Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom
Why Iraq? Presidents HW Bush, Clinton, and Bush, Congress, and the United Nations told us why. While there's still room for speculative analysis, the work has been done for us. The explanation for the why of OIF is straightforward based on primary sources that are easily accessed on-line, such as the Gulf War ceasefire UN Security Council resolutions that set the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), the US law and policy to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235), the conditions and precedents that set the stage for OIF, and the determinative fact findings of Iraq's breach of ceasefire that triggered the decision for OIF. President Clinton, whose entire presidency was preoccupied by the Iraq enforcement, is the best source for understanding OIF.
This post is a table of sources that inform my perspective on the goals we seek in Iraq. This post is not an intelligence analysis of coalition and Iraqi forces, the enemy, the mission difficulty, or actual performance. The links are to official sources, articles, speeches, weblogs, and my own thoughts that have informed my views on the 'Why We Fight' in Iraq,* and why I believe the Iraq mission is central to the War on Terror. Expect me to add items over time.
* For my FAQ-style explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for OIF, go here. For law and policy of the 2003-2011 peace operations with Iraq, go here.
Note: + denotes an item I view as a basic essential source for understanding the 'fact pattern' law and policy context of the decision for OIF.
President Clinton Perspective
* "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program."
+ President Clinton address to Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff, 17FEB98.
* Operation Desert Fox was the penultimate military enforcement step and set the baseline precedent for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community; fear and hope. Now, in a new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past -- but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace. Tonight, the United States is doing just that.”
+ President Clinton announcement of Operation Desert Fox, 16DEC98.
* "It [this action] is consistent with and has been taken in support of numerous U.N. Security Council resolu-tions, including Resolutions 678 and 687, which authorize U.N. Member States to use "all necessary means" to implement the Security Council resolutions and to restore peace and security in the region and establish the terms of the cease-fire mandated by the Council ... I directed these actions pursuant to my authority under the Constitution as Commander in Chief and as Chief Executive, and to conduct U.S. foreign relations, as well as under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) enacted in January 1991."
+ President Clinton letter to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox, 18DEC98.
* "Now, over the long-term the best way to end the threat that Saddam poses to his own people in the region is for Iraq to have a different government. We will intensify our engagement with the Iraqi opposition groups, prudently and effectively. ... And we will stand ready to help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments and respects the rights of its own people. We hope it will return Iraq to its rightful place in the community of nations."
President Clinton remarks on completion of Operation Desert Fox, 19DEC98.
* "Iraq must make good on its commitment to give the international weapons inspectors immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any suspect site, any place, any time. All of the members of the Council agree that failure to do so will result in the severest consequences for Iraq. ... Iraq now has the responsibility to turn the commitment it has made into full compliance."
President Clinton statement regarding UNSCR 1154, 02MAR98; UNSCR 1154, adopted 2 March 1998.
* "A short while ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Iraq's intransigence and insisting it immediately resume full cooperation with the weapons inspectors -- no ifs, no ands, no buts about it. It is long past time for Iraq to meet its obligations to the world. After the Gulf War, the international community demanded and Iraq agreed to declare and destroy all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capability and the missiles to deliver them, and to meet other U.N. Security Council resolutions. ... Now, the better part of a decade later, Iraq continues to shirk its clear obligations. Iraq has no one to blame but itself -- and the people of Iraq have no one to blame but Saddam Hussein -- for the position Iraq finds itself in today. Iraq could have ended its isolation long ago by simply complying with the will of the world. The burden is on Iraq to get back in compliance and meet its obligations -- immediately."
President Clinton statement regarding UNSCR 1205, 05NOV98; UNSCR 1205, adopted 5 November 1998.
* Periodic updates from the President to Congress on Iraq's compliance were mandated by Public Law 102-1 (1991). The 05NOV98 letter was the last update before Operation Desert Fox.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 05NOV98.
* Clinton explains the circumstances surrounding Operation Desert Fox.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 03MAR99.
* Clinton reports UN panels confirm Iraq is noncompliant.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 19MAY99.
* This letter appears to be Clinton's last comprehensive update on Iraq's compliance.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 02AUG99.
* "On May 1, I signed into law the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act. This legislation provides funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to initiate a surrogate broadcast service for the Iraqi people. It also provides funding for efforts to support the democratic Iraqi opposition in presenting a credible alternative to the present Iraqi regime and compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes. These new programs will enable us to redouble our work with the Iraqi opposition to support their efforts to build a pluralistic, peaceful Iraq that observes the international rule of law and respects basic human rights. Such an Iraq would have little trouble regaining its rightful place in the region and in the international community."
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 24JUN98.
* Clinton reevaluated the US policy on Iraq at the start of his 2nd term.
"Saddam Hussein remains a threat to his people and the region and the United States remains determined to contain the threat of Saddam's regime. Speaking on behalf of the Administration on March 26, 1997, in her first major foreign policy address, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that the United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member and that, until then, containment must continue. Secretary Albright also made clear that Saddam's departure would make a difference and that, should a change in Iraq's government occur, the United States would stand ready to enter rapidly into a dialogue with the successor regime."
