Saturday, October 23, 2004

Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom

PREFACE: This post informs my perspective on the goals we seek in Iraq. It is not an intelligence analysis of coalition and Iraqi forces, the enemy, the mission difficulty or actual performance. (For my take on the military's post-war doctrinal flaws manifested in Iraq, see here.) The links are to 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. Enjoy:

Eric’s Perspective on regime change for Iraq
* Also see Contextualizing the argument over Operation Iraqi Freedom, law school paper Regime Change in Iraq from Clinton to Bush and companion A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD?, the lengthy multi-part Snapshot of my 2003-04 views on the War on Terror, and my reflections on the 10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts.

From the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War, the UN/US mission in Iraq was designed as a strictly enforced and finite 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 complicit in Saddam’s harm of the Iraqi people. (See Iraqi Sanctions: Were They Worth It? by Sheldon Richman.)

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 toxically corrupted, provocative, harmful, and crumbling sanctions and 'containment' status quo.
B. End the mission and release a noncompliant Saddam from constraint, in power and triumphant.
C. Give Saddam a final chance to comply under credible threat of regime change, and if he triggered the final enforcement step, move ahead with regime change and nation-building.

Without the 9/11 attacks as impetus, I believe we would have continued Option-A indefinitely, long past the Bush presidency, and 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.

Liberal's Perspective
* A must-read, by a liberal for liberals. Tom 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.
JUNOD: The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right? - also posted on my blog here.

Osama bin Laden Perspective
* Note the prominent role of the 1990s UN/US Iraq mission in al Qaeda's declaration of war on the US.
World Islamic Front Statement: Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, 1998
* Read Syed Qutb for the basics of 'Why They Fight'.
PDF of Milestone by Syed Qutb. HTML copy.
Understanding Terror Networks, Nov 2004, by Marc Sageman, forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Afghanistan.

Expert Strategic Perspective
* A must-read strategic explication. A Democrat voting for Kerry, Thomas 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.
BARNETT: Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategy

Excerpt: "[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."

Layperson Strategic Perspective
* I don't agree with all of the points made by Steven DenBeste at “USS Clueless"; nonetheless, DenBeste provides solid and broad coverage on Iraq from a layperson's perspective.
Scroll down to VI for Iraq section
* In Nov 2005, Milblogger Tigerhawk posted an update to Steven DenBeste's strategic overview.
Strategic overview: Annotating and updating Den Beste.
* Timeline of events in Iraq by Milblogger Greyhawk who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003), Nov 2005 - copy at web.archive.org.

President Clinton Perspective, or where we were with Iraq
President Clinton's Operation Desert Fox speech, 1998
President Clinton signs Iraq Liberation Act, 1998
Former President Clinton supports Operation Iraqi Freedom with Larry King, 2003
Collection of 2003-04 statements by President Clinton supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom
Clinton White House summary on Iraq
* Graduate student shows the continuity of counter-terror policies from Clinton to Bush.
TSUI: The Myth of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy Revolution
* Snapshot of the stalemate after Operation Desert Fox.
New York Times: With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year, 1999

President Bush Perspective, or our goals in the War on Terror
Freedom agenda
* Tom Junod cites the 02JUN04 speech in his excellent August 2004 Esquire article.
President Bush speech about the War on Terror, June 2004 - working link.
* The 07OCT02 speech features intelligence on WMD stocks as one of multiple reasons to move forward with UNSC Resolution 1441.
President Bush explains the case against Saddam, Oct 2002 - working link.

Findings of the CIA investigation after the regime change
The Duelfer report: DCI Special Advisor Report on Iraq's WMD

Congressional Resolution Authorizing US Armed Forces Against Iraq
* Note the diverse bundle of reasons cited to authorize the use of force against Iraq.
Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, October 2, 2002.

United Nations Perspective
Resolution 1441, adopted by the Security Council at its 4644th meeting, 8 November 2002.
UNSCOM (1991-1999)
UNMOVIC (1999-2007)

Media pundit defenses of President Bush's decisions
Why Iraq was Inevitable by Arthur Herman, July 2008.
Who is Lying About Iraq by Norman Podhoretz, December 2005.

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

President Carter, 1980 State of the Union Address: “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 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.

Reconstruction and Assistance Perspective
USAID: Our Commitment to Iraq

Muslim Arab-American Civil Affairs Army Sergeant Perspective
* Sergeant Masry 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

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

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