Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts

On March 19, 2003, President Bush announced the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today is the 10th anniversary.

My 1st post on this blog was dedicated to Army LT Ben Colgan, a dynamic model platoon leader and young father who died in Baghdad on 01NOV03. I said in my 3rd post that "the central battle of the War on Terror, in the present and for the future, is unequivocally being fought right now in Iraq." In fact, collecting my thoughts on the Iraq mission was my 2nd post and the initial catalyst for starting this blog. 171 of my posts so far carry an "iraq" label ... 172 posts including this one. I've debated the Iraq mission with family, friends, classmates, and professors, on blogs, in on-line forums, and a television special with Iraqi and American college students.

The Democrats' current political advantage over the Republicans, including the presidency of Barack Obama, is built upon the demonization of President Bush over the Iraq mission, despite ample evidence that Bush and the Democrats were on the same page about Saddam. In fact, President Bush inherited the Iraq problem, together with the laws, policies, and precedents to resolve it, from President Clinton. As president, Obama upheld the justifications for military intervention in Iraq, though without endorsing OIF by name.

Given that many influential people are deeply invested in an inimical, knowingly distorted narrative of the Iraq mission, explaining the Iraq mission seems like a quixotic exercise. Nonetheless, I do what I can - "Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won" (West Point cadet prayer).

The question that is being asked the most about the Iraq mission is the leading question, Was it worth it? Due to the popular misconceptions about the Iraq mission, however, I believe the most important question on this anniversary still is the contextual, Why Iraq?

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was an appropriate moment to reflect. Over the next few days, I'll look at my 171 posts with the "iraq" label and accrete my thoughts on the 10th anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom below.

Make sure to check out the links. Enjoy:



The foundational legal documents for the 1991-2003 Iraq ceasefire enforcement are P.L. 102-1 (1991), P.L. 102-190 (1991), P.L. 107-243 (2002), UNSCR 678 (1990), UNSCR 687 (1991), UNSCR 688 (1991), and UNSCR 1441 (2002). While not foundational legal documents, P.L. 105-235 (1998), P.L. 105-338 (1998), and UNSCR 949 (1994) were key milestones. The greater body of UNSC resolutions setting and US statutes enforcing Saddam's ceasefire obligations operated on that platform. P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 satisfied the "specific statutory authorization" standard of the War Powers Resolution. See President Clinton's letter to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox and President Bush's letter to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Foundational legal documents for the 2003-2011 peace operations in post-Saddam Iraq include P.L. 107-243 (invoking section 7 of P.L. 105-338 (1998)), UNSC resolutions 678 (1990), 1483 (2003), 1511 (2003), 1546 (2004), 1637 (2005), 1723 (2006), 1790 (2007), and signed concurrently on 17NOV08, a status of forces agreement (statutory addenda) under the overarching Strategic Framework Agreement that provides conditions-based long-term guidelines for the US-Iraq relationship. See the archived Coalition Provisional Authority website, including order 1, De-Ba`athification of Iraqi Society, 16MAY03. Note the 16MAR03 statement of the Atlantic Summit ("A Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi People"), UN Secretary-General Annan's 20SEP99 report to the General Assembly summarizing the UN view on peace operations, the 24FEB03 White House briefing on post-war reconstruction issues, selected documents on post-war planning for Iraq provided by Douglas Feith, President Bush's 12JUL07 announcement of the Surge, and 01AUG12 US military peace operations doctrine (JP 3-07.3).

See UNSCR 1762 (2007) concluding the UNMOVIC and IAEA mission and Vice President Biden's 15DEC10 statement on behalf of the UN Security Council regarding Iraq's compliance with UN mandates and lifting of sanctions with UNSCRs 1956, 1957, and 1958.

Essential reading for the policy context of OIF includes:
President HW Bush's January 1993 report to Congress on Iraq's mandated compliance and National Security Advisor Scowcroft's November 1991 response to Congressman Murtha on Iraqi regime change;
President Clinton's February 1998 warning on Iraq to Pentagon personnel, December 1998 announcement of Operation Desert Fox (the penultimate military enforcement step that set the baseline precedent for OIF), and Secretary of State Albright's March 1997 summation of US policy on Iraq;
President Bush's September 2002 background paper and remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, October 2002 outline of the Iraqi threat, and excerpts from the 2003 State of the Union;
Fact findings, the April 2002 UN Commission on Human Rights situation report on Iraq pursuant to UNSCR 688, the November 2007 Iraqi Perspectives Project report ("Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents") pursuant to UNSCR 687, the January 2003 IAEA update report pursuant to UNSCR 1441, the March 2003 UNMOVIC Clusters document ("Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes", fact sheet) pursuant to UNSCR 1441 that triggered the decision for OIF, and the September 2004 Iraq Survey Group Duelfer report that corroborated Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687.

For more sources of the law and policy of Operation Iraqi Freedom, go here.



To set the stage for President Bush's decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, see President Clinton's announcement of Operation Desert Fox in 1998:
I made it very clear at that time what "unconditional cooperation" meant, based on existing U.N. resolutions and Iraq's own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.
... This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance. And so we had to act, and act now. Let me explain why. First, without a strong inspections system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years. Second, if Saddam can cripple the weapons inspections system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community, led by the United States, has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction. And some day, make no mistake, he will use it again, as he has in the past. Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspections system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.
... The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world. The best way to end that threat once and for all is with the new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people.
... Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.
... 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.
And see President Clinton's signing statement for the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998:
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 makeup. 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.
The standard for the US-led enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire was set at the conclusive elimination of the threat posed by Saddam with either full compliance by Saddam or, if he fell short of full compliance, then Iraq's mandated compliance via regime change.

The objectives set by President Clinton to resolve America's Saddam-Iraq problem were achieved with Operation Iraqi Freedom: Iraq's mandated compliance, Iraq at peace with its neighbors and the international community, and Iraq internally reformed with regime change.

Compared to the achievement of the first two goals, however, the future progress of Iraq's internal reform has been left uncertain by President Obama's premature disengagement of the OIF peace operations with Iraq.



In his address to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff on February 17, 1998, President Clinton warned against the broader consequences of tolerating Saddam's noncompliance:
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.
The UNSCOM inspections had failed in large part due to UN Security Council division and dysfunction that was exploited by Saddam. As President Bush explained to the UN General Assembly on September 12, 2002, an important big-picture objective of giving Saddam a final chance to comply in 2002-2003 was to revive the United Nations as a credible enforcer on rogue actors and WMD proscription. To that end, Bush faithfully followed the strict compliance standard and enforcement procedure on Iraq he inherited from Clinton, although Bush deviated from Clinton's public presentation.

UNSCR 1441 established Iraq "has been and remains in material breach" and set "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council":
Recognizing the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security,
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,
... Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein,
Determined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions and recalling that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance,
...
1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);
2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council;
Yet, although UNSCR 1441 reset Saddam's status of material breach and Saddam then failed the UNMOVIC compliance test in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), President Bush acted to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions pursuant to UNSCR 678, and the UN sanctioned the post-war peace operations in Iraq, UN officials such as UN Secretary-General Annan disclaimed the invasion of Iraq. By doing so, they discredited the strict compliance standard and enforcement procedure that defined the Gulf War ceasefire, thus weakening the UN as a credible enforcer on rogue actors and WMD proscription.

As President Clinton had warned, rogue actors such as Iran and north Korea have thus been encouraged to advance their pursuits of WMD and influential power.



The casus belli for Operation Iraqi Freedom according to the Gulf War ceasefire "resolutions of the [UN Security] Council [that] constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) and the US law and policy to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235) was Iraq's noncompliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions, i.e., "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the Gulf War ceasefire.

From the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991, the priorities for enforcement among Iraq's obligations were disarmament in compliance with UNSCR 687 and humanitarian reform in compliance with UNSCR 688. The 9/11 attacks added weight to Saddam's terrorist threat combined with the WMD threat, which increased the urgency of Iraq's obligation to renounce terrorism in compliance with UNSCR 687.

At the decision point for OIF, the Saddam regime was evidentially in material breach across the board of the Gulf War ceasefire terms. The principal cause for OIF was Iraq's failure to comply and disarm as mandated with the UNSCR 1441 inspections - "Recognizing the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security" (UNSCR 1441). In Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" with "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations" (UNSCR 1441), Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the Gulf War ceasefire WMD mandates was established by UNSCOM, decided by the UN Security Council, confirmed by UNMOVIC to trigger the decision for OIF, and corroborated post hoc by the Iraq Survey Group.

To clarify, although the pre-war intelligence was an influence, the casus belli was not the intelligence. In the operative enforcement procedure, the trigger for enforcement was Iraq's noncompliance. Iraq's WMD breach was basic established fact in the ceasefire disarmament process, and regardless of the intelligence, Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was presumed until Iraq proved it was compliant and disarmed as mandated by the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). Although the defense justification was raised by some Bush officials, the casus belli was not preemptive defense, albeit the Saddam regime was terrorist and counter-terrorism is intrinsically preemptive. The defense justification was implicit in the Gulf War ceasefire, which was purposed to resolve the manifold threat of Iraq, including Saddam's terrorism, established with the Gulf War. And the casus belli was not Iraqi possession of nuclear weapons nor Saddam behind the 9/11 attacks, neither of which was a claim by the Bush administration.

For a succinct explanation of the legal basis for the military enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, see President Clinton's letter to Congress outlining the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox. See President Bush's letter to Congress summarizing his determination and the legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom for a longer explanation.

From the start of the ceasefire, among the spectrum of mandates, the principal step to "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" (UNSCR 1441) was remedying "Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991)" (UNSCR 1441). With the basic established fact of Saddam's WMD breach, there was no burden of proof on the US and UN to prove Iraq was armed as indicated by pre-war intelligence estimates. As always from the start, the burden of proof for the UNSCR 1441 inspections was on Iraq to prove it had disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687.

To wit, the UNMOVIC Clusters document clarified the "onus is clearly on Iraq":
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.
The Special Commission of UNSCR 687 (1991), i.e., UNSCOM and UNMOVIC, was not mandated to verify that Iraq was armed as indicated by pre-war intelligence estimates. The Special Commission was mandated to verify that Iraq had disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687.

When Hans Blix said he could not conclude that Iraq was armed as estimated, that was outside the Special Commission's scope in the operative enforcement procedure for UNSCR 687. When Blix said he could not conclude that Iraq had disarmed as mandated, the Special Commission confirmed "Iraq has been and remains in material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of UNSCR 687.

The Special Commission was not mandated the burden to prove Iraq was proscriptively armed because the disarmament process was built on the carrying presumption of Iraq's guilt that was established in the factual baseline of the conditional ceasefire. Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) imputed continued intent and possession of proscribed armament until Iraq cured its guilt by proving it had disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687.

The reporting date for UNMOVIC and IAEA in UNSCR 1441 was effectively the deadline for Saddam because the determination for enforcement was keyed in on evaluation of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) based on the assessment by the UN inspectors. Over the 4-month UNSCR 1441 inspection period, the Saddam regime failed to satisfy even the baseline-setting step of the declare/yield/eliminate-under-international-supervision disarmament process, a verified total declaration that accounted for Iraq's entire WMD-related program, which UNSCR 687 had mandated Iraq to provide within 15 days - in 1991:
UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became [sic] available and ... produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... grouped into 29 “clusters” and presented by discipline: missiles, munitions, chemical and biological.
...
As earlier mentioned, after the defection of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamal in August 1995, Iraq provided new chemical, biological and missile declarations. And on 7 December 2002, Iraq provided a further declaration that in essence repeated the information in the earlier declarations.
Little of the detail in these declarations, such as production quantities, dates of events and unilateral destruction activities, can be confirmed. Such information is critical to an assessment of the status of disarmament. Furthermore, in some instances, UNMOVIC has information that conflicts with the information in the declaration. ... These uncertainties and consequent outstanding issues are discussed in the section on Clusters of Unresolved Disarmament Issues.
In other words, instead of "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations ... bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687" (UNSCR 1441), Iraq's declarations for the UNSCR 1441 inspections "in essence repeated" (UNMOVIC) their deficiency of "information [that] is critical to an assessment of the status of disarmament" (UNMOVIC) from the UNSCR 1205 inspections that had triggered Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

Here's how the head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, characterized the UNMOVIC findings:
It’s worth recalling that the UN weapons inspectors also found it impossible to give Saddam a clean bill of health [and] ... their work formed the basis for many key assessments. And the weapons inspectors were certainly unconvinced that Saddam had come clean. In fact, they delineated the areas where Saddam had not provided verifiable accounts of his WMD activities. And the substantial gaps in his story were more readily explained by “hidden WMD” than he innocently “forgot how much he had or where it went.”
In its "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), the Saddam regime failed to go so far as the first step of the principal step required to fulfill the spectrum of Iraq's ceasefire obligations. The UNMOVIC Clusters document findings from the UNSCR 1441 inspections of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues", presented to the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, were conclusive that Iraq had not disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687, which confirmed "Iraq has been and remains in material breach" (UNSCR 1441) to establish casus belli.

In terms of international law, the 14 numbered paragraphs of UNSCR 1441 (2002) that follow the set conditions in the preamble through "Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions, Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations" and constitute the resolution's operative section broke down to 3 groups: paragraphs 1-2, paragraphs 3-11, and paragraphs 12-14.

The first group, paragraphs 1-2, mandated the basic task and condition - the heart - of UNSCR 1441:
Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions,
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);
2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council;
Paragraph 1, the basic condition, reset Iraq's status in material breach of the ceasefire, particularly Iraq's noncompliance with the WMD-related disarmament mandates in paragraphs 8 to 13 of UNSCR 687. Paragraph 2, the basic task, afforded Iraq a "final opportunity to comply" with "full and verified completion" of the disarmament process mandated by UNSCR 687, and for that purpose, mandated an "enhanced inspection regime".

The second group, paragraphs 3-11, mandated the "enhanced" part of the "enhanced inspection regime". The heightened "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" was formulated to counter the Iraqi denial and deception practices used against the UNSCOM inspections. Paragraph 4 mandated that any Iraqi failure to abide by the heightened standard of the "enhanced inspection regime" was a "further material breach" of the Gulf War ceasefire.

Some OIF opponents misrepresent the meaning of "further material breach" in paragraph 4 to claim the UNSCR 1441 inspections were only concerned with new infractions, but there was no amnesty in UNSCR 1441. The UNMOVIC inspections explicitly took up from the UNSCOM inspections. "Further material breach" did not limit the scope of compliance; in fact, the term did not refer to the Iraqi activity indicated by the pre-war intelligence at all. Rather, paragraph 4 reinforced the burden of proof on Iraq with the mandate that any instance where Iraq fell short of the required cooperation and accountability constituted a "further material breach" by Iraq that would add to the "continued violations of its obligations" that would incur "serious consequences".

The "serious consequences" of paragraph 13 were explicitly tied to "continued violations of its obligations", to wit, "13. Recalls, in that context [i.e., Iraq's continuous failure to comply to the mandated standard], that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations". The "serious consequences" were not limited to new infractions that were defined as the verification of intelligence-indicated Iraqi activity following an unspecified cut-off point (say, after Operation Desert Fox). The "continued violations of its obligations" in paragraph 13 matched the basic issue in paragraph 1 that "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations", to wit, "1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991)".

Resolution of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" matched the basic issue in President Bush's September 2002 remarks to the UN General Assembly and Public Law 107-243 (2002) that preceded UNSCR 1441.

If "further material breach" in paragraph 4 had referred only to the verification of new infractions defined as intelligence-indicated Iraqi activity following an unspecified cut-off point, then limiting "serious consequences" as such would have rendered UNSCR 1441 insufficient on its face to achieve the resolution's stated purpose "to secure full compliance with its decisions" in order to resolve Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" with a "full and verified completion" of the disarmament process mandated by UNSCR 687.

The third group, paragraphs 12-14, was related to decision procedure and consequence if Iraq failed to comply with paragraphs 1-11:
11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;
12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;
13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;
14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Substantively, Iraq was evidentially noncompliant with the "enhanced inspection regime" in Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). Procedurally, however, the ambiguity of paragraph 12 opened the way to rivaling interpretations of the decision procedure among Security Council members.

Paragraph 12 mandated the Security Council to "convene" upon "any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution" to "consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions". It is unclear whether "consider" in context was understood as a term of art for 'decide the next action with a new specific authorization' or "consider" meant literally consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions, which might but not necessarily result in a new specific authorization.

On the one hand, like previous resolutions, paragraph 14 stated the Security Council was "seized of the matter", which OIF opponents have interpreted as each US-led military enforcement action with Iraq required a new UN authorization.

On the other hand, paragraph 1 "[d]ecid[ed] that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions", paragraph 2 "[d]ecid[ed] to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations ... with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process", paragraph 13 "[r]ecall[ed], in that context, the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations", and the preamble "[r]ecall[ed] 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", which can be interpreted as the Security Council "seized of the matter".

The operative precedent for the decade-plus US-led Gulf War ceasefire enforcement was that confirmation of Iraq's noncompliance triggered enforcement with the standing authorization of UNSCR 678; UNSCR 687 "recall[ed]" and "affirm[ed]" UNSCR 678. The UNMOVIC report of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" to the Security Council confirmed Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) and, therefore, "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions" (UNSCR 1441).

Upon the presentation of the UNMOVIC Clusters document on March 7, 2003, the Security Council duly convened per paragraph 12 of UNSCR 1441 and considered the situation for 10 days. However, President Bush faced the same deadlock in the Security Council that President Clinton had faced for Operation Desert Fox in 1998. With the operative precedent and without a clear contravening decision procedure in UNSCR 1441, the Security Council satisfied the procedural requirement to "convene" and "consider" the "failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441) before the US and UK responded to Saddam's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) with the standing authorization of UNSCR 678.

In terms of US law, by procedure, Saddam's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) converted the specific statutory authorization of Public Laws 102-1 and 107-243, the legal equivalent of a Congressional declaration of war, to the functional equivalent of a Congressional declaration of war. Public Law 107-243:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION.—The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
... (c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS.—
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
Congress set the bar for the President's determination to use force in section 3(b) of P.L. 107-243:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
... (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.—In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations ...
Accordingly, President Bush's determination for Operation Iraqi Freedom responded primarily to Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (Iraqi Perspectives Project) and UNMOVIC's confirmation of Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the ceasefire disarmament mandates:
The UNSC again placed the burden on Iraq to comply and disarm and not on the inspectors to try to find what Iraq is concealing. The UNSC made clear that any false statements or omissions in declarations and any failure by Iraq to comply with UNSCR 1441 would constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations.
... The 12,000-page document that Iraq provided was little more than a restatement of old and discredited material. It was incomplete, inaccurate, and composed mostly of recycled information that failed to address any of the outstanding disarmament questions inspectors had previously identified.
... In addition, since the passage of UNSCR 1441, Iraq has failed to cooperate fully with inspectors. ... intimidated witnesses with threats; undertook massive efforts to deceive and defeat inspectors, including cleanup and transshipment activities at nearly 30 sites; failed to provide numerous documents requested by UNMOVIC ... In a report dated March 6, 2003, UNMOVIC described over 600 instances in which Iraq had failed to declare fully activities related to its chemical, biological, or missile procurement.
...
Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorism and continues to be a safe haven, transit point, and operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States and our allies. These actions violate Iraq's obligations under the UNSCR 687 cease-fire not to commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow others who commit such acts to operate in Iraqi territory. Iraq has also failed to comply with its cease-fire obligations to disarm and submit to international inspections to verify compliance.
...
The President has full authority to use the armed forces in Iraq under the U.S. Constitution, including his authority as Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces. This authority is supported by explicit statutory authorizations contained in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243).
In addition, U.S. action is consistent with the UN Charter. The UNSC, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, provided that member states, including the United States, have the right to use force in Iraq to maintain or restore international peace and security. The Council authorized the use of force in UNSCR 678 with respect to Iraq in 1990. This resolution--on which the United States has relied continuously and with the full knowledge of the UNSC to use force in 1993, 1996, and 1998 and to enforce the no-fly zones--remains in effect today. In UNSCR 1441, the UNSC unanimously decided again that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions and would face serious consequences if it failed immediately to disarm. ...
Accordingly, the United States has clear authority to use military force against Iraq to assure its national security and to compel Iraq's compliance with applicable UNSC resolutions.
President Bush's determination for OIF, resulting from Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" in Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), followed President Clinton's precedent with ODF.

On March 3, 1999, Clinton explained to Congress the decision for ODF followed Iraq's noncompliance with the disarmament standard mandated by UNSCR 687:
As stated in my December 18 report, on December 16, United States and British forces launched military strikes on Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) to degrade Iraq's capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to degrade its ability to threaten its neighbors. The decision to use force was made after U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) Executive Chairman Richard Butler reported to the U.N. Secretary General on December 14, that Iraq was not cooperating fully with the Commission and that it was "not able to conduct the substantive disarmament work mandated to it by the Security Council."
On July 12, 2007, Bush clarified the decision for OIF followed Saddam's choice not to comply with "disclose, disarm" as mandated by UNSCR 1441:
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.
The subsequent Iraq Survey Group findings, including "In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his [Saddam's] intent to resume WMD", "the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions ... [o]utward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities", and "it has become evident to ISG that [Iraqi] officials were involved in concealment and deception activities" in breach of UNSCR 687, and the numerous non-WMD findings of Iraq's noncompliance, including the UN Commission on Human Rights report on Saddam's "systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law" in breach of UNSCR 688 and the Iraqi Perspectives Project report on Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" in breach of UNSCR 687, support President Bush's determination, "Because of the intransigence and defiance of the Iraqi regime, further continuation of these [diplomatic] efforts will neither adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor likely lead to enforcement of all relevant UNSC resolutions regarding Iraq."



