Saturday, October 23, 2004

Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom

PREFACE: Most pundits, both supporters and opponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom, markedly underutilize the available primary source authorities despite that the 1990-2003 Iraq enforcement has a thick law and policy trail in the UN Security Council, Congress, and especially the Office of the President.

Why Iraq? Presidents HW Bush, Clinton, and Bush, Congress, and the United Nations told us why. While there's still room for speculative analysis, the work has been done for us. The explanation for the why of OIF is straightforward based on primary sources that are plain and readily accessed on-line, such as the Gulf War ceasefire UN Security Council resolutions that set the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441), the US law and policy to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (P.L. 105-235), the conditions and precedents that set the stage for OIF, and the determinative fact findings of Iraq's breach of ceasefire that triggered the decision for OIF. President Clinton, whose entire presidency was preoccupied by the Iraq enforcement, is the best source for understanding OIF.

This post is a table of sources that inform my perspective on the goals we seek in Iraq. This post is not an intelligence analysis of coalition and Iraqi forces, the enemy, the mission difficulty, or actual performance. The links are to official sources, articles, speeches, weblogs, and my own thoughts that have informed my views on the 'Why We Fight' in Iraq, and why I believe the Iraq mission is central to the War on Terror. Expect me to add items over time.*

* For my FAQ-style explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for OIF, go here. For law and policy of the 2003-2011 peace operations with Iraq, go here.


Shortcuts — click on a bookmark link to skip to the section:
#clinton, #bush, #hwbush, #congress, #unitedkingdom, #unitednations, #intelligence, #terrorist, #pundits, #laypersons, #opponents.*

* Not all sections in this post have a bookmark.

Note: + denotes an item I view as a basic essential source for understanding the fact pattern and law-and-policy framework of the decision for OIF.

President Clinton Perspective
* "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program."
+ President Clinton address to Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff, 17FEB98.
* Operation Desert Fox was the penultimate military enforcement step and set the baseline precedent for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community; fear and hope. Now, in a new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past -- but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace. Tonight, the United States is doing just that.”
+ President Clinton announcement of Operation Desert Fox, 16DEC98.
* "It [this action] is consistent with and has been taken in support of numerous U.N. Security Council resolu-tions, including Resolutions 678 and 687, which authorize U.N. Member States to use "all necessary means" to implement the Security Council resolutions and to restore peace and security in the region and establish the terms of the cease-fire mandated by the Council ... I directed these actions pursuant to my authority under the Constitution as Commander in Chief and as Chief Executive, and to conduct U.S. foreign relations, as well as under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) enacted in January 1991."
+ President Clinton letter to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox, 18DEC98.
* "Now, over the long-term the best way to end the threat that Saddam poses to his own people in the region is for Iraq to have a different government. We will intensify our engagement with the Iraqi opposition groups, prudently and effectively. ... And we will stand ready to help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments and respects the rights of its own people. We hope it will return Iraq to its rightful place in the community of nations."
President Clinton remarks on completion of Operation Desert Fox, 19DEC98.
* "Iraq must make good on its commitment to give the international weapons inspectors immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any suspect site, any place, any time. All of the members of the Council agree that failure to do so will result in the severest consequences for Iraq. ... Iraq now has the responsibility to turn the commitment it has made into full compliance."
President Clinton statement regarding UNSCR 1154, 02MAR98; UNSCR 1154, adopted 2 March 1998.
* "A short while ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Iraq's intransigence and insisting it immediately resume full cooperation with the weapons inspectors -- no ifs, no ands, no buts about it. It is long past time for Iraq to meet its obligations to the world. After the Gulf War, the international community demanded and Iraq agreed to declare and destroy all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capability and the missiles to deliver them, and to meet other U.N. Security Council resolutions. ... Now, the better part of a decade later, Iraq continues to shirk its clear obligations. Iraq has no one to blame but itself -- and the people of Iraq have no one to blame but Saddam Hussein -- for the position Iraq finds itself in today. Iraq could have ended its isolation long ago by simply complying with the will of the world. The burden is on Iraq to get back in compliance and meet its obligations -- immediately."
President Clinton statement regarding UNSCR 1205, 05NOV98; UNSCR 1205, adopted 5 November 1998.
* Periodic updates from the President to Congress on Iraq's compliance were mandated by Public Law 102-1 (1991). The 05NOV98 letter was the last update before Operation Desert Fox.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 05NOV98.
* Clinton explains the circumstances surrounding Operation Desert Fox.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 03MAR99.
* Clinton reports the Amorim Report (S/1999/356) confirms Iraq is noncompliant.
"On January 30, 1999, the UNSC established three assessment panels on Iraq to address disarmament, humanitarian, and Kuwait-related issues. Brazilian Ambassador to the United Nations Celso Amorim, who chaired the panels, presented the panels' conclusions to the Security Council on April 6."
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 19MAY99.
* This letter appears to be Clinton's last comprehensive update on Iraq's compliance.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 02AUG99.
* "On May 1, I signed into law the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act. This legislation provides funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to initiate a surrogate broadcast service for the Iraqi people. It also provides funding for efforts to support the democratic Iraqi opposition in presenting a credible alternative to the present Iraqi regime and compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes. These new programs will enable us to redouble our work with the Iraqi opposition to support their efforts to build a pluralistic, peaceful Iraq that observes the international rule of law and respects basic human rights. Such an Iraq would have little trouble regaining its rightful place in the region and in the international community."
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 24JUN98.
* Clinton reevaluated the US policy on Iraq at the start of his 2nd term.
"Saddam Hussein remains a threat to his people and the region and the United States remains determined to contain the threat of Saddam's regime. Speaking on behalf of the Administration on March 26, 1997, in her first major foreign policy address, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that the United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member and that, until then, containment must continue. Secretary Albright also made clear that Saddam's departure would make a difference and that, should a change in Iraq's government occur, the United States would stand ready to enter rapidly into a dialogue with the successor regime."
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 08MAY97.
* Albright provided a summation of the Clinton 2nd-term US policy on Iraq.
"We will continue to support the establishment of a coherent and united Iraqi opposition which represents the country's ethnic and confessional diversity."
+ Secretary of State Albright policy speech on Iraq, 26MAR97.
President Clinton remarks on Iraq's assassination attempt on President HW Bush, 26JUN93; Background briefing, 26JUN93; FBI update, April 1997.
* This periodic update to Congress includes Operation Vigilant Warrior and UNSCR 949.
President Clinton letter to Congress on Iraq's compliance, 27OCT94.
President Clinton statement on the military response to the Iraqi attack on Irbil, 03SEP96.
* "Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and lawabiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region. The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life. My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership."
President Clinton statement on signing the Iraq Liberation Act, 31OCT98.
* "The Vice President reaffirmed the Administration's strong commitment to the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power, and to bringing him and his inner circle to justice for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Saddam's removal is the key to the positive transformation of Iraq's relationship with the international community and with the United States, in particular."
Joint statement by Vice President Gore and leaders of the Iraqi National Congress, 26JUN00.
* "The crisis between the United States and Iraq that led to the declaration on August 2, 1990, of a national emergency has not been resolved. The Government of Iraq continues to engage in activities inimical to stability in the Middle East and hostile to United States interests in the region. Such Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
President Clinton letter and notice to Congress on the continuing national emergency with Iraq, 28JUL00.
* "Let me tell you what I know. When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. ... So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions. I mean, we're all more sensitive to any possible stocks of chemical and biological weapons. ... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons. ... And what I think -- again, I would say the most important thing is we should focus on what's the best way to build Iraq as a democracy? ... We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq."
CNN: Former President Clinton supports Operation Iraqi Freedom with Larry King, 03JUL03.
CNN: Clinton defends successor's push for war, 19JUN04 – copy at
AlterNet: World: Bill Clinton Pretends He Opposed Bush's Iraq Invasion, Media Go Along for the Ride, 01DEC07; FAIR: Bill Clinton, Anti-War?, 29NOV07.
* Cohen served as Secretary of Defense from 1997 to 2001.
"While some charge that the Bush Administration exaggerated or manipulated the available intelligence, the fact is that all responsible officials from the Clinton and Bush administrations and, I believe, most Members of Congress genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein had active WMD programs."
9-11 Commission: Statement of William S. Cohen to The National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States March 23, 2004.
Defense Department: Operation Desert Fox (copy at – chronology (copy at from the Gulf War to Operation Desert Fox.
State Department: Saddam Hussein's Iraq, 13SEP99.
* "It is the policy of the United States to deter, defeat and respond vigorously to all terrorist attacks on our territory and against our citizens, or facilities, whether they occur domestically, in international waters or airspace or on foreign territory. The United States regards all such terrorism as a potential threat to national security as well as a criminal act and will apply all appropriate means to combat it. ... The acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by a terrorist group, through theft or manufacture, is unacceptable. There is no higher priority than preventing the acquisition of this capability or removing this capability from terrorist groups potentially opposed to the U.S."
Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39, 21JUN95 – html.
* Public Law 104-132 was a watered-down version of legislation Clinton had transmitted to Congress: the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, 10FEB95, and Antiterrorism Amendments Act of 1995, 15MAY95. Clinton's 1995 acts formed the basis of the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
President Clinton statement on signing the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 24APR96.
* Indyk, who served as senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1995 and as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in the U.S. Department of State from 1997 to 2000, explains the Clinton dual-containment framework.
+ The Washington Institute: The Clinton Administration's Approach to the Middle East by Martin Indyk, 18MAY93 – copy at
* "Prepared for Office of the Secretary of Defense".
RAND: National Defense Research Institute: Confronting Iraq U.S. Policy and the Use of Force Since the Gulf War by Daniel L. Byman and Matthew C. Waxman, 2000.
* UNSCOM inspector and Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer gives insight on Iraq's noncompliance with UNSCOM related to UN Security Council dysfunction on Iraq.
New York Times: Hide and Seek by Charles Duelfer, 23JUN09.
Washington Post: In Iraq, done in by the Lewinsky affair by Charles Duelfer, 24FEB12.
Washington Post defense analysis of Operation Desert Fox, 17JAN99.
* "A majority of Security Council members -- led by China, France and Russia -- rebuffed the United States by holding out against any explicit threat, particularly wording that would appear to give a green light to an American attack in the event Iraq violates the agreement. ... The United States and its closest ally, Britain, battled to win even the threat of ''severest consequences'' in the resolution, which is intended to hold President Saddam Hussein to his promise to open all Iraqi sites to international arms inspectors. ... Mr. Clinton said in a statement read by a White House spokeswoman. ''All of the members of the Council agree that failure to do so will result in the severest consequences for Iraq.''"
New York Times: U.N. Rebuffs U.S. on Threat to Iraq if It Breaks Pact, 03MAR98.
* The international reaction to Operation Desert Fox presaged the international reaction to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Los Angeles Times: Allies Sit on Sidelines for Desert Fox, 18DEC98 – working link.
* "The remarks were in line with recent attempts by President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Mr. Vedrine to draw attention to what France now calls American unilateralism, and to attract other countries to the idea of counteracting it through French-led multilateral initiatives."
New York Times: To Paris, U.S. Looks Like a 'Hyperpower', 05FEB99.
* Snapshot of the stalemate after Operation Desert Fox.
New York Times: With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been Striking Iraq All Year, 13AUG99.
Los Angeles Times: Hussein Torpedoed CIA Plot Against Him, Officials Say, 08SEP96 – working link.
Rubin Center: The Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal: Saddam Husayn: Between his Power Base and the International Community by Amatzia Baram, 02DEC00 – archived copy.
* "The following article is an abridgment and update of a 1998 paper he prepared for the Conference on Peaceful Use of Biotechnology and the Convention on Biological Weapons".
Institute for the Study of Genocide: Newsletter #28: Saddam is the Cause of Iraqis' Suffering by Milton Leitenberg, Spring 2002.
Project for the New American Century: Letter to President Clinton on Iraq, 26JAN98.
* Graduate student shows the continuity of counter-terrorism policy, including preemption, from (Reagan and) Clinton to Bush.
E-International Relations: The Myth of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy Revolution by Chin-Kuei Tsui, 02DEC12.