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 08MAY97.
* Albright provided a summation of the Clinton 2nd-term US policy on Iraq.
"We will continue to support the establishment of a coherent and united Iraqi opposition which represents the country's ethnic and confessional diversity."
+ Secretary of State Albright Policy Speech on Iraq, 26MAR97.
* "Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and lawabiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region. The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life. My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership."
President Clinton statement on signing the Iraq Liberation Act, 31OCT98.
* "The Vice President reaffirmed the Administration's strong commitment to the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power, and to bringing him and his inner circle to justice for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Saddam's removal is the key to the positive transformation of Iraq's relationship with the international community and with the United States, in particular."
Joint statement by VP Al Gore and leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, 26JUN00.
* "The crisis between the United States and Iraq that led to the declaration on August 2, 1990, of a national emergency has not been resolved. The Government of Iraq continues to engage in activities inimical to stability in the Middle East and hostile to United States interests in the region. Such Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
President Clinton letter and notice to Congress on the continuing national emergency with Iraq, 28JUL00.
Clinton White House: CONTAINING SADDAM HUSSEIN'S IRAQ.
* "Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. ... So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions. I mean, we're all more sensitive to any possible stocks of chemical and biological weapons. ... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. ... And what I think -- again, I would say the most important thing is we should focus on what's the best way to build Iraq as a democracy? ... We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq."
CNN: Former President Clinton supports Operation Iraqi Freedom with Larry King, 03JUL03.
CNN: Clinton defends successor's push for war, 23JUL04.
AlterNet: Collection of 2003-04 statements by President Clinton supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
* Cohen served as Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001.
"While some charge that the Bush Administration exaggerated or manipulated the available intelligence, the fact is that all responsible officials from the Clinton and Bush administrations and, I believe, most Members of Congress genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein had active WMD programs."
9-11 Commission: Statement of William S. Cohen to The National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States March 23, 2004.
Defense Department: Operation Desert Fox (copy at web.archive.org) - chronology (copy at web.archive.org) from the Gulf War to Operation Desert Fox.
State Department: Saddam Hussein's Iraq, 13SEP99.
* "It is the policy of the United States to deter, defeat and respond vigorously to all terrorist attacks on our territory and against our citizens, or facilities, whether they occur domestically, in international waters or airspace or on foreign territory. The United States regards all such terrorism as a potential threat to national security as well as a criminal act and will apply all appropriate means to combat it. ... The acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by a terrorist group, through theft or manufacture, is unacceptable. There is no higher priority than preventing the acquisition of this capability or removing this capability from terrorist groups potentially opposed to the U.S."
Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39, 21JUN95 - html.
* Public Law 104-132 was a watered-down version of legislation Clinton had transmitted to Congress: the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, 10FEB95, and Antiterrorism Amendments Act of 1995, 15MAY95. Clinton's 1995 acts formed the basis of the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
President Clinton statement on signing the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 24APR96.
* "Prepared for Office of the Secretary of Defense".
RAND: National Defense Research Institute: Confronting Iraq U.S. Policy and the Use of Force Since the Gulf War by Daniel L. Byman and Matthew C. Waxman, 2000.
* UNSCOM inspector and Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer gives insight on Iraq's noncompliance with UNSCOM related to UN Security Council dysfunction on Iraq.
New York Times: Hide and Seek by Charles Duelfer, 23JUN09.
Washington Post defense analysis of Operation Desert Fox, 17JAN99.
* "A majority of Security Council members -- led by China, France and Russia -- rebuffed the United States by holding out against any explicit threat, particularly wording that would appear to give a green light to an American attack in the event Iraq violates the agreement. ... The United States and its closest ally, Britain, battled to win even the threat of ''severest consequences'' in the resolution, which is intended to hold President Saddam Hussein to his promise to open all Iraqi sites to international arms inspectors. ... Mr. Clinton said in a statement read by a White House spokeswoman. ''All of the members of the Council agree that failure to do so will result in the severest consequences for Iraq.''"
New York Times: U.N. Rebuffs U.S. on Threat to Iraq if It Breaks Pact, 03MAR98.
* The international reaction to Operation Desert Fox presaged the international reaction to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Los Angeles Times: Allies Sit on Sidelines for Desert Fox, 18DEC98.
* "The remarks were in line with recent attempts by President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Mr. Vedrine to draw attention to what France now calls American unilateralism, and to attract other countries to the idea of counteracting it through French-led multilateral initiatives."
New York Times: To Paris, U.S. Looks Like a 'Hyperpower', 05FEB99.
* Snapshot of the stalemate after Operation Desert Fox.
New York Times: With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year, 13AUG99.
Los Angeles Times: Hussein Torpedoed CIA Plot Against Him, Officials Say, 08SEP96.
Rubin Center: The Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal: Saddam Husayn: Between his Power Base and the International Community by Amatzia Baram, 02DEC00.
* Graduate student shows the continuity of counter-terrorism policy, including preemption, from (Reagan and) Clinton to Bush.
