14, 2003. He died in U.S. custody last week.

    * Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who ran an Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camp in northern Iraq and reportedly arranged the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. Al Zarqawi is still at large.

    * Ramzi Yousef, who entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport and was the architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as Operation Bojinka, a foiled plot to explode 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific. Bojinka was later adopted by Yousef's cousin Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the blueprint for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Arrested in Pakistan in 1995, Yousef is currently serving a triple life sentence in Colorado's Supermax federal lockup.

    * Mahmoud Besharat, the Palestinian businessman who traveled to Baghdad in March 2002 to collect funding from Saddam for the Palestinian Intifada. Besharat and others disbursed the funds in payments of $10,000 to $25,000 to West Bank families of terrorists who died trying to kill Israelis.

    After Saddam announced his Intifada reward plan, 28 Palestinian homicide bombers killed 211 Israelis in attacks that also killed 12 Americans. A total of 1,209 people were injured.”

    For more details on Saddam Hussein's sponsorship of the terrorist networks that killed hundreds of innocent U.S. citizens, go to: http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/murdocksaddamarticle.pdf

  15. Now that we've settled the fact that Democrats have lied about the reasons for the re-ignition of hostilities in Iraq…..

    …..we can now discuss how Obama lies about his plan for Iraq.

    “We’re leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq to do the exact same job they’ve been doing for the last three years. I was flabbergasted. I began to feel like Fred Sanford, from Sanford and Son, and I grabbed my chest.”

    Only Democrats were shocked by this, because they believed Obama.

    Republicans knew that he was lying and that his hot air about pulling combat troops out of Iraq was little more than a semantic stunt.

    oh yeah they are doing something different because he calls it by a different name. Yeah that's it. That's the ticket.

  16. I love how you can cherry-pick a story. In the sidebar of the pbs story that you linked to –

    Editor's Note, November 2005: More than two years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there has been no verification of Khodada's account of the activities at Salman Pak. In fact, U.S. officials have now concluded that Salman Pak was most likely used to train Iraqi counter-terrorism units in anti-hijacking techniques. It should also be noted that he and other defectors interviewed for this report were brought to FRONTLINE's attention by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a dissident organization that was working to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Since the original broadcast, Khodada has not publicly addressed questions that have been raised about his account of activities at Salman Pak.

  17. Still waiting on you to look at the totally of the evidence not a couple of isolated incidents.Now once you look at everything compare the terrorist activity against America and our allies with that of North Korea and Iran. Let me know what you come up with.

  18. wow you found a real smoking gun!

    you mean that an Iraqi defector willing to talk about Saddam's activities was actually connected with a group that opposed Saddam and not with Saddams supporters? SHOCKING

    everybody knows that the only credible defector would actually be one that supports the tyrant from whom he fled.

    lol

    oh my. So, he was a 'dissident'. ooooooooooooo

    yeah, and also Saddam was SUCH an anti-terrorist crusader!

    wake up Dr Thompson. Saddam was on the list of state SPONSORS of terrorism throughout the Clinton years.

    yeah, anti-terrorist. lol

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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