The accusation that Operation Iraqi Freedom was based on manufactured intelligence or "confirmation bias" relies on revisionist premises about the UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament process.

First, Iraq's guilt on UNSCR 687-proscribed, WMD-related intent, items, and activity was not based on supposition. It was based on established fact in the Gulf War ceasefire disarmament process. On that factual basis, Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was presumed until Iraq cured its guilt with the UNSCR 687-mandated compliance and disarmament.

For the factual basis of the biological, chemical, and missile disarmament mandates, see "A Historical Account of Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programmes" in the UNMOVIC Clusters document (“Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes 6 March 2003″). Excerpt:
A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF IRAQ’S PROSCRIBED WEAPONS PROGRAMMES

Both in its size and maturity, Iraq’s chemical weapons (CW) programme was the most advanced of all its proscribed weapon programmes.

Of all its proscribed weapons programmes, Iraq’s biological warfare (BW) programme was perhaps the most secretive.

World attention was first drawn to Iraq’s ballistic missile programme during the Iraq-Iran War. In the War of the Cities, in 1988, Baghdad launched almost 200 Al Hussein missiles, (an Iraqi modified, extended range SCUD) against Tehran. The programme however had actually started more than 15 years earlier, with the purchase of ballistic missiles and had coincided with other military developments, including the initiation of Iraq’s programmes for the production of weapons of mass destruction.
For the factual basis of the nuclear disarmament mandates, see IAEA Iraq Nuclear Verification Office's Iraq Nuclear File: Key Findings. Excerpt:
Iraq’s Nuclear Weapon Programme

INVO’s extensive inspection activities in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 resulted in a technically coherent picture of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear programme. The programme was very well funded and was aimed at the indigenous development and exploitation of technologies for the production of weapons-grade nuclear material and production and manufacturing of nuclear weapons. IAEA report S/1997/779 to the UN Security Council provides a detailed overview of Agency activities in Iraq and its assessment of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapon programme. An update and summary of this report can be found in S/1998/927 and S/1999/393. The reports cover all Agency activities in Iraq between 1991 and 1998.
Also see the UN disarmament-related assessment in S/1999/356 (27MAR99) and President Clinton's summary of the Amorim Report (S/1999/356) that confirmed Iraq was noncompliant following Operation Desert Fox.

On top of the basic established fact of Saddam's UNSCR 687-proscribed armament and "continued violations of its [Iraq's] obligations" (UNSCR 1441), the pre-war intelligence was weighed with the indicators - corroborated by the Iraq Survey Group - of Iraq "rebuilding his [Saddam's] military-industrial complex", "increasing its access to dual-use items and materials", "creating numerous military research and development projects", "procurement programs supporting Iraq’s WMD programs", and "concealment and deception activities" (Iraq Survey Group). The decisive indicators were the UNMOVIC findings of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" that dispositively confirmed Saddam did not disarm as mandated. In fact, the UN inspections formed the basis for many key assessments.

Second, the ceasefire enforcement procedure that President Bush inherited from President Clinton did not pivot on the intelligence. The enforcement test was based on Iraq's compliance with the UNSC resolutions, not the intelligence. Intelligence only colored the argument. Intelligence was not a required element of the operative enforcement procedure. Neither was demonstration of Iraqi possession of WMD necessary to confirm Iraq's noncompliance. Iraq's guilt of armament was established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire and presumed throughout the enforcement of the UNSC resolutions. The basic presumption of the disarmament process was anywhere Iraq provided deficient account of its weapons imputed continued intent and possession. The Iraq enforcement pivoted solely on whether Iraq complied to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) mandated by the UNSC resolutions on a range of requirements, including but not limited to accounting for proscribed weapons.

UN Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) provided the basic standard of compliance for Iraq's weapons obligations and other mandates:
8. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:
(a) All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities;
(b) All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and related major parts, and repair and production facilities;
9. Decides, for the implementation of paragraph 8 above, the following:
(a) Iraq shall submit to the Secretary-General, within fifteen days of the adoption of the present resolution, a declaration of the locations, amounts and types of all items specified in paragraph 8 and agree to urgent, on-site inspection as specified below;
(b) The Secretary-General, in consultation with the appropriate Governments and, where appropriate, with the Director-General of the World Health Organization, within forty-five days of the passage of the present resolution, shall develop, and submit to the Council for approval, a plan calling for the completion of the following acts within forty-five days of such approval:
(i) The forming of a Special Commission, which shall carry out immediate on-site inspection of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile capabilities, based on Iraq's declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the Special Commission itself;
(ii) The yielding by Iraq of possession to the Special Commission for destruction, removal or rendering harmless, taking into account the requirements of public safety, of all items specified under paragraph 8 (a) above, including items at the additional locations designated by the Special Commission under paragraph 9 (b) (i) above and the destruction by Iraq, under the supervision of the Special Commission, of all its missile capabilities, including launchers, as specified under paragraph 8 (b) above;
...
10. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the items specified in paragraphs 8 and 9 above and requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Special Commission, to develop a plan for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with this paragraph, to be submitted to the Security Council for approval within one hundred and twenty days of the passage of this resolution;
...
12. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any subsystems or components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to the above;
...
32. Requires Iraq to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organization directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism;
Third, the US as chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions carried no burden of proof to demonstrate Iraq's WMD. Rather, among its ceasefire obligations, Iraq needed to account for all its proscribed armament. Iraq's guilt on WMD was established at the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions and presumed until Iraq cured its breach of the ceasefire. The presentation of intelligence did not and could not trigger OIF because the burden of proof was on Iraq as the probationary party to prove the mandated compliance and disarmament.

In 1998, the UN Security Council determined with UNSCR 1205 that Iraq was in "flagrant violation of resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" while Congress established with P.L. 105-235 that Iraq's noncompliance was a "vital" national security interest and determined Iraq was in "material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations". UNSCOM's confirmation of Iraq's material breach on December 15, 1998 with the Butler report activated the legal authority for military enforcement of the UN mandates with Operation Desert Fox per P.L. 102-1 pursuant to UNSCR 678.

In 2002, the UN Security Council decided with UNSCR 1441 that Iraq "has been and remains in material breach" and mandated Iraq abide by an "enhanced inspection regime" or else face "serious consequences" of "further material breach" and "continued violations of its obligations". Then, on March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC concluded the UNSCR 1441 inspection period by presenting the Clusters document to the United Nations Security Council, which confirmed Iraq remained in material breach of the UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates. OIF was thus triggered by Saddam's failure to meet Iraq's burden of proof to comply and disarm as mandated.

A pervasive, fundamental misunderstanding of UNSCOM and UNMOVIC is the belief their role in Iraq was to determine whether Iraq possessed proscribed weapons indicated by the pre-war intelligence. Actually, Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was established and presumed. As set by UNSCR 687, the UN inspectors' role in Iraq was not to search for Iraq's weapons, but rather to verify whether Iraq had sufficiently accounted for its entire WMD program by declaring all proscribed items and activity, yielding all proscribed items to the UN inspectors for "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision", and "unconditionally undertak[ing] not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" to the standard mandated by UNSCR 687 and related UNSC resolutions. With UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC, Iraq failed to satisfactorily account for its WMD program and prove it had permanently disarmed to the mandated standard.

Here are excerpts from the 173-page Clusters document (fact sheet) that UNMOVIC presented to the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, confirming Iraq remained in material breach of 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.
... Iraq declared that all bulk agent, including anthrax, remaining after the filling of weapons, had been stored at Al Hakam and was unilaterally destroyed there in July and August 1991. Laboratory analysis of samples collected by UNSCOM detected live anthrax at Iraq’s declared disposal site. However, UNSCOM considered that the evidence was insufficient to support Iraq’s statements on the quantity of anthrax destroyed and where or when it was destroyed.
... Iraq’s declaration that it produced 8,425 litres of anthrax in 1990 is supported by a 1990 Al Hakam annual report, which UNSCOM found to be a credible document. However, there is evidence that contradicts Iraq’s assertion that total production for all years, was limited to 8,445 litres.
... UNMOVIC has credible information that the total quantity of BW agent in bombs, warheads and in bulk at the time of the Gulf War was 7,000 litres more than declared by Iraq.
... The findings of fragments of munitions were insufficient to confirm other aspects of Iraq’s account of its unilateral destruction of BW [biological warfare] munitions, particularly with respect to the numbers declared by Iraq. Furthermore, there is some information that suggests that some BW warheads were destroyed later than declared by Iraq, the implication being that, if warheads were retained, then there may have been corresponding missiles to launch them. With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq.
Fourth, based on Iraq's history, track record of defiant denial and deception, belligerence, established and presumed guilt, and the stakes involved, Clinton and later Bush officials with the added threat considerations in the wake of 9/11 were compelled to view the intelligence on Iraqi WMD in an unfavorable light for Iraq. As Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen said, "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."

Iraq had squandered all benefit of the doubt during the HW Bush and Clinton administrations. With Saddam, we had to be certain. Saddam's “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere" (Clinton) was imputed from Iraq’s noncompliance, not Iraq's demonstrated possession of WMD stocks. With the spectrum of mandates and proven success of Iraq's "denial and deception operations" (Iraq Survey Group), which included hidden stocks, a large covert procurement program, and undeclared chemical and biological laboratories, Iraq's compliance with the UNSC resolutions was determined by necessity with measures other than demonstrated possession. As President Clinton explained in 2004, "I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, 'Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.' You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks."

Iraq's proscribed items and activities that could be demonstrated in hand were not the main WMD-related threat because the violations that were demonstrated could be corrected as mandated. Rather, Saddam's main WMD-related threat was the proscribed items and activities that could not be accounted for due to Iraq's "denial and deception operations" (Iraq Survey Group).

In fact, because of Iraq's established and presumed guilt and burden of proof, the ceasefire enforcer's ignorance of the state of Iraq's WMD - as Clinton framed his cause for war with Iraq in 1998 - was legally sufficient to trigger military enforcement, though perhaps not politically sufficient. If all the intelligence estimates on Iraq's WMD were mistaken, then that only returned the ceasefire disarmament process to the deficiently accounted for UNSCR 687-proscribed items and activities that had triggered Operation Desert Fox in 1998. Saddam was obligated to replace the ceasefire enforcer's ignorance about Iraq's weapons with knowledge that Iraq had disarmed to the standard mandated by the UNSC resolutions.

In other words, the presentation of pre-war intelligence was irrelevant as a cause of war. The failure of Saddam to comply with the UN mandates and cure his presumption of guilt was the cause of war both in December 1998 and March 2003.

The operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire has been obscured by the political erasure of the operative established and presumed guilt of Iraq, the political shift of the burden of proof from the probationary party, Iraq, onto the US, the chief enforcer of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), and the political displacement of OIF from the operative Gulf War ceasefire enforcement context. In fact, OIF was the coda of the US-led enforcement of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions that began when Saddam seized Kuwait in 1990 and continued through the Gulf War and the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991.

President Bush was faithful to President Clinton's Iraq enforcement and counter-terrorism policy. Bush properly established enforcement action with Iraq would be triggered by Iraq's noncompliance. It's unfortunate that Bush deviated from Clinton's public presentation of the case against Iraq by citing the pre-war intelligence in an affirmative claim at times rather than hewing strictly to Clinton's apposite bar of dangerous ignorance induced by Iraq regarding the status of its proscribed weapons. Nonetheless, Bush's public presentation did not change our 3 choices for the Saddam problem, the operative enforcement procedure Bush inherited to resolve the Saddam problem, Saddam's established and presumed guilt on WMD, and the urgency added by 9/11 to resolve the Saddam problem expeditiously. As Bush had warned, OIF was triggered by Iraq's evidential noncompliance.

To summarize, within the operative enforcement procedure, it did not matter whether the CIA had said, ‘Mr. President, it is a slam dunk that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction’ or ‘Mr. President, we have not known for sure since 1995′ – because the US and UN held no burden of proof on Iraq’s weapons. The entire burden of proof was on Saddam. Within the operative enforcement procedure, Saddam was guilty until Saddam proved Iraq was fully rehabilitated. Within the operative enforcement procedure, until Saddam fully accounted for his proscribed weapons, Saddam was presumed to possess them – regardless of whether Iraq’s possession was demonstrable by intelligence services.

Iraq’s WMD breach had been established in the factual baseline of the Iraq enforcement since 1991. The notion that the US, UN, or any intelligence service was obligated to prove Iraq’s WMD is a false premise foundational to the revisionist anti-OIF narrative. If the CIA had said, ‘We don’t know’, that would not have changed the ceasefire disarmament process, because anywhere Iraq lacked sufficient account of proscribed weapons imputed continued intent and possession.

Fifth, Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, who independently reviewed the pre-war intelligence in light of Saddam's track record largely shared President Bush's determination. The bipartisan Silberman-Robb WMD Commission, while sharply critical of the pre-war intelligence, "found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction". A Democrat-slanted Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, although overtly partisan, analyzed pre-war statements by Bush administration officials and concluded they were largely "substantiated by intelligence" and found no manipulation of the products nor interference with the analysis. My criticism of the Committee report is it stripped out the operative context of the Clinton-to-Bush enforcement procedure for the UNSC resolutions' burden of proof and "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) and much of the ISG Duelfer report's findings. It fails to weigh the UNMOVIC findings of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" that, by procedure, triggered enforcement. As well, the position that the US President should emphasize dissenting intelligence analysis in public presentation of policy is strange. Make sure to read the minority views statement beginning on page 100 of the report.

Sixth, after the fact, the Iraq Survey Group's September 2004 DCI Special Advisor Report on Iraq's WMD, commonly called the Duelfer report, corroborated that Iraq was in violation of UNSCR 687 and related resolutions. Although Bush officials improperly characterized the pre-war intelligence estimates as "evidence" and the disarmament violations discovered after the war were not entirely as suggested by the pre-war intelligence, the normal and proper role of intelligence is indicators. Although predictively imprecise, the pre-war intelligence correctly indicated Saddam was in breach of Iraq's weapons obligations. (See next section.)

A rough analogy for the ISG findings is a children's camp supervisor confronted with a camp counselor who is an intransigent drug maker and dealer with a habit of breaking camp rules by making and hiding drugs and drug paraphernalia in his group's area. The camp counselor endangers his group of campers, along with other groups in the camp, with a spectrum of dangerous rule-breaking behaviors, including drugs. Any benefit of the doubt was used up long ago. The supervisor confronts the counselor with the belief, based on present indicators and the counselor's past, that the counselor has continued to make and hide drugs and drug paraphernalia in his group's area, thus endangering his group and the camp at large. The counselor fails his final opportunity to prove he's drug free according to a strict zero-tolerance protocol, which triggers his removal from the camp. After the fact, upon tossing the group's area, the supervisor doesn't find precisely the indicated drugs and drug paraphernalia. Which doesn't exonerate the counselor since he and his accomplices have industriously sanitized the evidence in the group's area, even during the initial inspection and the supervisor's subsequent search. Instead, the supervisor finds other proscribed drug paraphernalia with inconclusive signs there might have been stashes of drugs, too. Disturbingly, the supervisor also uncovers evidence that other camp supervisors who opposed removing the counselor were complicit in the counselor’s rule breaking. (Later on, drugs are uncovered in the group's area.) The counselor remains guilty of breaking the camp's rules in his final opportunity to comply, just not precisely the same way as was initially indicated to the supervisor.

Finally, seventh, there is no disagreement that Saddam remained in violation of non-weapons ceasefire mandates, such as illicit trade outside the Oil for Food program (which funded Saddam's weapons procurement) and humanitarian and terrorism standards. They were also triggers for the President "to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to ... enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" (P.L. 107-243). Iraq's non-weapons obligations are often overlooked, yet they were as serious as Iraq's weapons obligations, particularly Saddam's terrorism in violation of UNSCR 687 and terroristic rule in violation of UNSCR 688. For example, the no-fly zones were the most visible, invasive, provocative, and dangerous component of the pre-OIF 'containment', yet the no-fly zones were not part of weapons-related enforcement. Rather, they enforced UNSC Resolution 688, which demanded an immediate end to the repression of the Iraqi civilian population. See Situation of human rights in Iraq, [United Nations] Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/15.



The Duelfer report is from the Iraq Survey Group investigation conducted in Iraq after the regime change and therefore irrelevant to the enforcement procedure at the decision point for Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the decision point for OIF, UNMOVIC administered the UNSCR 687 compliance test mandated by UNSCR 1441 that established casus belli when the Saddam regime failed to comply and disarm in its "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441).

Nonetheless, albeit post hoc, the Iraq Survey Group corroborated the UNMOVIC confirmation of the UN Security Council decision that "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991)" (UNSCR 1441).

On January 28, 2004, David Kay, who preceded Charles Duelfer as head of the Iraq Survey Group, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee:
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.
Public Law 107-243 mandated the President to "ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" and "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq". In that light, the principal requirement for appositely reading the ISG Duelfer report in the operative context of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement is understanding the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for disarmament mandated by UNSCR 687 (1991) and the historical context of the resolution's enforcement. To wit, UNSCR 1441 (2002):
Determined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions and recalling that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance,
Conscientious application of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) and its operative enforcement procedure to the body of discourse and data pertaining to the OIF decision, including the UNMOVIC and ISG disarmament-related findings, is necessary to properly evaluate the relevant information according to the operative context of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement and filter out the conjecture, distorted context, and misinformation that have obfuscated the Iraq issue.

The whole ISG Duelfer report, including all 3 volumes, is worth reading. Notably, the Iraq Survey Group heavily qualified its findings in the report's Transmittal Message, Scope Note, and various sections by cautioning that the Saddam regime was expert at hiding proscribed items and activities, much evidence was lost prior to, during, and after the war, key Saddam regime officials were not forthcoming, statements conflicted, there were clear signs that suspect areas were "sanitized", and other practical factors, such as the terrorist insurgency, limited its investigation. In other words, what ISG found comprised a floor, not a complete account. 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 material than what the ISG did not find matching the pre-war intelligence estimates.

* Recommended: Saddam: What We Now Know, 14SEP11, by Jim Lacey PhD, a researcher and author for the USJFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Project. Dr. Lacey draws from Volumes II and III of the ISG Duelfer report regarding WMD and the Iraqi Perspectives Project regarding Saddam's terrorism.

The following is a sample (not a summary) with excerpts taken mostly from Volume I of the ISG Duelfer report:
[Intent]
Saddam’s rationale for the possession of WMD derived from a need for survival and domination. This included a mixture of individual, ethnic, and nationalistic pride as well as national security concerns particularly regarding Iran. Saddam wanted personal greatness, a powerful Iraq that could project influence on the world stage, and a succession that guaranteed both. ... WMD was one of the means to these interrelated ends.
... The former Regime also saw chemical weapons as a tool to control domestic unrest, in addition to their war-fighting role. In March 1991, the former Regime used multiple helicopter sorties to drop CW-filled bombs on rebel groups as a part of its strategy to end the revolt in the South. That the Regime would consider this option with Coalition forces still operating within Iraq’s boundaries demonstrates both the dire nature of the situation and the Regime’s faith in “special weapons.”
... There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted by preserving assets and expertise. In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his intent to resume WMD as soon as sanctions were lifted. All sources suggest that Saddam encouraged compartmentalization and would have discussed something as sensitive as WMD with as few people as possible.
... • According to ‘Abd Hamid Mahmud, on the second day of Desert Fox, Saddam said, “[T]he cease-fire principle is over; the US broke the international law and attacked a country, which is a member in the UN.” He drafted a resolution which called for the RCC “to cancel all the international obligations and resolutions, which Iraq has agreed upon.” ‘Abd said that Saddam blamed the United States for attacking “Iraq without the UN permission, and [pulling] the inspectors out of Iraq.” As a result, “Iraq [had] the right to cancel all these resolutions to get rid of the sanction which was imposed for more than seven years.”
• The RCC resolution formally ended all Iraqi agreements to abide by UN resolutions. Ahmad Husayn Khudayr recalled that Saddam’s text ordered Iraq to reject every Security Council decision taken since the 1991 Gulf war, including UNSCR 687. Ahmad said the resolution was worded in careful legal terms and “denied all the previously accepted [resolutions] without any remaining trace of them [in the Iraqi Government].”
... Saddam directed the Regime’s key ministries and governmental agencies to devise and implement strategies, policies, and techniques to discredit the UN sanctions, harass UN personnel in Iraq, and discredit the US. At the same time, according to reporting, he also wanted to obfuscate Iraq’s refusal to reveal the nature of its WMD and WMD-related programs, their capabilities, and his intentions.
... The MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] formulated and implemented a strategy aimed at ending the UN sanctions and breaching its subsequent UN OFF program by diplomatic and economic means. Iraq pursued its related goals of ending UN sanctions and the UN OFF program by enlisting the help of three permanent UNSC members: Russia, France and China.
... The number of countries and companies supporting Saddam’s schemes to undermine UN sanctions increased dramatically over time from 1995 to 2003 (see figure 54).
... In May 2002, IIS correspondence addressed to Saddam stated that a MFA (quite possibly an IIS officer under diplomatic cover) met with French parliamentarian to discuss Iraq-Franco relations. The French politician assured the Iraqi that France would use its veto in the UNSC against any American decision to attack Iraq, according to the IIS memo.
... In 2001, Tariq Aziz characterized the French approach to UN sanctions as adhering to the letter of sanctions but not the spirit. This was demonstrated by the presence of French CAs [diplomatic commercial attaches] in Baghdad, working to promote the interests of French companies while assisting them in avoiding UN sanctions.
... From Baghdad the long struggle to outlast the containment policy of the United States imposed through the UN sanctions seemed tantalizingly close. There was considerable commitment and involvement on the part of states like Russia and Syria, who had developed economic and political stakes in the success of the Regime. From Baghdad’s perspective, they had firm allies, and it appeared the United States was in retreat. The United Nations mechanism to implement the Oil For Food program was being corrupted and undermined. The collapse or removal of sanctions was foreseeable. This goal, always foremost in Saddam’s eyes, was within reach.

