Saturday, May 10, 2014

Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ

PREFACE: Context is essential. My take in the debate over Operation Iraqi Freedom is the mission cannot be judged properly until the misconceptions about its law and policy, fact basis are corrected. Because the Iraq intervention is epochal, the prevalent misrepresentation of the grounds for OIF, such as "invading Iraq was based on cooked up intelligence", has corrupted American politics and undermined our national interests. Competitors like Russia understand stigmatizing the paradigm of OIF discredits the fundamental principles of American leadership in the mission, which subverts the premise of American leadership of the free world. Therefore, although President Obama withdrew the US-led peace operations from Iraq in 2011, setting the record straight remains vital because judgement of OIF in the zeitgeist continues to bear underlying influence on American affairs.

Here is my latest attempt to set the record straight on Operation Iraqi Freedom by synthesizing the primary sources of the mission, including the Gulf War ceasefire UN Security Council resolutions that set the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), the US law and policy to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235), the conditions and precedents that set the stage for OIF, and the determinative fact findings of Iraq's breach of ceasefire that triggered enforcement, to explain the law and policy, fact basis - i.e., the why - of the decision for OIF.



Click on the questions or scroll down for the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Note: The further reading section provides links to basic essential sources for understanding OIF and select posts that cover the same ground as this FAQ with more scope and cite-link extensively to primary sources, including United States (US) Presidents, US Congress, and United Nations (UN) agencies, corroborative sources, including the Iraq Survey Group and Iraqi Perspectives Project, and other background sources.



Q: What were President Bush’s alternatives with Iraq?

A: The key to understand President Bush's decision to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" (Public Law 107-243) with Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) lies with President Clinton's enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire as it peaked in 1998 with Operation Desert Fox (ODF). Clinton's entire presidency was preoccupied with Saddam Hussein's noncompliance with the Gulf War ceasefire United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions (UNSCRs), principally UNSCRs 687 and 688. Bush's case against Saddam was really Clinton's case against Saddam, updated from 9/11. Likewise, Bush's enforcement procedure with OIF carried forward Clinton's enforcement procedure for Iraq, updated from ODF, the penultimate military enforcement step.

On March 3, 1999, President 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, President 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 [UNSCR 1441] 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.
After the failure to bring Iraq into compliance and pronouncement "Iraq has abused its final chance" with Operation Desert Fox, Clinton had switched from enforcing Iraq's compliance to indefinitely 'containing' a noncompliant Saddam while working to depose Saddam's regime and "stand[ing] ready to help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments" (Clinton).

The ad hoc 'containment' was not a replacement for bringing Iraq into compliance with the terms of ceasefire. Rather, it was a stopgap until either Saddam complied with the terms of ceasefire or Iraq was made compliant via regime change and included the contingency for military response if Iraq showed signs of breaking the 'containment'. On May 19, 1999, President Clinton explained to Congress that the US would "maintain a robust posture" in the region to "respond" to any indication of Iraqi violation:
Saddam Hussein's record of aggressive behavior compels us to retain a highly capable force in the region in order to deter Iraq and respond to any threat it might pose to its neighbors, the reconstitution of its WMD program, or movement against the Kurds in northern Iraq. We demonstrated our resolve in mid-December when forces in the region carried out Operation Desert Fox to degrade Iraq's ability to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction and its ability to threaten its neighbors. We will continue to maintain a robust posture and have established a rapid reinforcement capability to supplement our forces in the Gulf, if needed.
On July 28, 2000, six months from handing over the White House to Governor Bush or Vice President Gore, President Clinton gave official notice to Congress that the national emergency with Iraq continued unresolved:
The crisis between the United States and Iraq that led to the declaration on August 2, 1990, of a national emergency has not been resolved. The Government of Iraq continues to engage in activities inimical to stability in the Middle East and hostile to United States interests in the region. Such Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
By the close of the Clinton administration, after ten years of struggle as chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions to disarm and rehabilitate Saddam, only 3 options remained for the US with Iraq: kick the can with ‘containment’ (status quo), accept Iraq's noncompliance and free Saddam, or resolve the Saddam problem with a final chance for Saddam to comply with Iraq's ceasefire obligations under credible threat of regime change.*

An intellectually honest argument against President Bush's decision to resolve the Saddam problem by enforcing Iraq's compliance must include a compelling case for kicking the can with 'containment' and/or freeing a noncompliant Saddam.

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



Q: Why did Bush leave the ‘containment’ (status quo)?

A: One, the purpose of the Gulf War ceasefire was Iraq's expeditious compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) mandated by the UNSCR 660-series resolutions, not an eroding 'containment' of a noncompliant Saddam. From the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991, the priority for enforcement among Iraq's obligations, which included renouncing terrorism in compliance with UNSCR 687, was disarmament in compliance with UNSCR 687 and humanitarian reform in compliance with UNSCR 688.

Two, the ‘containment’ was toxic and broken. The ad hoc 'containment' that followed the end of UNSCOM and Operation Desert Fox was, in effect, a euphemism for failed disarmament. There was no substantive change in the enforcement measures after ODF from the strategy in place when President Clinton judged, "This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere," and pronounced, "Iraq has abused its final chance." According to the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), Saddam responded to ODF by nullifying the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions, including UNSCR 687 and its disarmament mandates, in domestic Iraq policy. Encouraged by the bearable cost of the ODF bombing, which he believed was the limit of the US-led enforcement, Saddam moved to reconstitute Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) capabilities with a clandestine active program in the Iraqi intelligence services (IIS) and fostered international opposition to the Iraq enforcement. The post-ODF 'containment' relied chiefly on the constraint of sanctions, yet by 2001, Saddam had de facto neutralized the sanctions.

These ISG findings illustrate the evident collapse of the 'containment' with "procurement programs supporting Iraq’s WMD programs" before the 9/11 attacks:
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.
...
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 [Oil for Food] 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. ... Saddam expressed confidence that France and Russia would support Iraq’s efforts to further erode the UN sanctions Regime.
...
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).
...
We have said with certainty that the embargo will not be lifted by a Security Council resolution, but will corrode by itself. -- Saddam speaking in January 2000 to mark the 79the [sic] anniversary of the Iraqi armed forces.
...
By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support.
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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.
...
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.
...
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.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
...
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 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.

Three, the pre-9/11 threat calculation for Saddam was based primarily on a conventional military "imminent" threat standard. The 9/11 attacks, coupled with the uncovering of an international WMD black market, shifted the threat calculation to a "grave and gathering" threat standard with increased focus on Saddam’s unconventional capabilities, such as the IIS and terrorist ties, combined with the WMD threat.

After the Gulf War, Saddam's terrorism had continued in violation of UNSCR 687, and in an address to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff on February 17, 1998, President Clinton 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":
[T]his is not a time free from peril -- especially as a result of reckless acts of outlaw nations and an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and organized international criminals. We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information, and ideas. And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region, and the security of all the rest of us.
...
In this century we learned through harsh experience that the only answer to aggression and illegal behavior is firmness, determination, and, when necessary, action.
In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more 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.
Consequent to 9/11, the priority that President Bush assigned to preventing the acquisition of Iraqi weapon by terrorists followed President Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39 (1995):
[T]he United States shall seek to identify groups or states that sponsor or support such terrorists, isolate them and extract a heavy price for their actions.
...
The United States shall seek to deter terrorism through a clear public position that our policies will not be affected by terrorist acts and that we will act vigorously to deal with terrorists and their sponsors.
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The United States shall give the highest priority to developing effective capabilities to detect, prevent, defeat and manage the consequences of nuclear, biological or chemical (NBC) materials or weapons use by terrorists.
The acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by a terrorist group, through theft or manufacture, is unacceptable. There is no higher priority than preventing the acquisition of this capability or removing this capability from terrorist groups potentially opposed to the U.S.
Bush explained the changed threat calculation for Saddam in the 2003 State of the Union:
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. ... Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Citing to his own experience as President with the Iraq enforcement, Clinton endorsed Bush acting to resolve the heightened threat:
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. [CNN interview, 03JUL03]
and
Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority 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. [CNN, 19JUN04]
The 2 US presidents were right to be alarmed by the situation. The Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP) confirmed "Saddam's use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime":
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. ... 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 ... evidence shows that Saddam's use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.
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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.
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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.
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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.
These ISG findings illustrate the danger hiding in the broken 'containment':
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 [chemical weapons] agent R&D or small-scale production efforts,
...
• 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.
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[T]he following are of particular concern, as they relate to the possibility of a retained BW [biological weapons] 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.
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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.
The IIS was, of course, Saddam's regime arm notorious for working with terrorists and carrying out Saddam's in-house black ops. In fact, Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs started in the IIS. The Iraq Survey Group found Saddam was evidently capable of secretly producing weapon for covert precision attacks, whether in league with terrorists like al Qaeda or by his own means.

While it was the 9/11 attacks that pushed President Bush to resolve the Saddam problem, the Iraq enforcement was in a terminal state. The picture emerging outside Iraq was clear: the sanctions had fallen, the growing flow of proscribed items into Iraq indicated the "reconstitution of its WMD program" (Clinton), and the Saddam regime's terrorist activity continued unabated. With or without 9/11, the Saddam problem had come to a head with the ‘containment’ broken.



Q: Why not free a noncompliant Saddam?

A: See Saddam’s history from 1980 onward with the instigation of successive wars and the continued malfeasant behavior causing a humanitarian crisis within Iraq and "threaten[ing] international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 1441 et al.).

Dealing cautiously with unsavory competitors that are rational actors is normal for the US and shaped the initial American approach to the Iran-Iraq War. However, Saddam proved to be an aggressive irrational actor with dangerously poor judgement.

A common misconception is that the US was allied with Iraq against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, like the US relationship with the Soviet Union during World War 2. Actually, the US priority was containing the conflict pursuant to the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine, which established the security and stability of the Middle East as a US national security interest. The US view on Iraq was cautiously favorable neutrality. However, Iran had recently become an enemy. The US shared some intelligence and, among other countries, US firms traded some "dual-use" biological and technical items with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. Opposing Khomeini's regime in Iran was justified, but favoring Saddam's regime was a mistake. The subsequent Gulf War was a watershed for the US and UN relationship with Iraq. Saddam was warned over Iraqi actions during and after the Iran-Iraq War, yet he followed them by brutalizing Kuwait, defying international demands to stop, even attempting to expand the conflict during the Gulf War, and viciously suppressing the uprising by the Iraqi people. Saddam acted as though proscriptive international law and custom was a guide for what to do, rather than what not to do as a national leader.

As such, the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for the Gulf War ceasefire was purposefully designed to resolve the manifold threat of Iraq established with the Gulf War:
Reaffirming the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions in the light of its unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait,
... Conscious also of the statements by Iraq threatening to use weapons in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925, and of its prior use of chemical weapons and affirming that grave consequences would follow any further use by Iraq of such weapons,
... Aware of the use by Iraq of ballistic missiles in unprovoked attacks and therefore of the need to take specific measures in regard to such missiles located in Iraq,
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,
... 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,
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,
Conscious of the need to take the following measures acting under Chapter VII of the Charter,
...
34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area. [UNSCR 687]
The only prescribed and reliable way to assure that Saddam could be trusted with the peace was Iraq's mandated compliance with all of its ceasefire obligations. If Saddam failed to rehabilitate the "Government of Iraq" with the measures required by UNSCR 687 and related resolutions, then the Gulf War ceasefire would be breached with Iraq's status restored to the Gulf War. By mandate and judgement, the US as chief enforcer could not accept less from Saddam than full compliance with Iraq's ceasefire obligations, especially after 9/11 in light of Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (IPP).

