Once Again Into The Breach: U.S. Shipping More Weapons and Preparing More Military Aid To Iraq

??????????????????6286571246_4906fa443e_bThe United States is mulling further intervention in Iraq as government forces flee Al Qaeda-linked insurgents and the country appears teetering on chaos. While the Administration is not ready to commit boots on the grounds, we may be moving toward a further influx of hundreds of millions or billions in military aid and even air strikes. As ISIS insurgents are seizing U.S. weaponry, the U.S. has already started to flood the country a new massive shipment of new free weapons.

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIS is on a roll and nearing the capital. It is an al-qaeda linked terrorist group following the Wahhabi movement, the extreme religious view advanced by our ally Saudi Arabia.

So let’s take stock. We replaced a dictator based on lies in a massive invasion ordered by George W. Bush. We then spent over $2 trillion (the cost is over $4 trillion when you include Afghanistan). Both President Bush and President Obama continued to pour hundreds of billions of dollars in the country despite massive corruption and billions that simply disappeared. At the same time we have been cutting back on our own educational, environmental, scientific, and social programs due to a lack of money. Consider what $4 trillion would have done.

More importantly, we have lost some 4,486 U.S. service members between 2003 and 2012. Thousands have been wounded, many with lifelong disabilities. Our leaders continued to pour troops into the country because no one wanted to admit that the war was a mistake or that we were losing to Islamic insurgents. We continued to lose people and spend trillions in the belief that we could reverse centuries of sectarian and social strife.

In the meantime, we became increasingly hated by many Iraqis and we opened the country not to Saddamists but Al Qaeda forces who moved into the area as an opportunity to fight America and take over large parts of the country. They are now seizing advanced US weaponry so we are again arming extremists. Now to make our disaster complete we not only have Al Qaeda taking control of areas but Iran has now reportedly sent in troops to fuel the Shiite/Sunni violence. It is offering as many as 10,000 Iranian troops.

It is another example of the economic principle of “path dependence”: we have so much invested that we cannot change course. So once again, we will open up our coffers until the last helicopter leaves from the roof from the Green Zone.

275 thoughts on “Once Again Into The Breach: U.S. Shipping More Weapons and Preparing More Military Aid To Iraq

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/13/rachel-maddow-iraq-attack_n_5491463.html “On her Thursday show, Rachel Maddow cautioned against any renewed American military action in Iraq, warning that the people who “most aggressively argued that we ought to start the Iraq War in 2003″ should not be trusted when calling for intervention now.

    Pressure is building on the Obama administration to back the Iraqi government with airstrikes to fight against militants who are capturing great swaths of the country.

    Maddow noted that people like John McCain and Kenneth Pollack, the “liberal hawk” who wrote an infamous book backing the 2003 invasion, have popped up again to call for a new military commitment to Iraq. But she pointed to the Vietnam War as proof that such open-ended commitments usually fail:

    “Right now the people who thought it would be easy and a great idea and cheap to invade Iraq under George W. Bush, they want us to restart that war again. Frankly, if you press them, they’ll tell you they wish it had never ended in the first place….we have been here before as a country in a big way and we know how this goes.” “

  2. We left Iraq like we had a cab waiting for us w/ the meter running. Our leaving was based on nothing but fulfilling a campaign promise. People who know Iraq told Obama we needed to leave some people there. This administration is a disaster.

  3. Rachel Maddow has a poor ratings show on a 2 bit network. She offers a false choice, her or McCain.

  4. Muslims can only live under one of two governance structures:
    – secular dictatorship (including royalty), or
    – Islamic dictatorship.

    This is because Muslims strongly desire to live under sharia, which is really #2. Bush the Younger destroyed the #1 Iraq had, so it will eventually either turn into #2 or a new military dictator will arise.

    This is what happened in Iran. Eisenhower and the CIA eliminated the democratically elected government in 1953 and installed the ruthless Shah. And when Islamic radicals overthrew him in 1979, our government was (stupidly) shocked.

    The same is true of Syria. It is terrible, simply terrible, that civilians are dying in that civil war. But there are three groups involved: government, Islamic radicals, and democratic rebels. However, the rebels have no chance of winning because they are not ruthless. If we assist any of the opposition, we will end up with another Iran.

    To paraphrase from the Princess Bride, never get involved in Islamic wars.

  5. @Nick Spinelli: for better or worse, the decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq was not made by Obama. It was made by George W. Bush, and formalized in an agreement with Nuri al Maliki in 2008. Obama allowed that agreement to be carried out because he had no choice.

    He tried for two years to negotiate a new agreement which would allow us to saty longer, and falied to accomplish his wishes to prolong our presence there. None of this is pro-Obama, anti-Obama, pro-Bush or anti-Bush, it is merely historical fact.

  6. Saddam tripped a series of UN resolutions which then gave the United States and others the right to go into Iraq and finish the first Iraq War. There was no lying going on, Prof. Turley. You have to go back to the UN resolutions and the US actions regarding those resolutions.
    The stupidist thing was taking the Baathists out of power completely. Had they left some of them in, they could have kept some control in the country. Since the border is porous, terrorists can cross at anytime to be added to the number of people fighting. Again, you need to have a winning plan and a plan to win. Something we do not have now.

  7. “It is another example of the economic principle of “path dependence”: we have so much invested that we cannot change course.”

    Too bad they never heard about the accounting model of sunk cost in which what you have already spent provides no guidance regarding future alternatives and what those alternatives cost.