E-International Relations: The Myth of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy Revolution by Chin-Kuei Tsui, 02DEC12.
President Bush Perspective
* "The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable."
+ President Bush remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, 12SEP02.
* "A Decade of Deception and Defiance serves as a background paper for President George W. Bush's September 12th speech to the United Nations General Assembly."
+ Bush White House: A Decade of Deception and Defiance, 12SEP02.
* "The 108 U.N. inspectors ... were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened. ... Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."
+ Excerpts from the 2003 State of the Union regarding Iraq, 28JAN03.
* "Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only chance -- his only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited."
+ President Bush outlines Iraqi threat, 07OCT02 - working link.
+ President Bush letter to Congress on the determination and legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 18MAR03 - html.
+ Bush White House: Statement of the Atlantic Summit: A Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi People, 16MAR03 - State Department copy.
President Bush explains justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 17MAR03.
* "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done."
President Bush announces major combat operations in Iraq have ended, 01MAY03.
* "Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That's why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course. It was his decision to make. Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops, along with coalition troops, into Iraq. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power."
President Bush press conference on the Counterinsurgency "Surge", 12JUL07.
Bush White House: Renewal in Iraq - Archive.
Donald Rumsfeld working paper re: Iraq, 27JUL01.
Colin Powell reacts to UNMOVIC Clusters document, 07MAR03.
* "This is important day for us all as we review the situation with respect to Iraq and its disarmament obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. Last November 8, this council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. The purpose of that resolution was to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its obligations, stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years. Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a regime this council has repeatedly convicted over the years. Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences. No council member present in voting on that day had any illusions about the nature and intent of the resolution or what serious consequences meant if Iraq did not comply."
Colin Powell presentation to the U.N. Security Council, 05FEB03.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice discusses Iraq with Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 08OCT03.
* The War and Decision website links to many administration and other sources.
War and Decision: Misconceptions and the Facts (archived), Douglas Feith, 2008.
* "provision for humanitarian support in Iraq in the event of any military action".
Bush White House: Briefing on humanitarian reconstruction issues, 24FEB03.
Feith (War and Decision): Selected documents on Post-War Planning for Iraq, 2008.
Bush White House: Freedom Agenda.
PBS transcript: President Bush links war in Iraq to War on Terrorism, 24MAY07.
Israel Hayom: Interview with George W. Bush, 12JUN15.
* Tom Junod cited the 02JUN04 speech in his August 2004 Esquire article (see Pundits Perspective below).
"For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy."
President Bush remarks at the Air Force Academy graduation, 02JUN04 - working link.
President Bush remarks at the United States Military Academy graduation, 01JUN02.
* "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. ... But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows. ... This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom. ... As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world."
President Bush address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, 20SEP01.
Office of Legal Counsel: Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq by Jay Bybee, 23OCT02.
* Yoo analyzes UNSCR 1441.
Office of Legal Counsel: Effect of a Recent United Nations Security Council Resolution on the Authority of the President Under International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq by John Yoo, 08NOV02.
Office of Legal Counsel: Whether False Statements or Omissions in Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Declaration Would Constitute a “Further Material Breach” Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 by John Yoo, 07DEC02.
Office of Legal Counsel: Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 by John Yoo, 21OCT02.
UK Parliament Select Committee on Foreign Affairs: The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq by Christopher Greenwood, 24OCT02.
* British lawyer and law blogger.
The invasion of Iraq was lawful by Carl Gardner, 27JAN10.
Office of Legal Counsel: The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them by John Yoo, 25SEP01.
* Bobbitt's explanation of the President's war powers under the Constitution is more accessible than Yoo's OLC memorandum.
Foreign Policy: The War Precedent by Philip Bobbitt, 02SEP13.
9-11 Commission: "Phase Two" and the Question of Iraq, 21AUG04.
BBC News: Iraq hails attack on US, 12SEP01.
Foreign Policy: It’s Impossible to Count the Things Wrong With the Negligent, Spurious, Distorted New Biography of George W. Bush by Will Inboden, 15AUG16.
Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq, 23DEC08.
American Monetary Institute: Was the Iraqi Shift to Euro Currency to “Real” Reason for War? by Stephen Zarlenga, 23DEC10.
President HW Bush Perspective
* First remarks on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, 02AUG90.
Memorandum on the Withholding of Assistance to Iraq, 02AUG90.
Message to the Congress on the Declaration of a National Emergency With Respect to Iraq, 03AUG90.
* First formal address on deployment of US armed forces for Iraq intervention.
Address to the Nation Announcing the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia, 08AUG90.
Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, 09AUG90.
Address to the Nation Announcing Allied Military Action in the Persian Gulf, 16JAN91.
Address to the Nation on the Suspension of Allied Offensive Combat Operations in the Persian Gulf, 27FEB91.
* "In my own view I've always said that it would be -- that the Iraqi people should put him aside, and that would facilitate the resolution of all these problems that exist and certainly would facilitate the acceptance of Iraq back into the family of peace-loving nations. ... You mentioned World War II; there was a definitive end to that conflict. And now we have Saddam Hussein still there, the man that wreaked this havoc upon his neighbors. ... I still have a little bit of an unfinished agenda."