On August 2, 1999, in his last comprehensive update on Iraq's compliance to Congress per Public Law (P.L.) 102-1 (1991), President Clinton was plainly opposed to freeing a noncompliant Saddam:
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.
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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.
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Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I remain determined to see Iraq fully comply with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member.
On September 12, 2002, President Bush explained the raised stakes after 9/11 and reiterated the compliance basis of the Iraq enforcement to the UN General Assembly:
Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many nations, including my own. In cells and camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction, and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale. In one place -- in one regime -- we find all these dangers, in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront. Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations. To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations. He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.
Freeing a noncompliant Saddam was out of the question. Terrorism, disarmament, and humanitarian-related fact findings confirm that Saddam was not rehabilitated.

IR realists like to claim US interests, including regional stability, were better served with Saddam countering Iran. The faulty premise of IR realists is Saddam could be trusted as a rational actor, yet Saddam acting out of control, destabilizing, and against US interests is the reason for the US intervention with Iraq in the first place. I think they're stuck in 1980 with our ally, the Shah, only just replaced by our enemy, the Ayatollah, and Baathist Iraq, led by then-new President Saddam Hussein, thought to be the lesser of 2 evils. IR liberals understand that by the time of the Bush administration (either one works), the Iran-Iraq conflict was a source of the region's problems, not a stabilizer. IR realists are effectively proposing an unreconstructed Hitler should have been propped up in Germany 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 a noncompliant Saddam to deal with Iran on our behalf is madness.

By the same token, the claim that the Saddam regime was the antidote for the post-war insurgency seems incredible when considering Saddam's "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). In fact, Saddam's violation of humanitarian mandates was a primary focus of the Gulf War ceasefire. Saddam, his sons, and their followers were the original cause and major driver of the terroristic insurgency that attacked peace operators and the Iraqi people, which was adapted from Saddam's terroristic governance of Iraq. Saddam was a vector of the post-war insurgency, not the cure for it. Saddam, his sons, and their followers were not people who should hold authority over any civilized society.

Nonetheless, the fact is that Saddam was given opportunities throughout the Iraq enforcement to rehabilitate and stay in power, yet refused. The ISG Duelfer report describes Saddam growing increasingly irrational in his thinking even as he consolidated power, abused his nation's people, engaged in terrorism, and reconstituted his WMD capabilities. Saddam was convinced Iraq needed WMD in order to realize his ambitions and counter Iran as well as his other enemies:
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.
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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 January 2002, according to a detained senior MIC [military-industrial complex] official, Saddam directed the MIC to assist the IAEC with foreign procurement. ... 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.
... 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.
Iran’s WMD development is bad enough by itself. The IR-realist alternative of freeing a noncompliant ambitious Saddam with dangerously poor judgement to impel an urgent Iran-Iraq arms race was neither the way to counter Iran nor "restore international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 678).



Q: Why did resolution of the Saddam problem require a threat of regime change?

A: One, because every non-military and lesser military enforcement measure had been used up during the Clinton administration with Iraq intransigently noncompliant. The Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign "on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs, on the command structures that direct and protect that capability, and on his military and security infrastructure" (Clinton, 19DEC98) was the penultimate military enforcement. When Saddam was debriefed after his capture, he confirmed that he had been ready and willing to absorb another bombing campaign like ODF. By progressive sequence, the next - and last - step up from the ODF bombing campaign was the OIF ground invasion, the ultimate military enforcement.

Two, as the lesser enforcement measures were exhausted against Saddam's persistent subversion of the ceasefire disarmament process and open violation of non-weapons mandates, President Clinton concluded regime change was the only realistic way to bring Iraq into compliance. In 1998, the object of regime change for Iraq was made into US law along with active measures. Clinton also reinforced the US legal authority to use military force to bring Iraq into compliance.

Three, according to Hans Blix (UNMOVIC) and confirmed by the Iraq Survey Group, a credible threat of regime change was necessary to compel Saddam to cooperate at all with the UNSCR 1441 inspections. Again, Saddam had de facto neutralized the sanctions and, after ODF, set domestic Iraq policy nullifying the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions and determined another bombing campaign like ODF could be absorbed.

The ISG Duelfer report provides insight on Saddam's appraisal of his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441):
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.
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By late 2002 Saddam had persuaded himself, just as he did in 1991, that the United States would not attack Iraq ... Saddam speculated that the United States would instead seek to avoid casualties and, if Iraq was attacked at all, the campaign would resemble Desert Fox.
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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.
... 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 the end, even the credible threat of regime change provided by the OIF invasion force was not enough incentive for Saddam to comply, disarm, and rehabilitate.



Q: Did Bush allow enough time for the inspections?

A: Yes.

UNSCR 1441 "instruct[ed] UNMOVIC and request[ed] the IAEA to resume inspections no later than 45 days following adoption of this resolution and to update the Council 60 days thereafter". UNSCR 1441 was adopted on November 8, 2002 and UNMOVIC and IAEA resumed inspections on November 27, 2002. November 27, 2002 + 60 days thereafter = January 26, 2003. Alternatively, November 8, 2002 + 45 days following the adoption of UNSCR 1441 + 60 days thereafter = February 21, 2003.

On March 7, 2003, 100 days after the resumption of inspections and 119 days after the adoption of UNSCR 1441, the UNSCR 1441 inspection period concluded when UNMOVIC presented the Clusters document to the UN Security Council with the finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" in breach of UNSCR 687. The Clusters document discharged the mandate from UNSCR 1441 to test Saddam's compliance with UNSCR 687 for his "final opportunity to comply with its [Iraq's] disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441).

Despite that the ceasefire disarmament process was essentially the same in 2002-2003 as it had been since 1991, UNMOVIC's role has been widely mischaracterized as searching Iraq for WMD to match the pre-war intelligence estimates, while the mandate for Saddam has been widely mischaracterized as merely to allow the UN inspectors to search Iraq. Based on those false premises, OIF opponents claim Operation Iraqi Freedom forced UNMOVIC to decamp Iraq while Saddam was dutifully cooperating with the UN inspectors.

Actually, the burden of proof was on Iraq to prove it had disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687, not on the UN inspectors to demonstrate Iraq was armed as indicated by the pre-war intelligence. Saddam was required to "immediately, unconditionally, and actively" (UNSCR 1441) account for all aspects of Iraq's WMD in conformity with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) set by UNSCR 687 and reinforced by UNSCR 1441, not merely allow the UN inspectors to search Iraq for WMD.

On January 27, 2003, Hans Blix clarified the mandate for "substantive cooperation" to the UN Security Council:
The substantive cooperation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusion that nothing proscribed remains.
Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002) states that this cooperation shall be "active". It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of "catch as catch can".
The role of the UN inspectors was not to search Iraq for WMD, but rather to certify whether Iraq had provided a "full and verified" (UNSCR 1441) "declaration of the locations, amounts and types of all items specified" (UNSCR 687) to account for Iraq's entire WMD-related program, "yield[ed]" (UNSCR 687) all proscribed items for "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision" (UNSCR 687), and "unconditionally undertake[n] not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" (UNSCR 687).

President Bush tried to correct the pervasive mischaracterization of the UN inspectors' role by paraphrasing UNSCR 687 in the 2003 State of the Union:
The 108 U.N. inspectors ... were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.
UNSCR 687 (1991) set the role of the UN inspectors in UNSCOM and UNMOVIC:
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;
...
(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;
(iii) The provision by the Special Commission of the assistance and cooperation to the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency required in paragraphs 12 and 13 below;
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 ...
The Special Commission of UNSCR 687, i.e., UNSCOM then UNMOVIC, was mandated to verify whether Iraq had disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687. The UN inspections were not mandated to verify whether Iraq was armed as indicated by the intelligence because Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament, established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire, was presumed until Iraq proved it had disarmed as mandated.

As such, at the Pentagon on February 17, 1998, President Clinton cited Iraq's noncompliance with UNSCR 687, not the intelligence, as "clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program".

UNSCR 1441 (2002) imposed an "enhanced inspection regime" to complete the disarmament process mandated by UNSCR 687:
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,
...
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;
...
4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations ...
...
9. Requests the Secretary-General immediately to notify Iraq of this resolution, which is binding on Iraq; demands that Iraq confirm within seven days of that notification its intention to comply fully with this resolution; and demands further that Iraq cooperate immediately, unconditionally, and actively with UNMOVIC and the IAEA;
...
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;
...
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;
Paragraph 1 of UNSCR 1441 reset Iraq's status in material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire. Paragraph 2 afforded Iraq a "final opportunity to comply [with] ... full and verified completion [of] the disarmament process established by resolution 687" and, for that purpose, mandated an "enhanced inspection regime".

Paragraphs 3 to 11 of UNSCR 1441 set up the "enhanced" part of the "enhanced inspection regime" designed to counter the denial and deception practices used by Iraq to foil the UNSCOM inspections. Paragraphs 4 and 13 warned Iraq that failure to comply with the strict "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" mandated by UNSCR 1441 constituted a "further material breach" and Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" would result in "serious consequences".

The "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" enforced by President Bush with UNMOVIC pursuant to UNSCR 1441 carried forward the standard of compliance enforced by President Clinton with UNSCOM pursuant to UNSCR 1205 (1998). Leading up to Operation Desert Fox, on November 5, 1998, Clinton had set a hard line for Iraq:
A short while ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution [UNSCR 1205] condemning Iraq's intransigence and insisting it immediately resume full cooperation with the weapons inspectors -- no ifs, no ands, no buts about it. It is long past time for Iraq to meet its obligations to the world. After the Gulf War, the international community demanded and Iraq agreed to declare and destroy all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capability and the missiles to deliver them, and to meet other U.N. Security Council resolutions. ... Now, the better part of a decade later, Iraq continues to shirk its clear obligations. Iraq has no one to blame but itself -- and the people of Iraq have no one to blame but Saddam Hussein -- for the position Iraq finds itself in today. Iraq could have ended its isolation long ago by simply complying with the will of the world. The burden is on Iraq to get back in compliance and meet its obligations -- immediately.
Clinton set a hard line with Operation Desert Fox due to Saddam's recidivist pattern of signaling cooperation in the face of American force and then subverting the inspections with UNSCOM. Like UNMOVIC in November 2002 to March 2003, UNSCOM did not uncover factories mass-producing WMD munitions or armories of battlefield-ready WMD stocks in November to December 1998. Rather, like UNMOVIC, UNSCOM confirmed Iraq remained noncompliant with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). Bush carried forward Clinton's hard line to Operation Iraqi Freedom when Saddam resumed his pattern of signaling cooperation then subverting the inspections with UNMOVIC.

The UNMOVIC inspections explicitly took up from the UNSCOM inspections, and UNMOVIC reports throughout the UNSCR 1441 inspection period made clear Iraq had failed again to cooperate to the mandated standard and account for proscribed items and activities, including stocks, along with other disarmament violations. The declarations submitted by Iraq as the baseline-setting step of the disarmament process were unreliable. Iraq's unsubstantiated claims of production totals and unilateral destruction in the face of contradicting evidence were not proof.

An example of UNMOVIC reporting from the UNSCR 1441 inspection period is this statement by Hans Blix to the UN Security Council on January 27, 2003:
The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable.
Consequently, it was said that the agent was never weaponized.
Iraq said that the small quantity of [the] agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.
UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.
There are also indications that the agent was weaponized.
Blix's January 27th update was scathing about Iraq's response to UNMOVIC, that Saddam had essentially carried forward Iraq's intransigence and defiance from the UNSCOM inspections. Per UNSCR 1441, the reporting date for UNMOVIC and IAEA was January 26, 2003. That meant Blix's January 27th update was sufficient to conclude that Iraq had failed its "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441) and triggered the "serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441).