  8. BillH, From what I read back @ the time of the negotiations, Obama sabotaged the negotiations w/ Maliki so we could bug out. A classic Machiavellian move. Like you, I don’t want to debate the war, Bush, etc. I am just taking the perspective of the brave men who lost brothers fighting for Mosul and Tikrit. They see it all gone now. MUCH of the blame is on the Iraqi military. They fight like the French, throw down your guns, take off your uniform, and RUN. More that anything else, my feeling is sadness for the men who gave everything and now see it all pissed away. There is plenty of blame to go around. We are paying now, and we will be paying for a long time, for the incompetence of this President.

  9. No, not again! We need to stay as far away from these Islamic countries as possible. The entire region is changing and it’s by their own choice. Why do we feel we can insert our democracy into their governments? They have rejected democracy and our social mores time after time. How much more money and lives are we willing to waste there? It was a massive mistake based on lies to invade and now that we have added to the instability of the region by deposing their dictator, we need to go back? There was no Al Queda in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. No going back, no spending more money to send air support. McCain is a war wonger, thank God he didn’t become President.

  10. Paul C. Schulte wrote “There was no lying going on”

    Maybe not flat-out lying, but definitely misrepresentation. Remember Curveball? It was monumentally foolish to base one’s intelligence upon one person’s opinions. There were people in the Bush administration who desperately wanted to “finish” Iraq, e.g. Paul Wolfowitz, so they did.

    “Saddam tripped a series of UN resolutions”

    The war was not sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

    “The stupidist thing was taking the Baathists out of power completely”

    So true. As I wrote above, Muslims need a dictatorship, whether benevolent or ruthless.

    “winning plan and a plan to win. Something we do not have now”

    Nor did we have one during Bush the Younger’s terms. Remember Mission Accomplished?

  11. “Rachel Maddow has a poor ratings show on a 2 bit network.”

    She would be pretty amusing if she were not so redundant, making every point three different ways to give her dim bulb viewers plenty of time to absorb what she is saying.

    That and going into excruciating detail on bits of popular culture and politics as though she is explaining some fascinating research topic rather than a bit of common knowledge.

  12. This seems like a good time to be working hard to make ourselves independent of this powder keg region and build that pipeline.

  13. The proper response to Iraq is to seat grand juries to probe matters of war crimes and hold the decision-makers accountable. GWB admitted he gave the orders to torture and would do so again.

    11/15/1999, Dick Cheney, CEO of Halliburton (later, Vice President)
    “Oil remains fundamentally a government business. While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies, even though companies are anxious for greater access there, progress continues to be slow.” (at the London Institute of Petroleum)

    11/14/2002, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
    “I’m glad you asked. It has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil.”

    9/9/2008, Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve through 2005. (from The Age of Turbulence, p.463)
    “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

    03/22/2003, General Tommy Franks
    “There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.”

    03/27/2003, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary
    “There’s a lot of money to pay for this … the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

    03/30/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
    “We know where they are [Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction]. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”

    10/29/2001, Michael Leeden, American Enterprise Institute

    “Just wage a total war against these tyrants; I think we will do very well and our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

    02/13/2002, Kenneth Adelman, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board

    “Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”

    01/10/2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

    “… something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.”

  14. BFM, It is that snarky way she delivers almost every sentence. It appeals to elitist liberals who talk that way. She certainly doesn’t appeal to mainstream Dems. Just the “look down your nose” type.

  15. SWM,
    A side note and Nick already addressed, but just a heads up – you may want to check the Brookings and Public Religion Research Institute polling data from a few days ago. PPP from a few months ago showed the same exact results. MSNBC ranks dead last for “trusted” or “trustworthy” news sources. Both polls had ‘The Daily Show’ rating higher than MSNBC.

  16. Nick Spinelli wrote “They fight like the French”

    You really need to stop watching jingoistic Fox News and its reports of “freedom fries.” You’ve obviously never traveled in France where combat units patrol the railway stations and I mean “combat units” in the literal sense. You should search for stories regarding France’s ongoing efforts to rescue French hostages in Africa; unfortunately, a hostage was murdered recently in Somalia, but the commandoes certainly did not “RUN.”

  17. “Saddam tripped a series of UN resolutions which then gave the United States and others the right to go into Iraq and finish the first Iraq War.”

    Even if that is true, it does not demonstrate that going in was a wise thing to do.

    It seems to me one of the most important lessons of the cold war is that sometimes it is vital to both be ready to destroy the adversary and at the same time avoid conflict.

    I would argue that going into Iraq was one of the greatest foreign policy fiascoes in our history.

    And what ever the legal justification, the US public was motivated to invade by what, at best, can be labeled mistakes – unless you want to put a fine point on it and call them outright lies.

  18. Steve, It does not matter. Rachel Maddow is a highly intelligent well informed Rhodes scholar.I look at the individual not the network.

  19. Saucy, The one time the French REALLY needed to fight, they quit and then collaborated. That is from where the rap emanates, and it is not debatable.

  20. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2014/06/mosul_s_collapse_is_nouri_al_maliki_s_fault_iraq_s_prime_minister_failed.htm

    “As the U.S. pullout began under the terms of a treaty signed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush, Maliki, the leader of a Shiite political party, promised to run a more inclusive government—to bring more Sunnis into the ministries, to bring more Sunnis from the Sons of Iraq militia into the national army, to settle property disputes in Kirkuk, to negotiate a formula on sharing oil revenue with Sunni districts, and much more.