President Bush Perspective
* "The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable."
+ President Bush remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, 12SEP02.
* "A Decade of Deception and Defiance serves as a background paper for President George W. Bush's September 12th speech to the United Nations General Assembly."
+ Bush White House: A Decade of Deception and Defiance, 12SEP02.
* "Inspections will work only if Iraq complies fully and in good faith. Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible weapons hidden in a vast country. The responsibility of inspectors is simply to confirm evidence of voluntary and total disarmament. Saddam Hussein has the responsibility to provide that evidence, as directed, and in full. The world expects more than Iraq's cooperation with inspectors. The world expects and requires Iraq's complete, willing and prompt disarmament. It is not enough for Iraq to merely open doors for inspectors. Compliance means bringing all requested information and evidence out into full view, to show that Iraq has abandoned the deceptions of the last decade. Any act of delay or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance, and has rejected the path of peace."
President Bush address to the nation, 07DEC02.
* "The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened. ... Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."
+ Excerpts from the 2003 State of the Union regarding Iraq, 28JAN03.
* "Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only chance -- his only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited."
+ President Bush outlines Iraqi threat, 07OCT02 – working link.
President Bush statement on signing the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq resolution of 2002, 16OCT02.
President Bush remarks on signing the AUMF against Iraq, 16OCT02.
+ President Bush letter to Congress on the determination and legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 18MAR03 – html copy; Addendum, 21MAR03.
+ Bush White House: Statement of the Atlantic Summit: A Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi People, 16MAR03 – State Department copy.
* "In confronting Iraq, the United States is also showing our commitment to effective international institutions. We are a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. We helped to create the Security Council. We believe in the Security Council -- so much that we want its words to have meaning. ... Another resolution is now before the Security Council. If the council responds to Iraq's defiance with more excuses and delays, if all its authority proves to be empty, the United Nations will be severely weakened as a source of stability and order. If the members rise to this moment, then the Council will fulfill its founding purpose."
President Bush discusses the future of Iraq, 26FEB03.
* "Inspection teams do not need more time, or more personnel. All they need is what they have never received -- the full cooperation of the Iraqi regime. Token gestures are not acceptable. The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council -- total disarmament. Great Britain, Spain, and the United States have introduced a new resolution stating that Iraq has failed to meet the requirements of Resolution 1441. Saddam Hussein is not disarming. This is a fact. It cannot be denied. ... This is not only an important moment for the security of our nation, I believe it's an important moment for the Security Council, itself. And the reason I say that is because this issue has been before the Security Council -- the issue of disarmament of Iraq -- for 12 long years. ... That's what the United Nations Security Council has been talking about for 12 long years. It's now time for this issue to come to a head at the Security Council, and it will. ... And the fundamental question facing the Security Council is, will its words mean anything? When the Security Council speaks, will the words have merit and weight? I think it's important for those words to have merit and weight, because I understand that in order to win the war against terror there must be a united effort to do so;"
President Bush reacts to UNMOVIC Clusters document and discusses UNSC response, 06MAR03.
Secretary of State Powell reacts to UNMOVIC Clusters document, 07MAR03.
Draft resolution of UNSC ultimatum, 07MAR03; first draft, 24FEB03; UN press release on impasse over UNSC ultimatum, 17MAR03.
President Bush explains justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 17MAR03.
President Bush announces commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 19MAR03.
* "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done."
President Bush announces major combat operations in Iraq have ended, 01MAY03.
* "Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. ... This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."
President Bush discusses freedom in Iraq and the Middle East, 06NOV03 – copy at
* "We've heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq -- but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree. ... There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory."
+ President Bush defends OIF and the War on Terror at National Endowment for Democracy, 06OCT05.
* "Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That's why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course. It was his decision to make. Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops, along with coalition troops, into Iraq. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power."
President Bush press conference on the Counterinsurgency "Surge", 12JUL07.
Bush White House: Renewal in Iraq – Archive.
Vice President Cheney remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 26AUG02.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld working paper re: Iraq, 27JUL01.
* "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."
Secretary of State Powell presentation to the U.N. Security Council, 05FEB03.
* De Villepin served as French Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2004.
"Regarding the chemical area, we have indications about a capacity to produce VX and mustard gas. In the biological area, our evidence suggests--the evidence suggests that there are significant stocks--there is the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxins and the possible--possibly a production capacity today."
New York Times: France's remarks to the U.N. from Dominique de Villepin, 05FEB03.
* Rice served as National Security Advisor from 2001 to 2005 and Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice discusses Iraq with Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 08OCT03.
Secretary of State Rice remarks at the American University in Cairo, 20JUN05.
* The War and Decision website links to many administration and other sources.
War and Decision: Misconceptions and the Facts (archived), Douglas Feith, 2008.
* "provision for humanitarian support in Iraq in the event of any military action".
Bush White House: Briefing on humanitarian reconstruction issues, 24FEB03.
Feith (War and Decision): Selected documents on Post-War Planning for Iraq, 2008.
Bush White House: Freedom Agenda.
* "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda."
President Bush response about Saddam-al Qaeda connection, 17JUN04; Press briefing, 17JUN04.
Bush White House: Iraq's Links to al Qaeda, 15SEP06.
Bush White House: Iraq is the Central Front of al Qaeda's Global Campaign, 03MAY07.
PBS transcript: President Bush links war in Iraq to War on Terrorism, 24MAY07.
* Reference Cheney's 14NOV01 and 09DEC01 responses to inquiries about the 27OCT01 New York Times report.
Meet the Press: Vice President Cheney clarifies OIF's counter-terrorism basis, 10SEP06.
Israel Hayom: Interview with George W. Bush, 12JUN15.
* "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. ... But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows. ... This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom. ... As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world."
President Bush address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, 20SEP01.
* While President Bush used the phrase "axis of evil", he warned about north Korea, Iran, and Iraq separately and did not characterize an alliance between the three nations. In fact, the "axis" nations were cooperating in various illicit armament activities.
2002 State of the Union address, 29JAN02.
President Bush remarks at the United States Military Academy graduation, 01JUN02.
Bush White House: The National Security Strategy of the United States of America September 2002PDF copy.
* Tom Junod cited the 02JUN04 speech in his August 2004 Esquire article (see Pundits Perspective below).
"For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice, this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short-term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer-term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region. Democracy and reform will make those nations stronger and more stable, and make the world more secure by undermining terrorism at it source. Democratic institutions in the Middle East will not grow overnight; in America, they grew over generations. Yet the nations of the Middle East will find, as we have found, the only path to true progress is the path of freedom and justice and democracy."
President Bush remarks at the Air Force Academy graduation, 02JUN04 – working link.
* "It's the result of tough decisions that we began making immediately after September the 11th. You see, in those uncertain first weeks, there was no obvious precedent to follow. We faced a choice among many different courses of action. On one end of the spectrum, we could have responded with a purely defensive strategy -- hunkering down behind our borders, and retreating from the world stage. On the other end of the spectrum, we could have sought revenge through instant retaliation -- attacking nations that support terror, with no broader strategy to address the root cause of the problem. I rejected both these extremes in favor of a deliberate and comprehensive approach -- one where we used all elements of our national power to keep America safe at home, the understanding that we needed to take the fight to the enemy abroad, and the idea of promoting liberty as the alternative to terror."
President Bush discusses national security, homeland security and the Freedom Agenda, 17DEC08.
Office of Legal Counsel: Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq by Jay Bybee, 23OCT02.
* Yoo analyzes UNSCR 1441.
Office of Legal Counsel: Effect of a Recent United Nations Security Council Resolution on the Authority of the President Under International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq by John Yoo, 08NOV02.
Office of Legal Counsel: Whether False Statements or Omissions in Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Declaration Would Constitute a “Further Material Breach” Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 by John Yoo, 07DEC02.
Office of Legal Counsel: Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 by John Yoo, 21OCT02.
Office of Legal Counsel: The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them by John Yoo, 25SEP01.
American Journal of International Law: International Law and the War in Iraq by John Yoo, July 2003.
American Journal of International Law: Preemption, Iraq, and International Law by William H. Taft IV and Todd F. Buchwald, July 2003.
Stanford Law Review: War, Responsibility, and the Age of Terrorism by John Yoo, 2004.
US Naval War College: The war in Iraq: a legal analysis, 2010.
* Bobbitt's explanation of the President's war powers under the Constitution is more accessible than Yoo's exposition.
Foreign Policy: The War Precedent by Philip Bobbitt, 02SEP13.
9-11 Commission: "Phase Two" and the Question of Iraq, 21AUG04.
BBC News: Iraq hails attack on US, 12SEP01.
Institute for the Study of Genocide: Newsletter #28: Editorial: Intervention and Responsibility - Afghanistan and Iraq Reconsidered by Helen Fein, Spring 2002.
Foreign Policy: It’s Impossible to Count the Things Wrong With the Negligent, Spurious, Distorted New Biography of George W. Bush by Will Inboden, 15AUG16.
War On The Rocks: What American Credibility Myth? How and Why Reputation Matters by Alex Weisiger and Keren Yarhi-Milo, 04OCT16.
Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq, 23DEC08.
American Monetary Institute: Was the Iraqi Shift to Euro Currency to “Real” Reason for War? by Stephen Zarlenga, 23DEC10 – archived copy.