The day after Blix's report, President Bush could have used the 2003 State of the Union to announce a determination to use force to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235). Instead, he opted to extend Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) and stress the urgency for Iraq to comply and disarm as mandated.

But granted a month-plus extension to comply and disarm following Blix's January 27th update, Saddam chose instead to fall back on the "tactics of delay and deception" (Clinton) that he had used against President Clinton's enforcement of the disarmament process leading up to Operation Desert Fox.

At the Pentagon on February 17, 1998, President Clinton explained the timeframe for a UNSCR 687 compliance test, "Saddam Hussein agreed to declare within 15 days ... way back in 1991 ... his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them; to make a total declaration":
Remember, as a condition of the cease-fire after the Gulf War, the United Nations demanded -- not the United States, the United Nations demanded -- and Saddam Hussein agreed to declare within 15 days -- this is way back in 1991 -- within 15 days his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them; to make a total declaration. That's what he promised to do.
...
Now, instead of playing by the very rules he agreed to at the end of the Gulf War, Saddam has spent the better part of the past decade trying to cheat on this solemn commitment. Consider just some of the facts. Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports. For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months, and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM.
...
There can be no delusion or diminishment of the integrity of the inspection system that UNSCOM has put in place. Now, those terms are nothing more or less than the essence of what he [Saddam] agreed to at the end of the Gulf War.
The Security Council many times since has reiterated this standard. If he accepts them, force will not be necessary. If he refuses or continues to evade his obligation through more tactics of delay and deception, he, and he alone, will be to blame for the consequences.
UNSCR 1441 was "[d]etermined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations". The four-month-long UNSCR 1441 inspection period - tacked onto the preceding eleven-and-a-half years Iraq had been obligated to comply and disarm - was more than enough time for UNMOVIC to test Saddam's compliance and confirm "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687" (UNSCR 1441). In comparison, Clinton had immediately ordered ODF when UNSCOM confirmed Iraq's material breach with a 3-week compliance test, stating, "If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler's report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse forces and protect his weapons."

On March 6, 2003, the UNMOVIC Clusters document finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... grouped into 29 “clusters” and presented by discipline: missiles, munitions, chemical and biological" was conclusive that Iraq had not disarmed as mandated by UNSCR 687, which confirmed Iraq remained in material breach for casus belli. 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 Iraq was obligated to provide within 15 days - in 1991:
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. [UNMOVIC]
However, when the mandated inspection period ended with Iraq failing its "final" UNSCR 687 compliance test, Hans Blix with the urging of Saddam's accomplices asked for an indefinite number of additional months to change the UNMOVIC mission from "ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations ... to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under ... an enhanced inspection regime" (UNSCR 1441) and try again.

It's murky on what basis Blix believed Saddam would disarm with "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under ... the governing standard of Iraqi compliance ... bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council" (UNSCR 1441) if the US and UN backed down when Saddam called our bluff on the last remaining enforcement measure in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) after nearly twelve years of steadfast Iraqi noncompliance.

Blix agrees the credible threat of regime change provided by the OIF invasion force was necessary to compel even the deficient cooperation by the Saddam regime. He also admits the OIF invasion force could not be poised to attack indefinitely. The deadline for Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) was a practical necessity that also accounted for Iraq's "tactics of delay and deception" (Clinton). Yet, even though the poised-to-attack OIF invasion force had failed to compel the requisite Iraqi cooperation for the UNSCR 1441 inspections, Blix's proposal relied on the further unreasonable presumption of an indefinitely sustained credible threat of regime change to enable a "reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification" (UNSCR 1284) for an indefinitely prolonged trial period. At the same time, Blix implied a willingness to tacitly comply with Saddam's undermining strategy by reducing the scope of disarmament requirements, relaxing "the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction" (Blix), and shifting the onus onto the UN inspectors to demonstrate Iraqi possession. The alternative proposals revolved around replacing the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” and “enhanced inspection regime” mandated by UNSCRs 687 and 1441 with a narrowed range of proscription and a tacit tolerance for anything Saddam would not account for but could also hide.

President Bush recognized the reiteration of Iraq's "tactics of delay and deception" (Clinton). The improvised Blix alternative was impractical in its military requirements, elided the unreliability of Iraq's basic declarations and UNMOVIC's short coverage due to the Saddam regime's "denial and deception operations" (ISG), and risked a lowered standard of compliance that could not be trusted to resolve Saddam's "clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere" (Clinton).

In other words, President Clinton's assessment of the UNSCOM inspections preceding ODF applied to the UNMOVIC inspections preceding OIF:
Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.
Setting aside the feasibility of his proposal to try again, Blix has implied that with a delay of indefinite months for Iraq to fulfill an obligation that should have taken 15 days in 1991, he would have found Saddam in compliance by "devis[ing] other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive" (UNMOVIC). But lowering the bar from "provide the requisite information" (UNMOVIC) to "devise other ways" opened the door to deviating from the strict standard of compliance mandated in the UNSC resolutions with a loosened ad hoc standard of proof. With Saddam in charge, we had to be sure.

The ISG Duelfer report confirms Saddam did not intend to comply with the mandated standard and strongly suggests the Blix alternative would have failed to make Iraq compliant and disarmed. The Iraq Survey Group found Iraq was noncompliant on process as well as on substance as Saddam's "denial and deception operations" (ISG) had continued through the UNSCR 1441 inspections:
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.
...
Saddam had direct command of the Iraqi intelligence services and the armed forces, including direct authority over plans and operations of both. ... The IIS ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations.

Also known as “Al Munzhumah,” M23 [Directorate of Military Industries] 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 officers also were involved in NMD document concealment and destruction efforts. ... 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.
...
Huwaysh instructed MIC 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.
...
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.
...
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.
...
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.
Notably, Western intelligence agencies failed to list the IIS "undeclared covert laboratories" (ISG) in the pre-war intelligence estimates. Nor were the UN inspectors informed of them as required by UNSCR 687: "The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN" (ISG). The last safety net was the standard of compliance itself, mandated by UNSC resolution and enforced by 3 US presidents under US law. Had Bush bowed to Saddam's accomplices and allowed Blix to relax the burden of proof on Iraq, it's conceivable that UNMOVIC might have certified Saddam while the very Iraqi capability that was the highest priority to disarm after 9/11 passed through unchecked.

Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced on March 19, 2003, 4368 days after the adoption of UNSCR 687, 131 days after the adoption of UNSCR 1441, 112 days after the resumption of inspections in Iraq, and 12 days after UNMOVIC discharged its mandate from UNSCR 1441.

The regime change did not curtail the UNMOVIC mission in Iraq. UNMOVIC and IAEA concluded their mission in 2007 with UNSCR 1762.



Q: Did Iraq failing its compliance test justify the regime change?

A: Yes.

One, proving Iraq was fully compliant with all of its ceasefire obligations was the prescribed measuring stick to determine whether Saddam was rehabilitated sufficiently to be trusted with the peace. Hence, the compliance-based enforcement. It was also the necessary measuring stick for the threat posed by Iraq due to Saddam's "concealment and deception activities" (ISG) throughout the Gulf War ceasefire, including the final UNSCR 1441 inspection period. Iraq's proscribed items and activities that could be demonstrated in hand were not the main WMD-related threat because the violations that could be 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" (ISG).

Answering the question of Iraq's proscribed items and activities was not guesswork. It was not even intelligence work, where Western intelligence was evidently outmatched by Iraqi counter-intelligence. Gauging Iraq's compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was the mandated way to answer the question. The last time Saddam was asked the question of Iraq's proscribed items and activities, the UNMOVIC Clusters document finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" was his final answer.

The "clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere" (Clinton) was imputed from Iraq’s noncompliance with the UN mandates, not from demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD stocks. With the spectrum of mandates and Saddam's commitment to "concealment and deception activities" (ISG), which included a large covert procurement program, secret IIS chemical and biological laboratories, and the hidden stockpiles revealed after the defection of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamal, Iraq's compliance with the UNSC resolutions was determined by necessity with measures other than demonstrated possession. Demonstration of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441), e.g., the 1998 UNSCOM Butler report and 2003 UNMOVIC Clusters document, imputed continued intent and possession by Iraq.

The failure to prove Iraq was compliant and disarmed to the mandated standard meant the Saddam regime continued to be pegged to "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). Once Saddam pulled the enforcement trigger by failing his "final opportunity to comply with its [Iraq's] disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441), President Bush, under mandate 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" (P.L. 107-243), had to make his decision while weighing the threat of Iraq’s unaccounted for armament together with other violations of the Gulf War ceasefire, such as Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (IPP), the intelligence at hand, and Saddam's track record in light of the heightened threat consideration induced by 9/11.

Two, Bush’s decision either way was final. After Operation Desert Fox, the credible threat of regime change was the last remaining leverage to compel Saddam’s cooperation. The threat of regime change would no longer have been credible if it had been a dud when triggered by Saddam. Operation Iraqi Freedom carried forward President Clinton's justification for Operation Desert Fox:
Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there's one big difference: he has used them, not once but repeatedly -- unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war, not only against soldiers, but against civilians; firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iran -- not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
... When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors.
... I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN 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.
... Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq’s cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM’s chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-General Annan. The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.
... Saddam’s deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors. 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.
... But once more, the United States has proven that, although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital interests, we will do so. [Clinton]
Calling off the regime change when Saddam pulled the enforcement trigger would have meant either a return to ‘containment’ or winding down the Iraq enforcement with a noncompliant Saddam. If returning to ‘containment’ was even feasible at that point, the ‘containment’ option was broken. The failure to follow through on the threat of regime change would have left only freeing Saddam.

Three, in hindsight, the ISG Duelfer report shows that a free Saddam meant an unreconstructed Saddam rearmed with WMD. The Iraq Survey Group reported "Senior Iraqis—several of them from the Regime’s inner circle—told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program" and "In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his [Saddam's] intent to resume WMD". That was the very condition that Saddam's compliance with the disarmament mandate, "Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" (UNSCR 687), was purposed to cure as a necessary qualification for suspending the Gulf War short of regime change.

Saddam’s motive was defeating the US-led Iraq enforcement and rearming, not compliance and rehabilitation. In the 'containment' following ODF, as Clinton predicted, Saddam was already reconstituting Iraq’s long-range missile and NBC capabilities, with an active program in the IIS, in violation of the mandate that "Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" (UNSCR 687). Clinton was also correct that Saddam intended to fully restore Iraq’s WMD, which Saddam believed was necessary for Iraq’s (his regime's) security, countering Iran, countering Israel, countering the US, and realizing his ambitions.

Full compliance with all the UN mandates, including the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, was required to prove the nature of Saddam's regime was reformed sufficiently to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions" (UNSCR 687). Violation of UNSCR 687 of any degree and kind was dispositive that Saddam was not rehabilitated. The retention by Saddam of the practice and intent to rearm under cover of "denial and deception operations" (ISG), confirmed by Saddam's noncompliance with the UNMOVIC inspections and corroborated by the ISG investigation, compelled the regime change to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235).

The UNMOVIC findings were not the only evidence of material breach, of course. At the decision point for OIF, Saddam was evidentially noncompliant across the board with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), including the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687 and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688. Saddam's terrorism and terroristic rule were each a trigger for OIF in their own right.