    Maliki has since backpedaled on all of these commitments and has pursued policies designed to strengthen Shiites and marginalize Sunnis. That has led to the resurgence of sectarian violence in the past few years. The Sunnis, finding themselves excluded from the political process, have taken up arms as the route to power. In the process, they have formed alliances with Sunni jihadist groups—such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which has seized not just Mosul but much of northern Iraq—on the principle that the enemy of their enemy is their friend.”l

  21. SWM, Much of the blame is on Maliki. As I said, there is much blame to go around. But, your guy is also culpable.

  22. bigfatmike wrote “the US public was motivated to invade [Iraq] by what, at best, can be labeled mistakes”

    The US public was motivated in a way that Goebbels would have applauded. We were outraged because of 9/11 and wanted to kill them all. Bush and the boys convinced us that we needed to invade Iraq because of WMD (cannot allow another 9/11) and alleged ties to the perpetrators of 9/11, al-Qaeda.

    I think Obama is a pathetic president, but Bush should have been prosecuted for high crimes and misdemeanors.

  23. Bagdad will fall by July 4th. ISIS will then start screwing around with Israel.

    Remember the 4 blood moons? 3 left to go!

  24. Nick Spinelli wrote “D-Day is a stark reminder”

    Research the Battle of Kasserine Pass and tell me how Americans were any better. One battle does not a country make.

    As for collaboration with the enemy, research “Bowe Bergdahl,” “Aldrich Ames,” “Robert Hanssen,” “Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,” and other American Quislings.

    We all live in glass houses.

  25. US troops would have stayed in Iraq if their right to rape, pillage, plunder, maim, torture, and destroy would have been guaranteed by the Iraqi govt. The Iraqi govt declined those terms.

  26. Here’s how complex this situation is. The group ISIS is too radical for Al Qaeda. However, ISIS is our ally of sorts in Syria. They are trying to oust Assad. I think we should have armed and helped the Kurds take over Iraq. They are sane and know how to fight.

  27. Let’s send “Retarded” George over there to fix it…. He did such a good job, last time!!! Iraq would definitely not be in this position if Saddam was still alive, and the United States wasn’t filled with IDIOT politicians………..

  28. Professor Turley lays out a very top line analysis of the situation, which is accurate.
    (Except for the “we have been cutting back on our own educational, environmental, scientific, and social programs” part.)

    Some other key points:
    1. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS was too extreme for Osama Bin Laden; Al Qaeda wouldn’t deal with him.
    2. The Iraq issue is Shiite vs. Sunni + “others.” With the Jihadi Jamboree that’s been taking place in Syria, there are a huge number of foreign fighters in the mix, especially hardcore Chechens. An American suicide bomber fighting with the rebels blew himself up last week.
    3. This issue doesn’t care about borders. ISIS wants as much of Iraq and Syria as they can get.
    4. Iran is playing both sides. They support Assad against ISIS in Syria. They were supporting ISIS in Iraq until they grabbed a lot of land, very quickly and now Iran is pledging support to Iraq.
    5. ISIS has captured Mosul, Tirkut, and the largest oil field in Iraq (320 /800 K barrels per day.) They’ve captured the largest bank ($425 Million) and one of the largest weapons caches. They also captured a large percentage of the drinking water in Iraq.
    4. Iraq has been requesting assistance for months.
    5. Turkey is exercising Article IV of the NATO charter and requesting support.
    6. Jordan has been holding high level meetings with Israel. (Israel!) Jordan has requested US support/assistance to secure its border with Syria and Iraq.
    7. The Kurds. The Kurdish Peshmerga is the only fighting force in Iraq that could and would fight. Iraqi Muslims hate the Peshmerga. (These are the people Saddam actually USED WMD’s on!) The Peshmerga hate the Iraqi Muslims just as much, one could understand why.
    Turkey joined NATO partly out of fear of the Peshmerga; however, the Peshmerga is the only thing protecting Turkey from ISIS encroachments. The residents of Mosul, including deserting Iraq military and police fled to the protection of the Peshmerga.

    While some want to address this with “war crimes tribunals” for 2002 decisions, the Jihadi’s laugh at us. The Middle East is on fire.

    Obama pulled out our troops out far too fast for one reason – politics.
    We had to leave behind a Trillion dollars in equipment. (Much of which has been seized by ISIS.)
    Why? Bush? Nope.
    No SOFA? Nope.
    Obama didn’t talk to Nouri al-Maliki for almost a year. No wonder he didn’t want to grant a SOFA.

    This is what you get when you have community organizer as CIC.
    This is what you get when the CIC doesn’t know that a US Navy corpsman doesn’t work with dead bodies.
    This is what you get when the CIC was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize on what he might do.
    This is what you get The United States shifts from a position of strength to an apology tour.
    This is what you get when America “leads from behind.”
    This is what you get when the US Military’s top leadership (JCOS) are a gaggle of political hacks.
    This is what you get when red lines are drawn, in pencil.
    This is what you get when the president says he’s going to “fundamentally transform America.”
    This is Barrack, Hillary and John’s legacy. Undermining 64 years of US foreign policy in 6 years.

    Progressive? Is the root word not progress? I fail to see a shred of it.

  29. Once again into the Crusades (On The Origin of the Crusader Pathogen).

    Report: Bush Told French President Jacques Chirac That Iraq War Was Biblically Ordained With Story of Gog and Magog:

    According to the report, Bush lobbies Chirac in 2003 with quotations from the Book of Revelation and told him that the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated. The bible states:
    7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, :8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
    9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

    Gog is known to dwell to the north of Israel.

