This man tried to kill my dad?

A couple of days ago we passed the tenth anniversary of Operation Desert Fox, when U. S. Air Forces, under then president Bill Clinton, tried to take out Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. 

Of course, there probably were no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) then.   We learned that when the next president, George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.   But, at the time, that was irrelevant to me.  I never for a second thought that the invasion had anything to do with WMD.  As far as I was concerned it had always and only been about Saddam Hussein. 

In 1998, while Operation Desert Fox was underway, I was talking to George W. Bush regularly on the telephone, I told my wife that if he became president we would have another war with Iraq. 

Years before, in 1987-88, I reported directly to George W. Bush.  He was helping his father’s presidential campaign.  I ran some of the coalitions.  And when George W. went out on the road I was often his traveling companion.  He loved his father.  Well, it was probably a love- hate relationship but he wouldn’t have known that.  He was also intimidated by his father.  His greatest fear was to be diminished or humiliated in front of his father.  Believe me, I could tell you stories.

And then, when the Bush family was out of power, after the White House years were over and Bill Clinton was president, and the dad, the former president, George Herbert Walker Bush, was invited for a triumphant visit to Kuwait, the country he had defended against Saddam Hussein’s aggression, there was a terrible moment.  We learned that Saddam Hussein had dispatched a team to assassinate him.

The Bush family felt so helpless.  It is a scary thing to be a target of a head of state.  A state has resources that the richest people in the world don’t have. 

And what did President Bill Clinton do?  How did he respond?  He fired off a cruise missile to take out an anti-aircraft battery in Baghdad.

After 9-11, when they asked President George W. Bush what he was going to do about the terrorist attack, he told a group of Senators, “I’ll tell you what I’m not gonna do.  I’m not gonna fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

That’s how Clinton had responded when Saddam Hussein had tried to kill Bush’s father.  It had seemed to the family like a pretty pathetic reaction.  Not much of a deterrent.  

I remember going out to eat with one of the Bush sons during the first Gulf War.  We ate at Maxims in Paris.  His wife, the president’s daughter in law, was going to Madrid the next day.  And she wanted to take one of the kids with her because if one of the president’s grandkids went along, she would have Secret Service protection.  But the kids wanted to stay in Paris with the dad, the president’s son.

I will never forget what was going on at that table.  There was fear.  I hadn’t expected that.  But I could feel it in the conversation.  And then I realized how vulnerable they all were.   And this was when the father was president.  How much more vulnerable they would be out of power when none of them would have protection except the former president, himself.

The Bush family knows more than most first families.  They know what it feels like to be in power but they also know what it feels like to be out of power once you have had it.  How helpless you are.

That’s why I told my wife that George W. Bush would invade Iraq if he became president because it would be his one chance to take out Saddam Hussein, the man who tried to kill his father, but also because he wanted to make the world a safer place for his daughters too.  They would have no protection after the White House, unless the law was changed.  Having a second chance at power, George W. Bush would not waste it.  He would take care of business.

Bush the younger was always strong, always tough.  In 1987 a reporter asked me to describe him and I said he was the sort of guy who could kill Old Yeller.  You remember Old Yeller?  That was the dog in the Disney movie who was beloved by the family but had turned rabid.  Someone had to kill him.  But they all loved him.  George W. Bush would say, “Old Yeller, I love you, son, you been loyal, but you gotta go.” Bang!  And he would sleep like a baby that night.

 And then, remember.  I was doing my study of presidents’ children.  This was ongoing for almost 20 years.  And presidents’ kids had a way of seeking the approval of the parent by “completion” that is, doing the thing that the father hadn’t done.

For example, Theodore Roosevelt confessed to his wife that his greatest disappointment in life was that after all his heroics in battle he hadn’t won the Medal of Honor.  Well, his sons went out there, risking their lives, one died in his twenties in World War One, two others were seriously wounded.  And finally, one of them, TR, Jr. won the Medal of Honor for valor in World War Two.

It is called completion.  And it happened over and over among all sons of presidents.

So I wasn’t surprised when George W. Bush bought his ranch in Texas.  His father had been accused of being a phony Texan.  His real home was Kennebunkport, Maine, they said.  He just kept an address at the Bayshore Inn in Texas so he could vote there.  But the son proved that Bushes were real Texans.

