The Saddam Question

On April 25, 2019, BGES celebrates 25 fantastic years of fronting Civil War education and preservation. In that time, we’ve scoured related sites both large and small with our premier study tours, and branched off into other important areas of American history as well. We’ve launched some important legacy preservation projects, grown our Wounded Warrior tours for America’s heroes, and published books and monographs. And through it all, we’ve been honored to engage with some of history’s and the military’s greatest minds. To commemorate our 25 th anniversary, in the days leading up to the Big Day some of our members will be sharing their favorite BGES stories on these pages. Be sure to return to the website often to relive some poignant memories.

I began with BGES in the late ’90s. On one of my first tours, Len had a banquet in Warrenton, with Dr. Lawrence Eagleberger as guest speaker. Dr. Eagleberger was Secretary of State under Bush 41, and was a very intelligent man. After a great talk, he opened up the floor for questions. Being the bashful individual that I am, I raised my hand and was called on by Dr. Eagleberger.

I asked him this question. Remember this is post-Desert Storm 1 and prior to 9/11. I asked, “Dr. Eagleberger, why did President Bush not take Sadat Hussein out before he ended the fighting?”

Dr. Eagleberger responded that he liked my tie, and the question was a very good one. He told the group that we knew exactly where Saddam was, what troops were guarding him, etc. Then he made a comment that, in view of what has happened in that area since then, was very prescient and profound. Dr. Eagleberger told us that BEFORE you take Satan out as leader of Iraq, you better damn sure KNOW who was going to replace
him, and “we didn’t have ANYBODY we trusted to assume the leadership of Iraq. He said you had to make sure the replacement would not be worse than Saddam. Dr. Eagleberger made the point that the U.S. knew what to expect from Saddam, going forward after the war. We knew that he didn’t have enough troops left to disturb his neighboring countries, but that he probably would attack the Kurds, which is exactly what he did. Dr. Eagleberger told the group that “we considered that to be the price to pay for stability in the region!”

I’ve often wondered if George W. Bush didn’t consult with his father about his plans after 9/11, given the difference in Iraq since 2001. Surely Bush 41 would have shared with him his reasoning in leaving Saddam in office. I’ve thought about this many times since that night, and all the lives lost or changed forever, as well as the TRILLIONS of dollars of treasure, seemingly flushed down the toilet.