    Evangelicals and Bible literalists often discuss the battle foretold by prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 38 and 39 as key to the 1000 reign of Christ — working on the precise timing indicators from the Bible to plan ahead

    . (Turley Blog, May 25, 2009).

  30. Paul: “Saddam tripped a series of UN resolutions which then gave the United States and others the right to go into Iraq and finish the first Iraq War. There was no lying going on, Prof. Turley. You have to go back to the UN resolutions and the US actions regarding those resolutions.”

    Go ahead Paul. Show us the legal mechanism whereby a U.N. resolution obligated the U.S. to declare a state of war existed between Iraq and the United States upon “tripping” said resolution.

    There was no lying going on??

    And I guess the moon landing never happened either?

  31. Ridiculous. It was ridiculous in the first place. It’s human nature. Sending an occupying army into a country and expecting everyone to be happy about it is a fool’s errand. Like Libya, Egypt, etc, etc… and soon to be Ukraine, we have unleashed a complex series of events that we don’t understand and cannot control. This ridiculous foreign policy, while making defense contractors more wealthy, may be the undoing of all of us.

  32. Nick Spinelli wrote “Saucy, Are you French? This seems personal.”

    I can see why you’d say that. You should get me riled up on the subject of North Korea sometime (see JT’s North Korea post of today). I’m neither French nor Korean.

    No, what annoys me is what Fox News did during the run up to the Iraq War. They and idiot Republicans (not that Democrats are any better) brought up the anti-French hysteria because France was opposed to the war. The entire “freedom fries” episode caused me to forget about Fox News as a serious news source. I have traveled through Paris’ Gare du Nord and almost ran into one of the soldiers patrolling it. I will never forget the look he gave me (“Get out of my way, you stupid civilian, before I shoot you!”) because he was on serious duty. The soldiers were patrolling as if they were in combat: they were separated by a sufficient distance to prevent one Muslim from shooting them all with one blast and they had fully-automatic rifles (I used to be a gun nut).

    I am tediously analytical. I expect politicians to debate facts and news outlets to report them. When people twist reality to further their agenda, I become rather annoyed.

  33. Saucy, Fox News does not have anything w/ my disdain for the French, and not just their reprehensible actions in WW2. The “freedom fries” horseshit was stupid. The French are a sanctimonious, entitled, lazy, people. They do make great wine and cheese. I like their simple country peasant cuisine a lot. Their haute cuisine is pretentious. I learned much about the French and their cuisine from Julia Child and Jacque Pepin.

  34. The fact is the US is not omnipotent. We cannot solve every problem.

    Some might now be asking would the US have been better off with Saddam in power rather than the current situation.

    Sometimes there is great benefit from a honest appraisal of exactly what might be accomplished in a bad situation.

  35. Nick Spinelli wrote “The French are a sanctimonious, entitled, lazy, people”

    Their 30-something hour work-week is rather unrealistic in a globalized world. I did rather appreciate the well-dressed, thin women, however. I was shocked at how many Islamic women walked around in full veils (this was before France righteously banned them).

    “Their haute cuisine is pretentious”

    This is so American of me, but in Paris I avoided the sidewalk cafes because the food was poor and the prices were high. I finally figured out that Subways in tourist areas and small restaurants in shopping malls were my friends. I loved London because of the many fish & chip shops.

  36. Paul,

    You didn’t answer my question.

    Don’t play coy.

    Show us the legal mechanism whereby a U.N. resolution obligated the U.S. to declare a state of war existed between Iraq and the United States upon “tripping” said resolution.

  37. Bob, Esq – here you go.

    UNSCR 678 – November 29, 1990

    Iraq must comply fully with UNSCR 660 (regarding Iraq’s illegal invasion of Kuwait) “and all subsequent relevant resolutions.”
    Authorizes UN Member States “to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.”

  38. ” whereby a U.N. resolution obligated the U.S. to declare a state of war existed between Iraq and the United States”

    Can a UN resolution obligate any state to declare war?

    Isn’t the most the UN can do is authorize a state to use military force?

  39. Paul,

    Did I ask you to show me which resolution “authorized” the U.S. to use military force against Iraq?

    No.

    Does the U.N. have power over our military or any power to authorize a U.S. president to use military force?

    No. Perhaps in the mind of a five year old; but not in reality.

    So I say again.

    Show us the legal mechanism whereby a U.N. resolution obligated the U.S. to declare a state of war existed between Iraq and the United States upon “tripping” said resolution.

  40. It seems to me the world industrial/military/security complex has created the situation in the Middle East that they desired. Constant turmoil with scattered regional powers. We have taken trillions of public treasure and turned it into private wealth. We have created enough instability and fear to ensure the continued expenditure of treasure supplying arms to both sides of the conflict. The oil fields are unstable, thus keeping the value of stable supplies at a premium.

    When will the public quit supporting this corruption? Quit honoring the people who are mercenaries, not heroes, doing their dirty work?

    The US divided Iraq into three major ethnic regions. The Shhiit, who control Iran, were given the most power. We support rebels (Al Quaeda or worse?) in Syria. We support a military coup in Egypt. On and on etc etc etc!

  41. on 1, June 13, 2014 at 12:00 pmTheSaucyMugwump (@TheSaucyMugwump)
    Nick Spinelli wrote “Saucy, Are you French? This seems personal.”

    Saucy said…
    I am tediously analytical. I expect politicians to debate facts and news outlets to report them. When people twist reality to further their agenda, I become rather annoyed.
    *****************
    Saucy, we may not agree on most political subjects, but you are clearly a reasonable guy. I’m glad you decided to comment here.