The President's News Conference on the Persian Gulf Conflict, 01MAR91.
* "I am extremely pleased that the Security Council has voted in favor of Resolution 687. ... This latest resolution creates the basis for a formal cease-fire in the Gulf. ... The resolution is unprecedented. ... The resolution also includes provisions designed to ensure that Iraq cannot rebuild its military strength to threaten anew the peace of the region. Weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them are to be destroyed; this is to be confirmed by onsite inspection. ... Certain sanctions will remain in force until such time as Iraq is led by a government that convinces the world of its intent both to live in peace with its neighbors and to devote its resources to the welfare of the Iraqi people. The resolution thus provides the necessary latitude for the international community to adjust its relations with Iraq depending upon Iraq's leadership and behavior. ... I also want to condemn in the strongest terms continued attacks by Iraqi Government forces against defenseless Kurdish and other Iraqi civilians. This sort of behavior will continue to set Iraq apart from the community of civilized nations. I call upon Iraq's leaders to halt these attacks immediately and to allow international organizations to go to work inside Iraq to alleviate the suffering and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches needy civilians."
Statement on the United Nations Persian Gulf Cease-Fire Resolution, 03APR91.
* "Do I think the answer is now for Saddam Hussein to be kicked out? Absolutely. Because there will not be ... normalized relations with the United States -- and I think this is true for most coalition partners -- until Saddam Hussein is out of there."
Remarks on Assistance for Iraqi Refugees and a News Conference, 16APR91.
* "We continue to support the efforts of the Iraq National Congress to develop a broad-based alternative to the Saddam regime. We encourage other governments to do the same. The Congress espouses a future Iraq based on the principles of political pluralism, territorial unity, and full compliance with all the U.N. Security Council resolutions."
Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With United Nations Security Council Resolutions, 19JAN93.
* Scowcroft was President HW Bush's National Security Advisor.
"As the President has said on several occasions, the United States is determined to maintain sanctions against Iraq and continue promoting its diplomatic isolation until there is a change of leadership in Baghdad. (C) We have increased our contacts with the Iraqi opposition in the past six months ... The United States has encouraged the various elements of the opposition to work together more effectively. (S)"
Response to Congressman Murtha's letter on Iraq by Brent Scowcroft, 14NOV91 - folder.
Foreign Policy: WikiLeaks, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein by Stephen M. Walt, 09JAN11.
War on the Rocks: The Long Shadow of the Gulf War by Rebecca Friedman Lissner, 24FEB16.
Carter Doctrine and Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine
* US policy that Middle East regional security is a national interest. Used as a main argument by Arthur Borden in A Better Country: Why America Was Right to Confront Iraq. Wikipedia entry.
"Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
President Carter, 1980 State of the Union Address, 23JAN80.
* President Reagan expanded President Carter’s security guarantee from repelling outside forces to also include internal regional stability when Reagan extended a security guarantee to Saudi Arabia due to concern over the Iran-Iraq war. The Reagan corollary to the Carter doctrine paved the way for President Bush to intervene when Iraq occupied Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia in 1990.
President Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for King Fahd bin `Abd al-`Aziz Al Sa`ud of Saudi Arabia, 11FEB85.
US Congress Perspective
* Note the diverse bundle of reasons cited to authorize the use of military force against Iraq.
+ Public Law 107-243, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, 16OCT02; passage history.
Public Law 102-1, Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, 14JAN91; passage history.
* Section 1095 (Iraq and the Requirements of Security Council Resolution 687) and Section 1096 (Iraq and the Requirements of Security Council Resolution 688) of P.L. 102-190 are addenda to P.L. 102-1.
Excerpts from Public Law 102-190, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, 05DEC91; passage history.
* "Whereas Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threaten vital United States interests and international peace and security: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations, and therefore the President is urged to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations."
+ Public Law 105-235, Iraqi Breach of International Obligations, 14AUG98; passage history.
* "Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that ... if it is necessary, however, the United States should take military action unilaterally to compel Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions."
House Resolution 322, Sense of House Regarding Iraq, 13NOV97; passage history.
Public Law 93-148 (50 USC 1541-48), War Powers Resolution, 07NOV73; passage history.
* See "Sec. 10008. Support for Democratic Opposition in Iraq."
Public Law 105-174, 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act, 01MAY98; passage history.
* "It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq’s foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq’s foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime."
Public Law 105-338, Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, 31OCT98; passage history.
* "[The] President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States".
Public Law 107-40, Authorization for Use of Military Force, 18SEP01; passage history.
* Compare the USA Patriot Act to the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, 10FEB95, and Antiterrorism Amendments Act of 1995, 15MAY95.
Public Law 107-56, USA Patriot Act, 26OCT01; passage history; Department of Justice: What is the USA Patriot Web.
* See sections 301 and 324.
Public Law 104-132, Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 24APR96; passage history.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq's Opposition Movements, 27JUN00.
