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Why Did the United States Invade Iraq?

Abstract

The US government’s decision to invade Iraq was based on faulty and unreliable intelligence report that says Saddam Hussein’s government was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The Iraq War was one of the costliest mistakes that the American government made in the 21st century. The US government failed to perceive the impact of UN-backed economic sanctions and the defeat of the Iraqi Army in the first Persian Gulf War. Warnings regarding the foolishness of invading Iraq on the assumption that the Iraqi government stockpile WMDs came from different intelligence agencies.

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However, the US government already made a decision to invade Iraq. The existence of data detailing the objections of national leaders and intelligence officers regarding the presence of WMD was enough to doubt Curveball’s credibility. However, it was the failure to discover WMD facilities in the aftermath of the Iraq War became the irrefutable piece of evidence that unmasked Curveball’s real character. He was more than willing to provide misinformation in order to gain favor from his handlers. His selfish motives caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and brought Iraq into a whole new world of violence.

Introduction

In 2003, the United States government decided to invade Iraq. The basis of the declaration of war rested on the claim that Saddam Hussein’s government stockpiled weapons of mass destruction or WMD. This piece of intelligence was given by an Iraqi refugee, and US intelligence officers referred to his code name “Curveball” when they sent a report to the White House. However, only a few people outside the clandestine world of espionage knew about the fact that Curveball’s testimony was a Fairy Tale that he concocted out of thin air. One year after the invasion, US citizens came to realize that their government invaded Iraq based on Curveball’s unreliable and unverified information that the Iraqi government stockpiled WMD.

In a drop of a hat, the proponent of this study is willing to reverse his claim regarding Curveball’s erroneous statement if the research process will reveal any type of evidence showing that indeed weapons of mass destruction were stockpiled in Iraq when US troops invaded the said country. In this regard, it is imperative to define the term WMD. Certain experts are in agreement that outside the category of nuclear weapons, there is no weapon known to man that qualifies as a tool that can send hundreds of thousands of lives in an instant.

However, for the sake of argument, the proponent of the study will adhere to a more lenient standard in order to expand the definition of WMD, and according to the “U.S. legal code in 18 U.S.C. section 2332a, a WMD is any weapon that involves the use of an organism, poison gas, and the release of radiation to a level dangerous to human life” (Busch & Joyner, p. 25). Therefore, if the research process points to the evidence of at least one type of WMD, then, the claim regarding Curveball’s erroneous statement will be modified.

Literature Review

Mark Zepezauer’s book detailed the role that the Central Intelligence Agency or the CIA played in persuading the general public to believe the veracity of reports that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. In this book, Zepezauer made the claim that there were certain members of the CIA that wanted the truth to come out, they wanted the White House to know that there were no WMDs in Iraq. However, he said that there was tremendous pressure coming from the White House to prove Curveball’s assertion that there was a stockpile of the said weapon in Iraq (Zepezauer, 2012). Zepezauer’s also supported the idea that there was a greater incentive for defectors to concoct stories about WMDs.

Sara Brady in her book entitled Performance, Politics and the War on Terror provided another perspective into the other facets of the invasion of Iraq. She remarked that without the help of powerful and influential national leaders the erroneous statements culled from Curveball’s affidavit would have remained in the dustbins of unverified intelligence reports.

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However, when the CIA’s stamp of approval was on the report, it was easy for some national leaders to consider the claim as gospel truth. This was the case with Colin Powell’s powerful speech at the United Nations that paved the way for the creation of an international coalition to invade Iraq. Colin Powell was a hero of the 1990’s Persian Gulf War and to millions of Americans, he was one of the most awe-inspiring leaders of their generation (Brady, 2012).

Powell, therefore, carried a great deal of influence, and his decision to believe that there were WMDs in Iraq sealed the fate of the country. Powell inadvertently paved the way for the entry of foreign armies into Iraq. Soldiers from different parts of the world descended into this region and redefined the relationship between opposing countries. However, when Powell discovered that the intelligence report used as the basis for invading Iraq was a pile of half-truths and assumptions, he did not waste time to criticize the CIA and the Pentagon for not providing reliable information to policymakers (Brady, 2012).

One of the most critical pieces of information supporting the claim that Curveball peddled lies was outlined in Lock Johnson’s book entitled Essentials of Strategic Intelligence. Johnson pointed out that the CIA failed to recognize the effectiveness of the 1991 UN economic embargo that crippled Saddam Hussein’s efforts to rule the country. As a result, the late dictator was forced to comply with the UN’s directive to end any program for the stockpiling of WMDs. This assertion made a lot of sense because the UN’s official records regarding the inspection and monitoring of the creation and stockpiling of WMDs ended in 1998 (Johnson, 2015). Thus, there was a strong suggestion that Saddam Hussein genuinely feared the repercussions of a continuing UN economic embargo.

Another critical set of information bolstering the claim that Curveball was peddling misinformation was outlined in the book entitled Why Did the United States Invade Iraq (Cramer & Thrall, 2012). In this book, the authors pointed out that there was no consensus from foreign intelligence agencies regarding the position that Saddam Hussien reignited a nuclear weapons program. For example, foreign intelligence agencies did not have high confidence in the existence of WMDs in Iraq (Cramer & Thrall, 2012).