  42. bigfatmike,

    There are those who would have you believe that the reason the U.S. invaded Iraq is because the U.N. said “go.”

    With this re-writing of history and law, into pure fiction, the author hopes to wash away the memory of the fact “the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.”

  43. bigfatmike wrote “Can a UN resolution obligate any state to declare war?”

    No. The relevant chapter of the UN Charter — Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Aggression — includes no such provision.
    https://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml

    The problem is that Bush the Younger made a claim (someone might be able to find his exact words) where he claimed that the U.S. has the authority to execute pre-emptory attacks to prevent more 9/11s. The above UN chapter includes this sentence in Article 51: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

    Bush took it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner, but when someone does this they have a duty to ensure that the intelligence is rock solid. The Curveball incident proved that the Bush administration grasped at any straw to attack Iraq.

    And there are still people who believe that Iraq had WMDs.

    North Korea blatantly attacked South Korea in 1950, but Truman wisely gathered many countries into his UN coalition before heading north of the 38th parallel.

  44. Dislike MSNBC and Rachel Maddow all you want, but this special report spells ot exactly why we invaded Iraq. No other report that I’ve seen or read on the reasons behind the war in Iraq spells it out this clearly. Some people should be sitting in prison.

  45. A Monumental Lie

    In his first nationally televised address on the Iraqi crisis on October 7, 2002, six days after receiving the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a classified CIA report, President Bush told millions of Americans the exact opposite of what the CIA was telling him -a monumental lie to the nation and the world.

    On the evening of October 7, 2002, the very latest CIA intelligence was that Hussein was not an imminent threat to the U.S. This same information was delivered to the Bush administration as early as October 1, 2002, in the NIE, including input from the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies. In addition, CIA director George Tenet briefed Bush in the Oval Office on the morning of October 7th.

    According to the October 1, 2002 NIE, “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical and biological warfare] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger case for making war.” The report concluded that Hussein was not planning to use any weapons of mass destruction; further, Hussein would only use weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have if he were first attacked, that is, he would only use them in self-defense.

    Preparing its declassified version of the NIE for Congress, which became known as the White Paper, the Bush administration edited the classified NIE document in ways that significantly changed its inference and meaning, making the threat seem imminent and ominous.

    In the original NIE report, members of the U.S. intelligence community vigorously disagreed with the CIA’s bloated and inaccurate conclusions. All such opposing commentary was eliminated from the declassified White Paper prepared for Congress and the American people.

    — Vincent Bugliosi

  46. The Manning Memo

    On January 31, 2003, Bush met in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a memo summarizing the meeting discussion, Blair’s chief foreign policy advisor David Manning wrote that Bush and Blair expressed their doubts that any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would ever be found in Iraq, and that there was tension between Bush and Blair over finding some justification for the war that would be acceptable to other nations. Bush was so worried about the failure of the UN inspectors to find hard evidence against Hussein that he talked about three possible ways, Manning wrote, to “provoke a confrontation” with Hussein. One way, Bush said, was to fly “U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, [falsely] painted in UN colors. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach” of UN resolutions and that would justify war. Bush was calculating to create a war, not prevent one.

    — Vincent Bugliosi

  47. The 9/11 Lie

    The Bush administration put undue pressure on U.S. intelligence agencies to provide it with conclusions that would help them in their quest for war. Bush’s former counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, said that on September 12, 2001, one day after 9/11, “The President in a very intimidating way left us — me and my staff — with the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word that there was an Iraqi hand behind 9/11.”

    Bush said on October 7, 2002, “We know that Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high level contacts that go back a decade,” and that “Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gasses.” Of Hussein, he said on November 1, 2002, “We know he’s got ties with Al Qaeda.”

    Even after Bush admitted on September 17, 2003, that he had “no evidence” that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11, he audaciously continued, in the months and years that followed, to clearly suggest, without stating it outright, that Hussein was involved in 9/11.

    On March 20, 2006, Bush said, “I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack on America.”

    — Vincent Bugliosi

  48. How many Iraqi’s do most of th folks here actually know? I know a couple of the 10 odd thousand I live among, betwixt the 30,000 Lebanese. I plan to engage as many as I can in conversation over the next couple weeks to hear their opinions and their stories. Just as I did in 2001+ when I was an active member of a group espousing USA invasion of Iraq and we actually debated civilly with those who did not favor it in several community meetings. Democracy at its finest, even if it got “heated” now and then. If you need to know the group, email me at my Blogger address. Be aware that said group had some issues with the federal government. Of course, so did I and I worked there.

  49. The Niger Allegation

    One of the most notorious instances of the Bush administration using thoroughly discredited information to frighten the American public was the 16 words in Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The Niger allegation was false, and the Bush administration knew it was false.

    Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador to Iraq, was sent to Niger by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate a supposed memo that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake (a form of lightly processed ore) to Iraq by Niger in the late 1990s. Wilson reported back to the CIA that it was “highly doubtful” such a transaction had ever taken place.

    On March 7, 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei told the UN Security Council that “based on thorough analysis” his agency concluded that the “documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” Indeed, author Craig Unger uncovered at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union address in which analysts at the CIA, the State Department, or other government agencies that had examined the Niger documents “raised serious doubts about their legitimacy — only to be rebuffed by Bush administration officials who wanted to use them.”

    On October 5 and 6, 2002, the CIA sent memos to the National Security Council, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and to the White House Situation Room stating that the Niger information was no good.