[IIS]
Saddam had direct command of the Iraqi intelligence services and the armed forces, including direct authority over plans and operations of both. ... The IIS also ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations.
ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The network of laboratories could have provided an ideal, compartmented platform from which to continue CW agent R&D or small-scale production efforts, but we have no indications this was planned. (See Annex A.)
• ISG has no evidence that IIS Directorate of Criminology (M16) scientists were producing CW or BW agents in these laboratories. However, sources indicate that M16 was planning to produce several CW agents including sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, and Sarin.
• Exploitations of IIS laboratories, safe houses, and disposal sites revealed no evidence of CW-related research or production, however many of these sites were either sanitized by the Regime or looted prior to OIF. Interviews with key IIS officials within and outside of M16 yielded very little information about the IIS’ activities in this area.
The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN.
• The IIS program included the use of human subjects for testing purposes.
[Nuclear]
Saddam did express his intent to retain the intellectual capital developed during the Iraqi Nuclear Program. Senior Iraqis—several of them from the Regime’s inner circle—told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program once UN sanctions ended.
• Saddam indicated that he would develop the weapons necessary to counter any Iranian threat.
... ISG found a limited number of post-1995 activities that would have aided the reconstitution of the nuclear weapons program once sanctions were lifted.
... Saddam’s increased interest in the IAEC [Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission] and publicity of IAEC achievements, increased funding, and infrastructure improvements prompted Dr. Huwaysh to speculate that Saddam was interested in restarting a nuclear weapons program.
... In January 2002, according to a detained senior MIC [military-industrial complex] official, Saddam directed the MIC to assist the IAEC with foreign procurement. On a few occasions the IAEC used MIC to procure goods, ostensibly as part of the IAEC modernization project. At this time, Saddam Husayn also directed the IAEC to begin a multi-year procurement project called the IAEC Modernization Program. This program, which was still functioning up to the Coalition invasion in 2003,strove to revitalize the IAEC capabilities.
... ISG has uncovered two instances in which scientists linked to Iraq’s pre-1991 uranium enrichment programs kept documentation and technology in anticipation of renewing these efforts—actions that they contend were officially sanctioned. ... Since Operation Iraqi Freedom, two scientists from Iraq’s pre-1991 nuclear weapons program have emerged to provide ISG with uranium enrichment technology and components, which they kept hidden from inspectors.
... In the year prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), MIC undertook improvements to technology in several areas that could have been applied to a renewed centrifuge program for uranium enrichment. ... All of these projects were created to improve specific military or commercial products, but the technologies could have help support a centrifuge development project.

[Biological]
With the degradation of the Iraqi infrastructure and dispersal of personnel, it is increasingly unlikely that these questions will be resolved. Of those that remain, the following are of particular concern, as they relate to the possibility of a retained BW capability or the ability to initiate a new one.
• ISG cannot determine the fate of Iraq’s stocks of bulk BW agents remaining after Desert Storm and subsequent unilateral destruction. There is a very limited chance that continuing investigation may provide evidence to resolve this issue.
• The fate of the missing bulk agent storage tanks.
• The fate of a portion of Iraq’s BW agent seed-stocks.
• The nature, purpose and who was involved in the secret biological work in the small IIS laboratories discovered by ISG.
Through an investigation of the history of Iraq’s bulk BW agent stocks, it has become evident to ISG that officials were involved in concealment and deception activities.
ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs up to OIF by failing to disclose accurate production totals for B. anthracis and probably other BW agents and for not providing the true details of its alleged 1991 disposal of stocks of bulk BW agent.
• Officials within the BW program knowingly continued this deception right up to OIF and beyond, only revealing some details well after the conflict.
... From 1998-2003, Iraq devoted increased resources and effort to its biotechnology and genetic engineering activities, a concern that the UN continued to investigate until its departure.
... The UN deemed Iraq’s accounting of its production and use of BW agent simulants—specifically Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, Bacillus megaterium and Bacillus thuringiensis to be inadequate. ISG remains interested in simulant work because these items may be used not only to simulate the dispersion of BW agents, develop production techniques, and optimize storage conditions, but also the equipment used for their manufacture can also be quickly converted to make BW agent.

[Chemical]
Dr. Ja’far Dhia Ja’far, and IIC [Iraqi Industrial Committee] member, could not recall which projects were accepted for scale-up [production] but he knew some compounds were dual-use and declarable to the UN, and that the National Monitoring Directorate (NMD) did not declare all of the chemicals.
... Iraq also possessed declarable equipment for chemical production, which it had not declared to the UN. ... By cannibalizing production equipment from various civilian chemical facilities, it would have been possible for Iraq to assemble a CW production plant. Alternatively, equipment that was less suitable could have been reconfigured at an existing site and used for short-term limited production. Iraq had improvised and jury-rigged equipment in the past.
... ISG’s investigation of Iraq’s ammunition supply points—ammunition depots, field ammunition supply points (FASPs), tactical FASPs, and other dispersed weapons caches—has not uncovered any CW munitions. ISG investigation, however, was hampered by several factors beyond our control. The scale and complexity of Iraqi munitions handling, storage, and weapons markings, and extensive looting and destruction at military facilities during OIF significantly limited the number of munitions that ISG was able to thoroughly inspect.
• ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq, and visited fewer than ten ammunition depots identified prior to OIF as suspect CW sites.
• The enormous number of munitions dispersed throughout the country may include some older, CW-filled munitions, and ISG cannot discount the possibility that a few large caches of munitions remain to be discovered within Iraq.
[Missiles]
Iraq’s decisions in 1996 to accept the Oil-For-Food program (OFF) and later in 1998 to cease cooperation with UNSCOM and IAEA spurred a period of increased activity in delivery systems development. The pace of ongoing missile programs accelerated, and the Regime authorized its scientists to design missiles with ranges in excess of 150 km that, if developed, would have been clear violations of UNSCR 687.
... Procurements supporting delivery system programs expanded after the 1998 departure of the UN inspectors. Iraq also hired outside expertise to assist its development programs.
... Given Iraq’s investments in technology and infrastructure improvements, an effective procurement network, skilled scientists, and designs already on the books for longer range missiles, ISG assesses that Saddam clearly intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems and that the systems potentially were for WMD.

[Deception]
The Regime made a token effort to comply with the disarmament process, but the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions. Outward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities.
... While it appears that Iraq, by the mid-1990s, was essentially free of militarily significant WMD stocks, Saddam’s perceived requirement to bluff about WMD capabilities made it too dangerous to clearly reveal this to the international community, especially Iran.
... Early on, Saddam sought to foster the impression with his generals that Iraq could resist a Coalition ground attack using WMD. Then, in a series of meetings in late 2002, Saddam appears to have reversed course and advised various groups of senior officers and officials that Iraq in fact did not have WMD. His admissions persuaded top commanders that they really would have to fight the United States without recourse to WMD. In March 2003, Saddam created further confusion when he implied to his ministers and senior officers that he had some kind of secret weapon.
... Iraq engaged in denial and deception activities to safeguard national security and Saddam’s position in the Regime. These surveillance activities and the suspect vehicle movements in and around sensitive sites made it difficult for Western intelligence services to distinguish innoculous [sic] security-related measures from WMD concealment activities which added to the suspicion of Iraqi actions.
... • Huwaysh instructed MIC [military-industrial complex] general directors to conceal sensitive material and documents from UN inspectors. This was done to prevent inspectors from discovering numerous purchases of illicit conventional weapons and military equipment from firms in Russia, Belarus, and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.
... M23, Directorate of Military Industries
Also known as “Al Munzhumah,” M23 provided security for all MIC and IAEC sites, and it assisted teh Natioal [sic] Monitoring Directorate (NMD) with purging MIC facilities of documents to be safeguarded from the UN. ... M23 handled security within the facility, as well as the security staff manning gates at industrial complexes, weapons manufacturing plants, chemical production plants, and MIC offices. M23 also provided limited security for three MIC companies: Armos, Al Basha’ir, and Al Mufakhir—all front companies for illicit MIC procurement. ...
M23 officers also were involved in NMD document concealment and destruction efforts. In August 1998, Saddam ended cooperation with UNSCOM inspections, and soon after he ordered the creation of a NMD committee to purge all MIC records of sensitive documentation related to past prohibited programs. While many documents had already been declared, some were given to M23 agent ‘Ayad Qatan Talab, the director of M23/6/1 Counter-Espionage Section, to keep in a lockbox. These documents have not yet been recovered.
... Following the destruction of much of the Iraqi WMD infrastructure during Desert Storm, however, the threats to the Regime remained; especially his perception of the overarching danger from Iran. In order to counter these threats, Saddam continued with his public posture of retaining the WMD capability. This led to a difficult balancing act between the need to disarm to achieve sanctions relief while at the same time retaining a strategic deterrent. The Regime never resolved the contradiction inherent in this approach. Ultimately, foreign perceptions of these tensions contributed to the destruction of the Regime.

[Sanctions]
Saddam’s initial approach under sanctions was driven by his perceived requirements for WMD and his confidence in Iraq’s ability to ride out inspections without fully cooperating.
... Barring a direct approach to fulfillment of the requirements of 687, Iraq was left with an end-run strategy focusing on the de facto elimination of sanctions rather than the formal and open Security Council process.
... The Recovery phase [1996-1998] was ushered in by Saddam’s acceptance of UN SC 986 and the UN OFF Program. Trade fostered under the OFF program starting in 1997 allowed Saddam to pursue numerous illicit revenue earning schemes, which began generating significant amounts of cash outside of the auspices of the UN. With the legitimate side of the OFF program providing the Iraq population with economic relief, Saddam was free to develop illicit procurement programs to arm his Regime against perceived and real threats. By the end of this period, Iraq had developed a growing underground network of trade intermediaries, front companies, and international suppliers willing to trade oil or hard currency for conventional weapons, WMD precursors, and dual-use technology. After 1996, the state of the Iraqi economy no longer threatened Saddam’s hold on power in Iraq, and economic recovery underpinned a more confident Regime posture.
... By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.
... Saddam invested his growing reserves of hard currency in rebuilding his military-industrial complex, increasing its access to dual-use items and materials, and creating numerous military research and development projects. He also emphasized restoring the viability of the IAEC [Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission] and Iraq’s former nuclear scientists.
... Many former Iraqi officials close to Saddam either heard him say or inferred that he intended to resume WMD programs when sanctions were lifted.
... Saddam continually underestimated the economic consequences of his actions. His belief that sanctions would prove ineffective led him to conclude he could avoid WMD disarmament.
... The successful implementation of the Protocols, continued oil smuggling efforts, and the manipulation of UN OFF contracts emboldened Saddam to pursue his military reconstitution efforts starting in 1997 and peaking in 2001. These efforts covered conventional arms, dual-use goods acquisition, and some WMD-related programs.
... From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency.
... The procurement programs supporting Iraq’s WMD programs and prohibited conventional military equipment purchases were financed via a supplemental budget process that occurred outside of the publicized national and defense budgets.
... Prohibited goods and weapons were being shipped into Iraq with virtually no problem. The only notable items stopped in this flow were some aluminum tubes, which became the center of debate over the existence of a nuclear enrichment effort in Iraq. Major items had no trouble getting across the border, including 380 liquid-fuel rocket engines. Indeed, Iraq was designing missile systems with the assumption that sanctioned material would be readily available.
The as-of-Gulf-War chemical weapons collected and chemical-weapon injuries suffered by coalition forces, according to the New York Times, provided additional corroboration that Iraq breached the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687. The Regime Finance and Procurement section of the Iraq Survey Group Duelfer report details the Saddam regime's nearly completed defeat of the sanctions and 'containment' that was averted with OIF. Related, see Iraq's Suppliers at Iraq Watch and IIC's Report on the Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme.

By the close of the Clinton administration, the US-led Iraq enforcement had been reduced to 3 choices:*
A. Kick the can on the status quo, the toxic and broken ‘containment’, and hope.
B. Free a noncompliant Saddam, unreconstructed.
C. Resolution by giving Saddam a final chance to comply under a credible threat of regime change.

According to the ISG Duelfer report, option A was a fast approaching dead end because the mainly sanctions-based ‘containment’ (status quo) was on the verge of imminent defeat by Saddam. Option B or freeing a noncompliant Saddam, unreconstructed, on top of abrogating the defining international law enforcement of the post-Cold War, most likely would have resulted in, as President Clinton had warned, “a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.”

After UNMOVIC confirmed Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) to trigger the decision for OIF, the Iraq Survey Group corroborated Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) with findings of Saddam intended to rearm and never intended to disarm as mandated, broken sanctions and large covert procurement, an undeclared "sanitized" IIS laboratory network (research and development, small-scale production), reconstituting nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile capabilities and infrastructure, and concealment and deception. Each violation corroborated the Saddam regime was past the red line for enforcement set by Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). ISG also confirmed conventional rearmament in violation of UNSCR 687. While ISG did not find on-line factory production and battlefield-ready stockpiles of WMD, which did not define the extent of the UNSCR 687 mandate, it should be noted that ISG's non-findings of WMD are heavily qualified.

If the US had backed down when Iraq failed UNSCR 1441's "final" UNSCR 687 compliance test, and thereby discredited the threat of regime change that was necessary to compel even deficient cooperation from Saddam, the deterrence failure to follow through on the compliance enforcement would have restricted our choices to the dead ends and greater threat promised by option A and option B. In addition to the dangers of a victorious unreconstructed Saddam, the failure to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire terms would have severely undermined, if not altogether killed, the general effectiveness of US-led compliance enforcement with rogue actors like Saddam and WMD proscription.

* The Blix alternative, used by President Clinton to retreat from his support for President Bush and endorsement of OIF, was not realistic.



The Bush administration's emphasis on the pre-war intelligence as "evidence" in its public presentation of the case against Saddam was a multifarious error, albeit the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom was correct according to the operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire.

One, the Bush administration inherited the status quo of Iraq's noncompliance with UNSCR 687 and related resolutions. By procedure, the burden was on Iraq to comply as mandated to switch off enforcement. Yet enemy propagandists seized on the error of presentation to ignore the longstanding "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) that Iraq failed to comply with for casus belli and in its place, assert that OIF was based on false pretenses, which is the foundational premise of the prevailing revisionist narrative of OIF.

However, while Bush officials too often improperly represented the pre-war intelligence, crucially, President Bush correctly and consistently stated that enforcement of Iraq's "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council" (UNSCR 1441) depended on Iraq’s compliance. For example, OIF opponents who claim the pre-war intelligence estimates were the casus belli cite Secretary of State Powell's speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003. Yet, of foundational importance, before he presented the pre-war intelligence, Powell reiterated, "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."

Based on the fact record – knowing what we know now – the speech holds up well. On the main points of his case presentation against Saddam, Powell was correct nearly across the board. But OIF opponents seized on Powell's emphasis of pre-war intelligence estimates to overshadow the substantiation of the case against Saddam.

Two, the pre-war intelligence estimates were not an element of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). Once President Bush ended the ad hoc 'containment' by restoring the UN weapons inspections with UNMOVIC, emphasizing the intelligence was no longer apposite since the intelligence could not trigger enforcement according to the inspection-centered UNSCR 687 disarmament process.

While the pre-war intelligence estimates incorporated the UN inspectors' findings, the operative role of the intelligence was to assist the UN inspectors determine whether Iraq disarmed as mandated. By procedure, decisions for enforcement were made on the measurement of Iraq's compliance. As such, the UNMOVIC finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" in the UNSCR 1441 inspections, not the pre-war intelligence estimates, triggered enforcement with Operation Iraqi Freedom in the same way that the UNSCOM Butler report triggered Operation Desert Fox.

Three, the flawed presentation of the pre-war intelligence by Bush officials too often confused the operative enforcement issue of Iraq's UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament with the speculative question of Iraq's secret holdings, which was not part of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441).

The pre-war intelligence estimates were not an element of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for sound reason: Iraq's burden to prove the UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament was positively measured by the UN weapons inspections, whereas intelligence, generally speaking, is not "evidence" that is verified and positively controlled like evidence entered in court. Rather, intelligence offers indicators and best guesses that are meant to help a commander, including the Commander in Chief, with life-or-death decisions under murky conditions. Intelligence on weather or terrain might be knowledge. Intelligence can include established facts, such as the UNSCR 687 inspection records, and sound data that qualifies as evidence in hand, such as the receipts and invoices from Iraq's illicit procurement. Intelligence might offer compelling indicators and well-reasoned guesses that bear out. But intelligence estimates that speculate about the enemy's secret holdings are not evidentiary knowledge like the fact findings that confirmed Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441).

Although the pre-war intelligence estimates were drawn from sound data such as the receipts and invoices from Iraq's illicit procurement, which constituted evidence that Iraq was rearming in violation of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), and the UNMOVIC findings of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441), which imputed continued intent and possession, estimates of Iraq's secret holdings nonetheless could only be best guesses, not verified and positively controlled "evidence" of specific armament.

Four, as a practical matter, the UN weapons inspections tested Iraq's compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), which meant the UN weapons inspections could not reliably assess the predictive precision of the pre-war intelligence estimates. The UNSCR 687 disarmament process was not like a crime-scene forensic investigation that searched for evidence while guarding carefully against the contamination or loss of physical evidence in a controlled area. Rather, the UNSCR 687 disarmament process was designed to verify that Iraq's declaration totally accounted for all proscribed items and activities, manage all of their "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision" (UNSCR 687) when turned over by Iraq, and ensure "Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" (UNSCR 687). Therefore, Iraq’s WMD threat was chiefly assessed from the prescribed measurement of the proscribed items and activities that Iraq did not demonstrably account for and eliminate to the mandated standard with the UN inspectors.

Carrying the burden to prove the mandated disarmament upon the established fact of Iraq's proscribed armament, Saddam was in effect allowed by the UN weapons inspections to hide, alter, or destroy evidence of proscribed armament since Iraq's "concealment and deception activities" (Iraq Survey Group) only hindered Iraq from proving it disarmed according to the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441). In fact, the Iraq Survey Group findings are heavily qualified with caveats about significant limitations to their scope, including that much evidence of Iraq's specific armament was lost before and during ISG's post hoc investigation.

Five, the emphasis on the intelligence deviated from President Clinton's ready compliance-based case for Iraqi regime change.

The Gulf War ceasefire enforcement versus Saddam's "intransigence" (Clinton) had progressed for a decade by the time Bush became President. Bush inherited from Clinton a fully formed case for Iraqi regime change in the expected event of "continued violations of its [Iraq's] obligations" (UNSCR 1441). Clinton's December 16, 1998 announcement of Operation Desert Fox was a public presentation of the case for Iraqi regime change.

President Clinton had worked with Congress to meticulously develop the law, policy, and precedent for a successor to follow the penultimate enforcement step of ODF with the ultimate enforcement step of Iraqi regime change. President Bush only needed to follow the script handed to him by his predecessor. Mostly, he did. Bush faithfully carried forward the operative enforcement procedure from Clinton's Iraq enforcement, and in his public presentation of the case against Saddam, Bush echoed Clinton's public presentation. Most important, Bush properly established that the procedural trigger for enforcement was Iraq's noncompliance. However, Clinton pointedly did not cite to the intelligence as "evidence" in his public presentation. Instead, the "evidence" that Clinton cited was all about Iraq's noncompliance, which matched the compliance-based ceasefire enforcement.

With the wealth of national security and military experience among Bush officials, including the President's own, they should have understood what intelligence is and isn't in terms of evidence as well as its particular relationship with the Gulf War ceasefire disarmament process. Therefore, it is difficult to understand how they came to misrepresent both the general nature of intelligence and the limited ancillary role of intelligence in the operative enforcement procedure for the OIF decision.

That being said, there is a half-valid excuse for the inapposite messaging by Bush officials with the pre-war intelligence: following Operation Desert Fox, President Clinton had switched from the compliance-based ceasefire enforcement to an ad hoc 'containment'.

For the 1991-1998 Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, the disarmament-based trigger for enforcement was straightforward: Iraq's evident noncompliance with the UNSCOM inspections.

But the 1998-2002 ad hoc 'containment' following Operation Desert Fox was implemented when Clinton could not foresee that UN weapons inspectors would return to Iraq. Therefore, for the ad hoc 'containment', sans UN weapons inspections, the disarmament-based trigger for enforcement was, by necessity, indication of "reconstitution" - i.e., the intelligence.

The casus belli was established throughout the 1991-2003 enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire as Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" according to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). For the ad hoc 'containment', President Clinton did not shift the burden of proof and replace the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) with an intelligence-based standard that eliminated Iraq's presumption of guilt and obligated the US to prove the predictive precision of its intelligence. Iraq's presumption of guilt and obligation to comply with all its ceasefire obligations in order to cure its guilt remained unchanged for the ad hoc 'containment' from the compliance-based ceasefire enforcement. Iraq's burden to prove it was disarmed as mandated stayed the same. As Clinton recounted on July 3, 2003, "it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons".

Rather, because the mandated UNSCR 687 disarmament process had been suspended, President Clinton was compelled to draft the intelligence to fill in for the UN weapons inspections as a makeshift substitute trigger for enforcement during the ad hoc 'containment'. The early emphasis by Bush officials on the intelligence was consistent with Clinton's ad hoc enforcement procedure for the ad hoc 'containment'.

So far so good, so why is it only a half-valid excuse for the Bush administration's error of presentation? Because messaging consistent with the intelligence-centered, indication-based enforcement trigger for the ad hoc 'containment' was rendered inapposite as soon as the inspection-centered, compliance-based UNSCR 687 disarmament process was restored.