Congressional Research Service: Iraqi Challenges and U.S. Responses: March 1991 through October 2002, 20NOV02.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Post-War Challenges and U.S. Responses, 1991-1998, 31MAR99.
* Follow-up report of post-1998 military enforcement actions.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Former and Recent Military Confrontations With the United States, 16OCT02.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Weapons Threat, Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy, 30JAN03.
* The report is archived at GulfLINK.
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War, 25MAY94.
* End note for "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", 25MAY94.
United States Export Policy Toward Iraq Prior to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait, Senate Report 102-996, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs, 102d Congress, Second Session (October 27, 1992).
* This CRS report is notable for an 'apples-to-apples' adjusted-dollar comparison of war costs for all US wars. The peak year spending for OIF was 1% of GDP in FY2008. Note: "All estimates are of the costs of military operations only and do not reflect costs of veterans’ benefits, interest on war-related debt, or assistance to allies."
Congressional Research Service: Costs of Major U.S. Wars, 29JUN10.
* This CRS report counts the "cumulative total appropriated [for Iraq and Afghanistan] ... war operations, diplomatic operations, and medical care for Iraq and Afghan war veterans", covering DOD, State/USAID, and VA Medical costs. The report states all costs for Iraq totaled 805.5 billion dollars through FY2011 and 823.2 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. Within the total cost, the DOD cost was 757.8 billion through FY2011 and 768.8 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. See the chart on page 21.
Congressional Research Service: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, 29MAR11.
Congressional Research Service: U.S.-Iraq Withdrawal/Status of Forces Agreement: Issues for Congressional Oversight, 13JUL09.
United Nations Perspective
* The US-led enforcement of UNSCRs 678, 687, 949, and 1441 was "acting under Chapter VII of the Charter".
Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.
FAS Iraq and the UN: Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, 1990-2002.
UNSCR 678, adopted 29 November 1990.
* "Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,"
+ UNSCR 1441, adopted 8 November 2002 - UN press release.
+ UNSCR 687, adopted 3 April 1991.
+ UNSCR 688, adopted 5 April 1991.
+ UNSCR 949, adopted 15 October 1994.
* UNSCR 1483 marked the transitional meeting of the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations with the core compliance and nation-building elements of both missions.
UNSCR 1483, adopted 22 May 2003.
* Pursuant to UNSCR 688: "The new evidence, particularly that of eyewitnesses, added another dimension to the systematic crimes of the former regime, revealing unparalleled cruelty, even in respect of the people being taken away for execution, and at the same time stories unfolded that were far worse than originally reported to the Special Rapporteur in the past."
+ UN Commission on Human Rights: Situation of human rights in Iraq (pdf pp 78-82), 19APR02; post-war findings by Special Rapporteur on Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis: E/CN.4/2004/36, E/CN.4/2004/36/Add.1 (working link), 18-19MAR04.
* Pursuant to UNSCR 687: "UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became [sic] available and ... produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... UNMOVIC must verify the absence of any new activities or proscribed items, new or retained. The onus is clearly on Iraq to provide the requisite information or devise other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive."
+ UNMOVIC Clusters document: Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes 6 March 2003; US State Department: Historic Review of UNMOVIC's Report on Unresolved Disarmament Issues, 10MAR03.
UNSCOM Chairman Butler's Report to UN Secretary General, 15DEC98.
+ Update report of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Security Council pursuant to resolution 1441 (2002), 27JAN03.
* Reference point for President Bush's 2003 State of the Union (28JAN03) remarks on Iraq.
Hans Blix briefing to the UN Security Council, 27JAN03.
* See Secretary Powell's 07MAR03 remarks and Bonnie Azab Powell's 18MAR04 UC Berkeley News article.
UNMOVIC: Draft Work Programme, 17MAR03.
* Final IAEA update before OIF.
The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, 07MAR03.
* VP Biden welcomes UNSCRs 1956, 1957, and 1958 on behalf of the UN Security Council.
Security Council Takes Action to End Iraq Sanctions, Terminate Oil-For-Food Programme as Members Recognize ‘Major Changes’ Since 1990, 15DEC10.
* See the indices of resolutions, situation reports, and related documents.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): Iraq homepage.
UNSCOM (1991-1999); FAS: UNSCOM Reports to the Security Council, 1991-1999.
UNMOVIC (UNSCR 1284 (1999) - UNSCR 1441 (2002) - UNSCR 1762 (2007)) - working link; Iraq Watch: UNMOVIC reports and other documents, 2000-2007.
IAEA: Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (1991-2004); IAEA and Iraq, 24FEB15.
UNMOVIC: Compendium: Observations and Lessons Learned, Chapter VIII, 27JUN07 - working link.
UNIKOM: United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNSCR 689 (1991) - UNSCR 1490 (2003)).
Arms Control Association: Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections, 1991-2002.
Iraq Watch: Iraq's Suppliers, 1990-2003.
Council on Foreign Relations: IRAQ: Oil for Food Scandal, 28OCT05.
* UN authorization for the Korea intervention, which is a precedent for the Iraq intervention.