    On January 24, 2003, four days before the president’s State of the Union address, the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, which oversees all federal agencies that deal with intelligence, sent a memo to the White House stating that “the Niger story is baseless and should be laid to rest.”

    — Vincent Bugliosi

  50. False pretenses

    Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq

    President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

    Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

    On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war.

    It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose “Duelfer Report” established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.

    In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

    President Bush, for example, made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Powell had the second-highest total in the two-year period, with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld and Fleischer each made 109 false statements, followed by Wolfowitz (with 85), Rice (with 56), Cheney (with 48), and McClellan (with 14).

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2008/01/23/5641/false-pretenses

  51. Can we get back to the situation @ hand. We can’t change the past. We went into Iraq poorly and we left poorly. What do we do know. The enemy in Iraq, ISIS, is our ally of sorts in Syria. Make no mistake about it, ISIS has their sights on the US. They are in competition w/ Al Qaeda to be the baddest in the world. That’s the sort of competition we don’t need. There are no good choices, only less worse choices. At this point, I say stay out. But, I could be persuaded w/ facts to say otherwise.

  52. From the Greatest Hits album of the Bush Administration

    On August 26, 2002, in an address to the national convention of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Cheney flatly declared: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” In fact, former CIA Director George Tenet later recalled, Cheney’s assertions went well beyond his agency’s assessments at the time. Another CIA official, referring to the same speech, told journalist Ron Suskind, “Our reaction was, ‘Where is he getting this stuff from?’ ”

    In the closing days of September 2002, with a congressional vote fast approaching on authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address: “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. . . . This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.” A few days later, similar findings were also included in a much-hurried National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — an analysis that hadn’t been done in years, as the intelligence community had deemed it unnecessary and the White House hadn’t requested it.

    In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: “Sure.” In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of “compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda.” What’s more, an earlier DIA assessment said that “the nature of the regime’s relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear.”

    On January 28, 2003, in his annual State of the Union address, Bush asserted: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.” Two weeks earlier, an analyst with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research sent an email to colleagues in the intelligence community laying out why he believed the uranium-purchase agreement “probably is a hoax.”

    On February 5, 2003, in an address to the United Nations Security Council, Powell said: “What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources.” As it turned out, however, two of the main human sources to which Powell referred had provided false information. One was an Iraqi con artist, code-named “Curveball,” whom American intelligence officials were dubious about and in fact had never even spoken to. The other was an Al Qaeda detainee, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, who had reportedly been sent to Eqypt by the CIA and tortured and who later recanted the information he had provided. Libi told the CIA in January 2004 that he had “decided he would fabricate any information interrogators wanted in order to gain better treatment and avoid being handed over to [a foreign government].”

  53. Aridog, I have actually gotten to know many Iraqi Christians who moved to San Diego during Hussein’s rein of terror on Christians. They own virtually every liquor and convenience store in Mission Beach, where I spend winters. They LOVE the US. They LOVE that we got rid of Hussein. They are jovial, ball busting, great small businessmen.

  54. These San Diego Christians predicted what would happen when we left. They were certain that once US Troops left it would be chaos. These folks have friends and family in Iraq but have not returned for safety. They were sympathetic to the Iraqi’s who wanted US Troops to stay and they are also sympathetic to us folks here who are tired of war. These are good people who love this country more than many of the spoiled people who were born here and take so much for granted. I’m not in San Diego now but I’m sure these good people are conflicted. They understand, on a profound level, just how screwed up their country is. They have somewhat od an affinity toward Sunni’s since they were also oppressed under Hussein.

  55. Bob, I concede it is relevant. But, the damn is broken, the city is being flooded, and we’re debating how the dam was built.

  56. Nick,

    It’s also relevant as to who we or the media should listen to regarding the current crisis.

    And what are the first two rules of navigation?

    Figure out where you are

    THEN

    Figure out where you’re going.

  57. Annie wrote: “Saucy, we may not agree on most political subjects, but you are clearly a reasonable guy. I’m glad you decided to comment here.”

    Oh, gee, thanks (blushing like a five-year-old). ;-) I first jumped in when people were ganging up on you regarding nursing. If I remember correctly, one person even tried to use Wikipedia as the definitive source!

    My litmus test for determining whether someone is reasonable is their reaction after we disagree. I cannot tell you how many people have accused me of being a liberal or a Tea Party member, when in truth, I’m neither and everything in between.

    At the risk of breaking JT’s rules, I will advertise the fact that I write a political blog (just search for “saucymugwump” and take the first result).

    And my name is not actually Saucy Mugwump, but it’s okay if people call me that (it’s better than blockhead).

  58. Until grand juries are sat to probe matters of war crimes, there won’t be any “moving on” for America.

  59. Saucy, People put links to their blogs all the time. What JT doesn’t want is people who carry their dysfunctional relationships from other blogs here. A quick perusal of your blog shows you hate PC. I just bookmarked you for that reason alone. We got some real PCers here. And, like you, I have liberal people think I’m conservative and conservatives think I’m liberal. I am a financially conservative, libertarian, independent. We type don’t fit into the box the cultist duopolists find so much comfort.

  60. Bob, There is always a price for fraud. And EVERYONE pays the price. You’re talking to a fraud investigator.

  61. When are the warmongering chickenhawks of the US government (Democrat and Republican alike) and their pliably supine lickspittle stenographers in the media going to be held accountable for their war crimes in lying the US into an elective war in Iraq which has been directly responsible for untold death and human suffering?