Although President Clinton had arranged for the intelligence to trigger enforcement during the ad hoc 'containment', President Bush presented the intelligence to reanimate the UNSCR 687 disarmament process for the compliance-based ceasefire enforcement. The moment that UN inspectors were expected to return to Iraq, the ad hoc 'containment' ended, the inspection-centered trigger for enforcement was restored, and the intelligence was relieved as a substitute trigger for enforcement and returned to its ancillary role for the UN weapons inspections. At that point, Bush officials should have followed President Clinton's compliance-based case for Operation Desert Fox. Instead, while they correctly established that the enforcement trigger was Iraq's noncompliance, they also doubled down inappositely on intelligence-based messaging.

If Bush officials felt compelled to cite the intelligence to augment President Clinton's compliance-based case for Operation Desert Fox, then they should have raised the intelligence strictly as indicators of proscribed activity, not as "evidence" of Iraq's secret holdings, while emphasizing - as Clinton had - the operative context of Iraq's presumed guilt and noncompliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). At times, Bush officials' messaging hit the correct note, but too often, they crossed the line to misrepresent both the general nature of intelligence and its ancillary role in the operative enforcement procedure.

Due to enemy propaganda seizing on the Bush administration's error of presentation, the intelligence community has been unfairly blamed for causing the war, albeit fairly criticized for their tradecraft. Yet at no point was the intelligence the casus belli for the Gulf War and the Gulf War ceasefire. Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) under the UNSCR 660-series resolutions was always the cause of war. For the UN weapons inspections and the ad hoc 'containment', Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was presumed until Iraq cured its guilt by proving its "full and verified completion [of] the disarmament process" according to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). In the UNSCR 1441 inspections, UNMOVIC evidentially confirmed "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687" (UNSCR 1441) for casus belli.

Although the pre-war intelligence fell short as "evidence" of specific armament, the evidence shows the pre-war intelligence, per the normal role of intelligence and its actual role in the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, correctly indicated Saddam's regime was engaged in proscribed armament (and terrorist) activity that breached the Gulf War ceasefire.



A false premise asserted by OIF opponents is the casus belli for OIF was based on a claim that Saddam possessed nuclear weapons. However, President Bush stated on October 7, 2002, "Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem."

The IAEA Iraq Nuclear Verification Office provides the relevant background on the UNSCR 687 nuclear disarmament process. Excerpt:
Iraq’s Nuclear Weapon Programme

INVO’s extensive inspection activities in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 resulted in a technically coherent picture of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear programme. The programme was very well funded and was aimed at the indigenous development and exploitation of technologies for the production of weapons-grade nuclear material and production and manufacturing of nuclear weapons. IAEA report S/1997/779 to the UN Security Council provides a detailed overview of Agency activities in Iraq and its assessment of Iraq’s clandestine nuclear weapon programme. An update and summary of this report can be found in S/1998/927 and S/1999/393. The reports cover all Agency activities in Iraq between 1991 and 1998.
In the operative UNSCR 687 disarmament context with the established fact of "Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme" (IAEA), that there were indicators of proscribed nuclear activity by Iraq is true.

Sections 490-503 of the 2004 Butler Review of British intelligence upheld the analysis behind the controversial 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."

According to the Iraq Survey Group, the confiscated "high-strength, high-specification aluminum tubes" cited by Bush officials were "dual-use items controlled under Annex 3 of the Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Plan as possible centrifuge rotors" and "[o]ther sections of ISG nuclear report describe findings concerning equipment and materials that could have supported a renewed centrifuge effort".

The Iraq Survey Group's nuclear-related findings include:
Saddam did express his intent to retain the intellectual capital developed during the Iraqi Nuclear Program. Senior Iraqis—several of them from the Regime’s inner circle—told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program once UN sanctions ended.
... Saddam’s increased interest in the IAEC [Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission] and publicity of IAEC achievements, increased funding, and infrastructure improvements prompted Dr. Huwaysh to speculate that Saddam was interested in restarting a nuclear weapons program.
... In particular, Saddam was focused on the eventual acquisition of a nuclear weapon, which Tariq ‘Aziz said Saddam was fully committed to acquiring despite the absence of an effective program after 1991.
... In January 2002, according to a detained senior MIC [military-industrial complex] official, Saddam directed the MIC to assist the IAEC with foreign procurement. On a few occasions the IAEC used MIC to procure goods, ostensibly as part of the IAEC modernization project. At this time, Saddam Husayn also directed the IAEC to begin a multi-year procurement project called the IAEC Modernization Program. This program, which was still functioning up to the Coalition invasion in 2003,strove to revitalize the IAEC capabilities.
... ISG found a limited number of post-1995 activities that would have aided the reconstitution of the nuclear weapons program once sanctions were lifted.
... In 2002, Baghdad sent a scientific delegation to Belarus and China in order to stay current on all aspects of nuclear physics and to procure a Chinese fiber optics communication system.
... In the year prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), MIC undertook improvements to technology in several areas that could have been applied to a renewed centrifuge program for uranium enrichment.
... Since Operation Iraqi Freedom, two scientists from Iraq’s pre-1991 nuclear weapons program have emerged to provide ISG with uranium enrichment technology and components, which they kept hidden from inspectors. ... ISG has uncovered two instances in which scientists linked to Iraq’s pre-1991 uranium enrichment programs kept documentation and technology in anticipation of renewing these efforts—actions that they contend were officially sanctioned.
Nonetheless, while reasonably concerned about the indicators of proscribed nuclear activity by Iraq, President Bush did not claim Saddam possessed nuclear weapons. By "confront it now" (Bush, 07OCT02), he meant bringing Iraq into compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions. The warning of a possible "mushroom cloud" was stated neither as knowledge of Iraqi nuclear weapons nor as casus belli, but rather that the pre-war intelligence added weight to Bush's call for UN and IAEA inspectors to return to Iraq forthwith in order to verify Iraq was compliant with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

The nuclear disarmament mandates were part of the diverse bundle of disarmament mandates in UNSCR 687 (1991):
Concerned by the reports in the hands of Member States that Iraq has attempted to acquire materials for a nuclear-weapons programme contrary to its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1 July 1968,
...
11. Invites Iraq to reaffirm unconditionally its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1 July 1968;
12. Decides that Iraq shall unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any subsystems or components or any research, development, support or manufacturing facilities related to the above; to submit to the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency within fifteen days of the adoption of the present resolution a declaration of the locations, amounts, and types of all items specified above; to place all of its nuclear-weapons-usable materials under the exclusive control, for custody and removal, of the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the assistance and cooperation of the Special Commission as provided for in the plan of the Secretary-General discussed in paragraph 9 (b) above; to accept, in accordance with the arrangements provided for in paragraph 13 below, urgent on-site inspection and the destruction, removal or rendering harmless as appropriate of all items specified above; and to accept the plan discussed in paragraph 13 below for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of its compliance with these undertakings;
13. Requests the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, through the Secretary-General, with the assistance and cooperation of the Special Commission as provided for in the plan of the Secretary-General in paragraph 9 (b) above, to carry out immediate on-site inspection of Iraq's nuclear capabilities based on Iraq's declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the Special Commission; to develop a plan for submission to the Security Council within forty-five days calling for the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless as appropriate of all items listed in paragraph 12 above; to carry out the plan within forty-five days following approval by the Security Council; and to develop a plan, taking into account the rights and obligations of Iraq under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1 July 1968, for the future ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq's compliance with paragraph 12 above, including an inventory of all nuclear material in Iraq subject to the Agency's verification and inspections to confirm that Agency safeguards cover all relevant nuclear activities in Iraq, to be submitted to the Security Council for approval within one hundred and twenty days of the passage of the present resolution;
By procedure, the pre-war intelligence could not trigger enforcement. Only Iraq's noncompliance with the UN mandates, i.e., breach of ceasefire, could trigger enforcement. The best representation of the justification for invasion is President Bush's letter to Congress explaining his determination for Operation Iraqi Freedom according to Public Law 107-243, i.e., the 2002 AUMF which mandated enforcement of Iraq's full compliance with all the UNSCR 660-series resolutions with emphasis on the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688, and all the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

The military threat of regime change enabled the UNSCR 1441 inspections for Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). Subsequently, the principal trigger for OIF to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235) was not the pre-war intelligence on proscribed nuclear activity, but rather the UNMOVIC finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" in the UNSCR 1441 inspections that confirmed Iraq's evidential failure to disarm as mandated by the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441).

Nuclear-related disarmament issues remained unresolved with IAEA, whose findings appear to be an underestimation in comparison to the subsequent Iraq Survey Group findings that corroborated Saddam's nuclear intent and activity violated UNSCR 687. That being said, at the decision point for OIF, the IAEA findings in the UNSCR 1441 inspections were less alarming than the UNMOVIC findings that established casus belli for OIF.



A false premise asserted by OIF opponents is the casus belli for OIF was based on a claim that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks. However, the link between 9/11 and Iraq is not a major part of my take on the issue because the Bush administration did not claim Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks.

The Saddam problem, which included Saddam's ongoing "regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations" (Iraqi Perspectives Project) in violation of the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, and the operative enforcement procedure to resolve the Saddam problem were both mature by the close of the Clinton administration - before the 9/11 attacks.

The 9-11 Commission reports that immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Bush officials prudently raised reasonable concerns that Saddam might be involved due to sophisticated piloting in the Pentagon attack, Saddam's suspicious response to 9/11, and Saddam's terrorism, which included Islamic terrorism that included "considerable operational overlap" (IPP) with the al Qaeda network. But the 9-11 Commission is clear that, with no confirmed link, President Bush distinguished the Saddam problem from 9/11. However, the 9/11 attacks did intensify the focus on Saddam's terrorism and significantly boost the urgency and political will to resolve the Saddam problem expeditiously with Iraq's Gulf War ceasefire-mandated compliance. For Bush, the significance of 9/11 in the decision for OIF was not culpability in the 9/11 attacks but rather the prosecution of the greater War on Terror with the heightened threat consideration of Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (IPP) induced by the 9/11 attacks.

The US-enforced "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) on terrorism was set by paragraph 32 of UNSCR 687:
32. Requires Iraq to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organization directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism;
Accordingly, the counter-terrorism basis for the determination to use force under Public Law 107-243, while it referred to the 9/11 attacks, was not defined as culpability in the 9/11 attacks. Pursuant to UNSCR 687 per the 2002 AUMF, any support of terrorism by Iraq established the counter-terrorism basis for the determination to use force:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
... (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.—In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that—
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
"[I]ncluding" in section 3(b)(2) of P.L. 107-243 connotes a subset, not a limiting qualification. As well, “aided” is usually interpreted as aiding the al Qaeda network, not limited to a direct hand in the 9/11 attacks. Saddam was in fact aiding the al Qaeda network.

Accordingly, while Saddam's relationship with al Qaeda was cited, the counter-terrorism basis of President Bush's determination to use force was not culpability in the 9/11 attacks, but rather Saddam's "long history of supporting terrorism":
Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorism and continues to be a safe haven, transit point, and operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States and our allies. These actions violate Iraq's obligations under the UNSCR 687 cease-fire not to commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow others who commit such acts to operate in Iraqi territory. Iraq has also failed to comply with its cease-fire obligations to disarm and submit to international inspections to verify compliance.
Before the 9/11 attacks, in an address to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff on February 17, 1998, President Clinton had warned of "the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers, or organized criminals, who travel the world among us unnoticed". The uncovering of a WMD "international proliferation network" added to the heightened threat consideration of Saddam's distinctive combined WMD-and-terrorism threat in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), the Saddam regime did not disarm as mandated: UNMOVIC confirmed "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues", which triggered OIF. The Saddam regime also did not renounce terrorism as mandated: the Iraqi Perspectives Project confirmed the Saddam regime's "regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations". The Iraq Survey Group corroborated UNMOVIC and found that the IIS, which also managed Saddam's terrorism, was running a clandestine chemical and biological laboratory network, and Iraq was evidently capable of producing CW and BW.

Clinton explained the link between 9/11 and Iraq:
Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority [see Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39 (1995)] was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."

"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for," Clinton said in reference to Iraq and the fact that U.N. weapons inspectors left the country in 1998.

"So I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, 'Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.' You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks," Clinton said.
President Bush concurred with his predecessor that the 9/11 attacks increased the urgency to resolve Saddam's noncompliance with the terrorism and disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687:
Some citizens wonder, after 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now? And there's a reason. We've experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact, they would be eager, to use biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, "Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril."
President Bush's invocation of the preemptive defense doctrine in response to the 9/11 attacks was an extension of the preemptive defense doctrine that President Clinton had implemented in response to the "unacceptable" danger of terrorists acquiring WMD in light of the Islamic terrorist campaign that escalated throughout the Clinton administration and culminated in the 9/11 attacks. Clinton was concerned particularly about Saddam arming terrorists with WMD.

Counter-terrorism is intrinsically preemptive and the Saddam regime was terrorist.

That being said, preemptive defense was not the casus belli for resuming the Gulf War with Operation Iraqi Freedom. The defense justification was already baked into the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for the Gulf War ceasefire, which was purposed to resolve "the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security" (UNSCR 1441) that was established with the Gulf War. The "threat [of] Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions" included Saddam's distinctive combined WMD-and-terrorism danger warned by President Clinton.

The casus belli for OIF was neither blame for the 9/11 attacks nor preemptive defense, but rather the confirmation of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441), including the disarmament and terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, in "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the Gulf War ceasefire when Saddam declined his "final opportunity to comply" with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441).



The Saddam regime was in breach of the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687 (1991):
Recalling the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, opened for signature at New York on 18 December 1979, which categorizes all acts of taking hostages as manifestations of international terrorism,
Deploring threats made by Iraq during the recent conflict to make use of terrorism against targets outside Iraq and the taking of hostages by Iraq,
...
32. Requires Iraq to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organization directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism;
* Recommended: Kyle Orton's analysis of the Saddam regime's relationship with Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism and Jim Lacey's additional commentary based on his work as a researcher and author for the USJFCOM Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP).

The IPP findings corroborated the pre-war UN Commission on Human Rights report that Saddam ruled Iraq with "widespread terror" in breach of UNSCR 688.

Sample of excerpts from the November 2007 Iraqi Perspectives Project report, "Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents":
ABSTRACT
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. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist–operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a “de facto” link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.
...
Executive Summary
The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) review of captured Iraqi documents uncovered strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism. Despite their incompatible long-term goals, many terrorist movements and Saddam found a common enemy in the United States. At times these organizations worked together, trading access for capability. In the period after the 1991 Gulf War, the regime of Saddam Hussein supported a complex and increasingly disparate mix of pan-Arab revolutionary causes and emerging pan-Islamic radical movements. The relationship between Iraq and forces of pan-Arab socialism was well known and was in fact one of the defining qualities of the Ba'ath movement.

But the relationships between Iraq and the groups advocating radical pan-Islamic doctrines are much more complex. This study found no "smoking gun" (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda. Saddam's interest in, and support for, non-state actors was spread across a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. Some in the regime recognized the potential high internal and external costs of maintaining relationships with radical Islamic groups, yet they concluded that in some cases, the benefits of association outweighed the risks.
...
• The Iraqi regime was involved in regional and international terrorist operations prior to OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. The predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq.
• On occasion, the Iraqi intelligence services directly targeted the regime's perceived enemies, including non-Iraqis. Non-Iraqi casualties often resulted from Iraqi sponsorship of non-governmental terrorist groups.
• Saddam's regime often cooperated directly, albeit cautiously, with terrorist groups when they believed such groups could help advance Iraq's long-term goals. The regime carefully recorded its connections to Palestinian terror organizations in numerous government memos. One such example documents Iraqi financial support to families of suicide bombers in Gaza and the West Bank.
State sponsorship of terrorism became such a routine tool of state power that Iraq developed elaborate bureaucratic processes to monitor progress and accountability in the recruiting, training, and resourcing of terrorists. Examples include the regime's development, construction, certification, and training for car bombs and suicide vests in 1999 and 2000.
From the beginning of his rise to power, one of Saddam's major objectives was to shift the regional balance of power favorably towards Iraq. After the 1991 Gulf War, pursuing this objective motivated Saddam and his regime to increase their cooperation with-and attempts to manipulate-Islamic fundamentalists and related terrorist organizations. Documents indicate that the regime's use of terrorism was standard practice, although not always successful. From 1991 through 2003, the Saddam regime regarded inspiring, sponsoring, directing, and executing acts of terrorism as an element of state power.
...
Iraq was a long-standing supporter of international terrorism. The existence of a memorandum (Extract 10) from the lIS to Saddam, written a decade before OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, provides detailed evidence of that support. Several of the organizations listed in this memorandum were designated as international terrorist organizations by the US Department of State.
... The last sentence (in italics referring to the agreement with Islamist terrorists) deserves special attention: it refers to a top-secret order for Saddam's intelligence services to maintain contact with any movement in Arab countries. While it is not surprising that Saddam, one of the last of the Middle East's revolutionary nationalists, would endeavor to support revolutionary groups, it is important to recognize that many of these nationalist groups changed in the late 1990s. Saddam viewed these groups through the eyes of a pan-Arab revolutionary, while the leaders of the growing Islamist movements viewed them as potential affiliates for their Jihad. In other words, two movements, one pan-Arab and the other pan-Islamic, were seeking and developing supporters from the same demographic pool.
...
Under Saddam, the Iraqi regime used its paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam training camps to train terrorists for use inside and outside Iraq. In 1999, the top ten graduates of each Fedayeen Saddam class were specifically chosen for assignment to London, from there to be ready to conduct operations anywhere in Europe.

A Fedayeen Saddam planner outlines the general plan for terrorist operations in the Kurdish areas, Iran, and London, to "His Excellency, Mr. Supervisor" (the title for the head of the Fedayeen Saddam, a position occupied by Uday Hussein, Saddam's oldest son). This memorandum (Extract 1) specifically states that these "trainees" are designated for martyrdom [suicide or suicidal] operations.
... Two other documents present evidence of logistical preparation for terrorist operations in other nations, including those in the West. It is not clear from these documents if these weapons were being staged for a specific purpose or stockpiled for future contingencies. Extract 2 is a response from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to a letter from Saddam asking for a list of weapons available in Iraqi embassies overseas.
...
A much longer document from 1993 illuminates how the outwardly secular Saddam regime found common cause with terrorist groups who drew their inspiration from radical Islam. One could argue that keeping some of these extremist groups active outside of Iraq was a pragmatic defensive measure against them. Nevertheless, the Iraqi document reports on contact with a large number of terrorist groups in the region, including those that maintained an office or liaison in Iraq. The document goes into great depth about Iraq's links to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and includes a memorandum, dated 8 February 1993, asking that movement to refrain from moving against the Egyptian government at that time.
...
When attacking Western interests, the competitive terror cartel came into play, particularly in the late 1990s. Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda-as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision.
... Some aspects of the indirect cooperation between Saddam's regional terror enterprise and al Qaeda's more global one are somewhat analogous to the Cali and Medellin drug cartels. Both drug cartels (actually loose collections of families and criminal gangs) were serious national security concerns to the United States. Both cartels competed for a share of the illegal drug market. However, neither cartel was reluctant to cooperate with the other when it came to the pursuit of a common objective-expanding and facilitating their illicit trade. The well publicized and violent rise of the Medellin cartel temporarily obscured and overshadowed the rise of, and threat posed by, the Cali cartel. Recognizing Iraq as a second, or parallel, "terror cartel" that was simultaneously threatened by and somewhat aligned with its rival helps to explain the evidence emerging from the detritus of Saddam's regime. Based on captured recordings and documents, this paper illustrates in part how Saddam Hussein ran his "cartel."
...
Saddam's plans and activities included preparations to destabilize his perceived enemies or US allies in the region. As seen in the following folder of extracts and documents, a key objective of the Saddam regime was operations directed against Saudi Arabia.
...
Saddam Hussein was demonstrably willing to use terrorism to achieve his goals. Using this tactical method was a strategic choice of Saddam's, often requiring direct and indirect cooperation with movements, organizations, and individuals possessing, in some cases, diametrically opposed long-term goals. An example of indirect cooperation is the movement led by Osama bin Laden. During the 1990s, both Saddam and bin Laden wanted the West, particularly the United States, out of Muslim lands (or in the view of Saddam, the "Arab nation"). Both wanted to create a single powerful state that would take its place as a global superpower.

But the similarities ended there: bin Laden wanted-and still wants to restore the Islamic caliphate while Saddam, despite his later Islamic rhetoric, dreamed more narrowly of being the secular ruler of a united Arab nation. ... In pursuit of their own separate but surprisingly "parallel" visions, Saddam and bin Laden often found a common enemy in the United States.
...
However, Saddam's security organizations and bin Laden's terrorist network operated with similar aims, at least for the short term. Considerable operational overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the regional groups involved in terrorism. Saddam provided training and motivation to revolutionary pan-Arab nationalists in the region. Osama bin Laden provided training and motivation for violent revolutionary Islamists in the region. They were recruiting within the same demographic, spouting much the same rhetoric, and promoting a common historical narrative that promised a return to a glorious past. That these movements (pan-Arab and pan-Islamic) had many similarities and strategic parallels does not mean they saw themselves in that light. Nevertheless, these similarities created more than just the appearance of cooperation. Common interests, even without common cause, increased the aggregate terror threat.
...
Saddam's interest in, and support for, non-Iraqi non-state actors was spread across a wide variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. For years, Saddam maintained training camps for foreign "fighters" drawn from these diverse groups. In some cases, particularly for Palestinians, Saddam was also a strong financial supporter. Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives.