UNSCRs 82-85, adopted 25 June 1950 - 31 July 1950.
* UN authorization for the post-war occupation in the Kosovo intervention, which is a precedent for the Iraq intervention.
UNSCR 1244, adopted 10 June 1999.
* Annan addresses the Kosovo intervention.
Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/54/1), Kofi Annan, 20SEP99.
* "The Commission concludes that the NATO military intervention was illegal but legitimate. It was illegal because it did not receive prior approval from the United Nations Security Council. However, the Commission considers that the intervention was justified because all diplomatic avenues had been exhausted and because the intervention had the effect of liberating the majority population of Kosovo from a long period of oppression under Serbian rule."
Council on Foreign Relations: Independent International Commission on Kosovo: The Kosovo Report, 2000 - executive summary.
* The Iraq Survey Group investigation, headed by former UNSCOM inspector Charles Duelfer, is corroborative only regarding the decision for OIF because it was conducted after the regime change. The ISG notes the limitation that much evidence was lost prior to, during, and after the war, key Saddam regime officials were not cooperative, statements conflicted, suspect areas were found "sanitized", and other practical factors restricted its investigation. "All sources suggest that Saddam encouraged compartmentalization and would have discussed something as sensitive as WMD with as few people as possible" (ISG). In many instances, ISG concluded it could not determine Iraq had disarmed as mandated. Significant questions remained undisposed. Therefore, what the ISG found corroborating Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687 in the post-war investigation is more telling than what the ISG did not find matching the pre-war intelligence estimates. The Duelfer report's material contribution to the discourse is the corroboration that the 'containment' was failing and Iraq was in violation of weapons mandates.
+ Iraq Survey Group: DCI Special Advisor Report on Iraq's WMD (Duelfer report), 30SEP04.
* "Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. ... evidence shows that Saddam�s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime."
+ US Joint Forces Command Iraqi Perspectives Project: Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents, November 2007 - archive.
* "After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed."
Silberman-Robb Commission: The WMD Commission Report, 31MAR05.
* The Butler Review was the British counterpart to the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission Report. Sections 490-503 upheld the analysis behind the statement in the 2003 State of the Union that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Chairman Lord Butler (UK): Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, 14JUL04.
* Pre-war statements by the Bush administration were found to be largely "substantiated by intelligence" with no manipulated intelligence nor political pressure placed on intelligence analysts. Make sure to read the minority views statement beginning on page 100 of the report. My criticism is the markedly partisan Committee report stripped out the context of President Clinton's Gulf War ceasefire enforcement precedent, the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) set by the UNSC resolutions, the burden of proof for Iraq, contemporary Congressional assessments of the pre-war intelligence, and much of the Iraq Survey Group Duelfer report's findings that corroborated Iraq was in fact in violation of UNSCR 687. The position that the US President should emphasize dissenting intelligence analysis in public presentation of policy is abnormal.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Report on whether public statements regarding Iraq by U.S. government officials were substantiated by intelligence information, June 2008.
* Kay preceded Charles Duelfer as head of the Iraq Survey Group.
"In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities -- one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material."
Opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, David Kay, 28JAN04.
* Duelfer discusses UNSCOM, the Iraq Survey Group, and the UNSC members, primarily Russia, complicit in Saddam's noncompliance.
Politico: The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw by Charles Duelfer, 02APR15.
* Lacey, an author and researcher for the Iraqi Perspectives Project, cites the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism).
National Review: Saddam: What We Now Know by Jim Lacey, 14SEP11.
* Feith served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 until August 2005. Review the administration and other sources linked at the War and Decision website.
Douglas Feith: War and Decision (archived), 2008; Iraq War-Related Intelligence Matters, Media Myths vs. Facts (archived).
* FBI agent George Piro debriefed Saddam Hussein.
60 Minutes: Interrogator Shares Saddam's Confessions, 24JAN08.
NSA Archive: Saddam Hussein Talks to the FBI: Twenty Interviews and Five Conversations with "High Value Detainee #1" in 2004.
Defense Department: Iraqi Denial and Deception Far Beyond Battlefield Tactics, 08OCT02 - working link.
9-11 Commission: Saddam's Iraq and Support for Terrorism, Judith S. Yaphe, 09JUL03.
* "Iraq Watch is a comprehensive web site devoted to tracking mass destruction weapon programs in Iraq."
Iraq Watch, 2000-2006.
* "It appears that from 1987 to 2003, A. Q. Khan, head of one of Pakistan’s key nuclear organizations, was overseeing a nuclear supply network, which sold or attempted to sell to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and perhaps others."
Naval Post-Graduate School: The A. Q. Khan Network: Causes and Implications by Christopher Clary, December 2005.
* "The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success."
New York Times: C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons, 15FEB15.
Time: Chasing a Mirage by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Ware, 06OCT03.
The Atlantic: Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong by Kenneth Pollack, January/February 2004.
* "This website was created by a group of former CIA officials with hundreds of years of combined service."
CIA Saved Lives, 2014.
* Note the prominent role of the pre-OIF Iraq enforcement mission in al Qaeda's declaration of war on the US.
