A few months after President Bush sent troops into Iraq, I stated in an informal setting of about 10 people that the decision to invade was one of the stupidest decisions ever made by an American president. The debate that preceded the invasion revolved around whether or not Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and chemical weapons.
The debate itself was an exercise in theater of the absurd. In 1988, the Iraqi regime had used chemical weapons against the Kurdish population of Halabja, killing more than 3,000 civilians and injuring at least 7,000 more, many of whom died later. Aside from condemnation there was no other response from the international community.
The idea that after getting off without retribution for this heinous action, Saddam Hussein suddenly renounced the production of chemical weapons is ridiculous. Every high-ranking official in the Clinton administration, including the president himself, was on record stating that the Iraqi regime still had chemical weapons. Now various commentators are once again bringing up the old charge that Bush "lied" in making his case for the invasion.
President Bush went to Congress for authorization to invade and got what he wanted, with the support of many Democrats. He sent Colin Powell to the United Nations to present his case and won the support of a coalition of nations who supplied troops and other support. Bush was wrong, Congress was wrong and the nations in the coalition were wrong.
In fact, the debate never should have been about whether Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons. The debate should have been about whether he would use them against the United States or our ally Israel and that would not have been much of a debate. Saddam was surely an evil dictator but he was not stupid. He knew that any such action would have resulted in massive retaliation leading to his destruction. Thus, the United States had no good reason to intervene.