President HW Bush Perspective
* First remarks on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, 02AUG90.
Memorandum on the Withholding of Assistance to Iraq, 02AUG90.
Message to the Congress on the Declaration of a National Emergency With Respect to Iraq, 03AUG90.
* First formal address on deployment of US armed forces for Iraq intervention.
Address to the Nation Announcing the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia, 08AUG90.
Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, 09AUG90.
* "The test we face is great, and so are the stakes. This is the first assault on the new world that we seek, the first test of our mettle. Had we not responded to this first provocation with clarity of purpose, if we do not continue to demonstrate our determination, it would be a signal to actual and potential despots around the world. America and the world must defend common vital interests -- and we will. America and the world must support the rule of law -- and we will. America and the world must stand up to aggression -- and we will. And one thing more: In the pursuit of these goals America will not be intimidated. ... Recent events have surely proven that there is no substitute for American leadership. In the face of tyranny, let no one doubt American credibility and reliability. Let no one doubt our staying power. We will stand by our friends. One way or another, the leader of Iraq must learn this fundamental truth."
+ Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the Persian Gulf Crisis, 11SEP90.
* "The United Nations Security Council's resolute response to Iraq's unprovoked aggression has been without precedent. ... This is precisely why the present aggression in the Gulf is a menace not only to one region's security but to the entire world's vision of our future. It threatens to turn the dream of a new international order into a grim nightmare of anarchy in which the law of the jungle supplants the law of nations. And that's why the United Nations reacted with such historic unity and resolve. And that's why this challenge is a test that we cannot afford to fail. I am confident we will prevail. Success, too, will have lasting consequences: reinforcing civilized standards of international conduct, setting a new precedent in international cooperation, brightening the prospects for our vision of the future. ... The United States is committed to playing its part, helping to maintain global security, promoting democracy and prosperity. ... International peace and security, and international freedom and prosperity, require no less."
+ Address Before the 45th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 01OCT90.
Radio Address to the Nation on the Persian Gulf Crisis, 05JAN91.
Message to Allied Nations on the Persian Gulf Crisis, 08JAN91.
Statement on Signing the Resolution Authorizing the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, 14JAN91.
Address to the Nation Announcing Allied Military Action in the Persian Gulf, 16JAN91.
Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union, 29JAN91.
Address to the Nation on the Suspension of Allied Offensive Combat Operations in the Persian Gulf, 27FEB91.
* "In my own view I've always said that it would be -- that the Iraqi people should put him aside, and that would facilitate the resolution of all these problems that exist and certainly would facilitate the acceptance of Iraq back into the family of peace-loving nations. ... You mentioned World War II; there was a definitive end to that conflict. And now we have Saddam Hussein still there, the man that wreaked this havoc upon his neighbors. ... I still have a little bit of an unfinished agenda."
The President's News Conference on the Persian Gulf Conflict, 01MAR91.
* "I am extremely pleased that the Security Council has voted in favor of Resolution 687. ... This latest resolution creates the basis for a formal cease-fire in the Gulf. ... The resolution is unprecedented. ... The resolution also includes provisions designed to ensure that Iraq cannot rebuild its military strength to threaten anew the peace of the region. Weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them are to be destroyed; this is to be confirmed by onsite inspection. ... Certain sanctions will remain in force until such time as Iraq is led by a government that convinces the world of its intent both to live in peace with its neighbors and to devote its resources to the welfare of the Iraqi people. The resolution thus provides the necessary latitude for the international community to adjust its relations with Iraq depending upon Iraq's leadership and behavior. ... I also want to condemn in the strongest terms continued attacks by Iraqi Government forces against defenseless Kurdish and other Iraqi civilians. This sort of behavior will continue to set Iraq apart from the community of civilized nations. I call upon Iraq's leaders to halt these attacks immediately and to allow international organizations to go to work inside Iraq to alleviate the suffering and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches needy civilians."
Statement on the United Nations Persian Gulf Cease-Fire Resolution, 03APR91.
* "Do I think the answer is now for Saddam Hussein to be kicked out? Absolutely. Because there will not be ... normalized relations with the United States -- and I think this is true for most coalition partners -- until Saddam Hussein is out of there."
Remarks on Assistance for Iraqi Refugees and a News Conference, 16APR91.
* "We continue to support the efforts of the Iraq National Congress to develop a broad-based alternative to the Saddam regime. We encourage other governments to do the same. The Congress espouses a future Iraq based on the principles of political pluralism, territorial unity, and full compliance with all the U.N. Security Council resolutions."
+ Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With United Nations Security Council Resolutions, 19JAN93.
* Scowcroft served as National Security Advisor from 1989 to 1993.
"As the President has said on several occasions, the United States is determined to maintain sanctions against Iraq and continue promoting its diplomatic isolation until there is a change of leadership in Baghdad. (C) We have increased our contacts with the Iraqi opposition in the past six months ... The United States has encouraged the various elements of the opposition to work together more effectively. (S)"
+ Response to Congressman Murtha's letter on Iraq by Brent Scowcroft, 14NOV91 – folder.
New York Times: Raid On Iraq; U.S. And Allied Planes Hit Iraq, Bombing Missile Sites In South In Reply To Hussein's Defiance, 14JAN93.
New York Times: Raid On Iraq; Bush Launches Missile Attack On A Baghdad Industrial Park As Washington Greets Clinton, 18JAN93.
Foreign Policy: WikiLeaks, April Glaspie, and Saddam Hussein by Stephen M. Walt, 09JAN11.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The "spiral model" v. the "deterrence model" by Stephen Van Evera, 10SEP97.
Human Rights Watch: Endless Torment: The 1991 Uprising in Iraq and Its Aftermath, June 1992; Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds, July 1993; book synopsis, 01MAY94.
* Note that Lissner's article overlooks the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement context which causes her confusion over the prominence of the Saddam problem in US policy.
War On The Rocks: The Long Shadow of the Gulf War by Rebecca Friedman Lissner, 24FEB16.

