The last American combat troops have left Iraq. Yet questions remain about how the war began. Were we lied to? Did some of the leaders who warned us about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction know that he didn’t?
It’s a bit late in the game to consider these questions. Yet, as we recall how the war began seven and a half years ago, inevitably these issues come to the fore.
How many kids from this area lost their lives in Iraq? The answer, according to Defense Department records, : 292 and more than 4,400 in the nation as a whole.
It’s sad to remember. President Bush told us on January 28, 2003 that there was intelligence showing that Iraq was helping and protecting terrorists and that Saddam Hussein could give weapons of mass destruction to them. America would have to take military action, he said, to avoid the risk of a new attack on the United States with weapons of mass destruction.
The WMD [weapons of mass destruction] argument was at the core of what this president -- and Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld -- told us. In his State of the Union address on this date, Bush warned “chemical agents and lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this times armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take just one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.”
The Bush administration sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations to make the case that Iraq had biological laboratories. Later, Powell, on Meet the Press, said he now believed that the Central Intelligence Agency was deliberately misled about evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing unconventional weapons -- and he was too.
“And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it.”
It still seems shameful that a man esteemed for his honesty and integrity was used in this way.
The saddest thing to contemplate is that the people who lost loved ones in the Iraq War have to deal with the issue of whether we were misled or lied to by our leaders. We know how valorously our young men and women fought for their country and for us.
Bryan Casler of Iraq Veterans Against the War, a former Marine corporal, scoffs at the idea that only 50,000 non-combat troops are being left in Iraq. He told me: “They have tried to sell the public on a false pretense. The problem is we still have infantry there. They will still have weapons. And they’re talking about sending over thousands of ‘civilian contractors’ to train police and protect Iraqis. It’s b.s.”
“They’re just re-branding everyone. We’ll still be stuck in Iraq.”
NBC New York got these statistics from the Department of Defense about the impact of the Iraq War on the New York area. Since the war began a total of 292 troops from the tri-state area died in Iraq. The number of wounded: 2,214.
Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat who served as chief weapons inspector in Iraq, said: “There were about 700 inspections and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction.”
Neither government leaders, diplomats nor the press can be proud of our performance in this situation. There were no WMDs.
Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.