Prior to the March 2003 assault on Iraq, there never was real proof that Saddam/Iraq had serious, deployable weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—the type of proof that was given to the American public during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, before initiating the successful naval blockade of Cuba, when Russia was forced to remove nuclear-capable missiles from the island.
In 1962, as a young officer in the U.S. Navy, I was shipboard and actively participated in the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Among other duties, I was the ship’s crypto officer (with a top secret clearance)—in charge of encrypting and decrypting all the operational messages passing between the captain of our ship, and higher command.
As a result, I knew without a doubt that there were WMD being placed in Cuba by the Russians. I saw the reconnaissance pictures of missile silos, construction crews, mobile launchers and the missiles themselves. I was also privy to transcripts of intercepted communications between the Cubans and Russians. President Kennedy showed these pictures to the American public, and today you can find them on the internet. In Google Search, enter “Cuban missile crisis pictures,” and you will see many, many pictures showing troop movements, missiles, construction of missile silos, etc. One good site is www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/photos.htm.
Fast forward 40 years to the year 2002 when President Bush began rushing the USA to war with Iraq—springboarding off the fear caused by 9/11—claiming WMD; purchase of tubes for nuclear centrifuges (they were small rocket tubes); links to al-Qaeda (there were none); attempted purchases of yellowcake, etc. I immediately asked myself, and others—Where’s the proof?
With the military technology of 2002, where were the photographs of WMD (using satellites, planes) and the transcripts of intercepted conversations? All we saw were a couple of grainy pictures of what were purported to be mobile chemical/biological weapons labs (trailer trucks) in the middle of a desert. And what about radiation patterns/readings of nuclear activity? It is easy to detect radioactivity from facilities making nuclear weapons— using nucleonic “sniffers” dangling from low flying planes, drones or helicopters.
My conclusion: Bush had absolutely no credible proof of WMD, etc., and our Congress was negligent in not demanding same.
Instead, the USA was hyped into another war (we hadn’t even begun to finish the war in Afghanistan) by the administration’s use of fear (another 9/11, mushroom cloud, smoking gun) and hype (piece of cake, slam dunk, dancing in the streets, shock and awe, minimal casualties, Iraq oil will pay for it, etc.).
Reason for the rush to war? An opportunistic move to gain control of Iraq’s oil and the utopian but hopelessly naive idea that the administration could implant a USA-style democracy in Iraq. If one doesn’t believe that oil was the primary raison d’etre for The War, then what justified the administration’s rationale that Iraq oil revenues would pay for both: our costs of the war and the rebuilding of Iraq. It hasn’t happened yet and most assuredly will never happen.
Point is—Saddam most certainly could have been taken out by other means—a combination of careful planning, force and diplomacy and definitely without the tremendous loss of life and the maiming/wounding of thousands of Americans, Iraqis and others that is continuing unabated to this day. Forgetting the one trillion dollars and more it is going to cost the American taxpayers in the long run.
We have now been at war in Iraq for a little more than seven years and with no end in sight. Unlike the Vietnam and Korean wars, where there was a truce and physical disengagement, our forces are heavily involved with ongoing fighting, security, reconstruction and the never-ending task of trying to keep the Sunnis and Shiites from lapsing into all-out civil war.