PBS' Frontline has cobbled together an interesting backgrounder on the developments over the last 12 years leading to the impending military action against Saddam, called "The Long Road to War."
From the intro:
- With the United States apparently within days — if not hours — of launching a war against Iraq, this special two-hour FRONTLINE report, "The Long Road to War," relates the history of America's confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
Drawing on eight FRONTLINE reports over the past 12 years, "The Long Road to War" focuses on key moments in U.S.-Iraqi relations, including U.S. policy toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the origins of the 1991 Gulf War and its ragged end, the frustrated attempt to disarm Iraq in the 1990s, and the long-standing effort by Washington foreign-policy hawks to remove Saddam Hussein. The program also examines what has been learned during this period about the mind and methods of Saddam.
Beginning with excerpts from the 1990 report "The Arming of Iraq", FRONTLINE investigates how the U.S., in a cold calculation of its national security interests, helped Saddam Hussein in his bloody eight-year war with Iran, and how the Reagan administration worked to ensure that the Iran-Iraq war ended in a stalemate.
U.S. policymakers hoped that a civilized Iraq would emerge after the Iran-Iraq war, but that hope was quickly shattered when Saddam's regime gassed thousands of Iraqi Kurds at Halabja on March 16, 1988. Saddam continued his build-up of Iraq's military arsenal — aided by questionable Iraqi business deals with European and American companies. By 1990, Saddam had the fourth largest army in the world.
In "To the Brink of War," which aired on Jan. 15, 1991, FRONTLINE went on to tell the story of how the first President Bush took on Saddam after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. The problems confronting George H.W. Bush at that time are echoed in his son's situation today: trying to build a broad international coalition to oppose Saddam, depending on the stalwart support of a British Prime Minister, and facing the challenge of bringing along the American public.