Carter Doctrine and Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine
* US policy that Middle East regional security is a national interest. Used as a main argument by Arthur Borden in A Better Country: Why America Was Right to Confront Iraq. Wikipedia entry.
"Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
President Carter, 1980 State of the Union Address, 23JAN80.
* President Reagan expanded President Carter’s security guarantee from repelling outside forces to also include internal regional stability when Reagan extended a security guarantee to Saudi Arabia due to concern over the Iran-Iraq war. The Reagan corollary to the Carter doctrine paved the way for President HW Bush to intervene when Iraq seized Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia in 1990.
President Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for King Fahd bin `Abd al-`Aziz Al Sa`ud of Saudi Arabia, 11FEB85.

US Congress Perspective
* Note the diverse reasons and compliance enforcement basis for the authorization to use military force against Iraq.
+ Public Law 107-243, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, 16OCT02; passage history.
Public Law 102-1, Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, 14JAN91; passage history.
* Sections 1095 and 1096 (Iraq and the Requirements of Security Council Resolution 687 & 688) of P.L. 102-190 are addenda to P.L. 102-1.
+ Section 1095 and Section 1096 of Public Law 102-190, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, 05DEC91; passage history.
* "Whereas Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threaten vital United States interests and international peace and security: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations, and therefore the President is urged to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations."
+ Public Law 105-235, Iraqi Breach of International Obligations, 14AUG98; passage history.
* See "Sec. 10008. Support for Democratic Opposition in Iraq."
Public Law 105-174, 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act, 01MAY98; passage history.
* "It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq’s foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq’s foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime."
Public Law 105-338, Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, 31OCT98; passage history.
* "Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that ... if it is necessary, however, the United States should take military action unilaterally to compel Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions."
House Resolution 322, Sense of House Regarding Iraq, 13NOV97; passage history.
* "Whereas the President of the United States has ordered military action against Iraq in response to its refusal to comply with international obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions;
... Now, therefore, be it Resolved, by the House of Representatives that ... the Congress reaffirms that 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."
House Resolution 612, Expressing unequivocal support for the men and women of our Armed Forces who are currently carrying out missions in and around the Persian Gulf region, 17DEC98; passage history.
* The Senate hearing provides detailed insight on the Iraq crisis at the end of the Clinton administration.
+ Saddam's Iraq: Sanctions and U.S. Policy, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs hearing, 22MAR00.
* Articles 36 to 41 of the Hague regulations address armistices.
Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague, IV), 18OCT1907, entered into force 26JAN1910.
Public Law 93-148 (50 USC 1541-48), War Powers Resolution (archived), 07NOV73; passage history.
Congressional Research Service: Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications, 18APR14.
* "[The] President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States".
Public Law 107-40, Authorization for Use of Military Force, 18SEP01; passage history.
* Compare the USA Patriot Act to the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, 10FEB95, and Antiterrorism Amendments Act of 1995, 15MAY95.
Public Law 107-56, USA Patriot Act, 26OCT01; passage history; Department of Justice: What is the USA Patriot Web.
* See sections 301 and 324.
Public Law 104-132, Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 24APR96; passage history.
* "Many in Congress and the Administration agree that the only way to blunt the long-term threat from Iraq is to remove Saddam Husayn from power."
Congressional Research Service: Iraq's Opposition Movements, 27JUN00 – archived copy.
Congressional Research Service: Iraqi Challenges and U.S. Responses: March 1991 through October 2002, 20NOV02 – archived copy.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Post-War Challenges and U.S. Responses, 1991-1998, 31MAR99.
* Follow-up to 31MAR99 CRS report with post-1998 military enforcement actions and look at the 2002 confrontation.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Former and Recent Military Confrontations With the United States, 16OCT02 – archived copy.
Congressional Research Service: Iraq: Weapons Threat, Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy, 30JAN03 – archived copy.
* The report is archived at GulfLINK.
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War, 25MAY94.
* End note for "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", 25MAY94.
United States Export Policy Toward Iraq Prior to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait, Senate Report 102-996, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs, 102d Congress, Second Session (October 27, 1992).
* This CRS report is notable for an 'apples-to-apples' adjusted-dollar comparison of war costs for all US wars. The peak year spending for OIF was 1% of GDP in FY2008. Note: "All estimates are of the costs of military operations only and do not reflect costs of veterans’ benefits, interest on war-related debt, or assistance to allies."
Congressional Research Service: Costs of Major U.S. Wars, 29JUN10.
* This CRS report counts the "cumulative total appropriated [for Iraq and Afghanistan] ... war operations, diplomatic operations, and medical care for Iraq and Afghan war veterans", covering DOD, State/USAID, and VA Medical costs. The report states all costs for Iraq totaled 805.5 billion dollars through FY2011 and 823.2 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. Within the total cost, the DOD cost was 757.8 billion through FY2011 and 768.8 billion dollars estimated through FY2012. See the chart on page 21.
Congressional Research Service: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, 29MAR11.
Congressional Research Service: U.S.-Iraq Withdrawal/Status of Forces Agreement: Issues for Congressional Oversight, 13JUL09.

