They were real, because Iraq was a baddie. Also, because Colin Powell said Iraq had WMDs and there was no way in hell Colin Powell wouldn’t tell us the truth.
Never mind that repeated UN inspections found Iraq had no WMDs - that’s because Saddam was really clever and moved WMDs around so they wouldn’t be found and misled investigators who weren’t really bright and wouldn’t dig far enough to uncover the real truth. Hence, Iraq had WMDs and coordinated with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden to pull off 9/11, and Saddam’s regime needed to be toppled once and for all in the name of democracy, freedom and not letting the terrorists win.
Iraq had an active chemical and biological weapons program for years. They used chemical weapons against soldiers and civilians during the Iran Iraq war. The US was happy Saddam had chemical weapons then as it kept Iran at bay, and the CIA even helped Saddam use them vs Iran: Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran – Foreign Policy He also gassed Kurds in Iraq. The US and other countries were happy to ship him precursor chemicals to help his program.
Post the Gulf War, the UN and the US dismantled the Iraq chemical weapons stockpile and their capacity. The US and the Brits voiced concerns that Saddam was restarting the chemical weapons program, but I don’t think anything ever was definitively found and some of the “evidence” was almost certainly fabricated.
I recall that the polling supporting the war was gradually declining as the Bush Admin sort of amped up its claims and the whole thing felt like it was a false justification, or at least one where an actual war was required to solve. I think the invasion happened right before support dropped below 50%.
People were scared of another 9/11 and were willing to support something as a result.
I wasn’t quite an adult yet and didn’t read about “polling numbers.” In my somewhat purple area I’d agree that support was waning… But I’d say at least 50% in support of whatever war.
Or at very least, once we had boots on the ground it was anathema to question it. Questioning the war at all was hating our troops was hating America. That wore off slowly, but was quite true through the 00’s.
That’s the key thing. Saddam had chemical weapons because we supplied him with chemical weapons and the knowledge of how to make and use them - and since he was using them against Iran, who was evil incarnate to the U.S., it was perfectly acceptable. It was only after Iraq was broke and invaded Kuwait to get out from under crushing debt that Iraq became a bad guy - and then it was further cemented when Saddam attacked the Kurds (who’d previously tried to fight of Saddam and were allied with Iran - which in that aspect made them bad guys, but then they wanted to fight off Saddam when Saddam became a bad guy so that made them good guys, which by association should have made Iran good guys, but they’re not because we’ll probably always hate Iran).
The whole I can’t believe the tiger I’d trained to eat people’s faces tried to eat my face too! thing.
Bush did not end up convincing many major countries to join the US in invading Iraq. After mass protests in Canada, the Canadian PM withdrew our support for the US in invading Iraq despite our longstanding history of supporting the US on its military adventures. The Canadian people did not believe Iraq should be invaded without the UN’s agreement.
I was amazed that 20,000 people participated in the Vancouver protest march. The only protest I ever participated in where I could see an immediate influence on government policy. Our PM was overwhelmed by the responses all across the country.
Even with Powell’s testimony, Bush was unable to get the UN approval for the invasion. That was a significant part of the reason why many countries (including Canada and France) did not join the US-led coalition that invaded Iraq: it was an illegal invasion in the eyes of the UN.
I was skeptical of Powell’s testimony simply because Dick Cheney was the Iraq mastermind……
just read the chapter in Lies My Teacher Told Us about the Iraq invasion post 9/11. we invaded precisely bc they were baddies, part of the alleged “axis of evil” with NK and Iraq and we knew they didn’t have them - them not having them made the invasion and fast victory possible.
No doubt that Saddam was a baddie but, after the Shah of Iran was deposed, Iran was viewed by the US as more evil than Iraq and more hostile to the US. The US was thus content to support Iraq in the 1980’s Iran-Iraq war as that war kept Iran in check.
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” school of thought was subsequently discarded when the US-led coalitions invaded Iraq in 1990 and again in 2003. The Iraq counterweight to Iran has disappeared as a result of these wars. However the Saudis now appear to be a bit of a counterweight to Iran in the region.