Switching to the post-ODF 'containment' on December 19, 1998, President Clinton reiterated the humanitarian necessity for strict enforcement of Iraq's compliance with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687:
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.
The ISG Duelfer report reminds that UNSCR 688 was compelled in part by Saddam's use of WMD against the Iraqi people:
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.”
Saddam's track record on WMD and "[t]he predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq" (IPP) combined the disarmament, terrorism, and humanitarian mandates of UNSCRs 687 and 688 to heighten the need for Iraq's "full and immediate compliance" (UNSCR 1441) with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

Four, the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement of the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was the defining UN enforcement of the post-Cold War. In his remarks to Pentagon personnel on February 17, 1998, Clinton warned against the broader consequences of tolerating Saddam's noncompliance:
In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more 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. 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 UN had been unreliable during the Clinton administration, and President Bush endeavored to reform the UN as a credible enforcer for the 9/11 era. If the US had backed down when Saddam declined his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) with the Gulf War ceasefire, then UN enforcement of international norms with rogue actors and WMD proscription would have been undermined, perhaps beyond recovery.

The US stood firm and on December 15, 2010, Vice President Biden welcomed UNSCRs 1956, 1957, and 1958 on behalf of the UN Security Council, which formally recognized Iraq's compliance with UNSCR 687 and related resolutions and lifted enforcement measures that had been imposed on Iraq since UNSCR 660 (1990).



Q: The reasons seemed to change - was Operation Iraqi Freedom about WMD or democracy?

A: OIF was about both. The issues of Iraq’s WMD and regime change were tied together. UNSCRs 687 and 688 were the cornerstones of the Gulf War ceasefire. There was a bundle of reasons in the body of US law and policy and UNSC resolutions on Iraq, including strong humanitarian grounds - the short answer to ‘Why OIF?’ is ‘All of the above’.

On December 16, 1998, President Clinton explained the union of the issues with Operation Desert Fox:
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.
Preceding ODF, speaking on behalf of the Administration on March 26, 1997, Secretary of State Albright had formally presented the updated US policy on Iraq, "We will continue to support the establishment of a coherent and united Iraqi opposition":
Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must prove its peaceful intentions. It can only do that by complying with all of the Security Council resolutions to which it is subject. ... And the evidence is overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intentions will never be peaceful.
The United States looks forward, nevertheless, to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law abiding member. This is in our interests and in the interests of our allies and partners within the region.
Clearly, a change in Iraq's government could lead to a change in U.S. policy. Should that occur, we would stand ready, in coordination with our allies and friends, to enter rapidly into a dialogue with the successor regime.
That dialogue would have two principal goals.
First, because we are firmly committed to Iraq's territorial integrity, we would want to verify that the new Iraq would be independent, unified and free from undue external influence, for example, from Iran.
Second, we would require improvements in behavior. Is there cooperation with UNSCOM and compliance with UN resolutions? Is there respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities? Is there a convincing repudiation of terrorism? Are its military ambitions limited to those of reasonable defense?
...
If our concerns were addressed satisfactorily, Iraq would no longer threaten regional Security. Its isolation could end.
The international community, including the United States, would look for ways to ease Iraq's re-integration.
A whole range of economic and security matters would be open for discussion in a climate of cooperation and mutual respect. Iraq could begin to reclaim its potential as a nation rich in resources and blessed by a talented and industrious people. And Iraq could become a pillar of peace and stability in the region.
...
We will continue to support the establishment of a coherent and united Iraqi opposition which represents the country's ethnic and confessional diversity.
...
This is not, to borrow Margaret Thatcher's phrase, the time to go wobbly towards Iraq.
The United States is committed -- as are our friends -- to the victory of principle over expediency; and to the evolution in Iraq of a society based on law, exemplified by pluralism and content to live at peace.
These goals ... are right; they are necessary; and they will be achieved.
Following suit on October 31, 1998, Congress, citing the Saddam regime's humanitarian and disarmament violations, made regime change a legal mandate with the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338):
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.
President Clinton explained the US policy when he signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 into law:
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 regime change mandate affirmed Clinton’s conclusion that achieving Iraq's compliance with all relevant UNSC resolutions would require regime change either with Saddam voluntarily rehabilitating or, the much likelier way, Saddam's regime replaced. The source of the “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (Clinton) was not Iraq’s WMD, but rather the nature of Saddam’s regime within and outside Iraq. Iraq’s WMD was a symptom only, albeit a very dangerous symptom, of the cancer afflicting Iraq: Saddam's rule, noncompliant and unreconstructed.

Following ODF, on August 2, 1999, President Clinton reiterated the US policy on regime change in his last comprehensive update on Iraq's compliance to Congress:
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.
...
I remain determined to see Iraq fully comply with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member.
Following the Gulf War, on March 1, 1991, President HW Bush had understood the Saddam problem was not resolved and viewed regime change as the solution:
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, in his last comprehensive update on Iraq's compliance to Congress per Public Law 102-1, President HW Bush, while citing Saddam's humanitarian and disarmament violations, affirmed US support of the Iraqi National Congress as an "alternative to the Saddam regime":
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.
On June 26, 2000, Vice President Gore, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate for President, "reaffirmed the Administration's strong commitment to the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power" and his own "desire to see a united Iraq served by a representative and democratic government" in a joint statement with leaders of the Iraqi National Congress (INC):
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.
On September 12, 2002, President Bush reaffirmed to the UN General Assembly the American commitment to regime change with a compliant Iraq, which could include the Saddam regime if reconstructed:
If all these steps [to make Iraq compliant with UN mandates] 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.
When Saddam failed to comply volitionally in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), deposing the Saddam regime was the preliminary step for the US-led, UN-mandated process to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235). The objectives set by President Clinton to resolve the Saddam problem were achieved through OIF: Iraq in compliance with the UNSC resolutions, Iraq at peace with its neighbors and the international community, and Iraq internally reformed with regime change.

For America the leader of the free world, the intervention that brought Iraq into compliance with its international obligations meant shepherding post-Saddam Iraq to a pluralistic liberal society, commonly called democracy.



Q: Was the invasion of Iraq perceived to be a nation-building effort?

A: Yes. OIF enforced the credible threat of regime change that enabled the "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441) given Saddam to prove Iraq's compliance with the UN mandates. If Saddam failed to comply with the UN mandates, then Iraq would be made compliant following regime change with post-war peace operations* that were “expected” in US law and policy. The UN position on post-war peace operations was also clear.

Although President HW Bush stated he did not want US forces engaged in long-term nation-building with Iraq when the Gulf War was suspended, he committed the US to fundamentally changing the "Government of Iraq" one way or another starting ipso facto with the comprehensive requirements of the ceasefire itself. Practically, HW Bush's invasive multifaceted enforcement of the UNSCR 688 humanitarian mandates set the path for humanitarian intervention in general and peace operations with Iraq in particular.

By the start of President Clinton's second term, while the preferred outcome remained for Saddam to reverse course and comply volitionally, it was plain that Iraq would continue to violate the Gulf War ceasefire. In conjunction with the August 1998 legal mandate to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235), in October 1998, section 3 of Public Law 105-338 codified regime change as the solution for Iraq's material breach. At the same time, Congress made peace operations with post-Saddam Iraq a legal mandate with section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which committed the United States to "support Iraq’s transition to democracy ... once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq" by whatever agency:
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.
On December 19, 1998, President Clinton affirmed the American commitment to "help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments":
[W]e will maintain a strong military presence in the area, and we will remain ready to use it if Saddam tries to rebuild his weapons of mass destruction, strikes out at his neighbors, challenges allied aircraft, or moves against the Kurds. ... 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.
On October 7, 2002, President Bush reaffirmed the American commitment to help Iraq after Saddam:
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.
In Public Law 107-243 (2002), Congress "expected" the peace operations with Iraq that Congress had mandated in section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998:
Whereas in Public Law 105–235 (August 14, 1998), Congress ... declared Iraq to be in ‘‘material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’’ and urged the President ‘‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations’’;
... 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).
On March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC reported "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" to the UN Security Council, which confirmed, as Congress expected, "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687" in Saddam's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). Following the conclusion of the UNSCR 1441 inspections, the next stage of "actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 3" (P.L. 107-243) commenced on March 19, 2003. Then, on May 1, 2003, the "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" (P.L. 107-243) commenced when President Bush marked the end of major combat operations and the start of peace operations:
Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. ... And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
...
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. ... We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.
The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.
* "Peace operations (PO) include peacekeeping operations (PKO), peace building post-conflict actions, peacemaking processes, conflict prevention, and military peace enforcement operations (PEO).
Peace operations (PO) are crisis response and limited contingency operations, and normally include international efforts and military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and to facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. PO may be conducted under the sponsorship of the United Nations (UN), another intergovernmental organization (IGO), within a coalition of agreeing nations, or unilaterally." (JP 3-07.3, 01AUG12)



Q: Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?

A: No.

One, the prevalent myth that Operation Iraqi Freedom was based on a lie relies on a false premise that shifted the burden of proof from Iraq proving it had disarmed in compliance with the UNSC resolutions to the US proving Iraqi possession matched the pre-war intelligence estimates.

In fact, the US as the chief enforcer of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions held no burden of proof in the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement. From the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire, Saddam as the probationary party held the entire burden to prove Iraq was compliant with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) that was necessary to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions [and] ... to secure peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 687). The question of "Where is Iraq's WMD?" was never for the US and UN to answer; it was always a question Saddam was required to answer according to UNSCR 687 (1991) to prove Iraq had disarmed.

Neither demonstration of Iraqi possession nor the intelligence was an element of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, which pivoted solely on whether Iraq proved compliance with the UNSC resolutions. The law and policy of the Gulf War ceasefire plainly show its enforcement was compliance-based and "the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441). The pre-war intelligence was not the governing standard of Iraqi compliance and thus, no matter how precise, did not and could not trigger OIF. By procedure, only Iraq’s noncompliance with its ceasefire obligations could trigger enforcement, and only the "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" (UNSCR 1441) could switch off the enforcement.

OIF is often isolated out of context and misrepresented as a new policy by Bush. In fact, Operation Iraqi Freedom was the coda of the US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq that began when Saddam seized Kuwait in 1990 and continued through the subsequent Gulf War ceasefire. President Bush inherited Saddam's "clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere" (Clinton) and the duty 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" (P.L. 107-243) from President Clinton, who had carried forward the mission from President HW Bush.

No amnesty was given for Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" for the "final opportunity to comply with its [Iraq's] disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441). The UNMOVIC inspections that found “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” in breach of UNSCR 687, the principal trigger for OIF, explicitly took up from the UNSCOM inspections that triggered Operation Desert Fox. Demonstration of Iraqi possession of WMD was not necessary to confirm Saddam's material breach because, from the outset, Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire as the foundational premise of the disarmament process. The basic presumption of the disarmament process was anywhere Iraq provided deficient account of proscribed items and activities imputed continued intent and possession. Thus, if Bush had presented none of the pre-war intelligence on Iraq's violations, the compliance-based enforcement procedure would have been the same. In December 1998, Clinton cited neither the intelligence nor demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD to justify Operation Desert Fox. Saddam was guilty until he proved Iraq was compliant. If Iraq was not compliant, then Saddam continued to be armed and dangerous.

Two, it is undisputed that Iraq was noncompliant at the decision point for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was mandated by UNSC resolution (see, at minimum, UNSCRs 687, 688, and 949) and enforced by the President under US law (see, at minimum, P.L. 105-235 and P.L. 107-243).