World Islamic Front Statement: Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, 23FEB98.
Kyle W. Orton: A Myth Revisited: “Saddam Hussein Had No Connection To Al-Qaeda”, 21JUN15.
New York Times: How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS by Kyle W. Orton, 23DEC15.
* "To put it simply, the Saddam regime’s reputation for keeping a lid on religious militancy and sectarianism is exactly wrong; by commission and omission it brought both things to levels Iraq has scarcely ever known in its history."
Orton: The Islamic State Was Coming Without the Invasion of Iraq, 12DEC15.
Orton: Donald Trump is Wrong (Again): Saddam Hussein Supported Terrorism, 06JUL16.
Washington Post: Donald Trump is wrong about Saddam Hussein by Editorial Board, 09JUL16.
* Sageman is a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Afghanistan.
Foreign Policy Research Institute: Understanding Terror Networks by Marc Sageman, November 2004 - working link.
* Read Syed Qutb for the basics of 'Why They Fight'.
PDF of Milestones by Syed Qutb. HTML copy.
Small Wars Journal: Sayyid Qutb’s “Milestones” and Its Impact on the Arab Spring by Steven Zenishek, 09MAY13.
Strategic Studies Institute: Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism by Dale Eikmeier, Spring 2007.
Columbia University Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies: Panel discussion, ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and the United States, 12SEP14 - video.
* This letter to the leader of Islamic State was signed by over 100 Islamic scholars across several nations. It condemns the actions of IS and provides a good overview and detailed argument for why the group is not following the precepts of Islam.
Open Letter to al-Baghdadi, 24SEP14.
Reconstruction and Assistance Perspective
Note: See the Presidents HW Bush, Clinton, and Bush, Congress, and United Nations Perspective sections and the law and policy of the OIF peace operations for more reconstruction and assistance-related sources.
* "After a long and difficult conflict, we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States and will ensure that Iraq can realize its full potential as a democratic society. Our civilian-led presence is helping us strengthen the strong strategic partnership that has developed up to this point."
Embassy of the United States Baghdad, Iraq (archived).
USAID: Our Commitment to Iraq.
* Sergeant Masry is a Muslim Arab-American civil affairs Army sergeant who served in the Iraq mission for over a year and provides illuminating insights, information and advice, as well as educational links. Of note, SGT Masry is a Howard Dean supporter and the son of Ferial Masry, the Saudi immigrant school teacher running for Congress in California.
Omar Masry: Iraq 2.0.
* A must-read expert strategic explication. A Democrat voting for Kerry, Barnett has been a supporter of Bush's strategy in the War on Terror. Barnett's strategic vision is gaining traction with the DoD, Democrats, and Republicans. After reading this article, look around his website, particularly his regularly updated weblog.
"[The] president decided correctly to fight back by trying to destroy disconnectedness in the Gulf region. We seek to do unto al Qaeda as it did unto us: trigger a system perturbation that will send all the region’s rule sets into flux. Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime was dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world—from our rule sets, our norms, and all the ties that bind the Core together in mutually assured dependence. Disconnecting the great disconnector from the Gulf’s security scene is only the beginning of our effort, because now Iraq becomes the great battle field for the soul of the whole region. That second victory will be far more difficult to achieve. Our efforts to integrate Iraq into a wider world will pit all the forces of disconnectedness in the region against us."
Esquire: Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategy by Thomas Barnett, June 2004.
* A must-read, by a liberal for liberals. Junod is a Bush-basher, and a brilliant writer. In this article, Junod's deep dislike of Bush the man serves as a compelling counterpoint to his critique of Bush the war-time president.
"The moral certainty that makes war possible is certain only to unleash moral havoc, and moral havoc becomes something the nation has to rise above. We can neither win a war nor save the national soul if all we seek is to remain unsullied--pristine. Anyway, we are well beyond that now. The question is not, and has never been, whether we can fight a war without perpetrating outrages of our own. The question is whether the rightness of the American cause is sufficient not only to justify war but to withstand war's inevitable outrages. The question is whether--if the cause is right--we are strong enough to make it remain right in the foggy moral battleground of war."
Esquire: The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right? by Tom Junod, August 2004 - also posted on my blog here.
Commentary: Who is Lying About Iraq by Norman Podhoretz, December 2005.
Commentary: Why Iraq was Inevitable by Arthur Herman, July 2008.
American Thinker: Who Lied About Iraq? by Randall Hoven, 24AUG08.
Frontpage: Vindicated for Removing Saddam by Ryan Mauro, 21JUL10.
The Federalist: Can Hillary Clinton Recover From Her Support Of The Iraq War? by Dan McLaughlin, 19MAY14.
National Review: Iraq: The Real Story by Victor Davis Hanson, 23FEB16.
Ricochet: Invading Iraq Was Necessary and We Would Do It Again by Tommy De Seno, 28FEB16.
Laypersons Strategic Perspective
* Timeline of events in Iraq by milblogger Greyhawk who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
Mudville Gazette: A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003), November 2005 - copy at web.archive.org.
