Chapter 6



“…Peace to you, O Iraq!
Peace to springtime, coming forth from the fissures of the earth!
Peace to Baghdad, redeemer and redeemed!
Peace to Basra, to its burnt palm-trees!
Peace to Kirkuk, to its red sky!
Peace to Amara, to its marshes mined with dynamite!
Peace to the fourteen provinces!

Thus does the war get up from sleep.
A man takes it to a hillock
And leaves it in History.
Then he wipes away his tears with a rose
Which he hurls at a hazel bird,
Which rises up from its ashes
And soars far away.”


From the poem “Every Morning the War Gets Up from Sleep” by Fadhil al-Azzawi
Translated by Salaam Yousif and Melissa L. Brown, and the poet for Iraqi Poetry Today, Modern Poetry in Translation No. 19, edited by Daniel Weissbort and guest editor Saadi A. Simawe. King’s College London. Permission granted to reproduce excerpt by Saadi Simawe, editor.

The Road to War

The current U.S. involvement in Iraq has its origins in conflicts dating back to 1990. On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened to move into Saudi Arabia. The United Nations quickly imposed economic sanctions and ordered Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991. When this withdrawal did not occur, the Persian Gulf War officially began with the bombing of Iraq by coalition forces.

In late February a successful ground invasion followed, and by March Iraq accepted a cease-fire that outlined its suspension of programs for weapons-of-mass-destruction and an end to its support of international terrorism. In April 1991, a no-fly zone was created over northern Iraq and in August 1992, another over southern Iraq.


In April 1993, an Iraqi-led assassination attempt in Kuwait on President George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, failed. In response, the United States fired Cruise missiles at an Iraqi intelligence building in Baghdad.

Two years later on April 14, 1995, the UN allowed Iraq to resume some of its oil exports to buy food and medicine as part of an “oil for food” program. However, despite these humanitarian efforts, tensions increased in March 1996, when Iraq denied UN inspection teams access to sensitive military areas.

From 1996 to 2001 Iraq, led by the powerful regime of Saddam Hussein, continued its pattern of allowing UN inspectors unrestricted access and then withdrawing its cooperation from UN monitoring bodies.

George H. W. Bush
41st President of the
United States

george bush
George W. Bush
43rd President of the
United States

In his State of the Union address in January 2002, President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, named Iraq as part of the world’s “axis of evil” and continued that year to outline the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq. In October 2002, Congress authorized the use of force against Iraq.

UN weapons inspectors continued their work and reported to the UN Security Council in January 2003 that they still had concerns regarding undeclared weapons material.

On March 16, 2003, the leaders of the United States, Britain, Spain and Portugal issued a one-day deadline for diplomacy and warned that war could start immediately. On March 17 President Bush gave Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or “face the full force and might” of the American military. Hussein did not comply. On March 20, 2003, the United States and coalition forces began their assault on Iraq.


Saddam Hussein
President of Iraq from 1979-2003

Hussein was born in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, into a poor farming family. In 1955 he moved to Baghdad where he became involved in politics and joined the Baath Party, an Arab nationalist movement.

The Baath Party seized power in Iraq during a coup in 1968, and Hussein and his followers established the Revolutionary Command Council with absolute authority in Iraq. His regime was “characterized by brutal suppression of internal opposition.”

In September 1980 Hussein invaded Iran, and the Iran-Iraq War left Iraq with debts of about $75 billion. In 1990 to make Kuwait forgive its share of Iraq’s debt, Hussein invaded Kuwait, but an international coalition led by the United States rid Kuwait of the Iraqis in the conflict known as the Persian Gulf War, in which 425,000 American troops and 118,000 allied troops fought.

In the mid-1990s the United Nations inspection teams attempted to verify that Iraq no longer was developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons – but during a series of international confrontations, Hussein was deemed to be out of compliance with UN sanctions. United States-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003. Hussein was apprehended by U.S. military personnel in December 2003.


For additional information about the War in Iraq, please see the following online sources:

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