The MSM has beaten their Iraq narrative into the ground. This is what’s preventing John McCain’s accusations of Obama wanting to abandon Iraq from having the impact it should, because large parts of the public either have never heard or have forgotten the story of how and why we got into Iraq in the first place, and what happened while we were there. John McCain needs to reintroduce this story to the American public, and the only chance he has to do so is in one of the two remaining debates. In my mind, it should go something like this.
We’ve fought and won two wars in Iraq.
Let’s go back to 1990. Saddam Hussein ordered Iraq’s armed forces to conquer and occupy the neighboring state of Kuwait. The United States along with many allies, under cover of a UN resolution authorizing the use of force, liberated Kuwait from Iraq’s occupation in early 1991. The United States also encouraged Shiites to rebel against Saddam Hussein, which many did, thinking that the United States was going to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
But we didn’t. Some of our allies who were on board with expelling Iraq from Kuwait were not on board with continuing on into Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. So after it was clear that the United States was not going to overthrow him, Saddam Hussein rounded up those that rebelled against him and had them imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
Over the next twelve years, Iraq violated every UN resolution passed to restrict its behavior; eighteen of them. Through the oil-for-food scandal, Saddam Hussein bribed many foreign leaders and people of influence; he paid money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who were attacking Israel; and in 2002 he took in one of al Qaeda’s top leaders, al-Zawahari.
When it came time for the UN to vote on an authorization of force to remove Saddam Hussein, however, the money he spent as bribes paid off: the UN failed to approve an authorization of force. However, this did not stop the United States from doing what needed to be done; we gathered a coalition to invade Iraq, an even larger coalition than the one that expelled Iraq from Kuwait 12 years earlier.
Thus began the first war in Iraq, and it went very well; Baghdad fell in three weeks and Saddam Hussein went into hiding, only to be found and caught less than nine months later. We had won the war that we had prepared for. The Navy even hung a Mission Accomplished banner.
But another war was coming in Iraq that we had not prepared for. The country of Iraq was in shambles after Saddam Hussein was deposed, thanks to thirty years of his rule; there was no functioning government to speak of, and the people didn’t know how to govern themselves. Into this chaos al Qaeda decided to strike. Foreign fighters and foreign money poured into Iraq under al Qaeda’s coordination and the second war in Iraq, the war against al Qaeda, began. And to make matters worse, many of the people of Iraq didn’t want to trust us, remembering how we encouraged them to rebel against Saddam Hussein twelve years earlier and then abandoned them. Can we blame them for not wanting to be abandoned twice?
Many in the American media didn’t want to admit that al Qaeda was behind the violence in Iraq, even though the new force battling the United States in Iraq called themselves ‘al Qaeda in Iraq’; the New York Times called them ‘al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’, figuring that people didn’t know that Mesopotamia was the Biblical name for what is now Iraq. It took three years and much bloodshed before the United States came up with a plan to win this second war, thanks to General Petraeus. Many thought it was unwinnable, that we should pull out of Iraq. But thanks to the surge and perseverance, we’ve won this second war now as well. We’ve routed al Qaeda in Iraq, and we now have an invaluable new ally in the Middle East.
I’ll end this tale here, since the McCain people can write it from here better than I can. But John McCain needs to remind people why we went into Iraq (to depose Saddam Hussein) and what happened afterwards. Otherwise he has no clear answer as to why we had to deploy the surge and win in Iraq, and no clear weapon against Barack Obama who wanted to pull out of Iraq.