United Kingdom Perspective
The Guardian: Full text of Tony Blair's speech on the Iraq crisis in the House of Commons, 18MAR03.
* "Tony" is UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Guardian: Trust Tony's judgment by Bill Clinton, 18MAR03.
* "[A]s at 18 March 2003, there was gridlock at the UN. In resolution 1441, it had been agreed to give Saddam one final opportunity to comply. It was accepted that he had not done so. In that case, according to 1441, action should have been agreed. It was not because by then, politically, there was an impasse. The undermining of the UN was in fact the refusal to follow through on 1441."
Independent: Tony Blair’s full statement in response to the Iraq war inquiry, 06JUL16; additional Prime Minister Blair statements on the UK Iraq war inquiry.
Secretary of State Straw reacts to UNMOVIC Clusters document, 07MAR03.
Secretary of State Straw discusses proposed amendments to draft resolution of UNSC ultimatum, 12MAR03.
UK Parliament Select Committee on Foreign Affairs: The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq by Christopher Greenwood, 24OCT02.
UK Attorney General: Lord Goldsmith's advice to Prime Minister Blair, 07MAR03.
* UK barrister and former assistant Attorney General under Lord (Peter) Goldsmith provides a detailed summation of the British legal debate over OIF.
The invasion of Iraq was lawful by Carl Gardner, 27JAN10 – back-up copy, archived copy.

United Nations Perspective
* The US-led enforcement of UNSCRs 678, 687, 949, and 1441 was "acting under Chapter VII of the Charter".
Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations – working link.
FAS Iraq and the UN: Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, 1990-2002; CASI UN Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq, 1990-2004.
UNSCR 678, adopted 29 November 1990.
* "Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,"
+ UNSCR 1441, adopted 8 November 2002 – UN press release.
+ UNSCR 687, adopted 3 April 1991.
* UNSCR 707 reinforced the UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates.
UNSCR 707, adopted 15 August 1991.
+ UNSCR 688, adopted 5 April 1991.
+ UNSCR 949, adopted 15 October 1994.
* UNSCR 1483 marked the transitional meeting of the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations with the core compliance and nation-building elements of both missions.
+ UNSCR 1483, adopted 22 May 2003.
* Broad counter-terrorism international mandate cited with the UNSCR 687 terrorism-related mandate in President Bush's 12SEP02 remarks to the UNGA.
UNSCR 1373, adopted 28 September 2001 – UN press release.
* Pursuant to UNSCR 688: "The new evidence, particularly that of eyewitnesses, added another dimension to the systematic crimes of the former regime, revealing unparalleled cruelty, even in respect of the people being taken away for execution, and at the same time stories unfolded that were far worse than originally reported to the Special Rapporteur in the past."
+ UN Commission on Human Rights: Situation of human rights in Iraq (PDF pp 78-82), 19APR02; post-war findings by Special Rapporteur on Iraq, Andreas Mavrommatis: E/CN.4/2004/36, E/CN.4/2004/36/Add.1 (working link), 18-19MAR04.
* Pursuant to UNSCR 687: "UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became [sic] available and ... produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... UNMOVIC must verify the absence of any new activities or proscribed items, new or retained. The onus is clearly on Iraq to provide the requisite information or devise other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive."
+ UNMOVIC Clusters document: Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes 6 March 2003; US State Department: Historic Review of UNMOVIC's Report on Unresolved Disarmament Issues, 10MAR03.
* Trigger for ODF and precedent for the UNMOVIC Clusters document as trigger for OIF.
UNSCOM Chairman Butler's Report to UN Secretary General, 15DEC98.
+ Update report of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Security Council pursuant to resolution 1441 (2002), 27JAN03.
* Reference point for President Bush's 2003 State of the Union (28JAN03) remarks on Iraq.
Hans Blix briefing to the UN Security Council, 27JAN03.
* See Secretary Powell's 07MAR03 remarks and Bonnie Azab Powell's 18MAR04 UC Berkeley News article.
UNMOVIC: Draft Work Programme, 17MAR03 – archived copy.
* Final IAEA update before OIF.
The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, 07MAR03.
* Summary of the conflict over use of force to enforce Iraq's mandated compliance.
Security Council members say new Iraq measure contains no automatic triggers for force, 08NOV02.
* VP Biden welcomes UNSCRs 1956, 1957, and 1958 on behalf of the UN Security Council.
+ Security Council Takes Action to End Iraq Sanctions, Terminate Oil-For-Food Programme as Members Recognize ‘Major Changes’ Since 1990, 15DEC10.
* UN panels, commissioned under S/1999/100 and chaired by Brazilian Ambassador to the UN Celso Amorim, assessed Iraq's mandated compliance on certain disarmament, humanitarian, and Kuwait-related issues following Operation Desert Fox.
CASI: Amorim Report (S/1999/356), 30MAR99 (PDF entire report), Report of the second panel established pursuant to the note by the president of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), concerning the current humanitarian situation in Iraq, 30MAR99;
UNMOVIC: Report of the first panel established pursuant to the note by the president of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), concerning disarmament and current and future ongoing monitoring and verification issues, 27MAR99.
* See the indices of resolutions, situation reports, and related documents.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): Iraq homepage.
UNSCOM (1991-1999); FAS: UNSCOM Reports to the Security Council, 1991-1999.
UNMOVIC (UNSCR 1284 (1999) – UNSCR 1441 (2002) – UNSCR 1762 (2007)) – working link.
* "This page contains links to the key United Nations disarmament documents on Iraq that have been made public" from UNSC, UNGA, UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, IAEA, et al.
Iraq Watch: U.N. Documents, 1991-2007.
IAEA: Iraq Nuclear Verification Office (1991-2004); IAEA and Iraq, 24FEB15.
UNMOVIC: Compendium: Observations and Lessons Learned, Chapter VIII, 27JUN07 – archived copy.
* The Independent Inquiry Committee into the Iraq Oil-for-Food Programme was chaired by Paul Volcker.
IIC: Report on the Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme, 27OCT05 – complete report; UN press release, 07SEP05; Volcker briefing to Senate committee, 18OCT05; US Ambassador to UN John Bolton statement, 27OCT05.
Council on Foreign Relations: IRAQ: Oil for Food Scandal, 28OCT05 – archived copy.
* Note that CASI's mission was a narrow critical focus on the effects of sanctions minus the operative context of the Saddam regime's noncompliance with the UNSCR 660 series.
University of Cambridge: Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq, 1997-2003.
BMJ Global Health: Changing views on child mortality and economic sanctions in Iraq: a history of lies, damned lies and statistics by Tim Dyson and Valeria Cetorelli, 31MAR17 – PubMed Central copy.
UNIKOM: United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNSCR 689 (1991) – UNSCR 1490 (2003)).
Iraq Watch: Iraq's Suppliers, 1990-2003 – archived copy.
Arms Control Association: Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections, 1991-2002.
MidEastWeb: Iraq – Timeline of UNSCOM Related Events, 1991-1999.
* It's unclear whether the Gulf War ceasefire constitutes a treaty; nevertheless, legal analysis of ceasefires generally refers to article 60 of the Vienna convention on the law of treaties.
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 23MAY69, entered into force 27JAN80.
* The Legality of Ceasefire Obligations begins on page 6 (PDF 15).
Public International Law & Policy Group: Ceasefire Drafter’s Handbook, May 2013.
* UN authorization for the Korea intervention, which is a precedent for the Iraq intervention.
UNSCRs 82-85, adopted 25 June 1950 – 31 July 1950 (working link).
* UN authorization for the post-war occupation in the Kosovo intervention, which is a precedent for the Iraq intervention. NATO enforced UNSCRs 1160 and 1199, but unlike UNSCR 678 for Iraq, the initial Kosovo intervention was not authorized by the UNSC.
UNSCR 1244, adopted 10 June 1999.
* Annan addresses the Kosovo intervention.
Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/54/1), Kofi Annan, 20SEP99 – UN press release.
* "The Commission concludes that the NATO military intervention was illegal but legitimate. It was illegal because it did not receive prior approval from the United Nations Security Council. However, the Commission considers that the intervention was justified because all diplomatic avenues had been exhausted and because the intervention had the effect of liberating the majority population of Kosovo from a long period of oppression under Serbian rule."
Council on Foreign Relations: Independent International Commission on Kosovo: The Kosovo Report, 2000 (mission statement).

