Jorvik, I may be a Quaker by Conversion" but I was raised in a family with a tradition of military service to the United States going back to before there was a United States. So, I am not totally bought in to the the 1666 Testimony to Nonviolence. What angered me about VietNam was not so much that we got in there but that we stumbled into it not understanding what in the Hell we were doing. The result was that we would up killing and being killed for no visible purpose. In other words, we wasted however many lives we were responsible for ending. I do see wasting lives in pointless wars as a sin, whatever side they may serve.
Now, to Iraq. In 1991, George H. W. Bush and his advisers chose not to push on to Baghdad and to oust Saddam Hussein. Why do you suppose they made that decision when they held all of the cards? One reason that I have heard is that it would have shattered the Coalition, splitting off the Arab participants and, perhaps, turning them into enemies. But the real reason, I believe, is that they realized that Saddam, evil as he may have been, was all that was holding that pot together. He and his ruthless Baath Party were able to keep the Shi'a in the south, the Sunnis in the center and west and the Kurds in the north from going at each other in a bloody civil war that would wind up involving the neighbors, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. I suppose that the Arabian Gulf states might have gotten involved as well but their contributions would have been largely negligible in the 1991 timeframe.
Now, George W. Bush invaded using Donald Rumsfeld's screwed up strategy of minimal force, thinking that we could oust Saddam on the cheap in the same way that we had ousted the Taliban. The military in this country knew that there was a significant difference, that there was no Northern Alliance force such as we had used in Afghanistan, that the Iraqi populace was too cowed by Saddam's dictatorship to provide such a force in any realistic timeframe. They knew that it was going to have to be US boots on the ground, that we would have to go into Iraq and push Saddam and his Baathists out of power and hunt the Baathist leaders down and eliminate them just as the Allies had done in Germany in 1945-1949. But doing that properly would take a minimum of 500,000 troops and probably more. The bloody Administration was unwilling to do that so we sent in a minimum force which was able to topple Saddam but not able to secure the country or even the military supply dumps. The result is that the Baathist militia went into guerrilla mode, using those dumps, and that the Sunnis, seeing that the Shi'a were taking power from them, joined in with the Baathists, making for the "ocean in which the guerrilla fish could swim" to use Mao's metaphor. And, seeing the resulting chaos as a golden opportunity, the alQaeda types came rushing in to stir the pot by such horrors as random car bombings and the bombing of the Golden Mosque. That latter was an effort to set off the Sunni/Shi'a civil war and it damned near succeeded.
Now, you ask me what I think. I think that George H. W. Bush was right and that we should have kept Saddam in power, but with his teeth and claws firmly pulled so that he would not be a threat to his neighbors. And we could make it very clear, at minimal cost to ourselves, that his support of international terror would no longer be tolerated. We would have had to clean out the crooks in the UN's Oil for Food program so that it would really work and that would have pissed of a lot of 3rd World nations whose diplomats had their hands in that sugarbowl, but it needed doing in any case. That would have made the Embargo effective and made sure that the oil sold really did go for food and medical supplies for the Iraqi people instead of goodies for Saddam and his buddies. On the other hand, had the decision to invade been made, then we should have gone in whole hog and done it right, using massive military power, including large numbers of boots on the ground, to take and then to secure the country rather than pissing around as we did in 2003-2004. What we have been doing is wasting American, Coalition, and Iraqi lives, the greatest sin of all just as we wasted lives in VietNam.
Trying to Walk in the Light, Hugh
1 John 1:5