Bush VS Obama: The Cold, Hard Facts, Part 2: Military Action

by Sean A. Langley, Guest Contributor

This is going to be one where I get a lot of heat, but I’ll deal with it.

Bush was involved with two wars. The first one was in Afghanistan, due to their belief that the 9/11 attacks were from Osama Bin Laden. While Osama initially denied any involvement in 2001 attacks, he later confirmed his involvement (as if we didn’t already know, as members of the Hamburg Cell of the Taliban comitted the 9/11 attacks and the Taliban is based in Afghanistan), which pretty much resolves that question.

It should be noted that while President Bush had U.S. Forces invade Afghanistan in 2001, on 14 September 2001, Congress passed legislation titled Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, which was signed on 18 September 2001 by President Bush. It authorized the use of U.S. Armed Forces against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and those who harbored them. Meaning Bush sought and gained approval from Congress before sending any troops. Therefore, the War in Afghanistan can be said to be legally justified.

The Iraq war is a bit complicated and requires a brief history of it.

For all intents, the Iraq War is actually just another chapter in the Gulf War. The first chapter of the Gulf War, code-named Operation: Desert Shield, was in response to Iraq’s illegal invasion and attempt to annex a U.S. ally, Kuwait, in 1990. The battles were one-sided and short and quickly ended with a cease-fire on 28 February 1991, negotiated between the UN Coalition and Iraq.

However, a cease-fire is not an official end to a war. The war never officially stopped, which was why former President Bill Clinton could authorize bombings and missile strikes during his Presidency.

In 1993, former President George H. Bush was visiting Kuwait. Iraqi intelligence agents crossed over into Kuwait illegally and attempted to assassinate him. While Bill Clinton and Bush certainly had their issues, Clinton refused to tolerate the attempted assassination on a U.S. citizen visiting an allied nation, particularly a former U.S. President. Thus, he fired 24 cruise missiles from two Navy ships, destroying the Iraqi Intelligence HQ. Former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin said that they were “sending a message” to Iraq. Saddam couldn’t be reached for comment, I think at that time he was digging the beginnings of his spider-hole in a dead panic.

In 1996, the Iraqi military lead an offensive campaign against the Kurds in Iraq. It was pretty close to genocidal and very well could have ended up that way if the U.S. hadn’t interfered (as a veteran that served during in three deployments to Iraq, the first during the Surge in ‘05-’06, then serving in ‘08-’09 and finally in Operation:New Dawn in 2011, I can verify that the Saddam supporters hated Khurds, Shia Muslims, Jews and Christians with utter violence).

Furthermore, Saddam was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 forbidding repression of Iraq ’​s ethnic minorities. So, President Clinton had missile strikes from a joint-force of the U.S. Navy and Air Force on Kut, Iskandariyah, Nasiriyah, and Tallil. Which pretty much put an end to those hostilities (I think Saddam freaked out and went right back to digging his spider-hole during that period). The incident was referred to as Operation: Desert Strike.

Finally, in 1998 the bombing of Iraq (code-named Operation Desert Fox) was a major four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets for Iraq’s failure to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions and its interference with United Nations Special Commission inspectors (i.e., submit to weapon inspections to ensure that neither illegally inhumane weapons nor weapons of mass destruction were being manufactured, kept or used).

President Clinton said the focus was to “degrade, not destroy.” The Iraqi’s basically said, “if we’d known that was all you were going to do, we’d have stopped those inspections a long time ago.” That being said, I do believe Saddam had his spider-hole about 3/4 of the way done by this point.

There was a scandal involved, as they found U.S. intelligence agents planted with the U.N. inspectors, but that would have qualified for a complaint, not a refusal for inspection like Iraq did.

However, there was no official cease-fire after the revelation of CIA involvement nor was there a “real” end to the Gulf War. Therefore, as Iraq was still not submitting to inspections after that, it essentially meant every day after Desert Fox, they could have justified invading Iraq on the case of a technicality.

Truth be told, Bush didn’t even need claims of WMD’s actually being there or of Iraq possibly being involved with 9/11. In 2002, he wanted the inspections resumed in Iraq (as was legally expected). In 2002, U.N. Resolution 1441 was passed where Iraq was to resume and not at all prevent or slow down any inspections, and that if they would not cooperate, then the use of military force by the U.S. and it’s allies was permitted. Iraq refused inspections of certain key areas in 2003.

Upon that refusal, President Bush had full authority and even in fact had attained permission from the U.N., having made several warnings to Iraq and demands that the inspections be permitted to be completed prior to. Even with U.N. approval and U.K. support, President Bush still chose to request permission from Congress in accordance to the U.S. Constitution.

“The Iraq Resolution,” authorizing an invasion of Iraq, was introduced in Congress on 2 October 2002, in conjunction with the Administration’s proposals, H.J. Res. 114 passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. EDT on 10 October 2002, by a vote of 296-133, and passed the Senate just after midnight, early Friday morning, at 12:50 a.m. EDT on 11 October 2002, by a vote of 77-23. It was signed into law as Pub.L. 107–243 by President Bush on October 16, 2002.

We can always debate whether or not there were real WMDs, whether or not intel or evidence offered of the WMDs and/or an Iraqi influence of 9/11 was real or false. We can always debate the morality of the Iraq War, the methods in which it was carried out, but the legality of it was, Bush acted well within the rights of the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. Constitution.

Now for Obama. Obama DID reduce and finally pull out the majority of the U.S. military in Iraq, an operation called Operation: New Dawn (yes I was there. No, I was not part of the conclusion of Operation: New Dawn). Obama wanted to pull us out fast but we had concerns about it being too fast. Funniest thing is, I had the honor of meeting and even working with some Iraqi Generals and Colonels. They agreed and in fact wanted us to stay longer. We can always debate that but we can’t debate the legality of Obama to pull troops out of Iraq. That WAS legal…

Which leads us to Part 3: Authoritative Powers

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