In this regard, a number of foreign intelligence agencies were unwilling to support the US government in its bid to attack Iraq without the results of the UN inspections (Cramer & Thrall, 2012). In fact, one year before the invasion French and Russian secret agents submitted reports to their mother agencies that Iraq had no nuclear threat (Cramer & Thrall, 2012). Furthermore, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook resigned from the Cabinet before the war started, because he said that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (Cramer & Thrall, 2012).

The third set of critical information supporting the claim that Curveball lied to his handlers was outlined in Phil Haun’s book entitled Coercion, Survival, and War. Phil Haun pointed out that even before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 there were two critical events that persuaded Saddam Hussein to cooperate with the United States in its effort to get rid of WMDs. First, there was considerable military activity within the region, and Iraq tasted the power of America’s armed forces when it became the recipient of numerous airstrikes.

Second, Saddam once again had to contend with the much dreaded economic sanctions that made life hell for Iraqis in the past. Thus, Saddam Hussein was willing to concede to US demands and this was made evident by his decision to allow UN inspectors into the country and providing the same inspectors a 12,000-page declaration that the Iraqi government did not have an ongoing WMD program (Haun, 2015). Phil Haun also cited the impact of the first Persian Gulf War in Saddam Hussein’s capability to fund and support a significant WMD program. Thus, it did not come as a surprise when Saddam Hussein expressed his desire to allow UN inspectors to conduct investigations for the second time around.

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Presentation of Facts

There was no evidence of WMDs before and after the invasion of Iraq. Intelligence agencies and secret agents from Russia to France did not believe that Saddam Hussein’s government was capable of rebuilding their WMD program. There was also internal wrangling within the CIA because some of its members did not support Curveball’s claim. Even America’s closest allies had reservations regarding the presence of WMDs in Iraq.

There was circumstantial evidence to support the idea that the Iraqi government did not possess the capability to stockpile WMDs in 2003. First, UN inspectors were already a menace to the Iraqi government since 1991. The pressure created by UN-sanctioned inspections as well as the economic embargo that pushed Iraq to the brink of economic collapse was enough to force Saddam Hussein into a corner, and therefore, he was compelled to abandon the stockpiling of unconventional weapons like WMDs prior to the year 2003. It is interesting to note that intelligence agents had difficulty finding any relevant information once UN inspectors failed to provide updates on their report on Iraq at the end of 1998.

Aside from the effectiveness of the economic sanctions combined with efficient UN inspections of suspected sites, there was another set of circumstantial evidence to support the claim that Curveball was peddling, lies and this was the indirect impact of the first Persian Gulf War. The whole world saw the effectiveness of the US armed forces in destroying Saddam Hussein’s army in retaliation to Iraq’s conquest of Kuwait. Before the first Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi government boasted of one million foot soldiers, however, after the war, there were only three hundred thousand men under Saddam Hussein’s control (Brady, 2012).

Analysis

One of the most persuasive pieces of evidence to debunk Curveball’s claims was the fact that no type of WMD was uncovered by the UN inspectors prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The United States government had full control of the country in the aftermath of the Iraq War, and yet no one found any evidence that corroborated Curveball’s assertion regarding the WMD program.

There was enough information generated by the US intelligence community as well as foreign intelligence agencies all over the world to doubt the existence of a WMD program in Iraq. Furthermore, the US White House did not understand or failed to perceive the effectiveness of the economic sanctions and UN inspections that were leveraged against Saddam Hussein’s government in the 1990s. The intelligence community also failed to perceive the full impact of the first Persian Gulf War that radically altered Saddam Hussein’s army and reduced his capability to develop WMDs. The fact that the Iraqi government authorized a second round of UN inspections was enough to show that Saddam Hussein did not have the will and the power to go against the United States.

Conclusion

Curveball was peddling lies regarding the WMD program. One can argue that he was desperate to prove his value to his handlers in order for them to grant asylum to the said Iraqi defector. There was a significant number of circumstantial evidences that underscored Saddam Hussein’s inability to fund and manage a significant WMD program. Intelligence officers from the US and abroad failed to perceive the impact of prior UN inspections and economic sanctions that forced Saddam Hussein to abandon his plans to develop WMDs. However, national leaders in 2003 were unwilling to change their minds even when they were presented with undeniable facts that Saddam Hussein had no capability to develop and stockpile WMDs. Thus, the US government had to endure one of the costliest mistakes in modern history.

References

Brady, S. (2012). Performance, politics, and the war on terror. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Busch, N., & Joyner, D. (2009). Combating weapons of mass destruction. GA: University of Georgia Press.

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Cramer, J., & Trevor, T. (2012). Why did the United States invade Iraq? New York: Routledge.

Haun, P. (2015). Coercion, survival, and war. CA: Stanford University Press.

Johnson, L. (2015). Essentials of strategic intelligence. CA: ABC-CLIO.

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