Saddam was a pragmatist when it came to personal and state relationships. He and many members of his regime understood that whatever the benefits of a relationship, there was always a potential for internal and external costs for associating too closely with some of these groups. Saddam's reaction to this concern often swung like a pendulum, from arresting members of Wahabi sects to "extending lines of relations" to a new radical Kurdish Islamic group.
...
V. Conclusion
One question remains regarding Iraq's terrorism capability: Is there anything in the captured archives to indicate that Saddam had the will to use his terrorist capabilities directly against United States? Judging from examples of Saddam's statements (Extract 34) before the 1991 Gulf War with the United States, the answer is yes.
... In the years between the two Gulf Wars, UN sanctions reduced Saddam's ability to shape regional and world events, steadily draining his military, economic, and military powers. The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the region gave Saddam the opportunity to make terrorism, one of the few tools remaining in Saddam's "coercion" toolbox, not only cost effective but a formal instrument of state power. Saddam nurtured this capability with an infrastructure supporting (1) his own particular brand of state terrorism against internal and external threats, (2) the state sponsorship of suicide operations, and (3) organizational relationships and "outreach programs" for terrorist groups. Evidence that was uncovered and analyzed attests to the existence of a terrorist capability and a willingness to use it until the day Saddam was forced to flee Baghdad by Coalition forces.

However, the evidence is less clear in terms of Saddam's declared will at the time of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. Even with access to significant parts of the regime's most secretive archive, the answer to the question of Saddam's will in the final months in power remains elusive. Potentially, more significant documents and media files are awaiting analysis or are even yet to be discovered.

As noted in the foreword of this paper, access to the captured archives of this regime provides researchers with the ability to document a part of the context in which this regime operated. While this context is far from complete, it provides at least one glimpse into the complex nexus between state and non-state terror.
...
97 The nature of al Qaeda and its associated movements makes establishing firm organizational connections difficult. Many terrorism experts have noted al Qaeda's increasing use of "sympathetic affiliates" to carry out its radical Salafi vision. Terror organizations associated with al Qaeda in this "affiliate" status include the following:
• Egyptian Islamic Jihad
• Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
• Islamic Army of Aden (Yemen)
• Lashkar-e-Taiba (Kashmir)
• Jaish-e-Muhammad (Kashmir)
• Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
• Armed Islamic Group (Algeria)
• Abu Sayyaf Group (Malaysia, Philippines)
• Jemaah Islamiya (Southeast Asia)
• Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad (Iraq)
• Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria)



Today, the humanitarian mandates set by UNSCR 688 of the Gulf War ceasefire are all but ignored in the debate over Operation Iraqi Freedom, yet they were enforced as seriously per P.L. 102-190 (1991) pursuant to UNSCR 678 (1990) as the disarmament mandates set by UNSCR 687. UNSCR 687 was adopted on April 3, 1991 and UNSCR 688 was adopted on April 5, 1991 as the cornerstones of the Gulf War ceasefire. According to UNSCR 688, Saddam's human-rights violations "threaten[ed] international peace and security in the region".

Saddam ruled with "broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights), "[t]he predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq" (Iraqi Perspectives Project), and contrary to the myth the Saddam regime was secular, the sectarian radicalization of Iraqi society since the Iran-Iraq War.

Review the indices of GA and OHCHR resolutions and related documents at the Iraq homepage of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the 01AUG12 US military peace operations doctrine (JP 3-07.3).

The following excerpts from American Presidents and a Vice President, UN agencies and the Iraq Survey Group, and US laws and UNSC resolutions relevant to UNSCR 688 are arranged in chronological order:

President John Kennedy, inaugural address, 1961:
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
UNSC Resolution 687, 1991:
Taking note with grave concern of the reports of the Secretary-General of 20 March 1991 and 28 March 1991, and conscious of the necessity to meet urgently the humanitarian needs in Kuwait and Iraq,
Bearing in mind its objective of restoring international peace and security in the area as set out in recent resolutions of the Security Council,
...
20. Decides, effective immediately, that the prohibitions against the sale or supply to Iraq of commodities or products, other than medicine and health supplies, and prohibitions against financial transactions related thereto contained in resolution 661 (1990) shall not apply to foodstuffs notified to the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990) concerning the situation between Iraq and Kuwait or, with the approval of that Committee, under the simplified and accelerated "no-objection" procedure, to materials and supplies for essential civilian needs as identified in the report of the Secretary-General dated 20 March 1991, and in any further findings of humanitarian need by the Committee;
...
32. Requires Iraq to inform the Security Council that it will not commit or support any act of international terrorism or allow any organization directed towards commission of such acts to operate within its territory and to condemn unequivocally and renounce all acts, methods and practices of terrorism;
President George HW Bush, statement on the UN Persian Gulf ceasefire resolution, 1991:
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.
UNSC Resolution 688, 1991:
1. Condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region;
2. Demands that Iraq, as a contribution to remove the threat to international peace and security in the region, immediately end this repression and express the hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected;
3. Insists that Iraq allow immediate access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in all parts of Iraq and to make available all necessary facilities for their operations;

7. Demands that Iraq cooperate with the Secretary-General to these ends;
President George HW Bush, remarks on assistance for Iraqi refugees, 1991:
Eleven days ago, on April 5th, I announced that the United States would initiate what soon became the largest U.S. relief effort mounted in modern military history. Such an undertaking was made necessary by the terrible human tragedy unfolding in and around Iraq as a result of Saddam Hussein's brutal treatment of Iraqi citizens.
...
Consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and working closely with the United Nations and other international relief organizations and our European partners, I have directed the U.S. military to begin immediately to establish several encampments in northern Iraq where relief supplies for these refugees will be made available in large quantities and distributed in an orderly way.
...
I want to underscore that all that we are doing is motivated by humanitarian concerns. We continue to expect the Government of Iraq not to interfere in any way with this latest relief effort. The prohibition against Iraqi fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft flying north of the 36th parallel thus remains in effect.
...
Our long-term objective remains the same: for Iraqi Kurds and, indeed, for all Iraqi refugees, wherever they are, to return home and to live in peace, free from repression, free to live their lives.
...
[We] must do everything in our power to save innocent life. This is the American tradition, and we will continue to live up to that tradition.
...
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.
Public Law 102-190, 1991:
SEC. 1096. IRAQ AND THE REQUIREMENTS OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 688.
(a) FINDING- The Congress finds that the Government of Iraq, through its ongoing suppression of the political opposition, including Kurds and Shias, continues to violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 which demanded that Iraq `ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected'.
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of the Congress that--
(1) Iraq's noncompliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region;
(2) the President should consult closely with the partners of the United States in the Desert Storm coalition and with the members of the United Nations Security Council in order to present a united front of opposition to Iraq's continuing noncompliance with Security Council Resolution 688; and
(3) the Congress supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 consistent with all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1).
President George HW Bush, letter to Congress, 1993:
Since my last report on November 16, 1992, Iraq has repeatedly ignored and violated its international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions. Iraq's actions include the harassment of humanitarian relief operations in northern Iraq contrary to U.N. Security Council Resolution 688, ... repeated violations by Iraqi aircraft of the southern and northern no-fly zones, and threats by Iraq's air defense forces against Coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones.
The southern no-fly zone and Operation Southern Watch were established in August 1992 to assist the monitoring of Iraq's compliance with Security Council Resolution 688. Since that time, Iraq has stopped aerial bombardments of its citizens in and around the southern marsh areas and ceased large-scale military operations south of the 32nd parallel. Operation Southern Watch cannot detect lower-level acts of oppression, however.
...
Meanwhile, Operation Provide Comfort, the Coalition's effort to monitor compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 and to provide humanitarian relief in northern Iraq, discourages significant Iraqi military operations against the inhabitants there. On the other hand, the Iraqi Government has maintained an embargo of food, fuel, and medicine on northern Iraq. It has made every effort to frustrate U.N. humanitarian relief efforts by planting bombs on relief convoys, using violence against relief workers, and creating bureaucratic delays. We are determined to assist the humanitarian effort and have repeatedly warned Iraq to cease its harassment.
As in southern Iraq, Saddam Hussein has sought to interfere with the operations of Coalition aircraft in the north since early January. ...
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.
President Bill Clinton, letter to Congress, 1997:
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.
...
The human rights situation throughout Iraq remains unchanged. Iraq's repression of its Shi'a population continues with policies that are destroying the Marsh Arabs' way of life in southern Iraq, as well as the ecology of the southern marshes. Saddam Hussein shows no signs of complying with UNSCR 688, which demands that Iraq cease the repression of its own people. On April 16, the U.N. Human Rights Commission passed a resolution strongly condemning the Baghdad regime's continued human rights abuses. That same day, the Administration announced support for an effort by various Iraqi opposition groups and non-governmental organizations to document Iraqi war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. This effort, known as INDICT, seeks ultimately to ensure that Saddam Hussein and other members of his regime are brought to justice before an international tribunal. We are in touch with organizers of INDICT and other parties to discuss the best means to move forward.
Public Law 105-174, 1998:
$5,000,000 shall be made available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related ... purposes[.]
President Bill Clinton, letter to Congress, 1998:
It is the policy of the U.S. Government to support the Iraqi opposition by establishing unifying programs on which all of the opposition can agree. ... These programs are designed to encourage and assist political opposition groups, nonpartisan opposition groups, and unaffiliated Iraqis concerned about their nation's future in peacefully espousing democracy, pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law for their country. Based on extensive consultations with opposition leaders and representatives, we have found a deep resonance on several central themes. These are: building a consensus on the transition from dictatorship to pluralism, conveying to the U.N. opposition views on Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. resolutions and compiling information to support indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes.
Iraq is a diverse country -- ethnically, religiously, and culturally. The Iraqi opposition reflects this diversity. We emphasize themes and programs, rather than individuals and groups, in order to encourage unity and discourage the rivalries which have divided the opposition in the past. Many opposition political groups that formerly coordinated their efforts decided several years ago to work independently. We are interested in working with them towards greater unity on their own terms, not in forcing the issue by declaring that any one group must take the lead. We firmly believe they can succeed in this effort.
Public Law 105-338, 1998:
SEC. 3. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD IRAQ.
It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.
...
SEC. 7. ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQ UPON REPLACEMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME.
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.
President Bill Clinton, signing Public Law 105-338 (Iraq Liberation Act), 1998:
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 makeup. 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 Bill Clinton, announcing Operation Desert Fox, 1998:
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world. The best way to end that threat once and for all is with the new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. ... Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people.
...
In the century we’re leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the 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.
President Bill Clinton, remarks on completion of Operation Desert Fox, 1998:
We began with this basic proposition: Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to develop nuclear arms, poison gas, biological weapons, or the means to deliver them. He has used such weapons before against soldiers and civilians, including his own people. We have no doubt that if left unchecked he would do so again.
...
So long as Saddam remains in power he will remain a threat to his people, his region and the world. With our allies, we must pursue a strategy to contain him and to constrain his weapons of mass destruction program, while working toward the day Iraq has a government willing to live at peace with its people and with its neighbors.
...
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. We will work with Radio Free Iraq, to help news and information flow freely to the country. 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.
UN Security Council (S/1999/100) panel, assessment of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, 1999:
45. Although Member States should not shun their collective responsibility in the face of acute Iraqi humanitarian needs, this does not exempt the Government of Iraq from its own responsibilities in providing relief to its citizens, given its unsatisfactory performance in certain areas - as noted in Section III of this report - nor can Iraq's original responsibility for the current situation be ignored. At the same time, it is the panel's view that, under current conditions the humanitarian outlook will remain bleak and become more serious with time. Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war.
President Bill Clinton, letter to Congress, 1999:
We are convinced that as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power, he will continue to threaten the well-being of his people, the peace of the region, and vital U.S. interests. We will continue to contain these threats, but over the long term, the best way to address them is by encouraging the establishment of a new government in Baghdad.
...
The human rights situation in Iraq continues to fall far short of international norms, in violation of Resolution 688. That resolution explicitly notes that the consequences of the regime's repression of its own people constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region.
...
We are deepening our engagement with the forces of change in Iraq, helping Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq to become a more effective voice for the aspirations of the people. We will work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people, a government prepared to live in peace with its neighbors, and respects the rights of its citizens. We believe that a change of regime in Baghdad is inevitable, and that it is urgently incumbent on the world community to support the Iraqis who are working to ensure that change is positive. These Iraqis include the resistance inside the country, and those free Iraqis now in exile or in northern Iraq, who seek to improve the chances that the next government of Iraq will truly represent, serve, and protect all the Iraqi people.
Vice President Al Gore, joint statement with leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, 2000:
The INC and the Vice President reaffirmed their joint desire to see a united Iraq served by a representative and democratic government responsive to the needs of its people and willing to live in peace with its neighbors.
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.
...
The Vice President reaffirmed American concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people. ... He further emphasized the US concern for the safety and security of all the Iraqi people in accordance with UNSCR 688, which condemns Saddam Hussein's repression of the Iraqi people as a threat to regional stability.
UN Commission on Human Rights, situation report on Iraq, 2002:
The Commission on Human RightsRecalling: … [UNSCR] 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, in which the Council demanded an end to repression of the Iraqi civilian population and insisted that Iraq cooperate with humanitarian organizations and that the human rights of all Iraqi citizens be respected … Strongly condemns: (a) The systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror;
President George Bush, remarks to the UN General Assembly, 2002:
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.
...
If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.
...
The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
President George Bush, remarks outlining Iraqi threat, 2002:
America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously. And these resolutions are clear. ... it [Iraq] must cease the persecution of its civilian population.
...
If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.
Public Law 107-243, 2002:
Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and ‘‘constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,’’ and ... Congress, ‘‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688″;
Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
...
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
(a) REPORTS.—The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–338).
UNSC Resolution 1441, 2002:
Deploring also that the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to … resolution 688 (1991) to end repression of its civilian population and to provide access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in Iraq,
Determined to secure full compliance with its [UNSC] decisions,
President George Bush, joint statement of the Atlantic Summit, 2003:

[Read the whole statement.]

President George Bush, justifying Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003:
Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.
...
As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty. And when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.
The United States, with other countries, will work to advance liberty and peace in that region. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace.
President George Bush, notifying Congress on the determination to use force, 2003:
The White House background paper, ``A Decade of Deception and Defiance: Saddam Hussein's Defiance of the United Nations'' (September 12, 2002), summarized Iraq's actions as of the time the President initiated intensified efforts to enforce all relevant UN Resolutions and demonstrates the failure of diplomacy to affect Iraq's conduct:
For more than a decade, Saddam Hussein has deceived and defied the will and resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by, among other things: ... brutalizing the Iraqi people, including committing gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity; ...
UNSC Resolution 1483, 2003:
Welcoming further the willingness of Member States to contribute to stability and security in Iraq by contributing personnel, equipment, and other resources under the Authority,
...
Welcoming also the resumption of humanitarian assistance and the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General and the specialized agencies to provide food and medicine to the people of Iraq,
...
Resolved that the United Nations should play a vital role in humanitarian relief, the reconstruction of Iraq, and the restoration and establishment of national and local institutions for representative governance,
...
Affirming the need for accountability for crimes and atrocities committed by the previous Iraqi regime,
...
3. Appeals to Member States to deny safe haven to those members of the previous Iraqi regime who are alleged to be responsible for crimes and atrocities and to support actions to bring them to justice;
President Bill Clinton, CNN interview, 2003:
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.
UNSC Resolution 1511, 2003:
8. Resolves that the United Nations, acting through the Secretary-General, his Special Representative, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, should strengthen its vital role in Iraq, including by providing humanitarian relief, promoting the economic reconstruction of and conditions for sustainable development in Iraq, and advancing efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative government;
...
13. Determines that the provision of security and stability is essential to the successful completion of the political process as outlined in paragraph 7 above and to the ability of the United Nations to contribute effectively to that process and the implementation of resolution 1483 (2003), and authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq, including for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for the implementation of the timetable and programme as well as to contribute to the security of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the Governing Council of Iraq and other institutions of the Iraqi interim administration, and key humanitarian and economic infrastructure;
UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis, report on situation of human rights in Iraq, 2004:
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.
President George Bush, remarks at the Air Force Academy graduation, 2004:
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.
Iraq Survey Group, finding on Regime Strategic Intent, 2004:
The former Regime also saw chemical weapons as a tool to control domestic unrest, in addition to their war-fighting role. In March 1991, the former Regime used multiple helicopter sorties to drop CW-filled bombs on rebel groups as a part of its strategy to end the revolt in the South. That the Regime would consider this option with Coalition forces still operating within Iraq’s boundaries demonstrates both the dire nature of the situation and the Regime’s faith in “special weapons.”
President George Bush, announcing Surge, 2007:
The strategy I announced in January is designed to seize the initiative and create those conditions. It's aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq's political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability. It is focused on applying sustained military pressure to rout out terrorist networks in Baghdad and surrounding areas. It is committed to using diplomacy to strengthen regional and international support for Iraq's democratic government.
...
Our top priority is to help the Iraqis protect their population. So we have launched an offensive in and around Baghdad to go after extremists, to buy more time for Iraqi forces to develop, and to help normal life and civil society take root in communities and neighborhoods throughout the country. We're helping enhance the size, capabilities and effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces so the Iraqis can take over the defense of their own country. We're helping the Iraqis take back their neighborhoods from the extremists. In Anbar province, Sunni tribes that were once fighting alongside al Qaeda against our coalition are now fighting alongside our coalition against al Qaeda. We're working to replicate the success in Anbar and other parts of the country.
Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq, 2008.

UN Security Council, statement on ending sanctions, 2010:
The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, and emphasizes the importance of the stability and security of Iraq for its people, the region, and the international community.
The Security Council supports the inclusive political process and power-sharing agreement reached by Iraq’s leaders to form a representative national partnership government that reflects the will of the Iraqi people as displayed by the parliamentary election of 7 March 2010. We encourage its leaders to continue to pursue a federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The Security Council reaffirms the need to combat all forms of terrorism and that no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy, and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by its people, the Government of Iraq, and the international community.
The Security Council welcomes the positive developments in Iraq and recognizes that the situation now existing in Iraq is significantly different from that which existed at the time of the adoption of resolution 661 (1990).
President Barack Obama, remarks on the Middle East and North Africa, 2011:
In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.



I focus mainly on the Clinton-to-Bush continuity when I explain the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom because the law, policy, and precedent and the state of "crisis between the United States and Iraq" (Clinton, 28JUL00) underlying the decision for OIF matured during the Clinton administration.

However, I consider neither Clinton nor Bush as the US president most responsible for OIF. The US president I hold most responsible for OIF is President HW Bush. Reviewing the decisions to suspend the Gulf War and attempt an alternative way to achieve Iraqi regime change shows with hindsight the road to OIF was locked in from the beginning of the ceasefire.

My usual metaphor for the Gulf War in the context of the whole Iraq intervention is an emergency surgery for an immediately life-threatening cancerous tumor. Iraq brutalizing Kuwait while threatening Saudi Arabia and trying to ignite a regional conflict compelled the UNSCR 660 demand for Iraq to desist and President HW Bush to declare a "national emergency with respect to Iraq" per the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine.

However, removing a malignant tumor does not by itself cure the cancer. It is only the first step of treatment. The comprehensive treatment with surgery, chemo, radiation, medicine, and physical therapy necessary to cure a cancer is usually difficult, costly, and often in the near term, hurts more than the malignancy. But if the first step of treatment is not followed through to completion, then the cancer that is still intact in the body will most likely follow evolved into a more lethal form.

Desert Storm achieved its proximate objective of ejecting Iraq from Kuwait but not the policy objective of Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions. From there, the traditional way to begin curing the cancer of Saddam's regime, including Iraq's mandated compliance, would have been for the military to capture the flag in Baghdad. But HW Bush was convinced to suspend the Gulf War short of regime change by the phobic Powell Doctrine derived from the Vietnam War stigma and uncertainty about regional coalition members if the Desert Storm campaign continued to Baghdad to capture the flag.

President HW Bush suspended the Gulf War understanding the Saddam problem was not resolved because Saddam's regime remained intact, noncompliant with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions and an unreconstructed threat. As such, immediately subsequent to the Gulf War, starting ipso facto with the comprehensive character of the ceasefire itself, President HW Bush was committed to fundamentally changing the "Government of Iraq" one way or another.

President HW Bush's alternative to Iraqi regime change with Desert Storm was the ceasefire mandated by UNSCRs 687 and 688, which depended on a complex set of assumptions about, one, post-Cold War UN-based international enforcement that were at best optimistic theories and, two, Saddam's submission induced by Desert Storm that were immediately suspect and soon refuted by Saddam's noncompliance.

The faulty assumption that Iraq's mandated compliance could be enforced with UN forces in place of US forces was apparent at the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire:
As I stated earlier, the relief effort being announced here today constitutes an undertaking different in scale and approach. What is not different is basic policy. All along, I have said that the United States is not going to intervene militarily in Iraq's internal affairs and risk being drawn into a Vietnam-style quagmire. This remains the case. Nor will we become an occupying power with U.S. troops patrolling the streets of Baghdad.
We intend to turn over the administration of and security for these sites as soon as possible to the United Nations, just as we are fulfilling our commitment to withdraw our troops and hand over responsibility to U.N. forces along Iraq's southern border, the border with Kuwait.
But we must do everything in our power to save innocent life. This is the American tradition, and we will continue to live up to that tradition.
"But" President HW Bush's plan to avoid the "risk [of] being drawn into a Vietnam-style quagmire" was soon dashed as UN forces proved insufficient to overcome Saddam's intransigence. In accordance with "we must do everything in our power to save innocent life", US force successively escalated in the ceasefire enforcement mission.

By the time HW Bush left office, it was clear that Saddam would not comply volitionally with the terms of ceasefire and the outcome would either be forced Iraqi regime change or dropping the ceasefire mandates with a noncompliant Saddam. By midway of Clinton's second term, UN Security Council permanent members Russia, China, and France had turned against the US-led enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire and sought to disable the military threat that was necessary to drive Saddam to comply.