And the father broke his pledge.  “No new taxes.”  And the people were irate.  But the son kept his pledge.  He never raised taxes.  He bankrupted the country and printed billions of new dollars, which devalues the money people have in their pockets, he nationalized the insurance industry and banks, but he didn’t raise taxes.

The father wasn’t re-elected.  The son was.

And, of course, the father left Saddam Hussein standing.  The son took him out.  It’s called completion.

Paul O’Neil, the Secretary of Treasury for George W. Bush says that at the first Security Council Meeting of the new George W. Bush adminstration, there was a discussion that Saddam Hussein had to go.  No one asked why now?  What is this all about? And Bob Woodward describes a cabinet meeting just before the invasion of Iraq when Bush asked around the table, one by one, “Is this personal?  Is this personal?  Is this personal?”  And everyone said, “No.”  What a weird moment.  Why would it be personal to anyone? Except the president, himself?

Just before the war in Iraq, Uday Hussein issued a chilling statement. “Let not he who attacks us think that his mother or children will be safe.”

I was watching television when I heard this.  And at that moment I knew that not only would Saddam Hussein die, but both of his sons would die as well.  Bush, himself, was a son and he knew how dangerous it would be to leave the sons living.

When U. S. forces invaded Baghdad, they occupied the palace of Uday Hussein.  And in a room in a basement they found a large collection of pornography.  Plastered on the wall was a poster of the Bush twins.  The president’s two daughters.

I am not saying that Saddam Hussein is a good man.  But I am not convinced that so many others had to die to avenge a father.  Ironically, there are WMD in North Korea.  And there will be WMD soon in Iran.  But George W. Bush never considered war against either country.

“Remember,” Bush said, in a rare moment of transparency, just before the invasion of Iraq, “This man tried to kill my dad.”


Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

17 thoughts on “This man tried to kill my dad?

  1. Nobody would have believed this a couple of years ago but this is the best explanation I have seen. Everything makes sense. All the pieces to the puzzle fit.

    It explains why the war went bad for so long. He got what he wanted, Saddam and his sons, then lost interest. So let the generals and diplomats take it from here. Except, there has to be a leader, a “decider” and he had to get back into the game. Iraq wasn’t going peacefully away.

    And no one really blames him for defending his father, it’s just too bad there had to be so much collateral damage. Too bad. It’s the butterfly effect. There will be a thousand wars out of this eventually.

  2. There were WMDs in Iraq. They were moved to Syria and Lebanon covertly and there are pictures of refitted airline jets that were used for that purpose.

    However, all the American peacenik cowards didn’t want to acknowledge that Iraq had what most of us knew already.

    GWB will always earn my respect as someone who despises radical muslim scum as much as I do.

    His father was a wimp. I don’t care if he DID win the DFC in WW2. Whatever cojones he had in WW2 he lost in Desert Storm.

    Saddam had to be taken out, end of story. The world is a better place without him.

    Note that, you cowardly Losertarians. This is what a country with cojones does. It wastes evil tyrants wherever it can.

    The PNAC is and always will be the best blueprint for American foreign policy. GWB was, to his credit, 100% supportive of that goal of Pax Americana.


    How many of us would be brave enough to continue with Life…knowing there’s a bounty on NOT just ourselves…but in fact the whole family…including our CHILDREN? Given this ‘pickle’ & the power to squash it…just how many of us could resist pulling the strings…ESPECIALLY if the costs would be born…by someone else’s family?

    As our Global Relations grow more complicated…we will be dealt with new moral conundrums. I do wonder…when We will come to realize…the moral solutions are NOT found by War. They are, in fact, inspired by Business! People cannot fight forever…no Economy can support an army…that must fight an Enemy that grows with each battle won. The limited Supplies for Human Warfare will NEVER overcome the interminable Demands of Human Hatred. Nor do the People WANT to fight: why risk the blood of your family & friends…when you don’t even need to waste a bullet?

    Good quality & affordable products & services can go WIN for Us what Most armies in History can only dream of crushing….the HEART & SOUL of the Enemy.

    Before the Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001…there was the Sunday morning of December 7, 1941…a day Americans ‘promised’ never to forget…’a date which will live in infamy’.

    Today the Japanese are still our enemy…by trade. Yet the American Consumers have proven…it’s so easy to forgive…or at least FORGET…when they’re helping to increase our standards of Living…at prices we can afford.

