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November 22, 2005
A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003)By Greyhawk
The 2003 invasion of Iraq is likely to be a contested topic in the American discussion for many years to come. As with any fractious issue, opinions will vary and even individual opinions will shift and change with time. That's a part of the human condition, after all, and one that flourishes in free societies. However, much less admirable efforts by many to obscure their own positions now seem to occur with increasing frequency, as do misquotes of political opponents for personal or "party" gain. Sadly these sorts of things have become common practice among those who bear much of the responsibility for the current situation. Perhaps it has become too much for them to bear, this great and terrible burden of leadership, though stepping aside and letting those of stronger, more determined convictions carry on might be even less palatable to them. Thus history is being rewritten, and free speech is being cheapened by some who employ it the most and cherish it the least - even as Americans fight and die to uphold their rights to do so.
One of the most blatant - and most effective - examples has been the highly successful propagation of the idea that the war in Iraq began as a misguided result of the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11th 2001. To achieve this feat of near-universal denial requires the dismissing of over a decade of real history - years in which a handful of Americans drew a line in the sand on distant shores - a line crossed repeatedly and re-drawn too frequently by too many hands to be forgotten so swiftly.
And it's nearly forgotten they are, those warriors of just a few short years ago. But not just yet, at least not completely. This work in progress is dedicated to my fellow members of the US military, those who stand the "line in the sand" now and those have done so for so many years past.
Look, here is what happened. Listen, here's what they said when it did.
July 16, 1979: Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq.
Sept. 22, 1980: Iraq invades Iran, launching an eight-year war.
November 1980: US Presidential elections; Republican Ronald Reagan defeats incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.
June 7, 1981: Israeli Air Force destroys the French-built Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad. The surprise attack was launched in response to growing concerns that Iraq was planning to develop nuclear weapons to use against Israel.
January 1982: Javier Pérez de Cuéllar of Peru becomes Secretary General of the United Nations.
1983: Reports of Iraqi use of chemical weapons against Iranian forces.
November 1984: Republican Ronald Reagan re-elected as President of the United States, defeating Democrat candidate Walter Mondale.
October 7, 1985: Four Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists seized the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, taking more than 700 hostages. One U.S. passenger was murdered before the Egyptian Government offered the terrorists safe haven in return for the hostages' freedom. Years later the leader of the hijackers would be discovered in Baghdad following the 2003 invasion.
1986-1989: According to Islamic sources, Osama bin Laden participates in numerous battles during the Afghan war against the Soviets as a guerilla commander, including the fierce battle of Jalalabad which led the Soviets to finally withdraw from Afghanistan. After the Soviets pull out of Afghanistan, bin Laden returns to Saudi Arabia a hero. He becomes involved in opposition movements to the Saudi monarchy while working for his family construction firm, the Bin Laden Group.
1987: Reports of chemical warfore attacks on Kurdish villages and guerrilla fighters became more frequent and detailed. Clinical evidence as well as soil samples, confirmed the use of mustard gas and the nerve agent tabun against the Kurdish population. Although the exact number of casualties is not certain, it is generally believed that several thousand Kurdish civilians and Iranian soldiers in the area were killed and several thousands more injured.
May 21, 1987: Iraqi Mirage fighter jet attacks US Navy vessel USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, hitting the ship with two Exocet missiles and killing 37 crew members. The US increases it's naval presence in the Gulf, and begins escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers.
March 16, 1988: Iraq uses chemical weapons against Kurds supporting Iran in Halabja, killing 4000, an attack which begins the Anfal campaigns against Kurdish villages (formally continuing until 6 Sept, though attacks continued until 1989). Approximately 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds are killed in this campaign, and 1,276 villages are destroyed.
August 20, 1988: Iran-Iraq war ends in ceasefire. Death toll is unknown, estimates range from 500,000 to one million; numbers of killed and wounded are estimated as high as 2 million. UN monitoring force established for Iran-Iraq border. Confirmation by UN that Iraq did use mustard gas against Iranian civilians.
Although neither side achieved victory, Iraq retained one of the largest military forces in the world, with one million troops, more than 700 combat aircraft, 6,000 tanks, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons.
November 1988: Republican Vice President George Bush defeats Democrat candidate Michael Dukakis in US presidential elections.
Aug. 2, 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait and is condemned by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 660 which calls for full withdrawal.
August 6, 1990: UN Security Council passes Resolution UNSCR 66, imposing economic sanctions on Iraq, banning the importation of Iraqi goods and creating the "661 Committee" to oversee sanctions. Saudi King Fahd meets with US Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney and requests U.S. military assistance.
August 7, 1990: US troops arrive in Saudi Arabia, launching Operation Desert Shield. Two naval battle groups, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence, are also in the area by August 8.
Osama bin Laden is outraged by the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, considered the cradle of Islam, and begins to write treatises against the Saudi regime.
August 8, 1990: Iraq declares a "comprehensive and eternal merger" with Kuwait and annexes it as its nineteenth province.