While Presidents HW Bush and Clinton both wanted someone else to depose Saddam's regime, both presidents viewed Iraqi regime change as the solution to the Saddam problem. The Iraqi regime change policy that was made a legal mandate with P.L. 105-338 (1998) merely codified HW Bush's policy for Iraqi regime change that had been active since May 1991 at the latest and carried forward by Clinton.

The US role in the nation building of post-Saddam Iraq was also implicit under HW Bush before it was made a legal mandate with section 7 of P.L. 105-338. Although HW Bush had stated upon suspending Desert Storm that he did not want US forces engaged in long-term nation-building with Iraq, his subsequent invasive multifaceted enforcement of the UNSCR 688 humanitarian mandates set the path for humanitarian intervention in general and peace operations with Iraq in particular.

IR-realist critics of the decision for OIF often hold up President HW Bush's decision to suspend the Gulf War short of regime change as an apples-to-apples contrast between a wise father and his foolish son.

I want to ask them, what was President HW Bush's contingency in the event that his alternative to Iraqi regime change with Desert Storm failed to achieve the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) required to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions [and] ... to secure peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 687)?

The concept of the Gulf War ceasefire was Saddam's obligation to reconstruct his regime as the necessary condition to forestall regime change. President HW Bush had learned the hard way that the "spiral" model of defusing conflict only encouraged Saddam's malfeasance and credible threat according to the "deterrence" model was necessary to compel Saddam's cooperation. There is no evidence that HW Bush was ultimately bluffing about enforcing Iraq's mandated compliance and willing to allow a noncompliant Saddam to escape his ceasefire obligations.

Yet the chief enforcer of Iraq's mandated compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire was hampered from the outset by a restricted set of means that were facially insufficient and evidently failing to compel Saddam to fulfill his ceasefire obligations.

From what I gather, HW Bush didn't have a contingency. Instead, President HW Bush kicked the can to President Clinton with an intransigent Saddam and a "vital" (P.L. 105-235) national security mandate to resolve an unstable and destabilizing threat in the heart of a geopolitically critical region with a comprehensive "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) that amounted to regime change.

The sanctions were de facto neutralized by 2000-2001. Saddam's August 1996 attack on Irbil effectively broke the US-backed Iraqi threat to his regime. When Saddam stood his ground against the penultimate enforcement measure, Operation Desert Fox, in 1998, the US president was left with one last enforcement measure to compel Iraq's compliance with the standard mandated for the ceasefire, which President Bush activated in 2002-2003 to enforce Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441).

In 2003, with Iraq in categorical breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, Saddam responded to his "final opportunity to comply with its [Iraq's] disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441) with "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" (UNMOVIC) in breach of UNSCR 687. In 2004, the Iraq Survey Group corroborated UNMOVIC, "ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs", and confirmed, "the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions".

Two days after suspending the Gulf War, on March 1, 1991, President HW Bush stated:
In my own view I've always said that it would be -- that the Iraqi people should put him [Saddam] 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.
On January 19, 1993, his last day in office, President HW Bush informed Congress:
Since my last report on November 16, 1992, Iraq has repeatedly ignored and violated its international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions.
...
We continue to support the efforts of the Iraq [sic] 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.
In the signing statement for the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, President Clinton stated:
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.
In a joint statement with the Iraqi National Congress on June 26, 2000, Vice President Gore stated:
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.
In other words, the contrast between the decision to suspend the Gulf War and the decision to resume the Gulf War with OIF isn't apples to apples. The difference is more like apples to apple pie - President HW Bush's decisions with Iraq in 1991 locked in the road to Operation Iraqi Freedom.



Credible threat of regime change proved necessary to compel even the deficient level of Saddam's cooperation with the UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament process.

If the Saddam regime did not volitionally solve the Saddam problem by proving Iraq was fully compliant with all of its obligations under the Gulf War ceasefire, then Iraqi regime change with the US providing "immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people ... once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq" (P.L. 105-338) was the policy solution instituted at the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire by President HW Bush, carried forward by his successors, and codified by Congress.

Since the 'what' of Iraqi regime change to enable the US-led peace operations necessary to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235) was settled policy, the controversy over the OIF regime change is mainly focused on the 'how' or the agent of the Iraqi regime change to enable the US-led peace operations.

The four ways to achieve Iraqi regime change if the Saddam regime failed its "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) were voluntary abdication, coup from within the regime, revolt from Iraqi groups outside the regime, or invasion.

There is no indication Saddam was willing to abdicate. On the eve of OIF, Saddam was offered exile and refused.

The US preferred way of Iraqi regime change was a coup. But realistically, Saddam dashed that option with his 1996 attack on Irbil. The same is also true for the other, messier Iraqi solution, a revolt, if the alternative wasn't already dashed by Saddam with the 1991 uprising. The only realistic way to depose the Saddam regime was to unsuspend the Gulf War with an invasion in response to Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the Gulf War ceasefire.

The majority of OIF opponents who accept President Bush inherited an Iraqi regime change policy argue instead that Presidents HW Bush and Clinton and the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 did not countenance a US-led invasion to depose Saddam.

But that position presumes Presidents HW Bush and Clinton were ultimately bluffing about bringing Iraq into compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire mandates, so that when Saddam called our bluff in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441), either US president would have surrendered their enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire to a noncompliant, unreconstructed Saddam.

There is no evidence in the record that President Bush's predecessors allowed for less than Iraq’s full compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire mandates purpose-designed to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions [and] ... to secure peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 687). At the same time, there is ample evidence that Presidents HW Bush and Clinton set the stage for regime change and US-led peace operations to bring Iraq into compliance with the ceasefire conditions if Saddam ultimately failed to comply as mandated.

Meanwhile, the common misconception that the scope of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 was restricted to aid to Iraqi dissidents is dispelled by scrutinizing the statute's construction. The law plainly established regime change and US-led peace operations with post-Saddam Iraq as the solution to the Saddam problem. And it did spell out measures to aid Iraqi dissidents. However, the statutory text, “[n]othing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces” (P.L. 105-338), is not a restriction. Aside from its enumerated measures, P.L. 105-338 was daisy-chained to the standing laws authorizing the "use of all necessary means" (P.L. 102-190) to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235).

Opponents of the invasion who accept Iraqi regime change by other agency than invasion implicitly assume the P.L. 105-338-mandated US role with post-Saddam Iraq would have gone easier if it had occurred in the context of a coup or revolt rather than an invasion.

The assumption is more plausible with a presumably orderly coup, but Saddam snuffed the coup threat in 1996.

Setting aside whether a revolt was realistic after Saddam put down the 1991 uprising, using the current Syrian civil war as a reference point – while considering that the Saddam regime, including Saddam’s terrorism which was adapted to the insurgency, was more brutal than the Assad regime – I believe US entry into the chaotic conditions of a revolt would have made the Iraq intervention much more harmful to the already abused Iraqi people and more difficult for coalition forces than the control over the situation afforded by the OIF invasion that emplaced coalition forces for an immediate transition from major combat to peace operations.

As it turned out, the terrorist insurgency wrested the initiative that the US-led coalition had seized with the OIF invasion, until the US-led peace operations took back control on the ground with the counterinsurgency "Surge". But setting conditions at the outset with a hypothetical revolt in vicious contest with the Saddam regime while missing the US-led forces on the ground that are necessary to set the peace likely would have been much worse for Iraqis, while also automatically granting the terrorist insurgents and other inimical influences, such as Iran, the initiative and control over the situation right out of the gate.

At the point Saddam failed his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), invasion was the only realistic and most constructive way to achieve the Iraqi regime change that was necessary to establish the UNSCR 1483 compliance process and peace operations per the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-338).



In November 2002, I weighed in on the looming Iraq confrontation in my opinion column for my school paper.

Later, I compared the merits of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom at Columbia political science professor Brigitte Nacos's blog in comments here and here. Excerpt:
Said more plainly, from the beginning, we could not win the War on Terror within the borders of Afghanistan, despite its obvious relevance to al Qaeda's campaign against the West. This is why Operation Iraqi Freedom was the right choice and the counter-insurgency "Surge" in Iraq so critical: from the beginning, an Iraq intervention, unlike an Afghanistan intervention, could provide the potential cornerstone for long-term victory in the War on Terror. Moreover, the basis for our Iraq intervention was already in place, developed under President Clinton.
I also said this to Professor Nacos:
What's called neo-conservatism is just the progressive (interventionalist) liberalism of Wilson, FDR, and Truman, renamed. The bashing of neo-conservatism by self-described Western liberals, therefore, has led to the frustrating, self-defeating spectacle of influential people speaking liberal platitudes but quixotically opposing our definitively liberal strategy in the War on Terror. The effect of these liberals' tragic hypocrisy has been the degradation of the Western liberalizing influence on the illiberal regions of the world.

By the same token, an equally damaging effect of the attacks by self-described liberals on our liberal strategy has been the degradation within Western societies of the domestic understanding and support we need to adequately sustain the war/peace-building strategy endorsed by Presidents Bush and Obama. Therefore, a critical task of President Obama is to fix the deep damage done to his and Bush's foreign policy goals by Senator/Candidate Obama and other Bush critics.



Modern political Islamists are totalitarian, a Marxist revolutionary hybrid. Compare their efforts to Mao's Cultural Revolution. Many people seem not to comprehend that the terrorists are engaged in a clash of civilizations with us. In the clash of civilizations, terrorists welcome war. War is the terrorists' vehicle for unraveling the existing order. Terrorists, instead, cannot tolerate our peace. A trend-setting pluralistic liberal Iraq at peace is offensive and an existential threat to the terrorists.

In that light, I offer these essential questions about our commitment, clarity, and Why We Fight:

If American, and Western, progressivism has been conclusively discredited for its forceful displacement of native cultures like the American Indian tribes, then what is the ethical difference, after removing the Lebensraum aspect of autarkic Western expansion, between that and championing a liberal world order today in a 'clash of civilizations' against autocratic Middle Eastern regimes like Syria, Iran, Saddam's Iraq, or the Taliban in Afghanistan, and their fellow travelers like al Qaeda? Are we allowed to be progressive if we cannot, by self-imposed rule, classify our competitors as regressive? What's the practical effect if we restrict our engagement at the same time our competitors are totally committed to establishing a social-political order that is incompatible with, and actively opposed to, our preferred liberal order?

I believe we need to restore our chauvinistic commitment to the American progressivism that shaped much of the 19th and 20th centuries.



In response to 9/11, the US could have pulled back from the Middle East, supported greater repression in the Middle East, or promoted greater freedom in the Middle East.

President Bush also could have reacted to 9/11 with a narrow focus on hunting down and killing terrorists, like President Obama's drone-centered campaign. (Bush used hunter-killer drone killings, too, but as one tool in the toolbox, not the centerpiece of his counter-terror strategy.) However, President Bush understood punishment and revenge did not amount to a big-picture, long-term solution.

Thus, President Bush chose to respond to 9/11 by promoting greater freedom in the Middle East. He set the bar and explained the task, conditions, and standard for the American strategy to win the War on Terror in this speech.

The centerpiece of President Bush's big-picture, long-term response to 9/11 was revitalizing the American grand promise that animated the free world after World War 2. When he officially declared America's entry into the War on Terror on September 20, 2001, President Bush announced a liberal vision on a global scope and warned of a generational endeavor:
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's liberal view of the American response to the 9/11 attacks aligned with President Clinton's liberal view of the American response to Saddam's noncompliance:
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 Bush understood the obstacles and the ambitious scale of the aspiration. He recognized that a collaborative, patiently assisted, controlled transition would be necessary for liberal reform to succeed in the Middle East:
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.
I observed in a January 2005 post:
Whether or not George W. Bush is doing a good job of the Presidency, I have to respect his decision in the War on Terror to make a try for it - [Francis Fukuyama's] the End of History. It is revolutionary and will either result in America's finest hour or the beginning of the end.
President Bush positioned America to provide assistance for liberal reform, but he couldn't achieve his idealistic liberal vision alone. American liberals needed to become magnificent again and rally around Bush as he advanced the Freedom Agenda along with peace operations in Iraq to spark and empower a pluralistic liberal movement in the Middle East. Liberals over here needed to buy in to Bush's goals in order to convince liberals over there to buy in. They could not fairly be expected to trust the liberal intentions of the American president when American liberals refused to trust him, and worse, discredited and actively worked to undermine his agenda. Much of the anti-American propaganda in the Middle East was drawn from anti-Bush and anti-OIF misinformation legitimized by liberals in the West. Outside of Iraq, a few Middle East liberals recognized the lost opportunity of rejecting America's help, but most of them didn't trust Bush. Instead, when the liberals in the region attempted the "Arab Spring" revolution on their own, the result was predictable.

President Bush gave us the opportunity to reaffirm that we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor in order to battle the regressive challenge to our hegemony and make the world a better place. Instead, Bush's detractors used the opportunity to attack Bush with a false narrative in order to advance parochial partisan self-interests at the expense of the Iraq mission, our national interest, and a progressive world order.

Our peace operators - military, non-military, and contracted civilian - have been magnificent. But the rest of us shrank from President Bush's idealistic liberal vision. We the people let down our President, we let down our American heritage, and we let down the world. Rather than rise to the challenge of 9/11 with America's finest hour, we chose the beginning of the end.



Senator Joe Lieberman was an exception. He honored his liberal principles by his resolute support for the definitively liberal Iraq mission and the War on Terror.

The antithesis of Senator Lieberman is President Clinton, the only American who appreciated the Iraq problem equally as well as President Bush.

President Clinton initially supported President Bush and endorsed OIF based on Clinton's still-fresh presidential experience struggling with Saddam. For example, in July 2003, Clinton counseled:
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. ... 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.
However, where Senator Lieberman stayed steadfast despite tremendous political pressure, even at the cost of his party, President Clinton eventually caved to party pressure and turned on President Bush and the US peace-building mission in post-Saddam Iraq.



President Kennedy explained the Iraq mission to West Point cadets ... in 1962. Transcript.

General David Petraeus: “If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq,” he says, adding that this was why “we have to get it right in Iraq”.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1511, adopted 16 October 2003:
13. Determines that the provision of security and stability is essential to the successful completion of the political process as outlined in paragraph 7 above and to the ability of the United Nations to contribute effectively to that process and the implementation of resolution 1483 (2003), and authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq, including for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for the implementation of the timetable and programme as well as to contribute to the security of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the Governing Council of Iraq and other institutions of the Iraqi interim administration, and key humanitarian and economic infrastructure;
UNSCR 1483, adopted 22 May 2003, merits special attention as it 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.

From the 16JAN09 Washington Post article, A Farewell Warning On Iraq, by David Ignatius:
The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush's decision to add troops. "In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward."

Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."
To learn about the counterinsurgency "Surge" in Iraq, I suggest this documentary video (old link), the 2007 year-end letter from GEN Petraeus to his soldiers in Multi-National Forces-Iraq, these e-mails from Baghdad by Army Lieutenant Josh Arthur (a Columbia Class of 2004 graduate who served as an infantry platoon leader in the "Surge"), and the tactical innovations of Army Captain Travis Patriquin (R.I.P.).

At the end of his presidency, Bush handed OIF to President Obama as a hard-won turnaround success to build upon. At that point, our relationship with strategically critical Iraq should have developed as a long-term regional partnership, like Germany, Japan, or South Korea, where American soldiers still serve. But Obama officials apparently felt conflicted about OIF, and the result was an irresponsible exit from Iraq. Imagine President Eisenhower fumbling away our hard-won position in Asia or Europe after taking over from President Truman.

The 20MAR13 New York Times article, Seeking Lessons from Iraq. But Which Ones?, by David Sanger shows that their bias against the Iraq mission has handicapped policymakers in the Obama administration. President Obama's various errors with Iraq, Libya, Iran, and Syria have resulted from or at least were enabled by the OIF stigma, the keystone premise of Obama's foreign affairs. Here's the (truncated) e-mail I sent to David Sanger via the NY Times website:
Your article reveals that misconceptions about Operation Iraqi Freedom have confused policymakers in the Obama administration. Their chief operating premise seems to be the dogma that OIF was wrong, while their chief animating principle seems to be to avoid an OIF-type situation at all costs. This bias has thrown Obama's foreign policy into disarray. In August 2004, Tom Junod wrote a compelling piece on President Bush and Iraq for Esquire magazine titled, The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right?. With the confusion of Obama's foreign policy evident, I believe it's time to revisit Junod's question: What if President Bush was right?

Certainly, OIF was not executed perfectly, but we have never executed a war perfectly. The histories of each of our "good" wars are consistent in containing episodes of downright catastrophe. Yet in all our "good" wars we learned and evolved. A similar developmental curve played out for the US in Iraq. Moreover, the Obama officials' bias against our post-Saddam peace operations runs against our historical mode of war. As we learned in elementary school, American post-war care of our defeated enemies distinguished our leadership after World War 2 from our allies' mistakes after World War 1. American post-war occupation has historically included a long-term presence and comprehensive investment in reconstruction. In fact, the uniformed successors of American military occupiers continue to serve today in Asia and Europe.

The ahistorical treatment of OIF has confused American foreign policy at a critical time. In order to set right American foreign policy, I believe we need to go back and correct the origin story of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The question I should have asked David Sanger was, does President Obama's deliberately anti-OIF foreign policy signal that liberalism is dead as the defining and galvanizing principle of American (and American-led Western) foreign policy?

If American liberalism is not dead, then one, affirmation of the hegemonic American primacy necessary to uphold the liberal international order over the competitive spectrum of war and peace requires, two, sufficient American resoluteness and political and practical capability to reify then enforce the liberal international order per the deterrence model, which requires, three, mastering the kinds of methods and conditions - practical and political - the US competed under in Iraq per GEN Petraeus, “If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq ... we have to get it right in Iraq".

The US was getting it right in Iraq - until President Obama chose to deviate course by contravening the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. Rejection of the right course with Iraq has placed the US on the wrong course for American leadership of the free world.

Strategy properly follows - serves - policy.

Due to the historical context, threats and interests at stake, comprehensive spectrum of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), model enforcement procedure, and US-led UN-based structure, the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement was tantamount to the flagship and litmus test of the US-led post-Cold War liberal international order.

The paradigmatic set of post-Cold War international norms that defined Iraq's ceasefire obligations was enforced with a clear UN-mandated compliance standard and a strict US-led compliance process. Iraq's mandated compliance set the gold standard for enforcing post-Cold War liberal international order, whereas Saddam's noncompliance risked a model failure for US-led enforcement of the liberal international order.

As such, the Iraq intervention for the 9/11 era, analogous to the Korea intervention for the Cold War, should have reset the US strategic baseline needed to enforce liberal world order. OIF stigma discards that baseline. Acceptance of the prevailing revisionist anti-OIF narrative undermines the essential principles upheld by the Iraq intervention. Allowing the competitive setbacks during the OIF peace operations to stigmatize the Iraq intervention sabotages the readiness of the practical measures that OIF demonstrated are necessary for effectual American leadership of the free world.

The Korean War provides a constructive example where the follow-up response properly closed the gap between US strategy and US policy, i.e., American leadership of the free world. In contrast, the Vietnam War provides a cautionary example where a gap between US strategy and US policy is exploited by the enemy and the follow-up response improperly cemented open the US strategy-policy gap. The cascade effect of the Vietnam War stigma on US politics and policy has profoundly affected interventions under Presidents Carter, Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. OIF stigma is the purposeful v2.0 successor of the still powerfully consequential Vietnam War stigma.

President Bush's leadership in the Iraq intervention provides a much-needed contemporary example for correcting the critical US strategy-policy gap staked by the Vietnam War stigma. Except President Obama's follow-up response to Iraq, contra President Eisenhower's corrective precedent responding to Korea, has upheld the OIF stigma by discarding President Bush's strategic correction and restoring the critical US strategy-policy gap. Stigmatization of Operation Iraqi Freedom inhibits the humanitarian liberal paradigm as a viable policy option because the OIF stigma curtails practical application of the comprehensive set of US-led humanitarian liberal pragmatic prescriptive measures that manifested in the Iraq intervention.

On law, policy, precedent, fact, and essential principle, Bush's decision for OIF was correct: at the coda of the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement, Saddam chose to categorically breach the Gulf War ceasefire with, as the Iraq Survey Group verified, no intention ever to comply. Destigmatizing OIF and upholding the justification for the Iraq intervention in the politics are vital to assure the liberal international order because every essential principle of US-led enforcement of the liberal international order was featured in the 1990-2011 US-led, UN-mandated UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement and peace operations.

Deposing Saddam was not the end of the Iraq intervention. The 2003 regime change was the means to establish the compliance process for Iraq once Saddam denied his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441).

The US planned extensively for the post-war peace operations that housed the compliance and nation-building processes per UNSCR 1483, and perfection as planned with post-Saddam Iraq would have been pleasant, but politically pleasant perfection is not the norm for American success in the global contest. The history of American leadership of the free world shows securing and building the peace is an intrinsically long iterative process that requires patient perseverance even where conditions are relatively uncomplicated. A fast simple nation-building success in Iraq with the already known to be complex yet worse than anticipated conditions created by the Saddam regime would have been unusual.

The usual American path to success versus competent determined enemies in difficult conditions comprises tenacity in the face of setbacks, overcoming our own shortcomings, and creative adjustments in competition. The steadfast principled leadership by President Bush in the face of intense political attack - even from chief US political leaders - and the leadership on the ground by GEN Petraeus, AMB Crocker, and other peace operators that adjusted to an asymmetrically advantaged enemy in the competition on the ground exemplified the essential characteristics needed for American leadership of the free world to compete effectually.

The resolute American leadership that stood fast against much political and practical adversity at the hardest points of the Iraq intervention provides a model standard for the 9/11 era. Upholding in the politics Bush's steadfast principled leadership throughout his part of the 1990-2011 Iraq intervention is essential to reanimate sufficiently robust American leadership of the free world. Whereas acceptance of the prevailing revisionist anti-OIF narrative effectively discards the essential lessons from the Iraq intervention that are needed to revitalize the hegemonic American primacy necessary to uphold the liberal international order.

