It was 1998, and Iraq and the U.S. were edging toward war.
The Iraqi dictator, President Clinton warned that February, "threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region, and the security of all the rest of us. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal." In October, the Iraq Liberation Act, which made regime change in Iraq official U.S. policy, passed 360-38 in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate. In December, Mr. Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombardment of Iraq with the declared purpose of degrading Saddam's WMD capability.
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi, justifying the case for military action on the eve of Mr. Clinton's impeachment.
Whatever else might be said about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which began 10 years ago, its origins, motives and justifications did not lie in the Administration of George W. Bush. On the contrary, when Mr. Bush came to office in January 2001 he inherited an Iraq that amounted to a simmering and endless crisis for the U.S.—one that Saddam appeared to be winning.
... Today's conventional wisdom is that the Iraq war was an unmitigated fiasco that squandered American lives and treasure for the sake of a goal that wasn't worth the price. It's certainly true the Iraq war is a cautionary tale about the difficulty democracies have in sustaining lengthy military campaigns for any goal short of national survival.
What's also true, however, is that the war came about because the crisis of Iraq was allowed to fester for a decade, because Saddam was a real menace, and because a world in which he had been allowed to survive would have been far worse for America and the region. The men and women who fought and died removed a grave threat to the Middle East and to America.
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Note: Above is a Defense Department map of Iraq and the Middle East.