On September 12, 2002, President Bush pledged to the UN General Assembly that all the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions would be enforced:
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material[,] ... immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions[,] ... cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions[,] ... release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown[,] ... return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions[,] ... immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program[, and] ... accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.
... The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable.
On October 16, 2002, Public Law 107-243 raised sections 1095 and 1096 of Public Law 102-190 (1991) and affirmed "that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced":
Whereas in December 1991 [per P.L. 102-190], Congress expressed its sense that it ‘‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102–1),’’ that 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 that Congress, ‘‘supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688’’;
... Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;
...
SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS.
The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to—
(1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
(2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council 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.
On November 8, 2002, UNSCR 1441 also stressed UNSCRs 687 and 688 and "[d]etermined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations" per section 2 of P.L. 107-243:
Further recalling that its resolution 687 (1991) imposed obligations on Iraq as a necessary step for achievement of its stated objective of restoring international peace and security in the area,
... Deploring also that the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) with regard to terrorism [and] 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 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),
... 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;
UNSCR 949 (1994) mandated Iraq to "cooperate fully with the United Nations Special Commission" and "not again utilize its military or any other forces in a hostile or provocative manner to threaten either its neighbours or United Nations operations in Iraq":
Recalling that Iraq's acceptance of resolution 687 (1991) adopted pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations forms the basis of the cease- fire,
... Recognizing that any hostile or provocative action directed against its neighbours by the Government of Iraq constitutes a threat to peace and security in the region,
... Determined to prevent Iraq from resorting to threats and intimidation of its neighbours and the United Nations,
Underlining that it will consider Iraq fully responsible for the serious consequences of any failure to fulfil the demands in the present resolution,
...
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
... 3.Demands that Iraq not again utilize its military or any other forces in a hostile or provocative manner to threaten either its neighbours or United Nations operations in Iraq;
... 5.Demands that Iraq cooperate fully with the United Nations Special Commission;
In November 2007, the Iraqi Perspectives Project illustrated Iraq's threat to its neighbors with "strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism":
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.
... • 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.
...
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.
...
[T]he 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.
...
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.
...
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.
...
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 ... 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.
UNSCR 688 (1991) mandated Iraq to immediately end the repression of the Iraqi civilian population:
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;
On April 19, 2002, the UN Commission on Human Rights condemned the Saddam regime pursuant to UNSCR 688:
The [United Nations] 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.
UNSCR 687 (1991) mandated Iraq to renounce all terrorism and disclose and destroy/cease all proscribed items and activities under international supervision to verify the permanent elimination of Iraq's WMD-related capabilities:
Conscious of the need to take the following measures acting under Chapter VII of the Charter,
...
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;
... (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 ...
...
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;
On March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC presented the 173-page Clusters document to the UN Security Council with its finding of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues" pursuant to UNSCRs 687 and 1441:
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.
... [for example] 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[,] ... 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[, and] ... 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.
... 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.
...
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. In the following account, the areas where UNMOVIC is reasonably confident of the accuracy of the Iraq’s declarations are indicated, as well as the areas of uncertainty, including areas where the Iraqi account is unsupported by evidence or where there is conflicting information. 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 ... bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process" (UNSCR 1441), Iraq's declarations to UNMOVIC "in essence repeated" (UNMOVIC) the deficiency of "information [that] is critical to an assessment of the status of disarmament" (UNMOVIC) from Iraq's declarations to UNSCOM. UNMOVIC's findings confirmed that "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 ... 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" (UNSCR 1441). The UNMOVIC Clusters document triggered Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 in the same way that the UNSCOM Butler report confirmed Iraq's material breach and triggered Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.

Three, albeit irrelevant to the enforcement procedure at the decision point for OIF, the post-war findings in the Iraq Survey Group Duelfer report corroborated the confirmation by UNMOVIC pursuant to UNSCR 1441 that Iraq remained in material breach of UNSCR 687.

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.
The ISG qualified the Duelfer report with cautionary notes that much evidence was lost prior to, during, and after the war, key regime officials were not cooperative, statements conflicted, suspect areas were found "sanitized", and other practical factors limited its investigation. "All sources suggest that Saddam encouraged compartmentalization and would have discussed something as sensitive as WMD with as few people as possible" (ISG). In many instances, ISG concluded it could not determine Iraq had disarmed as mandated. Significant questions remained undisposed. Therefore, what the ISG found corroborating Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687 in the post-war investigation is more material than what the ISG did not find matching the pre-war intelligence estimates. Nonetheless, among Iraq's disarmament violations, the ISG found "a large covert procurement program" with "numerous purchases of illicit conventional weapons and military equipment" and "military reconstitution efforts [that] ... covered conventional arms, dual-use goods acquisition, and some WMD-related programs", including the "IAEC Modernization Program", "clear evidence of his [Saddam's] intent to resume WMD" with "undeclared covert laboratories" and "preserved capability", "Saddam clearly intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems and that the systems potentially were for WMD", the "former [Saddam] Regime also saw chemical weapons as a tool to control domestic unrest", and "denial and deception operations" (ISG).

The as-of-Gulf War chemical weapons collected and chemical-weapon injuries suffered by coalition forces, according to the New York Times reports on Operation Avarice, provided additional corroboration that Iraq remained in material breach of UNSCR 687.

Four, it is undisputed that Saddam was noncompliant on non-weapons mandates, such as illicit trade outside the Oil for Food program (which funded Saddam's weapons procurement) and terrorism and humanitarian standards. They were also enforcement 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). Saddam's non-weapons obligations are often overlooked, yet they were as serious as Iraq's disarmament 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, dangerous, invasive, and provocative component of the 'containment', yet the no-fly zones were not part of weapons-related enforcement. Rather, they helped enforce UNSCR 688, which demanded an immediate end to the repression of the Iraqi civilian population, "the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region" (UNSCR 688).

Five, the pre-war intelligence estimates were predictively imprecise; nonetheless, President Bush's decision for OIF was based on sound data and confirmation of Saddam's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441).

The public controversy involves Bush's presentation of intelligence on latter Iraqi NBC stocks and programs, yet the pre-war intelligence that Bush presented was simply the intelligence that was available. The intelligence was weighed in the context that Iraq's proscribed armament was established in the UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament process and the "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) imputed intent and possession until Iraq disarmed as mandated.

On top of the basic established fact of Saddam's UNSCR 687-proscribed armament, the 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" (ISG). 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.

Because of Saddam's track record, Clinton and Bush officials enforcing the Gulf War ceasefire were compelled to judge the intelligence in an unfavorable light for Iraq, and 9/11 obliged US officials to increase their wariness due to Saddam's belligerence and terrorism. Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, who independently reviewed the pre-war intelligence in light of Saddam's track record largely shared Bush's determination. On March 23, 2004, Clinton Secretary of Defense William Cohen gave the Clinton administration perspective to the 9-11 Commission:
The war against Iraq has highlighted the challenge of obtaining reliable intelligence against a so-called “hard target.” 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.
In 2005, 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. What the intelligence professionals told you [the President] about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed." Then in 2008, 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 manipulated intelligence nor political pressure placed on intelligence analysts.

In their defense, the criticized intelligence agencies were unfairly judged by a burden of proof that was outside the ceasefire enforcement procedure. To their credit, although predictively imprecise, the pre-war intelligence, per the normal role of intelligence and its actual role in the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, correctly indicated the Saddam regime was engaged in proscribed armament and terrorist activity that breached the Gulf War ceasefire. The predictive imprecision of the pre-war intelligence estimates was due to Saddam's effective "denial and deception operations" (ISG). The ability of IIS counter-intelligence to deceive UN inspectors and adapt to Western intelligence-gathering was a known issue in the disarmament process and accounted for with the presumption of guilt, standard of compliance, and burden of proof for Iraq. Again, the pre-war intelligence did not and could not trigger enforcement. By procedure, OIF was triggered by Iraq's material breach of its obligations under the UNSC resolutions, including Saddam's failure to disarm as mandated.

The condition overlooked in the discourse on OIF is the intelligence could be off the mark and Saddam could be guilty of the material breach that triggered enforcement at the same time because the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was set by the UNSC resolutions, not the intelligence. UNSCOM and UNMOVIC tested Iraq's compliance according to UNSCR 687, not the intelligence. Iraq failed to prove to the UNSCR 1441 inspections that Saddam was compliant and disarmed to the standard mandated by UNSCR 687 and related resolutions. Then, notwithstanding the shortcomings in the pre-war intelligence, "ISG judge[d] that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs".

Six, OIF opponents who accuse Bush of lying his way to war with Iraq cite the ISG finding, "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."

However, although OIF opponents represent the ISG finding as unequivocal, it is in fact heavily qualified in the Duelfer report:
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.
...
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.
OIF opponents also overlook President Clinton's compliance-based Iraq enforcement escalated after the mid-1990s, peaking with Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, and the presumption of guilt for Iraq carried over to the post-ODF 'containment'. To fulfill its disarmament obligations, Iraq was required to prove it had disarmed with the particular steps that Saddam had agreed to abide by at the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire. The standard of compliance was set by UNSCR 687, which mandated Iraq to declare and yield all of its proscribed items and activities to the UN inspectors for "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision" so that all of it would be accounted for sufficiently to verify Saddam had disarmed. The disclosure and supervisory mandates were key because any undisclosed or unsupervised method, including the self-reported ridding touted by OIF opponents, could be exploited by Saddam to retain and hide proscribed armament, such as the IIS program found by ISG. Thus, any less than the mandated compliance kept Iraq at its default of presumed guilt.

Furthermore, OIF opponents overlook UNSCR 687 mandated "Iraq shall unconditionally undertake not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the [proscribed] items" and proscribed more items and activities than just "militarily significant WMD stocks". The disarmament mandates made no distinctions of enforceability between the various proscriptions. UNSCR 1441 required "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations". Again, due to the spectrum of mandates and Saddam's commitment to "concealment and deception activities" (ISG), the "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 from demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD stocks. Saddam's "bluff" worked: Iraq's failure to comply with UNSCOM and UNMOVIC imputed continued intent and possession. And, OIF opponents have cherry-picked the Duelfer report; Saddam more than bluffed - the ISG findings are rife with disarmament violations.

Seven, President Bush made mistakes in the public presentation of the case against Saddam, but properly enforced the UNSC resolutions. Contrary to the assertion of OIF opponents, Bush did not claim Iraq possessed nuclear weapons nor that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks. Rather, Bush officials improperly characterized the pre-war intelligence as "evidence" rather than its normal and proper role as indicators and, at times, presented the pre-war intelligence estimates inapposite of their limited ancillary role in the operative enforcement procedure. However, 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. But in fact, before he presented the pre-war intelligence, Powell reiterated "serious consequences" would be triggered "if Iraq did not comply" with "its obligations, stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years":
This is important day for us all as we review the situation with respect to Iraq and its disarmament obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. Last November 8, this council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote. The purpose of that resolution was to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its obligations, stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years. Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a regime this council has repeatedly convicted over the years. Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences. No council member present in voting on that day had any illusions about the nature and intent of the resolution or what serious consequences meant if Iraq did not comply.
And to assist in its disarmament, we called on Iraq to cooperate with returning inspectors from UNMOVIC and IAEA.
We laid down tough standards for Iraq to meet to allow the inspectors to do their job.
This council placed the burden on Iraq to comply and disarm and not on the inspectors to find that which Iraq has gone out of its way to conceal for so long. Inspectors are inspectors; they are not detectives.
Secretary Powell's ultimatum in 2003, "Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences," carried forward President Clinton's ultimatum in 1998, "The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors" and ''All of the members of the Council agree that failure to do so will result in the severest consequences for Iraq [per UNSCR 1154]'' (Clinton). The casus belli for Operation Desert Fox based on Iraq's noncompliance was triggered by the UNSCOM Butler report finding that Iraq had failed the UNSCR 687 compliance test mandated by UNSCRs 1154, 1194, and 1205. The casus belli for Operation Iraqi Freedom based on Iraq's noncompliance was triggered by the UNMOVIC Clusters document finding that Iraq had failed the UNSCR 687 compliance test mandated by UNSCR 1441, while also factoring in Saddam's continuing violation of ceasefire obligations such as the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687 and the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688.