As inflection points for American leadership of the free world, the post-WW2 Korea intervention is the analogue for the Iraq intervention. At the dawn of the Cold War, the Korea intervention underwent much worse setbacks, but the US navigated the challenges and stayed the course. In contrast, the peace operations with Iraq were on track when President Obama deviated course from President Bush at the analogous point that President Eisenhower stayed the course from President Truman to set the baseline for American leadership of the free world.

The US takeaway from the Korea intervention - which was much more brutal and afflicted with American shortcomings than the Iraq intervention - was to urgently elevate US-led practical readiness and political willingness to sufficiently compete versus the Soviets and their fellow travelers all the time, everywhere in the world. The lesson from Korea was not to forswear future Koreas but to win the next Korean War from the outset and champion US international preferences with superior power and political will that were credibly ready and strong enough to discourage the competition. The deterrence model - peace through strength.

Holding Iraq to the terms of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions mattered beyond pacifying Saddam. The world was judging whether American leadership possessed the resolute integrity required to effectively enforce norms and mandates with rogue actors like Iraq, Iran, and north Korea.

Like the American leadership forged in Korea at the dawn of the Cold War, in the contest for Iraq, America learned to lead the free world again as the strong horse for the 9/11 era. Once more, Ambassador Crocker:
Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."
Yet, despite that the Iraq intervention was better grounded and succeeding better than the Korea intervention at the analogous stage when Obama contravened the US-Iraq SFA, the US takeaway from the Iraq intervention has been the diametric opposite of the takeaway from the Korea intervention. Rather than embrace the hard-earned lessons from the Iraq intervention to win the next Iraq War from the outset and champion US international preferences with superior power and political will that are credibly ready and strong enough to discourage the competition, the prevalent political response - even by ostensible proponents of American leadership of the free world - has been to disclaim OIF and forswear future Iraqs. Some pundits would even preclude US boots on the ground as a matter of policy. Rather than build on the hard-earned lessons of Iraq to reset the baseline for effectual American leadership of the free world, OIF stigma has driven American politics towards a weak-willed American leadership that invites the competition to exploit a gaping self-imposed strategic vulnerability.

The keystone premise needed to revitalize US-led enforcement of liberal world order is an embrace of the Iraq intervention by policy makers, like US leaders built on the Korea intervention to suit America for the global contest. Repudiation of the Iraq intervention undermines effectual American leadership of the free world and the essential principles the US enforced with Iraq.

If the US is to be the leader of the free world that effectually enforces liberal world order in front of world events, then US strategy needs to match US policy by maintaining balance with US practical and political mastery of all relevant forms of competition, not pinball with an either/or imbalance of conventional versus unconventional methods. And US strategy certainly cannot phobicly self-restrict on the spectrum of relevant competition as the Powell Doctrine dictates.

If we feed one competitive method and starve the other, then capable willing competitors who contradict US policy preferences will simply, logically exploit our self-imposed vulnerability by choosing the other method.

It cannot be assumed an Iraq-type strategic correction will be a ready option again for US leaders to enforce US policy. The Vietnam precedent shows that the US competitive adjustments for the OIF peace operations should not be taken for granted. The politics and current events that are contemporary to the Iraq intervention show that Bush's steadfast principled corrective leadership was exceptional.

A cascading harmful effect of the Vietnam War stigma, e.g., the Powell Doctrine which undermined the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement from the start, has been the crippling of US peace operations policy and capability. That fundamental flaw in US strategy was solved under President Bush with resolute leadership and a harsh learning curve in the crucible of Iraq. Yet in the current politics, rather than correct for the faults in the enforcement of Iraq's mandated compliance that led to OIF, like the US corrected for the faults that led to the Korean War, President Obama has made sure to update the Vietnam War stigma instead by burning President Bush's hard-earned, vital corrective actions with Iraq. They've been stigmatized in the politics for future reference for US leaders. Meanwhile, President HW Bush's path-setting errors in the wake of Desert Storm that locked in the road to OIF and President Clinton's enforcement failures that moved the US to coda with Saddam are either ignored or even held up as examples for US leaders to emulate. By the same token, Obama's course deviation cannot be corrected as long as his keystone premise, OIF stigma, is an operative premise in US politics and policy.

If America under Obama no longer champions a liberal world order, then that leaves us only 2 remaining choices in the Middle East: autocrats and Islamists.

But if US policy is to enforce the liberal international order, then the Iraq intervention, like the Korea intervention, sets the bar for effectual American leadership of the free world. Properly matching US strategy to US policy - as opposed to the US strategic vulnerabilities from the Vietnam War stigma that undermined Presidents HW Bush and Clinton's enforcement of US policy with Saddam - requires the political embrace of the Iraq intervention in order to constructively apply the essential lessons of Iraq, like US leaders applied the lessons of Korea.



Bush officials have been accused of ignorance about the sectarian fault lines in Iraq. While they can be accused of being optimistic about Iraqis uniting after Saddam - an optimism they inherited from the Clinton administration - it's not true that Bush officials were ignorant about Iraqi differences. Iraq's diversity was a main focus of the thorough pre-war planning for the post-war peace operations. Rather, the hope of Presidents Clinton and Bush was that a pluralistic liberal Iraq growing from the ashes of Saddam's regime would serve as a model for the region.

Indeed, President Obama assessed Iraq in May 2011:
Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.
On February 12, 2003 at Columbia University, Paul Bremer spoke to students as a member of a VIP panel on Iraq. Of course, when we invited him, we (or at least I) didn't know Bremer would be the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 3 months. That night at Columbia, Bremer accurately described the breadth of challenges for nation-building with Iraq after Saddam, although he did not predict the particular insurgency he encountered with the CPA.

Long before OIF, the international community understood Iraq required lengthy comprehensive rebuilding and, by the start of OIF, the US had engaged deeply with Iraqi dissidents inside and outside of Iraq per the UNSCR 688 humanitarian piece for over a decade on top of the continuous focus on Iraq since the start of the Iran-Iraq War. Anticipating the post-war challenges and understanding their contours is not, however, the same as knowing their full depth and solving them. Ambassador Bremer and the CPA had a blueprint for the transition after Saddam per UNSCR 1483 and Public Law 105-338, and CPA officials understood what was needed in a macro academic sense. Their decisions were reasoned. But the CPA was unable to execute Bremer's blueprint in the micro real-world sense.

The "shock and awe" invasion plan was designed to topple the Saddam regime as soon as possible while inflicting the reasonably attainable least trauma to Iraq. The humanitarian-oriented major combat operations worked perhaps too well, thus allowing conditions on the ground that perhaps facilitated the subsequent insurgency against the peace operations.

The initial concept of the peace operations was to reduce forthwith the American military "footprint" on the ground following major combat operations while the post-war emphasis shifted to supporting civilian government agencies, international organizations, and non-government organizations for the "humanitarian reconstruction" work on the ground and enabling the diversity of Iraqi leaders, including the Iraqi National Congress, in the formation of a representative, human-rights upholding post-Saddam government in accordance with UNSCR 688. In short, the peace operations were intended to have an international and Iraqi character and face enabled by American leadership and support.

However, despite the extensive pre-war planning, the initial US "humanitarian reconstruction" plan turned out to be inadequate because its keystone premise proved to be flawed.

The keystone premise was that security would follow upon political progress, and in fact, post-Saddam Iraq met its political benchmarks with the CPA. However, based upon that premise, the pre-war plans prioritized avoiding a traditional military-centered occupation. The assigned military support role for the peace operations and associated military attitude proved to be wrong for the immediate post-war needs of Iraq.

The initial military role in the nation-building aspect was largely limited to "secure access" and logistical support for the civilian-centered peace operations. In order to minimize the characteristics of a foreign military occupation of Iraq, the security strategy initially focused on standing up Iraqi security forces as fast as possible while the US-led coalition forces stood down and stepped back as soon as possible. But as events quickly unfolded, a full-spectrum military-centered occupation proved to be necessary for Iraq.

As a result, the CPA simply was overtaken by events on the ground and fell behind the insurgents and terrorists, such as Saddam's followers, al Qaeda, and Iran-sponsored Sadrists, who used extreme violence against the state, economy, peace operators, and the Iraqi people in order to blow up the base of security and stability that was essential for the peace operations and with it, the nascent peace process. When the terrorist insurgency ruthlessly crippled the civilian-centered peace operations, the military was compelled to overhaul the security strategy and adapt to fill the vacated nation-building role, which subsequently gave rise to the counterinsurgency "Surge".

Why did the extensive pre-war planning for the post-war, built on a decade-plus of engagement with Iraqis inside and outside Iraq, initially go south so badly?

The flip but true answer is careful plans often break down upon practical contact, especially in an intense competition versus zealously committed, unbounded adversaries. We normally expect a higher cost for adjustment in a war (major combat operations) than its post-war (peace operations), but as we learned the hard lesson, effective guerilla operations can upend that expectation.

That being said, it appears that a critical flaw in the pre-war planning for the peace operations is intelligence analysts significantly underestimated the Saddam regime’s “widespread terror” (UNCHR) in its domestic governance and “regional and global terrorism” (Iraqi Perspectives Project), which included “considerable operational overlap” (IPP) with the al Qaeda network. With the aid of Saddam's accomplices, Saddam’s terrorism was rapidly adapted to the insurgency.

Saddam’s terrorism was not unknown. The conceptual contours of Saddam’s terrorism were correctly identified pre-OIF, and in fact, Saddam’s terrorism in breach of UNSCR 687 was a lead element of the casus belli for OIF per the 2002 AUMF. However, there is a striking gap between the pre-OIF assessment (reference Judith Yaphe, Dan Byman) and the post-war analysis (reference Jim Lacey, Kyle Orton) of the depth of Saddam’s terrorism.

For example, in July 2007, Dan Byman claimed OIF “created a jihadist problem in Iraq where none existed” (Brookings). Yet in November 2007, Jim Lacey reported, according to analysis of captured regime materials, “the [Saddam] regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda” and “Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime” (IPP). Lacey’s work with IPP convinced him the Iraqi regime change came “not a moment too soon” (National Review).

The guerilla campaign waged against the peace operations was not primarily sectarian in cause, but rather a terrorist phenomenon with sectarian characteristics. According to Bush officials like Doug Feith and the record, US officials were well aware of and planned to deal with Iraqi sectarian frictions (which had much worsened under Saddam since the Iran-Iraq War). However, they were blindsided by the terrorist insurgency.

I believe a chief reason US officials were blindsided by the insurgency is pre-OIF intelligence analysis significantly underestimated Saddam’s terrorism.

Based on what I've heard, there was a 'golden hour' in the immediate post-war period. Most Iraqis wanted the better future after Saddam that Congress and Presidents Clinton and Bush pledged to build in Iraq. It's barely remembered now that IOs and NGOs were prominent in Iraq in the immediate post-war as planned, and the international community was prepared to further invest and pour assets into Iraq, but only if security and stability were guaranteed. As GEN Petraeus warned, "Act quickly, because every Army of liberation has a half-life."

It's probable the nation-building infrastructure for the military-supported civilian-centered initial post-war plan would have adjusted to the needs of the mission given more time to evolve in a sufficiently secure setting, but analogous to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, our higher social, political, and economic aspirations for Iraq after Saddam wholly depended on first establishing the base of security and stability, followed by orderly governance, services, and economy. When the insurgents beat us to 1st base on security and stability, we lost the 'golden hour' and our first, best chance to take control of post-war Iraq. Security was the prerequisite for political progress, not as initially premised, the other way around. America's higher order aspirations and ambitious plans for Iraq couldn't work absent the base of security and stability.

Nevertheless, setbacks, even devastating ones, are not unusual occurrences in supreme contests of war and peace versus zealous intelligent adversaries. The essential element of the President's resolute commitment to the policy objective of securing and building the peace was sufficient to withstand the defeat of the initial post-war "humanitarian reconstruction" plan and for US-led forces to recover the mission. Consistent with US military history, America adjusted to the setbacks inflicted by the enemy and reclaimed the initiative. With the counterinsurgency "Surge", the US mission with Iraq was succeeding on track with the WW2 peace operations until President Obama deviated from post-WW2, post-Cold War American leadership of the free world and disengaged the vital peace operations from Iraq.

Addenda:

Joel Wing summarized the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction’s “Hard Lessons” review: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. My criticism is Wing seems to have misinterpreted the military's initially planned limited post-war supporting role to "secure access" and provide logistical support for civilian-centered peace operations as an irresponsible eschewing of over-all post-war planning by the Department of Defense and Bush administration.

See my comment on a Washington Post snapshot of early challenges and our hope for Iraq. I also recommend the corrective insight from CPA senior advisers and Dale Franks's defense (archived) of the CPA decision to demobilize the Iraqi Army.



US Army FM (field manual) 1:
The Army’s contribution to joint operations is landpower. ... Landpower includes the ability to ... Establish and maintain a stable environment that sets the conditions for a lasting peace [and] .... Address the consequences of catastrophic events—both natural and manmade—to restore infrastructure and reestablish basic civil services.
On the military side, GEN Eric Shinseki famously warned that 500,000 or more soldiers would be needed to garrison Iraq.

I agree we should have had more troops available at the outset of the post-war, but we didn’t need over 500,000 troops to be effective. An extra 50-100,000 troops would have been ideal. In fact, our post-war troop level in Iraq peaked at 157,800 in FY2008.

The Army's main problem entering post-war Iraq wasn't the troop numbers or presidential decisions. Drawing from my contemporary military service, our main problem was insufficient method (strategy, plans, tactics, techniques, procedures, etc.) by the military for a sufficient post-war occupation for the particular non-permissive conditions we encountered in Iraq. Despite the Army's doctrinal peace operational role and our over-all successful modern (20th century) record of post-war nation-building occupations, the regular Army of 2003 simply was not ready to carry out the kind of peace operations we learned were needed.

The Army's shortcomings in the immediate post-war were due to an institutional mindset deeply rooted in the fall-out of the Vietnam War, exemplified by the Powell Doctrine, that was averse to nation-building occupation. The resulting Pentagon culture was critically misaligned with White House policy on Iraq where the Gulf War ceasefire, evinced by the breadth of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) that was enforced under US law and President HW Bush's path-setting policy decisions at the outset, effectively required Iraqi regime change - with or without Saddam staying in power. Yet Saddam felt uncompelled to comply as mandated with the Gulf War ceasefire because he interpreted from his 1991 Gulf War and 1998 Operation Desert Fox experiences that the US was bluffing. Due to the self-imposed limitations typified by the Powell Doctrine, Saddam believed the US was unwilling to enforce the terms of ceasefire with a credible threat of regime change, thus the chief enforcer of the Gulf War ceasefire could be defeated.

In effect, the Powell Doctrine represented an obvious design flaw in American leadership that provided a foundational building block for Saddam, his allies, and other likeminded actors to develop a template for effectively rendering American-led international enforcement obsolete.

Implicating the Powell Doctrine, GEN Petraeus again: “If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq,” he says, adding that this was why “we have to get it right in Iraq”.

Before 9/11, when the Army was tasked to do a mission on the spectrum of civil affairs or peace operations, it was done ad hoc as an "operation other than war". See the NATO missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan for our peace operational level as we entered OIF. As such, the pre-OIF ‘state of the art’ peace operations plans for Iraq proved insufficient. The fundamental flaw of the initial post-war concept was the US-led military coalition was relegated to a "light footprint" support role for civilian humanitarian government agencies and international agencies, led by the United Nations, when as we learned through setback, the US-led military coalition was needed to transition immediately into the lead role for the post-war occupation with "heavy footprint" peace operations.

However, due to the military's aversion to dedicated peace operations before OIF, the only practical way the Army could develop the sufficient peace-operations doctrine, capability, and more fundamentally, the proper civil-affairs mindset that were needed for occupying post-war Iraq was to actually occupy post-war Iraq and learn through necessity. Ergo, the needs of the mission enabled the conception and birth of the Petraeus-led counterinsurgency “Surge” that combined with the Sahwa Awakening and had us winning the peace with Iraq before President Obama changed course and disengaged the peace operations.

That being said, the terrorist insurgency we battled in post-war Iraq was not the first time the Army was caught flat-footed. That sort of demanding learning curve is normal in our military history where victory over capable adversaries has typically followed a harsh road of grim perseverance and in-competition adaptation, not preemptive perfection.

The standard of perfect preemptive anticipation, preparation, cost accounting, and execution that critics apply to OIF is ahistorical in military history. I agree we should do what we can beforehand to prepare. However, that the learning curve for victory in post-war Iraq was driven by necessity on the ground is consistent with military history. Our military has always undergone steep learning curves in war that have often included devastating setbacks, such as the battles of New York, First Manassas, Kasserine Pass, and Chosin Reservoir. The enemy teaches if we will learn, and President Bush's resolute leadership provided the necessary will to succeed with Iraq. OIF just demanded a steeper learning curve for the peace operations than the major combat operations that deposed Saddam's regime due to the kind of enemies that adapted to the inviting weakness ingrained in the military by the Powell Doctrine.

It's been reported that a military-centered proto-COIN strategy was proposed early on, but it was turned down in favor of giving the civilian-centered CPA more time. I wonder what difference could have been made if, minus the handicap of the Powell Doctrine, a proto-COIN 'surge' had been tried in the 'golden hour' of the immediate post-war in Iraq.

I agree with GEN Petraeus's prognostication - policymakers must embrace the Iraq intervention. I hope the Army has learned to overcome the Vietnam War trauma and retire the debilitating Powell Doctrine for good. It's critical for the military to reform its institutional mindset by ingraining the hard-won lessons of Iraq. If the Powell Doctrine persists despite the clear lessons of OIF and the COIN "Surge", then avid competitors will continue to exploit the Vietnam War stigma and add its purposeful successor, OIF stigma, to undermine American leadership of the free world.



With the lessons we learned at such high cost in post-war Iraq, surely we've laid the groundwork for a permanent peace operations capability - right?

Apparently not. Strategy thinker Thomas Barnett laments that we have yet to fill "the missing link for all the complex security situations out there where the traditional "big war" US force isn't appropriate." Barnett calls it a Department of Everything Else or, alternatively, a System Administrator or SysAdmin force.

I asked Barnett:
Mr. Barnett,

I don't understand, how come the Petraeus-led Counterinsurgency did not mature into the SysAdmin force like the OSS matured into the CIA?
It's a rhetorical question because we both know the answer. In a historically difficult "3 am call", President Bush approved the counterinsurgency "Surge" in Iraq over the objections of top military and administration officials. As David Sanger describes in the New York Times article, the military officials who opposed COIN under Bush have a sympathetic audience with Obama officials who are committed to the dogma that OIF was wrong. As a result, the permanent peace operations capability that could have grown out of COIN like the present-day CIA grew out of the OSS has been cut off.

Opponents of counterinsurgency and a permanent SysAdmin capability argue against the extraordinarily high price of the post-war in Iraq. They cite the reports finding that the "adhocracy" of the reconstruction led to billions of dollars lost to "waste, fraud and abuse".

I contend those reports are actually encouraging. Typically, technological and systems innovations incur inefficiencies, high costs, and extra waste in early development. The inefficiencies, costs, and waste are reduced as the technology or system is refined. The reports show areas where the cost of peace operations can immediately be reduced.

The inefficient "adhocracy" in the management of the Iraq reconstruction was in large part due to hostile politics within the US, unreasonable demands and expectations of immediate returns on investment, and adverse conditions on the ground that sabotaged reconstruction efforts. If the domestic political frame can be fixed, a reasonable long-term planning attitude applied, and security and stability mastered, then combined with general developmental improvement, the cost of peace operations should be driven down.

Of those ifs, the most important is the political and practical capability to establish and maintain security and stability in competition, including "non-permissive" conditions. As I said earlier, other nations were initially willing to invest in post-war Iraq, but only on the condition security and stability were guaranteed. Obviously, sharing the reconstruction cost would have helped. The downstream compounding costs and inefficiencies that were suffered in post-war Iraq all followed from our initial failure to maintain control of Iraq versus the aggressive terrorist insurgency. With increased cost from ad hoc recovery, the COIN-adjusted peace operations established the necessary basic security and stability in the competition for Iraq. Unfortunately, President Obama irresponsibly disengaged the peace operations that were vital to maintain Iraq's security and stability, in spite of their reducing cost post-"Surge".



When the Abu Ghraib scandal exploded, I was ashamed and angry as a former soldier. I knew first-hand the ethical expectations of American soldiers. I felt that the soldiers at Abu Ghraib had betrayed the faith of their fellow soldiers and caused significant harm to the Iraq mission.

However, my anger was mitigated by my appreciation that an extremely violent insurgency had seized the initiative in Iraq, and the US-led coalition forces defending Iraq and protecting the Iraqi people had fallen behind. Their 'how' was offensive and wrong, but their 'why' was understandable. The Abu Ghraib prison guards were not abusive simply for the sake of committing abuse. They were trying to help stop aggressive mass murderers who were committing daily atrocities in Iraq. The terrorist insurgents were destroying Iraqi social civic/economic infrastructure and threatening, kidnapping, torturing, and/or killing ordinary Iraqis, Iraqi government officials, military, police, clergy, humanitarian aid workers, and others, as well as American and allied coalition soldiers, by the tens, hundreds, and eventually thousands.

As a Senator and presidential candidate, President Obama had over-simplified the "choice between our safety and our ideals" in order to slander President Bush. Like the personnel stationed at Abu Ghraib, Obama quickly learned as Commander in Chief that the responsibility to make life-or-death decisions about a zealous, inveterately murderous, unethical enemy is more difficult.