* I don't agree with all the points in this strategic overview; nonetheless, Steven Den Beste provides solid and broad contextual coverage from a thoughtful layman's perspective.
USS Clueless: Scroll down to VI for Iraq section, July 2003.
* Jack Henneman wrote an update to Steven Den Beste's strategic overview.
Tigerhawk: Strategic overview: Annotating and updating Den Beste, 14NOV05.
Tigerhawk: The decision to invade Iraq in retrospect, 01OCT04.
The Dignified Rant: A Decade After OIF by Brian Dunn, 19MAR13.
The Dignified Rant: Iraq: Executive Summary by Brian Dunn, 24JUL14.
John C Wright: Oceania Has Always Been at War with Eastasia, 15OCT14.
* Chronology of cite-quotes arranged by subject area.
Reasons for War: Things you might have forgotten about Iraq.
The Redhunter: copy of Iraq tag at web.archive.org.
Joel Wing: Musings on Iraq.
Reidar Visser: Iraq and Gulf Analysis.
Mission Opponents Perspective
Iraqi Sanctions: Were They Worth It? by Sheldon Richman, 01JAN04.
Brown University Costs of War Project: Civilian Death and Injury in Iraq, 2003-2011 by Neta Crawford, September 2011.
The Center for Public Integrity: False pretenses by Charles Lewis, 23JAN08.
Vox: America's unlearned lesson: the forgotten truth about why we invaded Iraq by Max Fisher, 16FEB16.
* Anti-OIF British law professor claims UNSCR 678 authorization was "suspended" by the ceasefire (UNSCR 687) when that is clearly not the case.
European Journal of International Law: The OLC Memoranda on Iraq: Revisiting the Case for War by Marko Milanovic, 10JAN09.
Iraq Inquiry Digest: Dutch Inquiry on the legality of the war, January 2010.
Rutgers School of Law: New Jersey Peace Action, Paula Rogovin, Anna Berlinrut and Joseph Wheeler, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. The President of the United States of America, Defendant/Respondent.
UC Berkeley News: U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix faults Bush administration for lack of "critical thinking" in Iraq by Bonnie Azab Powell, 18MAR04.
* Byman's premise that OIF "created a jihadist problem in Iraq where none existed" is discredited by the Iraqi Perspectives Project.
Brookings: Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism by Daniel L. Byman, 01JUL07.
Iraq and the War on Terrorism, Al Gore, 23SEP02.
NPR: Transcript: Obama's Speech Against The Iraq War, 02OCT02 - copy at Free Republic.
Weblogs from Iraqis, soldiers serving in Iraq and regular folks
* There are too many good ones to list, especially the famed "milblogs" or the weblogs by US military personnel serving in the War on Terror. As an appetizer, here are three highly acclaimed weblogs:
Iraqi weblog: Iraq the Model.
Soldier's weblog: Mudville Gazette.
Civilian weblog: Chrenkoff's 'Good News from Iraq' series (scroll down to the bottom of the "Chrenkoff" blog for parts 1-10 of the series).
Eric's Perspective on regime change for Iraq
From the cease-fire that suspended the 1991 Gulf War, the UN/US mission in Iraq was designed as a strictly enforced and finite compliance and disarmament mission. It was never intended as an indefinitely prolonged, costly ‘containment’ mission that cast the UN and US as villains, severely undermined our credibility in the region and around the world, and made us effectively complicit in Saddam’s harm of the Iraqi people. Eventually, after the penultimate enforcement step was exhausted in Operation Desert Fox, December 1998, the only alternative to ground invasion remaining was the stalemated, broken ad hoc 'containment'.
The attacks of 9/11 forced us to reevaluate US interaction with the Muslim and Arab world, with the UN/US Iraq mission at the top of the list. Our nation's leaders were faced with 3 options:*
A. Indefinitely continue and head-line the status quo of toxically corrupted, provocative, harmful, and collapsed sanctions and 'containment'.
B. End the mission and release a noncompliant Saddam from constraint, in power, unreconstructed, and triumphant.
C. Give Saddam a final chance to comply under credible threat of regime change, and if he failed to comply, then bring Iraq into compliance with regime change.
* The Blix alternative, used by President Clinton to retreat from his support for President Bush and endorsement of OIF, was not realistic.
Without the 9/11 attacks as impetus, I believe we would have continued Option-A indefinitely past the Bush presidency or until something sufficiently bad like the 9/11 attacks happened. The thought disgusts me. Only one of those 3 choices is both morally defensible and provides a practical path to a better future. It is possible President Bush chose Option-C for less than noble reasons, but it is still the noble choice. For years we upheld the easier wrong in Iraq; I credit Bush for placing America on the path of the harder right.
Weighing in on Iraq (2002 view);
Snapshot of my 2003-04 views on the War on Terror (multi-part);
Contextualizing the argument over Operation Iraqi Freedom (basic framing);
Regime Change in Iraq from Clinton to Bush (law school paper);
Explaining the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom to a law professor;
A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD? (historical context);
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts (retrospective survey);
Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ.