Was The Iraq Campaign “The Mother of All Wars?”
By James Donahue
Back in 1991 when President George H. W. Bush was gathering world forces for America’s
first assault on Iraq, that country’s dictator Saddam Hussein’s threat that it would become “the mother
of all wars” became a national joke.
How could such a small and relatively backward country stand up against the combined
force of the United States and the United Nations, we asked. And as we launched that assault, at the time justified because
we were told Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Quait, we watched Hussein’s forces crumble within days. The worst that
happened was that a few of the Iraqi scud missiles terrified Israel and at least one of them landed in one of the U.S. military
camps at the Quaiti border.
It wasn’t long before Saddam’s warning became a catch phrase and an American
joke. If we wanted to stress the importance of something, it was referred
to as “the mother of . . .” and that always drew a smile.
But as we all know, our business with Iraq was far from over after the 1991 assault
stopped at the edge of Baghdad and the UN troops backed off. The many oil fires in Southern Iraq were extinguished and Saddam
remained in power. Then after George W. Bush got in office in 2001, the 9-11 attacks happened, part of the Bush retaliation
was to launch a second invasion of Iraq. This battle, justified on a lie that Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction,
lasted a decade before the next American president, Barack Obama, shut it down.
By then 4,487 American troops were dead, another 32,223 left maimed and mentally
handicapped, and some estimate that more than 600,000 Iraqis were killed
In terms of cost, the Iraq conflict, calculated to have totaled an estimated $3 trillion
is among the most expensive wars in American history. Only World War II topped this at $5 trillion.
Only the Vietnam War which lasted 12 years, and the Afghanistan conflict, now in
its eleventh year, were longer in duration.
The invasion of Iraq brought an end to Hussein, but opened the door to a civil war
which was raging even as American troops were loading their gear for the plane rides home. The political, religious and ethnic
turmoil in that region is running red hot and may not quiet down for a very long time.
Those who were involved in the 1991 Iraq invasion have not forgotten what happened
to the soldiers. A quarter million troops came home suffering from a mystery illness, dubbed Gulf War Syndrome that left them
Dr. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army’s depleted uranium project, said
at the start of the second assault that the waste from our own radioactive bombs and bullets was making American troops and
innocent civilians sick.
“It’s not just uranium. You’ve got all the complex organics and
inorganic (compounds) that are released in those fires and detonations. And they’re sucking this in . . . You’ve
got the whole toxic wasteland,” Rokke said.
He warned that the land was polluted with chemical, biological and radioactive weapon
residue from the first assault. Everybody inhaled this toxic material while in sandstorms, smoke from the oil fires and the
waste created by the use of uranium tipped projectiles from tanks, aircraft, machine guns and missiles.
What will be the long range impact of all this poison? Only time will tell. Indeed,
America’s involvement in Iraq and the Middle East promises to have a long-lasting effect on everybody for many years.
In a strange and unexpected way, the Iraq War could be turning out to be just exactly what Saddam Hussein said it would be:
“the mother of all wars.”