    In this day & age, when America has proven…it can shoot a man to the moon…it’s time we embrace the Art of ‘War’…by way of Sony-Honda-Toyota-Nissan-Mitsubishi Style!

    We need a NEW mantra. A little less: ‘Shop ’til We drop!’ & ‘Kill or be Killed’…

    & a whole lot more: REMEMBER THE DEMING! & WE CAN DO BETTER!

    W. E. Deming (1900 – 1993) was THE American that re-Invented Japan…after their humiliating defeat in WWII…he was specifically invited by the citizens of our Enemy…to teach them how to run a quality Business! In honor of his efforts…the Union of Japanese Scientists & Engineers (aka JUSE) established the Deming Prize…which is STILL the envy of any Quality Japanese company…to this very day!

    What started out purely for Japanese Economic motivation…in 1984, the rules were changed…to open the Deming Prize to include overseas challengers…

    & There’s OUR que.

    So if I was a Bush…I would stop worrying about dodging shoes…& start figuring out…what is it that MY enemy values…so badly…such that they are unwilling to ‘toss’ it away…so quickly?

    Then follow the instructions: Make. Sell. Repeat.

    Maybe one day We shall remember: All Wars have proven that We…as Humans…are our OWN worst Enemy. But if the ‘right’ buttons are pushed…anybody…any nation…any People WILL learn to forgive…or at the very least…learn to forget.

  4. This explains a lot. It answers why some things haven’t happened as well as why they have. For example, why the delay in dealing with Iran? The common folk saw this but the journalists wouldn’t. They wanted to be invited to the White House Christmas parties. They were in denial. They bare as much blame as any one else. And they know it. And it is why they turned on the Republicans in the last election. They were angry. They had been rolled

  5. “Maybe one day We shall remember: All Wars have proven that We…as Humans…are our OWN worst Enemy. But if the ‘right’ buttons are pushed…anybody…any nation…any People WILL learn to forgive…or at the very least…learn to forget.”

    You really know bupkis about the islamo fascist slime’s mind, don’t you?

    They won’t learn until they are all dead. But of course, someone with a limited public school education as yourself who can’t do anything but copy and paste his entire knowledge from the same source wouldn’t know that.

  6. Wow, that’s the most sensible motivation I’ve heard in the past five years. Scary and tragic, but sensible. Kudos.

  7. I support Israel and I understand why American Jews would be supportive of the War in Iraq. They are no longer so lonely as targets of Islamic radicalism. They have Hindus in India who have suffered for years. And now America is in the same boat. But none of that excuses the strategic mistake of going into Iraq. It was uneccssary, made enemies we did not need and alienated much of the world. In the end Israel was not helped. We could have finished the job in Afghanistan.

  8. What a shame, goamyjo, that you aren’t thinking from a strategic military standpoint v. the war in iraq.

    You’re thinking like a common citizen, not a soldier. That’s your mistake. To understand war, you have to think like a warrior.

    We took the war to the middle east. Please note, for the record, that AMERICA HAS NOT BEEN ATTACKED ON ITS SHORES SINCE 9/11/01.

    Now, why do you think that happened? Think really hard, you’ll get it.

    “made enemies we did not need”

    Don’t you know it’s better to be feared than to be loved?

    “In the end Israel was not helped.”

    Ask anyone living in Israel who isn’t a Pally sympathizer if they think the US hasn’t done the right thing in the Middle East.

    Israel would have been a parking lot by now if not the USA’s presence over there.

  9. “I support Israel and I understand why American Jews would be supportive of the War in Iraq.”

    To be accurate, you’d have to amend that to SOME American Jews.

    Lots of lib Jews despise Israel and love Pallys. That’s fact. They are self-haters and are lower than pond scum for being traitors against their own race.

    If a person is Jewish and not a Zionist I have no respect or regard for them. They are dead to me.

  10. But this is more than a war. And we cannot just think like warriors. There is no definitive war with definitive results as in World War Two where Nazism had a clear defeat. This is an ongoing struggle that will not likely end unless a whole religion can be defeated.

    So Israel must also win the peace or she is in danger. And Israel had widespread support at one time, including many African nations and western Europe and over the years it has lost that, Losing votes in the UN with only the USA voting with it. More and more isolated. Even now many in the USA abandoning her.