Intelligence Perspective
* The Iraq Survey Group investigation, headed by David Kay and then Charles Duelfer, is corroborative only because it was conducted post hoc to the operative enforcement procedure that determined casus belli for OIF. Note that the Iraq Survey Group heavily qualified its findings in the report's Transmittal Message, Scope Note, and various sections by cautioning that the Saddam regime was expert at hiding proscribed items and activities, much evidence was lost prior to, during, and after the war, key Saddam regime officials were not forthcoming, statements conflicted, suspect areas were found "sanitized", and other practical factors restricted its investigation. "All sources suggest that Saddam encouraged compartmentalization and would have discussed something as sensitive as WMD with as few people as possible" (ISG). In other words, what ISG found constituted a floor only, not a complete account of Saddam's WMD. In many instances, ISG concluded it could not determine Iraq had disarmed as mandated. Significant questions remained undisposed. Therefore, what ISG found corroborating Iraq's material breach of UNSCR 687 in the post-war investigation is more telling than what ISG did not find matching the pre-war intelligence estimates. The ISG Duelfer report's material contribution to the discourse on OIF is the corroboration that the post-ODF 'containment' was failing and Iraq was in violation of disarmament mandates.
+ Iraq Survey Group: DCI Special Advisor Report on Iraq's WMD (Duelfer report), 30SEP04 – PDF copy.
* "Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. ... evidence shows that Saddam�s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime."
+ US Joint Forces Command Iraqi Perspectives Project: Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents, November 2007 – archive.
* "Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians, coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al- Qa'ida, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent US military action."
Central Intelligence Agency: Letter from Director of Central Intelligence to Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding Iraq's WMD and links to al- Qa'ida, 07OCT02.
Central Intelligence Agency: National Intelligence Estimate (NIE 2002-16HC): Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, October 2002 – excerpts.
* Note that the Silberman-Robb Commission's criticism depends on the presumption that the Iraq Survey Group's non-findings are "clear" which contradicts they are heavily qualified in the ISG report.
"After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed."
President’s Intelligence (Silberman-Robb) Commission: The WMD Commission Report, 31MAR05.
* The Butler Review was the British counterpart to the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission Report. Sections 490-503 upheld the analysis behind the statement in the 2003 State of the Union that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Chairman Lord Butler (UK): Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, 14JUL04.
* Note that the 09JUL04 SSCI report, while informative, is inapposite of OIF's justification because the Committee shifted the burden of proof from Iraq to US Intelligence and dismissed Iraq's probationary status and established dual-use WMD method as preconceived bias.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Report on the U.S. intelligence community's prewar intelligence assessments on Iraq, 09JUL04; Washington Post report, 10JUL04.
* The 05JUN08 SSCI report found pre-war statements by the Bush administration were largely "substantiated by intelligence" with no manipulated intelligence nor political pressure placed on intelligence analysts. Make sure to read the minority views statement beginning on page 100. My criticism is the report is markedly partisan and stripped out the operative context of President Clinton's Gulf War ceasefire enforcement precedent, the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) set by the UNSC resolutions, the burden of proof for Iraq, contemporary Congressional assessments of the pre-war intelligence, and much of the Iraq Survey Group's findings that corroborated Iraq was in violation of UNSCR 687. The position that the US President should emphasize dissenting intelligence analysis in public presentation of policy is abnormal.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Report on whether public statements regarding Iraq by U.S. government officials were substantiated by intelligence information, 05JUN08 – archived copy.
* Note that the 14JUL04 Butler Review clarified that the highly publicized forged documents on Iraqi uranium efforts, which were a focus in the 18JUL03 briefing, were not part of the British assessment. And the 09JUL04 SSCI report clarified that the CIA corroborated the British assessment referenced in the 2003 State of the Union, contrary to the assertion of CIA objection in the 22JUL03 briefing.
Bush White House: Background briefing on [public statements regarding] weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, 18JUL03; Press briefing on Iraq WMD and SOTU Speech, 22JUL03.
* Kay preceded Charles Duelfer as head of the Iraq Survey Group.
"In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities -- one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material."
Opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, David Kay, 28JAN04.
Central Intelligence Agency: Iraq WMD Retrospective Series, 16JAN05; Misreading Intentions: Iraq's Reaction to Inspections Created Picture of Deception, 05JAN06.
* Duelfer discusses UNSCOM, the Iraq Survey Group, and the UNSC members, primarily Russia, complicit in Saddam's noncompliance.
Politico: The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw by Charles Duelfer, 02APR15.
* Lacey, an author and researcher for the Iraqi Perspectives Project, cites the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism).
National Review: Saddam: What We Now Know by Jim Lacey, 14SEP11.
* Feith served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2001 to 2005. Review the administration and other sources linked at the War and Decision website.
Douglas Feith: War and Decision (archived), 2008; Iraq War-Related Intelligence Matters, Media Myths vs. Facts (archived).
* FBI agent George Piro debriefed Saddam Hussein.
60 Minutes: Interrogator Shares Saddam's Confessions, 24JAN08.
The George Washington University: National Security Archive: Saddam Hussein Talks to the FBI: Twenty Interviews and Five Conversations with "High Value Detainee #1" in 2004, 01JUL09.
Defense Department: Iraqi Denial and Deception Far Beyond Battlefield Tactics, 08OCT02 (working link) – copy at
9-11 Commission: Saddam's Iraq and Support for Terrorism, Judith S. Yaphe, 09JUL03.
* "Iraq Watch is a comprehensive web site devoted to tracking mass destruction weapon programs in Iraq."
Iraq Watch, 2000-2006 – archived copy.
* "It appears that from 1987 to 2003, A. Q. Khan, head of one of Pakistan’s key nuclear organizations, was overseeing a nuclear supply network, which sold or attempted to sell to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and perhaps others."
Naval Post-Graduate School: The A. Q. Khan Network: Causes and Implications by Christopher Clary, December 2005.
* "The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success."
New York Times: C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons, 15FEB15.
Kyle W. Orton: About Those Chemical WMDs Saddam Never Had …, 17OCT14.
PBS FRONTLINE: The Arming of Iraq (transcript), 11SEP90.
* Silberman, Co-Chairman of the President's Intelligence Commission, misrepresents the pre-war intelligence as the "primary casus belli".
Wall Street Journal: The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’ by Laurence Silberman, 08FEB15.
Time: Chasing a Mirage by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Ware, 06OCT03.
The Atlantic: Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong by Kenneth Pollack, January/February 2004.
* "This website was created by a group of former CIA officials with hundreds of years of combined service."
CIA Saved Lives, 2014.