  62. Nick Spinelli

    Bob, There is always a price for fraud. And EVERYONE pays the price. You’re talking to a fraud investigator.
    ===================
    Too big for fraud investigations.

  63. Dredd, that picture says it all. A vacuum was created when Saddam Hussein was deposed. There was no ISIS or even Al Queda before that vacuum was created….by us.

  64. Nick Spinelli wrote “Make no mistake about it, ISIS has their sights on the US. They are in competition w/ Al Qaeda to be the baddest in the world.”

    There are many Islamic fundamentalist groups in the world who intend to force Islam on the world. As was seen with the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, Times Square bomber, Portland bomber, Boston Marathon bombers, 9/11, London’s underground / bus bombers, Madrid train bombers, Moscow Nord-Ost siege, Beslan, et al, they have taken the fight to North America and Europe. Have you been paying attention to the Islamic takeover of British schools, particularly the “Trojan Horse” plot in Birmingham? Muslims are very similar to Bolsheviks (which I know something about) and Scientologists in their tactics, i.e. they are fanatical and crazy.

    We don’t have the resources to occupy Iraq and keep it peaceful, especially since we have outsourced millions of jobs overseas which resulted in many Americans dropping into the poor class. The domino theory is very expensive to maintain. We should bring our forces home and concentrate our efforts here, possibly by closing the immigration gate to Muslims, but opening it wider to Christians from the Middle East like your pals in San Diego.

    P.S. This is one reason I do not agree with libertarian theory, as it calls for unfettered immigration.

  65. 9/11 was “permitted” just like Pearl Harbor. All agencies knew 9/11 was coming. The Twin Tower targets were presented to all agencies by the “Blind Sheik” in 1992. Bin Laden was run by the CIA against the USSR just like the CIA (shadow government) ran Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan as a decoy for the shooter/security officer escorting Bobby. Bin Laden’s “fliers” were tracked. Saudis who harbored the “fliers” in Florida were allowed to fly out of this country on 9/12. Tom Clancy told us and Bin Laden that fully fueled jet air liners could be flown into governmental and New York buildings with devastating effect.

    Bush, like McKinley/Roosevelt and the sinking of the Maine, like Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor, like Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin, used a contrived attack to start a war. The American military was preparing for desert operations at MCAGCC 29 Palms and other military facilities for more than a decade prior to 9/11.

    You might want to analyze the actions of the puppet masters that pulled Bush’s strings.

    The opiate of the masses is the driving force here, not oil. Countries with oil are happy to sell it at high prices.

    If we could end our addiction to the opiate of the masses, we could get out of the Middle East entirely. We would all have to be like Einstein and Michio Kaku, physicists who live in Realville where there is “nothing between the atoms.”

    The Founders, who admonished against “foreign entanglements,” weren’t religious zealots, in fact they were Deists.

    America has “evolved” far from the intent of the Founders, far from the context formed by the Preamble, far from the freedom of the Constitution and far into a belligerent theocracy and other incoherence.

  66. Saucy, If you read what I said, I do not support going back into Iraq. If a case can be made, I will listen w/ an open mind. But as of now, I say stay out.

  67. Nick Spinelli wrote “I do not support going back into Iraq”

    Yes, I knew that. Sorry if my words gave a different impression.

    “What about the pipeline to make us free of the Middle East oil?”

    Which one: Keystone XL or South Stream? Okay, that second one actually helps Europe.

    I am in favor of any pipeline that frees us from the Middle East. I think it is a crime if China is allowed to take Canadian oil. I just want the pipeline to be built robustly and I think we know how to do that.

    I am not in favor of fracking, however, because I have a sneaky suspicion that our aquifers will be permanently tainted. And then we are f**ked.

    I am on the fence with respect to drilling in Alaska because the environment is extreme. That drunken Exxon captain already screwed us once.

    And the plans to make money by exporting our fracked oil are looney-tunes. We should be topping-off our Strategic Petroleum Reserve first.

  68. John wrote “All agencies knew 9/11 was coming.”

    Large conspiracies are difficult to keep secret. If “all agencies” knew 9/11 was coming, then you would have had tens or even hundreds of potential Snowdens. I think it is highly likely that someone would have sounded the alarm before the event, especially given how many of those officials would have families in the firing line, but now that we are almost 13 years after the event, it boggles the mind that such a secret could be maintained.

    A perfect example is the grand jury proceedings regarding Rocky Flats. It was nowhere near as momentous as 9/11, yet the grand jury members leaked much of the knowledge to journalists because they were good Americans and wanted the truth to be known.

    Your premise fails the smell test.

  69. Iran to the rescue……………….

    Iran will provide support to al-Maliki’s government to combat an “extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely,” President Hassan Rouhani said on state television yesterday.
    The Wall Street Journal reported that two battalions of elite Quds Forces from Iran are backing up Iraqi forces.

    Mr. Nice Guy Sheikh Abdel-Qader al-Nayel………………

    A military spokesman for Iraq’s tribal revolutionary council, said that Iraqi Sunnis are particularly supportive of “our revolution.”
    The main goal of the insurgency is Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to the prime minister’s office, parliament and foreign embassies,
    “to demolish the current political process and form a national salvation government,” al-Nayel said.

    Stay tuned……same bat crazy channel.