    After 9-11, America briefly had worldwide sympathy and the West stayed with them through Afghanistan. The USA might even have eventually invaded Iraq or moved against Syria and others. If we had not moved so rashly we could now attack Iran. But not now. Because the USA wasted its goodwill on getting even with Saddam Hussein and resolving a feud for the Bush family. Our options are now limited.

    Is is true that most in Israel favor the invasion of Iraq but most in Israel have not been very smart about their own public relations. If Americans are going to really help Israel, they must help widen the international support for her and gain an understanding among others that she has a right to live at peace in defensible borders and that means a wiser, more circumspect role. War? Sure, sometimes. But the right wars, for the right reasons, in the right way.

  11. Again, you operate under this delusion that the US has to operate with the approval of other countries, countries who do do not have the US’s best interests at heart, and countries where radical Muslim immigration has been rampant. Rather than face more violence from Muslim immigrants (remember the riots in France a few year ago?), these countries tremble with fear and to appease their internal radical Muslim faction, they publicly denounce Israel.

    They know that angry Jews don’t burn cars, set fires, suicide bomb, behead prisoners on national TV, or fly jets into skyscrapers.

    You have a terribly naive view of the world, goamyjo.

    I won’t support a world collective, especially one that cowers before Islam, the same Islam that has ALWAYS wanted Israel wiped off the map.

    This has been going on since 1948! Do you think this has been a modern development?

    And please, don’t sell me on this nonsense about the moderate Muslims who “denounce” the violence. They do nothing but sit on their hands and allow the radicals to hijack their religion and murder in the name of their holy prophet.

    They are just as guilty as the radicals for doing nothing to stop jihad and the twisted interpretations of their holy text.

  12. Yes, but we are even now pulling our punches with Iran. And why? Because the USA does operate – somewhat- with the approval of other countries. Maybe we don’t have too but we do. And so does Israel, who sat still while Saddam Hussein lobbed missiles on them during the last Gulf War. Both israel and the usa go it alone, as israel is now, but they cannot do so always and often. Their own domestic pressures limit them, not just French public opinion.

    So my point is… if the USA can only have a limited number of pre-emptive wars, and still retain a measure of international and domestic support. She should have waited a bit on Iraq. Until it was more clear that they really had WMD or were provoked further.

    If they had they would now have the option to do something about Iran, even go it alone, with some grudging respect from the French, non immigrant, population, and even winks from Saudi Arabia. So invading Iraq made Israel feel good, seeing us in the frying pan with them but I am not sure it helped them as much as finishing off afghanistan and having another bullet in our chamber to use on Syria, Iraq or Iran or even an emergency incursion into Pakistan should ti come to that.

    Those options are all lost because Bush settled a score with Saddam Hussein. An extravagant use of a strategic move that we can’t get it back.

  13. The Iran thing is about sabre rattling. Arabs are pros when it comes to that. That smelly midget that run their country doesn’t really hold all the power in that country.

    Bush’s information was that Iraq had WMD. I believe they did as well, and all this UN inspectors crap allowed them hide them or smuggle them out of the country in retrofitted passenger jets to Syria.

    Waiting is a fool’s game and allows the enemy to fortify their position. That’s straight out of Sun Tzu.

    The USA has reached a point where it can’t count on support from countries that don’t receive our monetary aid. If we have to go at it alone then so be it.

    Whatever Bush 43’s motivations were, the Middle East is a more secure territory without Saddam. Bush 41 just didn’t have the guts to take him out. Bush 43 HAS guts, which is why I can respect him on that level.

    The mistake the US military made is that it has proven since WW2 that it is incapable of effectively fighting guerilla style warfare. It needs 400K ground troops to start at one end of the country and sweep through until the entire area is secure.

    Rumsfeld incorrectly calculated that technology could overcome smaller troop numbers.

    This country needs a draft and a much larger defense budget on par with pre-Bush 41 years.

  14. Genearal Sada, high up in the Hussein regime, reports the existence and movement of WMDs from Iraq to Syria before the second war, the invasion. Of course they existed; they were used (mustard gas, one example, with the Kurds). All news outlets have been interested in hearing his story, but none have had the guts and/or integrity to carry it.

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