Based on the fact record – knowing what we know now – Secretary Powell's speech holds up well. The main points of the speech are validated nearly across the board. However, OIF opponents seized on Powell's emphasis of pre-war intelligence estimates to overshadow the substantiation of the case against Saddam.

To prevent the presentation error, Bush should have followed Clinton's precedent in the public presentation. For Operation Desert Fox, President Clinton had cited only to Iraq’s evident noncompliance in terms of deficient cooperation and account of weapons to explain, “This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere.” Clinton's citation of noncompliance as the justification for bombing Iraq matched the operative enforcement procedure. When Clinton endorsed Bush's Iraq enforcement, Clinton stayed consistent with his own compliance-based enforcement with Iraq by citing the threat, heightened by the 9/11 attacks, of Saddam's "unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons".

For OIF, Bush properly established the trigger for enforcement was Iraq’s noncompliance with the UNSC resolutions as Clinton had done for ODF. But in a departure from Clinton's public presentation, Bush additionally cited the pre-war intelligence, despite that the intelligence, by the operative enforcement procedure, could not trigger enforcement. OIF opponents pounced on Bush’s mistakes of presentation to shift the burden of proof away from Iraq proving it had disarmed as mandated by the UNSC resolutions and onto the US proving Iraq was armed matching the pre-war intelligence estimates. However, the presentation error does not change that Iraq's proscribed armament was established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire as the foundational premise of the disarmament process. The only legal and reliable way to know Saddam had disarmed, short of regime change, was Iraq proving he was compliant with "full and verified completion [of] the disarmament process" (UNSCR 1441) mandated by the UNSC resolutions enforced under US law. Saddam's noncompliance - including Iraq's basic failure to declare and destroy all its as-of-Gulf War WMD under international supervision - was confirmed by UNMOVIC with the Clusters document, which imputed continued intent and possession by Iraq, whereupon Bush properly applied the operative enforcement procedure.

The truth is at the decision point for OIF, Iraq had not disarmed. Saddam was rearming and evidentially noncompliant on the weapons and non-weapons mandates of the UNSC resolutions.



Q: Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?

A: Yes domestically (see A1), more likely than not internationally (see A2), and yes for the occupation (see A3).

The United States became the chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq beginning in 1990 with the UNSCR 660 demand for Saddam to cease his aggression with Kuwait. The Iraq enforcement crossed the war threshold in 1991 with the US-led military enforcement of the UNSC resolutions in the Gulf War pursuant to P.L. 102-1 and UNSCR 678 "acting under Chapter VII of the Charter". The Gulf War was only suspended by a ceasefire with strict conditions for Iraq. Iraq's ceasefire obligations under the UNSC resolutions were designed to assure the international community that Iraq was compliant and disarmed so that Iraq's threat was resolved and Saddam could be trusted with the peace. The initial expectation was Iraq's ceasefire obligations would be satisfied within 1-2 years.

However, after Iraq agreed to the ceasefire and the Gulf War military threat was withdrawn, Saddam defied the compliance and disarmament process. As non-military enforcement measures proved inadequate to compel Saddam, it soon was apparent that Saddam's cooperation, let alone compliance required a credible military threat. The US, as chief enforcer of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions, shouldered the responsibility of supplying the credible military threat necessary to compel Saddam's cooperation.

Limited military enforcement measures also proved inadequate to compel Saddam's compliance, and the penultimate military enforcement step of the Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign was passed in December 1998. Meanwhile, following the established executive policy, the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 codified the solution for the threat of Saddam’s noncompliance was US-assisted regime change per section 3 followed by US-led peace operations per section 7 to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (P.L. 105-235). After the ODF bombing campaign failed to move Saddam to comply and disarm, the stage was set for OIF: the only remaining military enforcement measure was the threat of regime change via ground invasion, which President Bush exercised in 2002.

A common misconception is the practical character of the various US-led enforcement actions between the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom was also the legal character of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement. For example, some OIF opponents equate the legal limit of the US-led ceasefire enforcement with the Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign and the counter-fire from coalition craft enforcing the no-fly zones.

In fact, while their practical characters differed, the legal character of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the same as the legal character of the no-fly zones and Operation Desert Fox. The law and policy basis of all the US-led enforcement actions was "to use all necessary means" (UNSCR 678) to bring Iraq into compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire - "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" (UNSCR 1441).

To enforce the UNSC resolutions for Iraq pursuant to P.L. 102-1 and UNSCR 678, the invasion threshold was passed with the Gulf War, which was only suspended contingent on Iraq's compliance with the ceasefire. Because the breach of a ceasefire restores the offender's status to the war suspended by that ceasefire, restoring Iraq's status to the Gulf War was always the intrinsic outer marker of "the use of all necessary means" (P.L. 102-190) to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire should Saddam fail to fulfill "the obligations on Iraq contained therein".

For over a decade, the chief enforcer of the Gulf War ceasefire did everything it could to compel Iraq's compliance short of resuming the Gulf War. The Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign in December 1998 used up the penultimate enforcement measure to drive Saddam to comply. The ad hoc 'containment' that followed ODF was, in effect, a euphemism for the failed enforcement of Iraq's compliance. President Clinton conveyed the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement to President Bush with the strategy of indefinitely 'containing' Saddam's "clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere" (Clinton) while actively and openly working to overthrow the Saddam regime pursuant to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, at the same time "stand[ing] ready to help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments" (Clinton) pursuant to section 7 of Public Law 105-338. By 2001, however, the 'containment' of Saddam was evidently failing, if it ever worked at all. Then the 9/11 attacks shifted the threat calculation for the practically uncontained Saddam with increased focus on Iraq's violation of the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687:
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. ... In pursuit of their own separate but surprisingly "parallel" visions, Saddam and bin Laden often found a common enemy in the United States.
... 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. [IPP]
While updated with the heightened threat consideration induced by 9/11 and an "enhanced inspection regime", P.L. 107-243 and UNSCR 1441 were not novel. They reiterated the standing law and policy basis of the over-decade-long US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq in the context of Saddam's track record. The change after 9/11 was practical, not legal. With the lesser enforcement measures exhausted, the enforcers of the Gulf War ceasefire were forced to confront what was always the intrinsic outer marker in the law and policy of the ceasefire: restoring Iraq's status to the Gulf War with a credible threat of regime change in order to compel Saddam to fulfill Iraq's ceasefire obligations in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). When it was evident that Saddam would not comply with the "enhanced inspection regime" mandated by UNSCR 1441 even under threat of regime change, the alternative to Operation Iraqi Freedom was compromising the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) to free a noncompliant Saddam.

A1: There is no domestic legal controversy over OIF. According to American law, the whole 1990-2011 Iraq mission, including the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations, was legal.

Under Presidents HW Bush and Clinton, Congress had made it clear that the President was authorized per Public Law 102-1 (1991) to use military force to enforce Iraq's compliance with all relevant UNSC resolutions. UNSCR 678 (1990) provided the carrying UN authorization for military enforcement. UNSCRs 687 (1991) and 688 (1991) provided the foundational standard of compliance for the Gulf War ceasefire.

Public Law 102-1, enacted on January 12, 1991, states:
The President is authorized ... to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 ...
UNSCR 678, adopted on November 29, 1990, states:
Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions,
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter,
1. Demands that Iraq comply fully with resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions, and decides, while maintaining all its decisions, to allow Iraq one final opportunity, as a pause of goodwil, to do so;
2. Authorizes Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the above-mentioned resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area;
3. Requests all States to provide appropriate support for the actions undertaken in pursuance of paragraph 2 of the present resolution;
UNSCR 687, adopted on April 3, 1991, states:
Recalling its resolutions 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990, 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, 662 (1990) of 9 August 1990, 664 (1990) of 18 August 1990, 665 (1990) of 25 August 1990, 666 (1990) of 13 September 1990, 667 (1990) of 16 September 1990, 669 (1990) of 24 September 1990, 670 (1990) of 25 September 1990, 674 (1990) of 29 October 1990, 677 (1990) of 28 November 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990 and 686 (1991) of 2 March 1991,
...
Bearing in mind its objective of restoring international peace and security in the area as set out in recent resolutions of the Security Council,
Conscious of the need to take the following measures acting under Chapter VII of the Charter,
1. Affirms all thirteen resolutions noted above, except as expressly changed below to achieve the goals of this resolution, including a formal cease-fire;
...
34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area.
Then in 1998, preluding Operation Desert Fox, Congress passed Public Law 105-235, which states:
Whereas Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threaten vital United States interests and international peace and security: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations, and therefore the President is urged to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.
In 2002, preluding Operation Iraqi Freedom, Congress passed Public Law 107-243, which states:
Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 (1991), and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949 (1994);
Whereas in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102–1), Congress has authorized the President ‘‘to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) ...’’;
...
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.
Also in 2002, preluding OIF, the UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 1441, which states:
The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990, 686 (1991) of 2 March 1991, 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991, 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, and 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999, and all the relevant statements of its President,
... 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 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;
...
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;
...
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;
The threat posed by the Saddam regime to "vital United States interests and international peace and security" (P.L. 105-235) was a standing threat that President Bush inherited from his two immediate predecessors. Hence, "the continuing threat posed by Iraq" in Public Law 107-243 was carried forward from "Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" in President Clinton's official notice to Congress on July 28, 2000.

The continuing threat to US national security from Saddam's violation of terrorism, disarmament, humanitarian, and other obligations was intrinsic with Iraq's material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, "[r]ecognizing 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), so that "it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced" (P.L. 107-243).

As such, the mandates 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" (P.L. 107-243) were national and international security aspects of the same problem, with the same solution: "Iraq fully comply with all of its obligations under Security Council resolutions" (Clinton) and "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" (UNSCR 1441).

Congress set the bar for the President's determination to use force in section 3(b) of Public Law 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, transmitted to Congress on March 18, 2003, responded primarily to Iraq's noncompliance with the UNSCR 1441 inspections, UNMOVIC finding "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... grouped into 29 “clusters” and presented by discipline: missiles, munitions, chemical and biological", and Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" (IPP):
Dear Mr. Speaker: Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:
...
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.
...
On April 6, 1991, Iraq communicated to the UNSC its acceptance of the conditions for the cease-fire. ... Since almost the moment it agreed to the conditions of the cease-fire, Iraq has committed repeated and escalating breaches of those conditions.
...
In response to the President's challenge of September 12, 2002, and after intensive negotiation and diplomacy, the UNSC unanimously adopted UNSCR 1441 on November 8, 2002. The UNSC declared that Iraq ``has been and remains in material breach'' of its disarmament obligations, but chose to afford Iraq one ``final opportunity'' to comply. 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.
... Diplomatic efforts have not affected Iraq's conduct positively. Any temporary changes in Iraq's approach that have occurred over the years have been in response to the threat of use of force.
...
The lesson learned after twelve years of Iraqi defiance is that the appearance of progress on process is meaningless--what is necessary is immediate, active, and unconditional cooperation in the complete disarmament of Iraq's prohibited weapons.
... The United States and the UN have long demanded immediate, active, and unconditional cooperation by Iraq in the disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction. There is no reason to believe that Iraq will disarm, and cooperate with inspections to verify such disarmament, if the U.S. and the UN employ only diplomacy and other peaceful means.
...
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 subsequent Iraq Survey Group findings, including "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 non-WMD findings of Iraq's noncompliance, including the Iraqi Perspectives Project report on Saddam's "regional and global terrorism" in breach of UNSCR 687 and 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, 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."