Terrorist Perspective
* Note the prominent role of the pre-OIF Iraq enforcement mission in al Qaeda's declaration of war on the US.
World Islamic Front Statement: Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, 23FEB98.
* Declassified documents from the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.
Director of National Intelligence: Bin Laden's Bookshelf.
The Guardian: Bin Laden wanted to change al-Qaida's bloodied name, 24JUN11.
* "Coalition Provisional Authority English translation of terrorist Musab al Zarqawi letter obtained by United States Government in Iraq".
State Department: Zarqawi Letter, February 2004.
Kyle W. Orton: A Myth Revisited: “Saddam Hussein Had No Connection To Al-Qaeda”, 21JUN15 – revision.
New York Times: How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS by Kyle W. Orton, 23DEC15.
* "To put it simply, the Saddam regime’s reputation for keeping a lid on religious militancy and sectarianism is exactly wrong; by commission and omission it brought both things to levels Iraq has scarcely ever known in its history."
Orton: The Islamic State Was Coming Without the Invasion of Iraq, 12DEC15.
Wilson Center: HAPP: From Militant Secularism to Islamism: The Iraqi Ba’th Regime 1968-2003 by Amatzia Baram, October 2011 – archived copy.
Orton: Donald Trump is Wrong (Again): Saddam Hussein Supported Terrorism, 06JUL16.
Washington Post: Donald Trump is wrong about Saddam Hussein by Editorial Board, 09JUL16.
* Article covers Saddam's terrorism and crimes against humanity.
The New Yorker: The Great Terror by Jeffrey Goldberg, 25MAR02.
* Sageman is a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Afghanistan.
Foreign Policy Research Institute: Understanding Terror Networks by Marc Sageman, November 2004 – working link.
* Read Syed Qutb for the basics of 'Why They Fight'.
PDF of Milestones by Syed Qutb. HTML copy.
Small Wars Journal: Sayyid Qutb’s “Milestones” and Its Impact on the Arab Spring by Steven Zenishek, 09MAY13.
Strategic Studies Institute: Qutbism: An Ideology of Islamic-Fascism by Dale Eikmeier, Spring 2007.
Columbia University Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies: Panel discussion, ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and the United States, 12SEP14 – video.
* This letter to the leader of Islamic State was signed by over 100 Islamic scholars across several nations. It condemns the actions of IS and provides a good overview and detailed argument for why the group is not following the precepts of Islam.
Open Letter to al-Baghdadi, 24SEP14.

Reconstruction and Assistance Perspective
Note: See the Presidents HW Bush, Clinton, and Bush, Congress, and United Nations Perspective sections and the law and policy of the OIF peace operations for more reconstruction and assistance-related sources.
* "The United States maintains vigorous and broad engagement with Iraq on diplomatic, political, economic, and security issues in accordance with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA)."
State Department: U.S. Relations With Iraq, 14DEC20.
* "After a long and difficult conflict, we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States and will ensure that Iraq can realize its full potential as a democratic society. Our civilian-led presence is helping us strengthen the strong strategic partnership that has developed up to this point."
Embassy of the United States Baghdad, Iraq (archived).
USAID: Iraq: Our Commitment to Iraq – archived copy.
Law Library of Congress: Saddam Hussein Trial website, 03JUL07, and report by Issam Saliba, July 2007.
* Sergeant Masry is a Muslim Arab-American civil affairs Army sergeant who served in the Iraq mission for over a year and provides illuminating insights, information and advice, as well as educational links. Of note, SGT Masry is a Howard Dean supporter and the son of Ferial Masry, the Saudi immigrant school teacher running for Congress in California.
Omar Masry: Iraq 2.0 – archived copy.

Pundits Perspective
* A must-read expert strategic explication. A Democrat voting for Kerry, Barnett has been a supporter of Bush's strategy in the War on Terror. Barnett's strategic vision is gaining traction with the DoD, Democrats, and Republicans. After reading this article, look around his website, particularly his regularly updated weblog.
"[The] president decided correctly to fight back by trying to destroy disconnectedness in the Gulf region. We seek to do unto al Qaeda as it did unto us: trigger a system perturbation that will send all the region’s rule sets into flux. Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime was dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world—from our rule sets, our norms, and all the ties that bind the Core together in mutually assured dependence. Disconnecting the great disconnector from the Gulf’s security scene is only the beginning of our effort, because now Iraq becomes the great battle field for the soul of the whole region. That second victory will be far more difficult to achieve. Our efforts to integrate Iraq into a wider world will pit all the forces of disconnectedness in the region against us."
Esquire: Mr. President, Here's How to Make Sense of Our Iraq Strategy by Thomas Barnett, June 2004.
* A must-read, by a liberal for liberals. Junod is a Bush-basher, and a brilliant writer. In this article, Junod's deep dislike of Bush the man serves as a compelling counterpoint to his critique of Bush the war-time president.
"The moral certainty that makes war possible is certain only to unleash moral havoc, and moral havoc becomes something the nation has to rise above. We can neither win a war nor save the national soul if all we seek is to remain unsullied--pristine. Anyway, we are well beyond that now. The question is not, and has never been, whether we can fight a war without perpetrating outrages of our own. The question is whether the rightness of the American cause is sufficient not only to justify war but to withstand war's inevitable outrages. The question is whether--if the cause is right--we are strong enough to make it remain right in the foggy moral battleground of war."
Esquire: The Case for George W. Bush i.e., what if he's right? by Tom Junod, August 2004 – also posted on my blog here.
Commentary: Who is Lying About Iraq by Norman Podhoretz, December 2005.
* In defense of Douglas Feith, Joscelyn corrects Senator Carl Levin's insistence that Bush officials fabricated the connection between the Saddam regime and al Qaeda.
Weekly Standard: Who's Spinning Intel? Captured Iraqi documents tell a different story. by Thomas Joscelyn, 13APR07.
Commentary: Why Iraq was Inevitable by Arthur Herman, July 2008.
American Thinker: Who Lied About Iraq? by Randall Hoven, 24AUG08.
Frontpage: Vindicated for Removing Saddam by Ryan Mauro, 21JUL10.
The Federalist: Can Hillary Clinton Recover From Her Support Of The Iraq War? by Dan McLaughlin, 19MAY14.
Heritage: Uncomfortable Truths: Explaining Away Iraq’s Real WMD by Kim Holmes, 30OCT14.
Frontpage: We’re Still Dumbing Down the Iraq War by Bruce Thornton, 17MAY15.
* DTN's adapted summary is shaky, but the resources listed on the sidebar are worthwhile references.
Discover The Networks: Justifications for the War.
The Times: Saddam’s evil regime had to go, Mr Corbyn by Nigel Biggar, 27AUG15; comment by James Snell.
National Review: Iraq: The Real Story by Victor Davis Hanson, 23FEB16.
Ricochet: Invading Iraq Was Necessary and We Would Do It Again by Tommy De Seno, 28FEB16.
* University of Chicago professors Gary Becker and Richard Posner.
The Becker-Posner Blog: Preventive War – Becker, 05DEC04, and Preventive War--Posner, 05DEC04.
* IBC discredits widely publicized 2006 Lancet and 2007 Opinion Research Business figures.
Iraq Body Count: Exaggerated claims, substandard research, and a disservice to truth, 05MAY10.