August 9, 1990: UN resolution 662 declares the annexation of Kuwait has no legal validity.
August 25, 1990 UN resolution 665 strengthens the economic embargo against Iraq.
September 5, 1990: Iraq calls for the overthrow of leaders in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
September 13, 1990: UN resolution 666 asks for continuous information on the humanitarian situation within Kuwait and Iraq.
September 16, 1990: UN resolution 667 condemns Iraqi violation of diplomatic compounds in Kuwait and demands the immediate release of foreign nationals removed from Kuwait.
September 24, 1990: UN resolution 669 imposes an air embargo on Iraq.
October 29, 1990: UN resolution 674 reiterates the condemnation of Iraqi treatment of foreign nationals and demands their release.
November 28, 1990: John Major (Conservative Party) becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain, replacing felow Conservative Margaret Thatcher, who had served since May, 1979.
November 29, 1990: UNSC Resolution 678 authorizes the use of "all means necessary" after January 15, 1991, to enforce previous UN resolutions, including that requiring Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
January 12, 1991: Congress grants President Bush the authority to wage war. The Senate vote is 52-47 in favor.
January 17, 1991: Operation Desert Storm - the air war begins with more than 1,000 sorties launching per day. Saddam Hussein declares that "The great duel, the mother of all battles has begun. The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins."
January 18, 1990: Iraq launches Scud missiles at Israel in an attempt to broaden the war. Ultimately 39 Iraqi Scud missiles would strike Tel Aviv and Haifa.
February 24, 1991: The ground portion of the war in Iraq begins. On February 26 Iraqi troops began retreating from Kuwait, setting fire to Kuwaiti oil fields as they flee. One hundred hours after the ground campaign started, President Bush declared a ceasefire; Kuwait had been liberated.
US forces suffered 147 battle-related and 325 non-battle-related deaths. The UK suffered 24 deaths (nine of those due to friendly fire), the Arab countries lost 39 men (18 Saudis, 10 Egyptians, 6 from the UAE, 3 Syrians, and 1 Kuwaiti), and France lost 2 men. Estimates of Iraqi casualties range from tens to hundreds of thousands.
3 March 1991: At cease-fire talks with the Iraqis at Safwan, General Norman Schwarzkopf warns the Iraqis that coalition forces would shoot down any Iraqi military aircraft flying over the country.
March 10, 1991: (Media) The New York TImes:
After the War: Politics; Another Gulf War?March 10 - 17, 1991: UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar dispatches an inter-agency mission to assess the humanitarian needs arising in Iraq and Kuwait. The mission reports that "the Iraqi people may soon face a further imminent catastrophe, which could include epidemic and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not rapidly met." Throughout 1991 the United Nations proposes measures to enable Iraq to sell limited quantities of oil to meet its people's needs. The Government of Iraq declines these offers.
20 March 1991: A US F-15C shoots down an Iraqi SU-22 flying over northern Iraq.
22 March 1991: A US F-15C shoots down another Iraqi SU-22 over northern Iraq. That same day, another US pilot intimidates the pilot of an Iraqi PC-9 (a training aircraft) to eject. Iraqi fixed-wing aircraft stayed on the ground for the next 12 months.
March/April 1991: Following the end of DESERT STORM in March, Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in Northern Iraq rebel against Hussein's regime. Most major American newspapers urge the US to stay out of the conflicts.
THE BOSTON GLOBE:Major cities in South & Kurdish areas come under rebel control but the southern revolt is crushed by 29 March and the Kurdish revolt by early April. By some estimates 1.5 million Kurds flee into Turkey and Iran.
The British newspaper The Guardian:
A monstrous crime is being perpetrated in Kurdistan. As the Kurdish people's brief springtime of freedom ends, they are, and will be, subject not only to the effects of a war waged in their own cities and towns without restraint or morality, but to the reimposition of Saddam Hussein's brutal rule and his revenge on those who have challenged him.The Wall Street Journal would report in November, 1997:
In late March 1991, shortly after the Gulf War, Iraqis were in open revolt. Fighting erupted in all but three of Iraq's provinces, and Saddam's army was left with two days' worth of ammunition. A desperate Saddam sent one of his highest-ranking officers as a "defector" with information that Iraq's senior military leaders were on the verge of a coup but hesitated as long as they faced the threat of a revolution. Accordingly, the U.S. signaled to Saddam that he could use his air power, grounded under the terms of the cease-fire, to crush the revolt. No coup followed.April, 1991: Osama Bin Laden flees Saudi Arabia, after being confined to Jiddah for his opposition to the Saudi alliance with the United States. He moves first to Afghanistan and then to Khartoum, Sudan by 1992 (Source: Newsweek 2/1/99). Sudan had begun to allow any Muslim into the country without a visa, in a display of Islamic solidarity. Allegedly, hundreds of suspected terrorists and ex-mujahedeen come to Sudan as a safe haven (Source: New York Times 9/21/98).