I posted my first impression of the Abu Ghraib scandal in an on-line forum discussion in June 2004. Excerpt:
We are still learning about the Abu Ghraib scandal, which has been layered with media sensationalism. Was it just bad soldiers gone wild and poor leadership? We don't know how much intel factors were involved. A troubling aspect of the popular reaction is that we obviously still don't respect the terrorists. We need to realize that with the nature of this enemy, ground-level LTIOV-type [ed: Last Time Information is of Value, used by Military Intelligence] intelligence - timely and actionable - must be the center of gravity in the fight. How do we acquire that intel, if we can't rely on 'clean' high-tech means? There are old-fashioned ways, ones we've had the hubris to deny ourselves. This enemy, however, has stripped us of our hubris. Ask yourself, to what extent are you willing to extract intel, if that info means the difference in protecting yourself and your loved ones, me and mine, Spanish commuter trains, Bali night clubs, the Twin Towers, religious celebratory crowds, humanitarian aid workers, and the many other would-be victims? Not to mention the lives of government officials, soldiers and police struggling to establish the security and stability necessary for the birth of a strong democracy. It's a hard choice, a real-world choice and not one for the classroom.
. . .
Closing thought. I picked this up on a recent visit to the City of New York Museum, quote from one of my (sadly deceased) political heroes. Senator D. Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), notable as a liberal reformer: 'If you don't have 30 years to devote to social policy, don't get involved.' Moynihan was discussing his many social reform initiatives within the US, the massive commitment necessary to implement specific reforms within an established infrastructure. Think about that. If that's what change demands in the best-equipped infrastructure in the world, what kind of willpower, flexible thinking, hardship, setbacks, difficulty and scale of time - sacrifices - should we be ready to accept if we TRULY believe in our collective responsibility to stand up a reformed, strong, independent Iraq?

. . . Americans don't have the luxury of turning our backs on world affairs, even when we make mistakes. Our position, our power, our ties and history, give us a great burden of responsibility - and it's true, we have not always been diligent enough with our leadership role. Our actions and inactions, our successes and failures, all bear global consequences. With that burden, IF our will and commitment amounts to no better than assigning a scapegoat in an unpopular American president, and with that meager satisfaction, turning our backs on our global effect and the peoples who need us, then we deserve to fail.
I comment on the intractable moral dilemmas of Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor and enhanced interrogation here.



On January 30, 2005, a critic of Bush and OIF reconsidered his views after witnessing the Iraqi people risk their lives to vote and passionately participate in Iraq's first free election. The American soldiers who served in Iraq during that time often cite their roles protecting and facilitating the Iraqi election as a highlight of their military careers.

Today, after the partisan vitriol poured onto OIF followed by disappointment with the Arab Spring, it's fashionable to say that the social-political culture of the Middle East is incompatible with liberal reform and President Bush was a fool to try.

I'm not ready to admit that liberal reform in Iraq is a pipedream. I don't believe the violent insurgency by foreign terrorists and a minority of Iraqis equates to a majority opposition by the Iraqi people to a pluralistic liberal society in Iraq. The success of the counterinsurgency "Surge", which depended on Iraqis choosing to risk their lives to stand with the Americans, is proof that most Iraqis want a better future for Iraq after Saddam. From the beginning, experts and government officials cautioned that we must be patient with Iraq because nation-building with liberal reform is a process of fundamental change that requires a long time nurturing - perhaps a lifetime - to bear fruit.

For reference, I served in South Korea 50 years after the GIs who fought the Korean War. In less than a decade, the US military warred over Korea with Japan, north Korea, and China. Many Korean War veterans were disillusioned by their war experience and held the same doubts that liberal reform would ever take hold with the un-Western Koreans.

But it did. South Korea's first free presidential election was held in 1987. The difference is the US military stayed to protect and guarantee South Korea after the Korean War. We've left Iraq.

The contest for Iraq pitted the American ideal of consensual liberal civics versus the killing will of the anti-liberal Islamic extremists. As former Barnard history professor Thad Russell repeated the mantra to us in class, violence works in politics. We can only hope we did enough for the Iraqi people so that they will come together and resist the anti-liberal forces surrounding them without our help.



Liberal reformers versus Islamic extremists was not the only contest in Iraq during OIF. There was also the contest of ordinary Muslims versus Islamic extremists. After 9/11, I recognized the terrorists had to be alienated from the Muslim mainstream. Saddam's regime was not a secular bulwark, as it is often erroneously represented by OIF opponents. Saddam had undertaken the sectarian radicalization of Iraqi society. In the second, perhaps more consequential, contest in Iraq, ordinary Iraqi Muslims chose to join the Americans against the Islamic extremists.

I explained our role in the intra-Islamic contest at Professor Nacos's blog. Excerpt:
In relation to your post, my point is that while the US role in the war has understandably been deeply unpopular among Muslims, US popularity is not a decisive factor in the War on Terror. Genuine leadership is not a popularity contest and fortunately, President Bush understood at the start (or at least made the correct decisions to the effect) that the War on Terror could not be won by America unilaterally or the West multilaterally. Our victory depends on Muslims opposing the terrorists; therefore, the American role was to intervene in ways, however unpopular, that would abet the Muslim mainstream turning against the terrorists as the intolerable apostates.



The cornerstone of my perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom is that President Bush had, like President Clinton before him, only 3 choices on Iraq: maintain the toxic and crumbling 'containment' status quo indefinitely (default kicking the can), free a noncompliant Saddam, unreconstructed (out of the question), or give Saddam a final chance to comply under credible threat of regime change (resolution). (Again, the Blix alternative was not realistic.)

Whenever I debate OIF with anyone, I challenge that person to step into President Bush's shoes in the wake of 9/11 and defend their preferred alternative for resolving the Iraq problem. Most will refuse and, instead, double-down on criticizing Bush and OIF in hindsight. For those who have the integrity to try defending an alternative in context, it becomes apparent that Bush's decisions regarding Iraq were at least justified.

Some of the loudest opposition to OIF is from the IR realist school that believes Saddam should have been kept in power in order to check Iran. I think they're stuck in 1980, with the Shah only just replaced by the Ayatollah, and Baathist Iraq, led by then-new President Saddam Hussein, thought to be the lesser of 2 evils. The faulty premise of IR realists is Saddam could be trusted to act rationally, yet Saddam acting out of control, destabilizing, and against US interests is the reason for the US intervention with Iraq in the first place.

From Iraq's invasion of Kuwait at the outset of the UNSCR 660 series, Saddam proved repeatedly that the "spiral" model of defusing conflict encouraged his malfeasance. For the duration of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement with the Saddam regime, only firm application of credible threat with the "deterrence" model could draw out even a limited measure of Iraq's mandated compliance.

We wanted and tried to allow Saddam to stay in power as a check on Iran. But we needed to address the dangerous behavior of Saddam’s regime.

The IR-realist balancing act was the guiding principle of our cautious, comparatively favorable view of Iraq of the two combatants in the Iran-Iraq War. It was also the guiding principle of our conflicted Gulf War strategy in 1991 with which we reacted to Saddam’s realized threat when Iraq invaded Kuwait but then stopped short of the logical and normal conclusion of Iraqi regime change. We only suspended the Gulf War with a strict set of weapons and non-weapons mandates that would resolve the manifold Iraqi threat that manifested with the Gulf War and assure Saddam could be trusted with the peace.

However, at the same time that President HW Bush justified stopping short of Iraqi regime change in the Gulf War, he also oriented the US-led enforcement of UNSCR 688 towards Iraqi regime change. We wanted Iraq to check Iran. But we needed Saddam to rehabilitate and stop his destabilization and threat to the region. The Gulf War ceasefire was intended to retain the former and achieve the latter with a compliance and disarmament process meant to rehabilitate Saddam.

It proved to be an impossible balancing act. Our two conflicting objectives with Saddam could not be reconciled. Saddam refused to comply, disarm, and rehabilitate. If anything, Saddam’s behavior and judgement became worse during his defiance of the ceasefire. Speaking on behalf of the Administration on March 26, 1997, Secretary of State Albright provided a comprehensive summation of the updated Clinton 2nd-term policy on Iraq with a sharpened focus on the noncompliant behavior of Saddam's regime, distinct from its demonstrable possession of weapons.

By the time Congress made Iraqi regime change a legal mandate in October 1998, the risk/reward, cost/benefit calculation of allowing Saddam to stay in power to check Iran had tipped over due to Saddam’s “clear and present danger". In fact, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 merely codified President HW Bush's regime change policy that had been actively pursued by May 1991 at the latest and carried forward by President Clinton. At the point of Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement had degenerated from the initially planned rapid compliance and disarmament process into an indefinite, eroding, toxic and broken ‘containment’.

IR liberals understand that by the time of the Bush administration (either one works), the Iran-Iraq conflict was a cause of the region's problems, not a stabilizer. More importantly, given our thoroughly toxic relationship with Iraq by the end of the Clinton administration, our total distrust of Saddam, his underestimated "regional and global terrorism" (IPP), and Saddam's track record, I'd like to hear the IR realists explain in detail just how they would have negotiated a reliable settlement with a noncompliant, uncontained Saddam. They're effectively proposing an unreconstructed Hitler should have been propped up following World War 2 in order to serve as a regional counter to the Soviet Union. Hitler + USSR = the worst of World War 2, not peace in our time. The IR-realist belief that after 9/11 we should have trusted and empowered the noncompliant, unreconstructed, rearming terrorist Saddam to deal with Iran on our behalf is madness.

By the same token, I’m disturbed by the plastic morality of OIF opponents who radically revamped Saddam’s reputation in death into some sort of stabilizing force for peace within and outside of Iraq. The claim that Saddam was the antidote for the post-war violence is incredible given the humanitarian crisis of "systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror" (UN Commission on Human Rights) caused by Saddam's regime that was a primary focus of the Iraq enforcement per UNSCR 688 (1991). Saddam had undertaken the sectarian radicalization of Iraqi society, and Saddam and his followers were the original cause and major driver of the insurgency that attacked the Iraqi people much more than our soldiers. They adapted their terroristic governance to the terroristic insurgency, yet OIF opponents actually cite the insurgency to argue Saddam’s ruling SOP of rape, torture, show executions, etc., is the best way to govern Iraq. The logic escapes me for the claim that the way to cure abuse is handing over victims to their abusers. Having the worst criminal and his gang in charge of a community is not normally considered the recourse for security and stability. Saddam, his sons, and their followers were not people who should hold authority over any civilized society.

The least thoughtful critics of the Iraq mission are the buffet-style critics. They accept the justifications for OIF and agree the world is better off without Saddam, yet say the US was wrong to stay for peace operations in post-Saddam Iraq. The critics who support the war while opposing the post-war in Iraq seem merely to be reacting to a palatable war versus a distasteful post-war. As I said to David Sanger, the US historically has followed victory in war with a long-term presence and comprehensive investment in the post-war. As the World War 2 victors, we learned the importance of securing the peace after the war and not repeating the post-war mistakes made by the World War 1 victors.

We gain little from war itself because war is destruction. The prize of war is the power to build the peace on our terms. The long-term gains we historically associate with wars have actually been realized from our peace-building following those wars. To resolve the Saddam problem and then leave Iraq without first responsibly securing the peace would have been a contradiction of all our acquired wisdom as leader of the free world, an inhumane abandonment of the Iraqi people, and a short-sighted, enormously risky gamble that invited new problems.

As Paul Wolfowitz responded to critics of President Bush's post-war commitment to a liberal peace in Iraq,
We went to war in both places because we saw those regimes as a threat to the United States. Once they were overthrown, what else were we going to do? No one argues that we should have imposed a dictatorship in Afghanistan having liberated the country. Similarly, we weren't about to impose a dictatorship in Iraq having liberated the country.
In any case, peace operations following a regime change were "expected" in the law and promised in the policy.*

President Clinton, December 19, 1998:
[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.
Public Law 105-338 (1998):
SEC. 7. ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQ UPON REPLACEMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN REGIME.
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.
President Bush, October 7, 2002:
If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors.
Public Law 107-243 (2002):
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
(a) REPORTS.—The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–338).
* "Peace operations: (DOD) A broad term that encompasses multiagency and multinational crisis response and limited contingency operations involving all instruments of national power with military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. Also called PO. See also peace building; peace enforcement; peacekeeping; and peacemaking. Source: JP 3-07.3" (source)



“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 on the commencement of Operation Desert Fox, 1998

The necessary condition for securing and building the peace for future generations is security. When President Bush passed the presidential baton to President Obama, America was winning the War on Terror.

To wit, David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy, on the progress made by the counter-terrorism campaign since 9/11:
[Schanzer:] As the 9/11 attacks demonstrated, al Qaeda was a powerful and dangerous organization 12 years ago, but is now a shell of what it once was. Central al Qaeda and its affiliate organizations around the globe still aspire to execute attacks inside America, but their capabilities to do so are dramatically diminished. The threat is present, but no longer acute.
...
[Interviewer:] In the months after the 9/11 attacks, there was a general expectation-and dread-that 9/11 was just the first of many terrorist attacks inside the United States. Yet the total number of attacks since then is relatively few. Why is that, do you think?

[Schanzer:] The counterterrorism strategy against al Qaeda that has been executed since 9/11 has been extremely effective. We eliminated the safe haven that al Qaeda enjoyed in Afghanistan and captured or killed hundreds of senior leaders and thousands of rank and file militants. It is also important that governments in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were on the sidelines prior to 9/11, joined the fight because they felt threatened by al Qaeda as well. We have also tightened our visa issuance process and border security (at a great cost to our international image and economy) so that it is much harder to enter the United States, especially from certain countries. ... we have crippled the organization that attacked us on 9/11 to the benefit of the United States and the world.
In other words, Obama was handed a succeeding counter-terrorism campaign that had greatly reduced the physical terror threat of 9/11.

In addition to resolving the festering problem of Saddam's noncompliant, threatening, tyrannical, radicalized sectarian, rearming, terrorist regime, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a devastating defeat for the terrorists in the post-war contest. The terrorists who sabotaged the initial US-led peace operations and inflicted atrocities on the Iraqi people had planned for Iraq to be their Vietnam War defeat of America. Instead, the Iraqi-American alliance turned Iraq into the worst-case, nightmare scenario for the terrorists, who were decimated on the ground and, more consequentially, rebuffed in the war of ideas as Iraq's Sunni Muslims chose to side with the Americans.

On December 15, 2010, the United Nations declared victory in Iraq. With the adoption of resolutions 1956, 1957, and 1958, the United Nations Security Council recognized that Iraq was compliant with its major obligations under the UNSCR 660 series and lifted restrictions incurred by the Saddam regime that had been in place since 1990-1991. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called it “a milestone for Iraq. Today we recognize how far the country has come in key aspects of its journey to normalize its status in the community of nations.” Vice President Biden, serving as the Council president at the meeting, observed Iraq was on the cusp of “something remarkable”.

The December 15, 2010 Council meeting marked the accomplishment of the two-decade-long mission to enforce Iraq's compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) mandated with the Gulf War ceasefire to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions [and] ... to secure peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 687).

Pursuant to UNSCR 688 and UNSCR 1483, President Bush had enabled American and allied forces to honor President Clinton’s pledge to “help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments and respects the rights of its own people” and carry out Congress’s instruction to "support Iraq’s transition to democracy ... once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq".

In the context of the greater War on Terror, Obama inherited OIF from Bush as a strategic victory poised to realize Clinton’s vision of "a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past -- but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace."

To wit, the statement on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq website:
The Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq (PDF version full text - 647 KB) guides our overall political, economic, cultural, and security ties with Iraq. This agreement is designed to help the Iraqi people stand on their own and reinforce Iraqi sovereignty, while protecting U.S. interests in the Middle East. The SFA normalizes the U.S.-Iraqi relationship with strong economic, diplomatic, cultural, and security cooperation and serves as the foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship based on mutual goals.
...
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.
In May 2011 at the dawn of the Arab Spring, President Obama described the historic opportunity for peace in the Middle East where "Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress":
Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.
By Obama's own description, the emerging pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq was set to have "a key role" in a reforming Middle East. The President's speech recounts the winning hand he inherited, but it required for Obama to stay the course with Iraq and the Bush Freedom Agenda.

The success of OIF was hard earned. In 2006, the situation in Iraq appeared bleak, reminiscent of low points that preceded other victories in US military history. However, harsh learning curves are normal in war or, in the case of OIF, the peace operations of the post-war. American, Iraqi, and allied forces learned how to succeed in Iraq, and the Petraeus-led counterinsurgency "Surge" turned the Iraq mission around.

For the US military, the lessons learned in Iraq set a critical methodological baseline for the 21st century. The military can replenish equipment and even men, but there is only one way for the institution to learn how to win in the evolving strategic environment.

To wit, again, General Petraeus:
“If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq,” he says, adding that this was why “we have to get it right in Iraq”.
The American victory in Iraq should have revitalized the commitment and resolve of American leadership of the free world and the concomitant pause of our competitors.

To wit, again, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker:
The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush’s decision to add troops. “In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward.”

Bush’s decision rocked America’s adversaries, says Crocker: “The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, ‘Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won’t have the stomach to stick it out.’ That assumption was challenged by the surge.”
With American leadership tempered by the crucible of Iraq, the next step of winning the War on Terror was building peace in the Middle East based on new norms. How? American partnership with the emerging pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq as the keystone building block and the Bush Freedom Agenda.

While the Arab Spring happened during the Obama administration, the Bush Freedom Agenda had positioned America to boost liberal reform in the Middle East. Concurrently, OIF had set up a path to deal with Iran that relied on 3 prongs: stabilize Iraq as an American ally, increase sanctions pressure, and support civil reform in Iran. President Obama did the opposite of all three.

In his benchmark May 2011 address, President Obama pledged US support for the Arab Spring. Middle East activists took the US president's pledge to heart to risk their lives but Obama subsequently proudly reneged. In the singular window to make a historic difference, in the moment America held - as President Clinton had envisioned - "a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past", President Obama astonishingly, instead, dropped the Bush Freedom Agenda and opted to 'lead from behind' with predictable and evitable tragic consequences.

Recall T.R. Fehrenbach's timeless observation from This Kind of War:
…[Y]ou may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.
And again, as stated in US Army FM (field manual) 1:
The Army’s contribution to joint operations is landpower. ... Landpower includes the ability to ... Establish and maintain a stable environment that sets the conditions for a lasting peace [and] .... Address the consequences of catastrophic events—both natural and manmade—to restore infrastructure and reestablish basic civil services.
There is no security substitute for American military boots on the ground – not in Europe and Asia following the World War 2 regime changes, and not in Iraq following the OIF regime change. "Ending the war" with the premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been a euphemism for surrendering the hard-earned peace to the enemy who seeks to reify a fundamentally different world than the world we favor.

Bush set up Obama for victory in the War on Terror. Obama simply needed to stay the course from Bush to win the war and build the peace, like President Eisenhower stayed the course from Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Instead, Obama claimed Bush's liberal foreign policy goals yet disclaimed Bush's rational, progressing means to achieve them, thus causing Obama's irrational foreign policy and regressing foreign affairs.

Once again, the necessary condition for securing and building the peace for future generations is security. Obama's foreign policy has created insecurity.

In sum, America was winning the War on Terror when President Bush left office in 2009. When President Obama took office, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a strategic victory that had resolved the festering Saddam problem (not a moment too soon based on what we now know), brought Iraq into compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for the Gulf War ceasefire, revitalized international enforcement in the defining international enforcement mission of the post-Cold War, demonstrated the mettle of American leadership, and devastated the terrorists with the counterinsurgency "Surge". OIF provided the US with an emerging keystone "strategic partner in a tumultuous region" with pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq.

But since taking office, Obama has reversed the hard-won progress made under Bush by committing the gross strategic blunders of contravening the Strategic Framework Agreement (2008) by disengaging from US-Iraqi affairs at a critical stage of Iraq's post-Surge development, bungling the SOFA negotiation with Iraq, and radically deviating from President Bush's progressing course. Consequently, the terrorists have resurged in the gaps opened by the lurching, stumbling, diminished American leadership under President Obama.



On the facts, the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law and justified on the policy; yet it was distorted in the politics.

Misinformation and mischaracterization have corrupted the popular perception of the context, stakes, and achievements of the Iraq mission with compounding harmful effects. They have obscured the strict enforcement with Saddam's Iraq that President Bush carried forward from President Clinton and the ground-breaking peace operations by the US military in post-Saddam Iraq, thus undermining the enforcement of international norms and obstructing the further development and application of peace operations.

The corrupted public perception of the Iraq mission has led to poor policy decisions by the Obama administration in the Arab Spring, most notably regarding Libya and Syria. Where President Bush positioned America after 9/11 to lead vigorously from the front as the liberal internationalist leader of the free world, President Obama has reduced America to 'leading from behind' with predictable tragic consequences. Bush gave Obama a hard-earned winning hand in Iraq, yet the Obama administration disengaged from US-Iraqi affairs and bungled the SOFA negotiation at a critical turning point. The premature exit from Iraq has endangered the Iraqi people, cast doubt on the future of Iraq's development, and caused the loss of a difference-making regional strategic partnership.



The West Point cadet prayer expresses the aspiration to "Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong".

The outcome we desired was Iraq meeting its burden of proof and complying completely and unconditionally with the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions in order to resolve the outstanding Iraqi threat. Meeting this standard was the only way for Saddam to prove he was rehabilitated and could be trusted with the peace. Saddam was given a last chance to comply - by two American presidents - and Saddam failed to seize the chance. Freeing a noncompliant Saddam from constraint was out of the question. Indefinitely maintaining and headlining the corrupted, provocative, harmful, and failing sanctions and 'containment' mission in Iraq was the easier wrong.

On March 19, 2003, President Bush ordered America into Iraq to do the harder right.



Also see:
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: Columbia students rally to support US troops Spring 2003;
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: final thoughts;
Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ.

Eric

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