When thinking of Iraq, people are obviously focused upon the United States because of its 2003 invasion, and the fact that it still has a military presence there eight years later. That often leads people to overlook what Saddam Hussein did to the country. He killed thousands of Iraqis, and displaced even more in his campaigns to suppress internal dissent. He started two misguided wars, first with Iran, and then Kuwait, which bankrupted the country.
Starting in 1980 he began his foreign policy foibles by invading Iran. He believed that the country was weak after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but his decision led to an eight year war with huge casualties, and the use of chemical weapons. In a lull in the fighting towards the end of the conflict, he took the time to attack the Kurds in the Anfal campaign, which destroyed hundreds of villages, displaced thousands, and was marked by more use of weapons of mass destruction. In 1988 the war finally ended, and although Iraq achieved none of its goals, Saddam declared victory. He was left with a shattered economy. Many of the southern oil fields, which contain the bulk of the country's reserves were damaged, and he owed billions of dollars in debt. That would lead to his second major foreign mistake, the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
In the next several days Musings On Iraq will try to cover some of these crimes committed by Saddam. The first, is the Iran-Iraq War where Saddam's military incompetence came out, and the huge debt leftover led to his invasion of Kuwait later on.