- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

COMMENTARY:

In the coming months, years and decades, history will be the judge of what kind of leader former President Bush was, but those Americans interested in preserving his legacy must take an aggressive approach to dispel the many myths and lies that already exist.

Clearly, the most contested area of Mr. Bush’s presidency will be his foreign policy, namely his decision to send troops to Iraq. For several years, numerous myths have existed about the war, and it is imperative that we correct any falsehoods for the historical record.

These myths have falsely portrayed Mr. Bush as an imperialist president who illegally invaded a foreign country to seize its oil and dominate its people. The truth however, is that Mr. Bush liberated a country from the cruelty and oppression of a sadistic dictator, returned the oil to the Iraqi people and acted in full compliance with both domestic and international law. In fact, Mr. Bush’s decision to send troops back to Iraq not only complied with international law but fulfilled obligations set by the United Nations.

In October 2002, Congress authorized the president to use whatever military force was necessary to fulfill U.N. resolutions pertaining to Iraq and the Gulf war. This was because after the U.N. authorized a coalition of the willing to use military force against Iraq for its illegal invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the U.N. temporarily suspended the Gulf war in 1991 with a cease-fire agreement that imposed stipulations upon Saddam Hussein.

Saddam violated those cease-fire conditions by failing to give U.N. weapon inspectors unfettered access, which actually prompted military action from President Clinton in 1998 when he launched a massive bombing campaign against Iraq during Operation Desert Fox.

In 2002, the United Nations resolved that Saddam was in “material breach” of the cease-fire agreement and that Iraq faced “serious consequences.” Because the cease-fire did not end but merely suspended the Gulf war, Saddam Hussein’s continued violations of the agreement reactivated the war.

President Bush did not start a new war in 2003 that violated domestic or international law. He merely complied with Congress’ 2002 vote by honoring resolutions passed by the United Nations that reactivated the original Gulf war.

The president’s critics accuse his administration of falsifying intelligence about Saddam Hussein having the capability of building weapons of mass destruction. This stems from the claim that the president solely relied on intelligence that Saddam was trying to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger to build a nuclear weapons program. These reports later proved to be inaccurate.

The media failed to emphasize, however, that Saddam was already in possession of 550 tons of yellowcake uranium, which he was storing at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex south of Baghdad. That uranium was found and secured by coalition troops in 2003 after they liberated Iraq and was finally transported to Canada in July 2008.

The president’s critics also blast him for allegedly implementing a new policy of Iraqi regime change when in fact that policy was established in the Iraq Liberation Act, signed by President Clinton in 1998. The Act made it the official policy of the United States to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. President Bush did not implement a new policy of regime change in Iraq. He was acting in the spirit of the policy already established by President Clinton.

The decision to send troops back to Iraq in 2003 was indeed liberation and not an invasion. Investigations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the U.S. Department of State and the British government have all found evidence that the Iraqi people lived under a regime that systematically employed methods of torture and fear. Dissidents suffered from bizarre, cruel methods of torture including dismemberment, piercing, bone-crushing, cutting, acid baths and imprisonment inside coffin-size cells.

Women accused of prostitution were publicly beheaded without a trial and male soldiers were authorized to rape women to punish their family members for political resistance. Men were often forced to watch soldiers rape their wives, sisters and daughters as a method of punishment when the female victim was innocent.

The removal of Saddam Hussein from power was not an invasion, it was liberation.

One of the most widely spread conspiracy theories about President Bush and the war is the false allegation that he sent troops to Iraq to illegally steal its oil. There is no truth to this allegation. In fact, the new Oil Draft Law under consideration by the Iraqi government proposes using “production-sharing agreements,” which is the same type of oil distribution system used in Iraq for decades.

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