Lawsuits against OIF have claimed Public Law 107-243 did not rise to a Congressional declaration of war or that Congress improperly delegated the power to declare war to President Bush. Yet P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 fulfilled the "specific statutory authorization" standard of the War Powers Resolution (50 USC 1541), which is legally equivalent to a Congressional declaration of war. Public Law 107-243:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
... (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.
By procedure, Saddam's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) converted the statutory authorization of P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 to the functional equivalent of a Congressional declaration of war. The statutory authorization for the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations in Iraq conformed to the modern norm for US military deployment; in fact, the last Congressional declaration of war was in World War 2. In addition, the standing US presidential position is that Congressional sanction is not required under the Constitution for the President to exercise Article II authority to uphold US national security. Lawsuits against OIF have also attempted to carve out a novel and nowhere recorded distinction between the deployment of ground forces and every other military application the President was authorized to "[determine] to be necessary and appropriate" under P.L. 107-243. In short, the lawsuits against OIF have been emotionally forceful but legally flimsy and thus dismissed as ‘political question’, meaning whatever the political merit, Bush’s decision for OIF was legally within the Constitutional scope of the Executive authority.

OIF was well grounded in the national interest, multiple US statutes and UNSC resolutions, as well as modern foreign-policy precedent. P.L. 107-243 included strong counter-terrorism grounds pursuant to UNSCR 687, and with P.L. 107-40 (2001), Congress had also affirmed the President's authority to carry out global counter-terrorism under Article II of the Constitution rather than statutory authority. P.L. 107-243 included strong humanitarian grounds pursuant to UNSCR 688, and in 1999, while still firing on Iraqi air defenses to enforce the no-fly zones in the wake of Operation Desert Fox, President Clinton had cited humanitarian grounds with the NATO treaty and Article II when he bypassed Congress and the UN Security Council for the deployment of airpower and ground forces in the Serbian regime change. Though not generally cited, the President held standing authority to respond militarily to Iraq firing on American craft enforcing the no-fly zones pursuant to UNSCR 688. Arguably, the Congressional sanction of P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 was not necessary in the first place because UNSCR 678 and Article II provided sufficient authority for the President to enforce the UNSC resolutions for Iraq, like President Truman deployed US forces to Korea to enforce UN mandates without first obtaining a specific US statutory authorization.

A2: While there is no domestic legal controversy over OIF, there is an international legal controversy over the US-led military enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire between 1991 and 2003, including the no-fly zones, Operation Desert Fox, and Operation Iraqi Freedom - i.e., the episodic view that specific UN authorization was required for each US-led military enforcement action, versus the American progressive view that a priori and de facto authority for the US-led military enforcement of the UNSC resolutions carried over the legal authority of the original Gulf War authorization to enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions.

International law is murky on the question of President Bush's decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom without a new UN authorization due to the over-decade-long precedent of US-led military enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq and the immature, ‘gray area’ legal character and sovereign-based, ad hoc nature of UN enforcement.

It is undisputed that Iraq was in material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire in March 2003. The UN Security Council had decided "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions" while "[r]ecognizing 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", UNMOVIC had found "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues", and the UN Commission on Human Rights had condemned the "systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq".

The disagreement at the decision point for OIF was not substantive. Saddam was confirmed guilty. Rather, the Council dispute involved a procedural issue: whether the UNSCR 678-authorized American President and British Prime Minister or the UN Security Council, which included Saddam's accomplices in Russia, France, and China, held the ultimate authority to order the enforcement of the threat of regime change in response to Saddam's noncompliance in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). The UNSC permanent members opposed to a strict standard of compliance and enforcement for Iraq also held separate grievances with US-led international enforcement and were implicated in the Oil for Food scandal.

The procedural disagreement stemmed from the ambiguity of paragraph 12 of UNSCR 1441, which mandated the UN 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.

Meanwhile, 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", and 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".

The UN Security Council duly convened upon the presentation of the UNMOVIC Clusters document on March 7, 2003. After considering the situation for 10 days, the decision for OIF came as a result of Iraq's continued violations of its obligations - "Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 1441).

The objections to OIF were carried forward from opponents' objections to ODF and Clinton's military enforcement, including the no-fly zones, with Iraq. The claim that OIF was illegal under international law is based on language in UNSCR 1441 and other UNSC resolutions that the UNSC remained “seized of the matter", which OIF opponents have interpreted with the episodic view that each US-led military enforcement action with Iraq required a new UN authorization. However, the UNSCR 1441 recognition of "the threat [of] Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions", decision that "Iraq has been and remains in material breach", decision to "afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply", and recall of the UNSCR 678 authorization to "use all necessary means to uphold and implement ... all relevant resolutions" can be interpreted as the UN Security Council "seized of the matter".

During his enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, President Clinton overcame the impasse in the UN Security Council by setting the precedent for US-led military enforcement without new UN authorization with the view that Iraq's breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, rather than concurrent specific UN authorization, activated the authority for military enforcement. In contrast to the delay before OIF to "consider the situation" upon the presentation of the UNMOVIC Clusters document, Clinton had immediately ordered ODF upon the presentation of the UNSCOM Butler report. According to Clinton, the sovereign and ultimate authority to deploy US forces "in response to Iraqi breaches of its obligations" was vested in the President by the Constitution, the US law and UNSC resolution in the original Gulf War authorization, and the mandate in UNSCR 687 "to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area".

In his report to Congress per Public Law 102-1 on December 18, 1998, President Clinton explained his vested authority to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire:
At approximately 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on December 16, 1998, at my direction, U.S. military forces conducted missile and aircraft strikes in Iraq in response to Iraqi breaches of its obligations under resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. ... [This action] is consistent with and has been taken in support of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 678 and 687, which authorize U.N. Member States to use "all necessary means" to implement the Security Council resolutions and to restore peace and security in the region and establish the terms of the cease-fire mandated by the Council, including those related to the destruction of Iraq's WMD programs.
... At the same time I ordered the strikes, I authorized the deployment of additional U.S. forces to Southwest Asia. These forces include U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force units to reinforce those forces already present in the region. These forces will remain in the region as long as is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.
I directed these actions pursuant to my authority under the Constitution as Commander in Chief and as Chief Executive, and to conduct U.S. foreign relations, as well as under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) enacted in January 1991.
... I appreciate the support of the Congress as we continue to take all necessary steps to secure Iraqi compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The standing legal authority for military enforcement with Iraq that President Clinton inherited from President HW Bush was also inherited by President Bush from President Clinton. In his report to Congress per Public Law 107-243 on March 18, 2003, Bush carried forward the President's vested authority to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire:
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.
According to the American progressive view, OIF technically was not a new war at all, but rather a resumption of the Gulf War due to Iraq's failure to satisfy the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire - "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" (UNSCR 1441).

For Operation Desert Fox, Public Law 105-235 set the condition of "material and unacceptable breach" that activated the authority for military enforcement; then the UNSCOM Butler report confirmed Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687. UNSCR 687 "recall[ed]" and "affirm[ed]" UNSCR 678 from the original Gulf War authorization.

For Operation Iraqi Freedom, P.L. 107-243 and UNSCR 1441 reiterated the standing US laws and UNSC resolutions on Iraq, reinforced the legal authority for military enforcement and "governing standard of Iraqi compliance", respectively, and reset the material breach status for Iraq; then the UNMOVIC Clusters document confirmed Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687. UNSCR 1441 also "recall[ed]" UNSCR 678 from the original Gulf War authorization.

The operative precedent for the decade-plus US-led Gulf War ceasefire enforcement was that confirmation of Iraq's noncompliance established casus belli. With the operative precedent and without a clear contravening decision procedure in UNSCR 1441, the UN Security Council satisfied the procedural requirement to "convene" and "consider" the "failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441) before the United States and United Kingdom responded to Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) with the standing authorization of UNSCR 678.

For over a decade with Saddam's noncompliant regime as well as other international enforcements, the US had consistently deployed the military with sovereign authority, and only at times with concurrent specific UN authorization. The US-led multilateral coalitions that conducted international enforcements had been galvanized by and organized around American leadership rather than UN imprimatur, a norm that continued with the US-led multilateral coalition in OIF.

Other than Operation Desert Fox, the nearest precedent for Operation Iraqi Freedom is the US-led military intervention in the Balkans crisis under President Clinton. Like OIF, the Kosovo intervention included airpower, ground forces, and a regime change followed by an occupation. Like OIF, the Kosovo intervention contained a prominent humanitarian component. Like OIF, the Kosovo intervention was not green-lit by the UNSC largely because, like OIF, the Kosovo intervention was opposed by Russia. However, unlike OIF, the Kosovo intervention did not rest on longstanding policy and practice and a priori or de facto legal authority.

Substantively, Saddam was evidentially noncompliant in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). In the procedural controversy, I believe, on balance, the American progressive view wins out over the episodic view due to Iraq's material breach of the ceasefire, the threat posed by Iraq's material breach, the operative precedent set by the over-decade-long US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq pursuant to UNSCR 678, and the UN's structural dependence on sovereign authorities, especially American sovereign authority, for the military enforcement of UN mandates. The decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom appears to be legally sufficient despite the political controversy.

A3: There is neither a domestic nor international legal controversy over the 2003-2011 US-led occupation mandated to "restore international peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 678).

Public Law 107-243 authorized the President to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" and "expected" the peace operations already mandated in section 7 of Public Law 105-338:
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).
Like the occupation following the Serbian regime change, the peace operations following regime change in Iraq were conducted with specific UN authorization to "take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq". For example, see UNSCR 1511 (2003):
1. Reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, and underscores, in that context, the temporary nature of the exercise by the Coalition Provisional Authority (Authority) of the specific responsibilities, authorities, and obligations under applicable international law recognized and set forth in resolution 1483 (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;
Also see UNSCRs 1483 (2003)*, 1546 (2004), 1637 (2005), 1723 (2006), 1790 (2007), and the 17NOV08 agreements between the US and Iraq.

* UNSCR 1483, adopted 22 May 2003, merits special attention because 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.



Q: If Bush inherited from Clinton the progressive view that the Gulf War authorization was operative for Iraq's ongoing breach of the Gulf War ceasefire and a new UN authorization for military enforcement was not needed, and given that UNSCR 1441 basically reiterated standing UNSC resolutions, then why did Bush go to the UN?

A: Because President Bush’s primary intent was not to invade Iraq. Rather, Bush’s motive was to resolve the Saddam problem expeditiously and conclusively with Iraq's full compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions.

It only looks as though Bush was intent on invading Iraq because a credible threat of regime change was the necessary piece to compel Saddam’s cooperation with the inspections. Inserting UNMOVIC into Iraq required the US going to the UN, and UNMOVIC functioning in Iraq required a credible threat of regime change. However, as Bush explained on October 7, 2002, Saddam could have prevented regime change by complying with Iraq's ceasefire obligations:
America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously. And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown. By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. ... I hope this will not require military action, but it may. ... I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something.
The record shows, although President Clinton had declared with Operation Desert Fox that “Iraq has abused its final chance” and then "a change of regime in Baghdad is inevitable", President Bush chose to give Saddam another opportunity to stay in power by proving compliance with all of Iraq’s ceasefire obligations. The centerpiece of the "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441) for Saddam to switch off the threat of regime change was his second final chance to comply with the "full and verified completion [of] the disarmament process" (UNSCR 1441) mandated by UNSCR 687, which Saddam squandered with UNMOVIC finding "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues". If Saddam had accepted the lifeline from the chief enforcer of the Gulf War ceasefire to fully comply with all of Iraq's obligations under Security Council resolutions, then the Gulf War would not have resumed with Operation Iraqi Freedom in order to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235).