Laypersons Strategic Perspective
* Timeline of events in Iraq by milblogger Greyhawk who served in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
Mudville Gazette: A Brief History of a Long War (Iraq, 1990-2003), November 2005 – copy at
* I don't agree with all the points in this strategic overview; nonetheless, Steven Den Beste provides solid and broad contextual coverage from a thoughtful layman's perspective.
USS Clueless: Scroll down to VI for Iraq section, July 2003.
* Jack Henneman wrote an update to Steven Den Beste's strategic overview.
Tigerhawk: Strategic overview: Annotating and updating Den Beste, 14NOV05.
Tigerhawk: The decision to invade Iraq in retrospect, 01OCT04.
The Dignified Rant: A Decade After OIF by Brian Dunn, 19MAR13.
The Dignified Rant: Iraq: Executive Summary by Brian Dunn, 24JUL14.
John C Wright: Oceania Has Always Been at War with Eastasia, 15OCT14.
Between Worlds: Guest post: Defense attorney discusses the legal basis of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 03FEB16.
Mugwumpery: What would Saddam Hussein do?, 14JUN21.
* Chronology of cite-quotes arranged by subject area.
Reasons for War: Things you might have forgotten about Iraq. Iraq.
The Redhunter: copy of Iraq tag at
Joel Wing: Musings on Iraq.
Reidar Visser: Iraq and Gulf Analysis.

Mission Opponents Perspective
NPR: Transcript: Obama's Speech Against The Iraq War, Barack Obama, 02OCT02 – copy at Free Republic.
Iraq and the War on Terrorism, Al Gore, 23SEP02.
Hillary HQ: Hillary Clinton Never Supported the Bush/Cheney Invasion of Iraq by Scott Hopkins, 22MAY15.
The Guardian: Gordon Brown says Pentagon misled UK over case for Iraq invasion, 05NOV17.
* London School of Economics researchers found the Saddam regime fabricated the reported rise in Iraqi child mortality blamed on sanctions.
Iraqi Sanctions: Were They Worth It? by Sheldon Richman, 01JAN04.
The Center for Public Integrity: False pretenses by Charles Lewis, 23JAN08.
The Guardian: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by Julian Borger, 07OCT04.
Vox: No, really, George W. Bush lied about WMDs by Dylan Matthews, 09JUL16.
Vox: America's unlearned lesson: the forgotten truth about why we invaded Iraq by Max Fisher, 16FEB16.
* Chait relies on the misleading executive summary of the 05JUN08 SSCI report.
New York Magazine: Was the Iraq War a Crime or a Mistake? Yes. by Jonathan Chait, 19MAY15 – archived copy.
* Byman's premise that OIF "created a jihadist problem in Iraq where none existed" is discredited by the Iraqi Perspectives Project.
Brookings: Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism by Daniel L. Byman, 01JUL07.
Brown University Costs of War Project: Civilian Death and Injury in Iraq, 2003-2011 by Neta Crawford, September 2011.
* The Iraq chapter begins on page 161 (PDF 187). Endnotes begin on page 280 (PDF 306).
RAND: Blinders, blunders, and wars: what America and China can learn by David C. Gompert, Hans Binnendijk, Bonny Lin, 2014.
* The press release buries the lede that Iraq failed to prove it disarmed per UNSCR 687 with UNMOVIC and the UN inspections' non-findings are attributed to Iraqi unilateral destruction and concealment that itself violated UNSCR 687.
UN: UN Inspectors Found No Evidence of Prohibited Weapons Programmes as of 18 March Withdrawal, Hans Blix Tells Security Council, 05JUN03.
UC Berkeley News: U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix faults Bush administration for lack of "critical thinking" in Iraq by Bonnie Azab Powell, 18MAR04.
BBC: Iraq inquiry: Former UN inspector Blix says war illegal, 27JUL10.
Rutgers School of Law: New Jersey Peace Action, Paula Rogovin, Anna Berlinrut and Joseph Wheeler, Plaintiffs/Appellants, v. The President of the United States of America, Defendant/Respondent.
* George Washington University Law School professor misrepresents UNSCR 1441, omits the UNMOVIC Clusters document, then decides he is unpersuaded of OIF's legality.
Georgetown Law Journal: Assessing the Legality of Invading Iraq by Sean D. Murphy, 2004.
* Anti-OIF British law professor claims UNSCR 678 authorization was "suspended" by the ceasefire (UNSCR 687) when that is clearly not the case.
European Journal of International Law: The OLC Memoranda on Iraq: Revisiting the Case for War by Marko Milanovic, 10JAN09.
* The Dutch inquiry addresses UNSC procedure only and does not address the substantive issue of Iraq's categorical breach of the ceasefire, elides that UNSC members opposed to OIF were complicit in Iraq's breach, and bases on assertions that are inconsistent with the operative precedent and text.
Iraq Inquiry Digest: Dutch Inquiry on the legality of the war, January 2010.
* See Prime Minister Blair's response, 06JUL16, and additional statements.
Sir John Chilcot (UK): Iraq Inquiry, 06JUL16.

Weblogs from Iraqis, soldiers serving in Iraq and regular folks
* There are too many good ones to list, especially the famed "milblogs" or the weblogs by US military personnel serving in the War on Terror. As an appetizer, here are three highly acclaimed weblogs:
Iraqi weblog: Iraq the Model.
Soldier's weblog: Mudville Gazette.
Civilian weblog: Chrenkoff's 'Good News from Iraq' series (scroll down to the bottom of the "Chrenkoff" blog for parts 1-10 of the series).

Eric's Perspective on regime change for Iraq
From the cease-fire that suspended the 1991 Gulf War, the UN/US mission in Iraq was designed as a strictly enforced and finite compliance and disarmament mission. It was never intended as an indefinitely prolonged, costly ‘containment’ mission that cast the UN and US as villains, severely undermined our credibility in the region and around the world, and made us effectively complicit in Saddam’s harm of the Iraqi people. Eventually, after the penultimate enforcement step was exhausted in Operation Desert Fox, December 1998, the only alternative to Operation Iraqi Freedom remaining was the stalemated, broken ad hoc 'containment'.

The attacks of 9/11 forced us to reevaluate US interaction with the Muslim and Arab world, with the UN/US Iraq mission at the top of the list. Our nation's leaders were faced with 3 options:*

A. Indefinitely continue and head-line the status quo of toxically corrupted, provocative, harmful, and collapsed sanctions and 'containment'.
B. End the mission and release a noncompliant Saddam from constraint, in power, unreconstructed, and triumphant.
C. Give Saddam a final chance to comply under credible threat of regime change, and if he failed to comply, then bring Iraq into compliance with regime change.

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

Without the 9/11 attacks as impetus, I believe we would have continued Option-A indefinitely past the Bush presidency or until something sufficiently bad like the 9/11 attacks happened. The thought disgusts me. Only one of those 3 choices is both morally defensible and provides a practical path to a better future. It is possible President Bush chose Option-C for less than noble reasons, but it is still the noble choice. For years we upheld the easier wrong in Iraq; I credit Bush for placing America on the path of the harder right.

More thoughts:
Contextualizing the argument over Operation Iraqi Freedom (basic framing);
Snapshot of my 2003-04 views on the War on Terror (multi-part);
Weighing in on Iraq (my 2002 view);
Regime Change in Iraq from Clinton to Bush (law school paper);
Explaining the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom to a law professor;
A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD? (historical context);
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts (retrospective survey);
Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ.

- Eric



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