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September 15, 2013

ED VASICEK: Syria and the war on terror

Iraq war opponent proposes military strike against Syria.

By the time you read this, America will have marked the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. We were warned early on that the “war on terror” would last decades; this appears to be the case. With President Obama proposing strikes against Syria, Congress opposed, and the Syrian leader offering to turn over supervision of illegal weapons to the U.N. (I am skeptical), it seems we are repeating a pattern we’ve seen before.

When I peruse articles I wrote during that era, I remember saying, even if Saddam’s Iraq did not conceal weapons of mass destruction (and I believed it did), America was justified in attacking. Iraq had violated the terms of surrender that ended the Gulf War, Saddam had tried to have George H.W. Bush assassinated, he threatened terrorist acts against the U.S., and Saddam had massacred thousands of his own people. Someone needed to step in and end his reign of terror.

According to the Syrian Sun, “Saddam Hussein launched a genocidal bloodbath against the Kurdish people in Halabja in 1988, which he used chemical weapons and killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, and injured around 7,000 to 10,000 more. The majority of them were civilians; besides the instantly killed, thousands more died of complications, diseases, and birth defects in the years after the massacre.”

Stories of Saddam’s cruelty are well-know. President Assad of Syria belongs to the same political party as did Saddam and is following suit. His current use of chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians has been making the headlines.

When George W. Bush led the war on terror into Iraq, he did so for a variety of reasons. First and foremost was his concern for the safety of our homeland. In the shadow of 9/11, it seemed reasonable to destroy the terrorist training centers in Afghanistan and to then take down Saddam Hussein. What we thought were reliable intelligence sources proved unreliable. Indigenous contacts, bitter because of Saddam’s massacres, convinced our leaders (and leaders from other nations) that the dictator harbored weapons of mass destruction — and that he was planning to attack the United States.

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