April 3, 1991: UN Security Council resolution 687 establishes the terms of the peace, including return of Kuwaiti property and prisoners, economic sanctions, and Iraqi disarmament. The resolution declares that Iraq shall unconditionally accept, under international supervision, the destruction, removal or rendering harmless of its weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles with a range over 150 kilometres, and related production facilities and equipment. It also provides for establishment of a system of ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with the ban on these weapons and missiles, and requires Iraq to make a declaration, within 15 days, of the location, amounts and types of all such items.
The U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) is established to monitor compliance. The International Atomic Energy Agency is authorized to document and destroy Iraqi efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Iraq accepts the resolution.
April 5, 1991: President Bush orders US European Command to assist Kurds and other refugees in the mountains of northern Iraq. Meanwhile, the Joint Chiefs of Staff order forces in Europe to airdrop essential supplies to displaced persons in northern Iraq by 7 April, and to prepare to deploy a US military medical unit to southern Turkey.
6 April 1991: Joint Task Force Provide Comfort formed and deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to conduct humanitarian operations in northern Iraq. After the Kurdish revolt against the Iraqi government failed about 1.5 million refugees fled to the mountains along the border with Turkey and Iran.
7 April 1991: Combined Task Force Provide Comfort begins humanitarian operations from Incirlik AB, Turkey. The task force drops its first supplies to Kurdish refugees.
April 7, 1991: (Media) The New York Times:
Iraq Approval Starts Peace ScheduleApril 10, 1991: US officials warn Iraq not to interfere with relief operations of Combined Task Force Provide Comfort. No Iraqi planes (fixed- or rotary-winged) are to fly north of the 36th parallel.
April 10, 1991 UN 'safe haven' established in northern Iraq for protection of Kurds.
April 11, 1991: The United Nations announced the formal end to the Persian Gulf War.
As noted at the outset, this is a work in progress. Events, links, and quotes will be added with time.
Many collections of quotes from are available around the web. My ultimate goal is to restore such comments to their full historical and contextual frame by providing links to source documents. Please forgive me for not having achieved this yet.
UNSCOM. (Thanks to Chris Kornkven for pointing us in that direction.)
The goal of this effort has been to provide a list of facts and quotes, without bias or interpretation. There are those who will see such things as exactly that, and those who will claim it's exactly the opposite. So it goes.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 22, 2005 2:05 AM | Permalink
... and now I see that Greyhawk has rolled the boulder to new heights ... You NEED to read A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003) -- and then bookmark it for future reference ... Read More
-::-Final Vote 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal-::- IRAQ WAR SHOWDOWN ON HILL -- PULLOUT VOTE SET FOR APPROXIMATELY 7PM Republicans on the Hill put it to a vote Pull the troops out of Iraq or not? The De... Read More
And Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and about three quarters of the left side of the political spectrum. For a post titled "A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003)", Mudville Gazette has a long, link-filled,... Read More
Excellent article written by Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette: The 2003 invasion of Iraq is likely to be a contested topic in the American discussion for many years to come. As with any fractious issue, opinions will vary and even individual opini... Read More
Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette has compiled an Iraq War Timeline, 1990-2003, which is going to prove a handy reference. Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds. Unfortunately, Greyhawk omits referencing the highly significant fact that “during Operation De... Read More
Greyhawk at the Mudvillegazette has compiled an important piece of evidence regarding the war against Iraq Read More
Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette has a must read regarding the timeline of events that led us to the Iraq war. A definite must read. Hat tip: Michelle Malkin ... Read More
Greyhawk of The Mudville Gazette has put together an outstanding history of the Iraq war from 1990 to 2003. I would call it must reading but it is too long for that, unless you are feeling ambitious. It is definitely a must skim and a must bookmark for... Read More
OF THE WARS being fought throughout the world today, the future of the United States depends upon the outcome of three battles. And while progress is being made in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the third front is even more dangerous: the Democratic Party... Read More
The Mudville Gazette has a great history lesson, a rebuttal to all those willful amnesiacs who think the current war to liberate Iraq was “a fraud cooked up in Texas” by President Bush. Of course the unfortunate truth today is that the D... Read More
The Cold Feet Democrats voted for the war because they thought it important to their own future political ambitions, not because they believed in it. Now that support for the war has moved from vote-getting to vote-repelling, these same Democrats hav... Read More
I have about reached my limit of anti-Bush, anti-war rhetoric in the Democratic party. The reality is that the terrorists are looking to people like this to bolster their efforts. They are citing the comments from people like this as evidence that th... Read More
Greyhawk has a lengthy history of the Iraq war and what led up to it. Great read, worth your time! Linked at STACLU... Read More
My amazement grows regularly, as people against having our troops in Iraq (read: Those who are against the war, but lack the courage to just say it) now have this "new" idea on our witrhdrawal. Interestingly enough, they say since there are about 9... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com