As President Obama drew the curtain on the Iraq war, liberal commentators were declaring the war pointless.
“Sure, you know, violence is down from its peak during the civil war, but does anybody really think that lives of Iraqis are all that much better?” Rajiv Chandrasekaran, national editor of The Washington Post, told Chris Matthews on MSNBC.
“If there had been no invasion, Saddam [Hussein] would still be in power,” Richard Engel of NBC said on the Today show. “He was probably getting more moderate . . . He was heading in a direction of accommodation.”
In his speech on ending the war, President Obama seemed to have the same muddled concept of what the war achieved. His administration decries Arizona’s effort to arrest illegal immigrants as human rights violations while ignoring the fact that Saddam killed 300,000 people, used chemical weapons, and tortured his own people.
Because of Saddam’s removal, Iraqis no longer undergo torture by having electric prods attached to their genitals or by being given acid baths. They no longer have holes drilled into their ankles and skulls.
They are not left naked in refrigerators for days. They do not have their tongues cut out and their ears cut off. They are not forced to watch their wives and sisters being gang raped.
While about 300 are being killed in attacks each month, that is 22 percent of the murder rate in the U.S.
As for American security interests, the war eliminated a nuclear threat. In seven months of secret debriefings after his capture, Saddam admitted that he faked having weapons of mass destruction when he was in power but had planned on developing a weapons of mass destruction program with nuclear capability within a year.
Saddam made the admissions in videotaped interviews with George L. Piro, an FBI agent who was assigned by the FBI with the CIA’s approval to try to develop the former dictator’s cooperation.
For my book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to the Next Attack,” Piro described the debriefings, which had never been previously revealed.
When the Arabic-speaking Piro arrived in Baghdad during the first week of 2004, he told me, he had no idea if Saddam would even say hello to him much less reveal his thinking about the invasion of Iraq, his role in ordering 300,000 people killed, and whether he had weapons of mass destruction. But Piro managed to develop Saddam’s trust.
Piro found that Saddam had a fondness for baby wipes, the disposable moist cloths used when changing a baby’s diaper. If Saddam had enough baby wipes, he would use them to clean food like apples before he ate them.
Piro realized that, as a way of manipulating him, he could control how many baby wipes Saddam received.
Saddam confided to Piro why he had no weapons of mass destruction but pretended he did. Saddam said that because of the war of attrition he had with Iran, Iran always remained a threat to him. And if Iran thought he had serious WMD, it would be reluctant to engage him again.
On the other hand, if he said he had them, Iran would never listen. But if the U.S. said that he had WMD, Iran would believe it.
So every time inspectors came, Saddam gave them the runaround, reinforcing for Iran’s consumption the notion that he had WMD. And that explains why, if there were no WMD, he acted as if he did have them.
Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability in an incremental fashion. Aided by his payoffs to key officials, he thought that sanctions would be lifted within a year or so. He figured he could then recreate Iraq’s WMD capability, which had been essentially destroyed in 1991.
“His goal was to have the sanctions lifted,” Piro told me. “And they likely would have been lifted if it were not for 9/11. Even the United Nations changed after 9/11. So Saddam was on the right track. His plan to have sanctions lifted was working. But he told me he recognized that he miscalculated the long-term effects of 9/11. And he miscalculated President Bush.”
Months before the invasion, Saddam came to realize that war was “inevitable,” Piro says.
As a delaying tactic, he told Piro, he announced in September 2002 that he would allow weapons inspectors to return but stipulated that eight presidential compounds would be off limits.
Did Saddam ever consider coming clean with the U.S. and demonstrating that he did not have WMD?
“He didn’t give me the answer to that,” Piro says, “but I can tell you he wouldn’t have done that because that would have weakened him. He was given the opportunity to leave Iraq and go to live in Saudi Arabia and be very wealthy and very happy. The Saudis gave him the option. But what would that have done to his legacy? And if he were to have said ‘I’m bluffing,’ or ‘I’m not as strong as I present myself,’ where would he have then fit in the historical scheme of Iraq?”
Ironically, in view of anti-American feelings overseas and from within the U.S. over the invasion of Iraq, Saddam told Piro that he admired America and especially Americans.
Comparing Saddam Hussein with Adolf Hitler and other mass murderers, Piro says, “He had certain traits and abilities that let him to get into that position of power, but there have been many before him, and unfortunately, there will be many after him throughout the world.”
Predictably, the mainstream media largely ignored Saddam’s admitted plans to pursue nuclear weapons. But, contrary to the view of liberal commentators, Americans can be proud of what we achieved in Iraq and grateful to Bush and the military for taking him out.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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