Galvanized by the 9/11 attacks, Bush also engaged the United Nations on UNSCR 1441 with Clinton's hope that a united front by the international community and a strong resolution of the defining international enforcement of the post-Cold War would restore the UN as an effective enforcer on rogue actors, terrorism, and WMD proliferation.


epilogue
Q: Did Operation Iraqi Freedom really cost X trillions of dollars?

A: No.

According to the Congressional Research Service report, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11 (March 29, 2011), which measured the "cumulative total appropriated [for Iraq and Afghanistan] ... war operations, diplomatic operations, and medical care for Iraq and Afghan war veterans", covering DOD, State/USAID, and VA Medical costs, the combined cost for Iraq totaled 805.5 billion dollars through FY2011 and 823.2 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. Within the combined cost, the DOD portion totaled 757.8 billion through FY2011 and 768.8 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. DOD funding for OIF peaked at 138.5 billion dollars in FY2008 for the Counterinsurgency "Surge" and dropped sharply every year thereafter to a low of 11 billion dollars in FY2012, the last year of OIF (also known as Operation New Dawn).

That's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not X trillions of dollars.

For further perspective, according to the Congressional Research Service report, Costs of Major U.S. Wars (June 29, 2010), the FY2008 peak year spending of 138.5 billion dollars for OIF was 1% of GDP. By that admittedly narrow metric, the only cheaper US wars by peak year spending have been Operation Enduring Freedom and the Gulf War. The next cheapest US war by peak year spending is the Spanish American War, which cost 1.1% of GDP in 1899. That fact is not dispositive about the cost of OIF, of course; however, it does illustrate relative dollar figures don’t look the same as isolated dollar figures.


epilogue
Q: Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?

A: Operation Iraqi Freedom was a strategic victory.

When Saddam denied his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), OIF accomplished the basic purpose of the US intervention with Iraq that began on August 2, 1990, Iraq's compliance with the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) mandated by the UNSCR 660-series resolutions to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions [and] ... to secure peace and security in the area" (UNSCR 687).

President Bush handed OIF to President Obama having resolved the festering problem of Saddam's noncompliant, threatening, tyrannical, radicalized sectarian, rearming, terrorist regime (not a moment too soon based on what we now know), revitalized international enforcement in the defining international enforcement of the post-Cold War, and proved the mettle of American leadership and devastated the terrorists with the Counterinsurgency "Surge". The emerging pluralistic, liberalizing, compliant post-Saddam Iraq provided the US with a keystone "strategic partner" in the region.

Obama should have built upon the hard-won foundational progress made under Bush in geopolitically critical Iraq. However, instead of staying the course from Bush like President Eisenhower stayed the course from President Truman at the turning point of the Cold War, Obama committed the strategic blunder of contravening the Strategic Framework Agreement (2008) by disengaging from US-Iraqi affairs at a critical stage of Iraq's post-Surge development, passive-aggressively bungling the SOFA negotiation with Iraq, appeasing Iran, and abandoning the Bush Freedom Agenda. The premature departure of US forces removed America's protection at the same time Iraq's vicinity was growing dangerously unstable as the Arab Spring disintegrated, particularly in neighboring Syria. In the singular pivotal moment that sure-handed American leadership could have redirected the current course of history, Obama's irresponsible exit from Iraq and feckless 'lead from behind' approach to the Arab Spring, instead, opened great gaps for the terrorists to resurge. Iraq is suffering the consequences.

Misinformation and mischaracterization have distorted the public's understanding of the context, stakes, and achievements of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement that President Bush carried forward from President Clinton and the groundbreaking peace operations by the US military in post-Saddam Iraq. The corrupted public perception of the Iraq mission has enabled President Obama's elementary, catastrophic errors, undermined the enforcement of international norms, and curtailed the further development of peace operations.

Despite the revisionist nostalgia for Saddam's regime by some, the right answer for Iraq is neither Saddam’s “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) nor the terrorists and terroristic insurgents, including Saddam, his sons, and their followers, who wracked post-Saddam Iraq.

The right answer is (or tragically, was) a “new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people” (Clinton) with America “support[ing] Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people” (Iraq Liberation Act of 1998) and leading “a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq … for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for … key humanitarian and economic infrastructure” (UNSCR 1511).

As President Clinton forecast with Operation Desert Fox, “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.”

By carrying forward Clinton’s enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, Bush led America to “shape a future more peaceful than the past” and “stand strong against the enemies of peace” as befitting the leader of the free world. OIF was a hard and costly struggle against ruthless enemies whose purposeful strategy for countering the US-led peace operations was to create maximal mayhem for Iraq, terrorize the Iraqi people, ambush peace operators, and misrepresent the mission with intensive propaganda. However, by the time Obama took office in January 2009, the mission had progressed to the stage where “In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy … poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress” (Obama).

Security is the necessary condition for securing and building the peace, and under the umbrella of vital American security, Iraq had turned the corner when Bush handed OIF over to Obama.

To wit, in May 2011, President Obama marked Iraq's "promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy ... 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.
In the same vein, the "U.S.-Iraqi Relations" section of the State Department's U.S. Embassy in Baghdad website anticipated, "Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region ... that can act as a force for moderation ... in the national security interests of the United States":
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.
President Bush was right to enforce the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) for the Gulf War ceasefire and then stay to secure the peace with Iraq the same way the US stayed to secure the peace in Europe and Asia after World War 2. When Bush left office, the mission was succeeding.

President Obama was wrong to disengage from Iraq prematurely. America's protection was needed for the continued progression of Iraq’s pluralistic liberal reform and constructive role in the Middle East and the welfare of the Iraqi people. Instead, the feared danger of Obama's feckless 'lead from behind' approach to the Arab Spring and irresponsible exit from Iraq is being realized.



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, despite that primary sources easily accessed on-line provide a straightforward explanation of the mission. Basic essential sources for understanding OIF in the proper context include:
The UNSC resolutions that set the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (at minimum, see UNSCRs 687, 688, 949, and 1441), Public Law 105-235 ("Iraqi Breach of International Obligations", 14AUG98), and Public Law 107-243 (the 2002 Congressional authorization for use of military force against Iraq);
President Clinton's December 1998 report to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox, December 1998 announcement of ODF (the penultimate military enforcement step that set the baseline precedent for OIF), February 1998 warning on Iraq to Pentagon personnel, and Secretary of State Albright's March 1997 summation of US policy on Iraq;
President Bush's March 2003 report to Congress on his determination and the legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom, September 2002 background paper and remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, October 2002 outline of the Iraqi threat, excerpts from the 2003 State of the Union, and the March 2003 statement of the Atlantic Summit ("A Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi People");
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.

Further reading:
Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom (table of sources, including citations in this post);
A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD? (historical context);
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts (retrospective survey).

Eric

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9 Comments:

Blogger IGotBupkis said...

Excellent piece. I would, however, suggest it would be a tremendous improvement to add links to "reliable" sources to support most of your assertions. This is not to suggest that *I* doubt them at all, they are perfectly in line with my own researches... but it would make this a much more credible document to fill the piece with hyperlinks to "classical" sources supporting such claims. Others may not have my background of research to draw on, and so it always helps to make it clear to those with less knowledge to draw on that you aren't talking out your rectal orifice or making sh** up.

5/18/2014 2:10 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks. This post is light on source linking because it's written FAQ style. The posts in the 'further reading' section are source-link heavy and cover the same ground. I'll add a note for readers. Setting the record straight on OIF matters more than ever. It's bad enough the false narrative of the Iraq mission has done tremendous damage to domestic politics in the US and the West. The false narrative of the Iraq mission has been made a harmful, active basis for our foreign policy.

5/22/2014 12:53 PM  
Blogger bigWOWO said...

Hey Eric,

Thanks for dropping by my blog and letting me know about your article! I have been somewhat mentally on vacation, but I plan to catch up soon!

7/15/2014 10:16 PM  
Blogger Thomas W said...

Hmm. Emphasizing some positives, but inaccurate or blinkered on some of the basic premises.

Fact:
1) Saddam was our guy in 1980. We helped arm him, we gave him chemical weapons, we encouraged him to attack Iran.
2) Al Qaeda & terrorist movements were the adversary after 9/11. These were not connected with, or sponsored by, any state. The only state vaguely culpable was Afghanistan who had permitted AQ to base there.
3) Iraq, North Korea and Iran should never have been labeled adversaries over this.
4) Most AQ came from Egypt & Saudi -- both still regarded as major US allies at the time -- and Yemen.
5) The centralized Saddam regime was far easier to punish or counter, using our strategic advantage in conventional forces, than the insurgents & terrorist cells who replaced it.
6) Toppling Saddam led to a power vacuum, spreading instability & terrorism throughout the region. Syria, ISIL and the biggest threats today have arisen from this strategic blunder.
7) With our ill-chosen words having pushed Iran to run for nukes, we have by our foolish adventuring in Iraq given up any hope of a credible threat to act against Iran.

Legalism & words aren't important, actions towards our strategic goals are. Iraq was a failure that increased terrorist threat; did nothing to deal with recruiting in Egypt, Yemen, or Saudi; launched a vicious firestorm of instability from which terrorists & recruiting benefit; and positioned our adversary, Iran, to dominate the Middle East.

And those are the facts.

2/03/2015 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super job. Thanks so much for taking the time to compile all of this.

4/21/2015 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent review of the legal justifications for OIF. To Thomas W, please note the question the FAQ is designed to address. Since "illegality" is one of the standard left-wing points in the mantra of Bush condemnation, it necessarily has to be about "legalism and words" as you jeeringly phrase it. Of course, with hindsight, and the assistance of a left-wing mainstream press devoted to glorifying Obama, the "strategic goals" you suggest can be made to appear as "facts." None of your points deal with what Bush had to decide to do about THIS PROBLEM. The problem of Al Qaeda was a separate, though related problem actively addressed by the Afghan invasion and the concurrent Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), most of which the current administration carried forward--drone strikes, Afghan surge, etc.

6/25/2015 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite possibly the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever read.

The reality is that Iraq was in compliance with the UN resolutions regarding disarmament, and the claims that they had not properly accounted for WMD programs was a lie.

7/18/2015 8:44 PM  
Blogger Michael K said...

Good analysis. I would add one point, which is that our occupation of Saudi Arabia to enforce the no-fly zone was the proximate cause of Osama bin Laden's enmity and the motive for the 9/11 attack. It was also destabilizing the Saudis with their Medieval society. The pressure on Bush to do something was even greater as he had to contemplate moving our forces to reduce the friction with the Saudis. Soon after OIF, we moved our headquarters to Qatar, which is worse as a terror sponsor but was happy to get the money from us as rent.

Also Bremer was the guy who destroyed the chances of a successful nation building effort, which I was not too enthusiastic about anyway. Jay Garner had a good record with the Kurds. He should not have been replaced. That was a major error by Bush.

7/31/2015 11:59 AM  
Blogger Manny said...

Eric

Thank you for directing me to your post. This was fantastic. I didn't read it all, since there was so much. This will be my go-to spot to recall all the reasons for the war. The public has such a short memory. I will certainly direct them here when I hear the BS.

3/02/2016 8:23 AM  

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