Newburyport Daily News
---- — To the editor:
The excellent Opinion column in March 7’s Daily News highlights one of the most tragic blunders in our country’s history — our invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Fueled by incompetent intelligence information and misguided enthusiasm on the part of the Bush Administration, we entered into a conflict impulsively that has resulted in long-term negative impacts to our country and the Middle East region as a whole.
There are a few lingering issues that have never quite been resolved, the most important of which is the question of whatever became of the weapons of mass festruction (WMDs) that were used to justify the invasion in the first place. We have confirmed records that Saddam Hussein used extensive chemical weapons against Iran in their war with their neighbors and in fact used these same weapons against their own citizens (Iraqi Kurds) to put down their rebellion against the Hussein dictatorship. So what happened to the vast stockpile of chemical weapons prior to the U.S. invasion?
A rumor that has been circulating suggests that an interview with a former senior-level military commander in Hussein’s army revealed that he personally observed that the chemical weapons cache was secretly shipped to Syria where the former Assad regime stockpiled it for future use. Hussein realized that the U.S. was preparing for an invasion and wanted to preserve his WMDs and at the same time claim that indeed he had no weapons of mass destruction for the world to see.
A question we need to ask is, “Where did Syria get the huge stockpile of chemical weapons that have recently come to light?” Is it reasonable to assume they would have manufactured such large quantities for their “own protection”? Perhaps we’ll never know the full story.
The real reason that we should never have embarked on such an impulsive endeavor is that by removing Saddam Hussein, we destabilized the Middle East balance between the Iranian Shiites and the Saudi Arabian Sunnis. Ten years latter, Iraq is falling into the deadly confrontation of a looming civil war. We are now seeing the consequences of our unfortunate decision to go to war in a region that we neither understood the cultural considerations nor the long-term implications of our intervention. Hopefully, this will be a lesson for the future as we face the threats in Syria, North Korea and Iran.