  70. Saucy, I’ve been bringing myself up to speed. Firstly, at the core, this craziness in Iraq is that this a Sunni/Shiite war. I learned Iran[Shiite led] is helping the Maliki govt.[Shiite led] against ISIS. What we are now seeing is a terrorist army that is organized, focused, and ruthless. Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS has taken over a large swath of Syria and Iraq, and HELD that territory. This is a paradigm shift. Paid armed forces in Syria and Iraq are frightened by the savagery of ISIS and simply flee, leaving armored equipment and weapons. Obama just made a statement that he is “weighing all options.” I’ll bet he uses his favorite toys, drones. I am ambivalent on that. We should assist the Kurds if they are attacked. They are sane, tough people who will never cut and run like Iraqi forces did.

  71. Saucy, I’ve been bringing myself up to speed. Firstly, at the core, this craziness in Iraq is that this a Sunni/Shiite war. I learned Iran[Shiite led] is helping the Maliki govt.[Shiite led] against ISIS. What we are now seeing is a terrorist army that is organized, focused, and ruthless. Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS has taken over a large swath of Syria and Iraq, and HELD that territory. This is a paradigm shift. Paid armed forces in Syria and Iraq are frightened by the savagery of ISIS and simply flee, leaving armored equipment and weapons. Obama just made a statement that he is “weighing all options.” I’ll bet he uses his favorite toys, drones. I am ambivalent on that. We should assist the Kurds if they are attacked. They are sane, tough people who will never cut and run like Iraqi forces did. I will adjust my thoughts as I learn more or the situation changes.

  72. Jerry this craziness is @ the core of virtually ALL the hatred in the Middle East. Sunni v Shiite.

  73. Nick, as for the core of ME issues being Sunni versus Shiite, yep, you nailed it. However, if they ever once resolve those differences, with one of those my enemy’s enemy is my friend deals, it will be fanatical Islam versus Israel. Then back to Sunni versus Shiite. I live among 40,000 Arabs, most are Shiite in my area. Among the ordinary working people I don’t find them much different than the rest of us, which is one reason I live here. With the current ISIS/ISIL push there will be no celebrations here with people waving purple fingers in the air. That is sad. Lives lost, friends of mine among them, for something of an ideal that seems to be vanishing before our eyes. Feels like the 60’s all over again.

  74. Nick ….ISIS/ISIL may be the almost final Caliphate form of what began as the patchwork Al Qaeda. It is usually the case when a terrorist group acquires enough power to suppress all others or demand subservience. More often than not the winner kills off the less influential. Witness Vietnam 1954-1959, when our allies, the Viet Minh, from 1941-45 took over in Hanoi. Jules Roy has several pieces published on the evolution.

    I am distressed because I believe we helped enable ISIS/ISIL thinking something would be better than the Alawite Asad….Alawites being a sect of Shiite. Now they sweep in to Iraq, and potentially a maelstrom when they run up against Shiite Iran.

    I would love it if someone could convince me I am wrong.

  75. Aridog & Nick,

    We agree, this is turning out as a Sunni Vs Shiite show down. The winner gets all.
    But if it’s ISIS, then they have a “To Do List” and Israel is at the top of that list.

  76. Jerry….you just stipulated my biggest concern. I have good friends in Israel, all of whom I cherish.

    My nick might fool someone who doesn’t know me, but “Ari” was my favorite dog of all time. I am really a guy named Richard and a cussed Irish Catholic ;) Been to war, fell in love with people half a world away, and have never outgrown my childish wishes for peace in our time.

  77. Winning hearts and minds…
    … Through destructive forces.

    There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until America arrived…
    … Co-ink-a-dink?

    Healing comes through accountability…
    … And until our criminals are held to account, the suffering will continue to be delivered unto those who never deserved our invasion.

    Wait till the ISIS get to the Green Zone… Then there’ll be boots on the ground.
    Why? We didn’t spill all that money into the largest embassy for another Benghazi*, did we?

    *drink

  78. Imagine the children of the parents who brought us SHOCK & AWE…
    … Discussing Iraq, today. Blessings to the victors?

  79. Max,
    I hope they have a really good escape plan in that embassy in Bagdhad. Maybe they secretly have some sort of “Beam me up Scotty” technology in that shiny new embassy. I think they should leave now while the going’s good, but it wouldn’t indicate much confidence in the future of Iraq, I suppose.

  80. UGH… facepalm!
    The 2002 Iraq AUMF Almost Certainly Authorizes the President to Use Force Today in Iraq (and Might Authorize the Use of Force in Syria)[UPDATED]
    By Jack Goldsmith | Friday, June 13, 2014
    http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/06/the-2002-iraq-aumf-almost-certainly-authorizes-the-president-to-use-force-today-in-iraq-and-maybe-syria/

    […] the 2002 Iraq AUMF states in part: “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to . . . defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.” The relatively narrow original purpose of this statute is captured in its preambular language. But what counts is the operative text of the authorization. That text gives the President the discretion to determine when the use of the U.S. Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq (not the government of Iraq, not Saddam Hussein, but Iraq), and authorizes the President to use those forces in that circumstance. It is not at all hard to interpret this statute to authorize the President to use force today to defend U.S. national security from the threat posed by the ISIS-induced collapse of Iraq.

    Also note that, in contrast to some previous AUMFs, the 2002 AUMF has no geographical limitation.
    (continued)

  81. It shall be interesting to hear the Politico’s spin helping Iran as a good thing…
    … Iran / Iraq war redux III and guess whose side we’re on this time?

  82. Aridog, Several of my Iraqi Christian friends have said, the only thing that prevented this Sunni/Shiite war was the presence of Christians. Both sects hate Christians even more than each other. I think Jordan is next, then Israel. Oil bolted to $107 today. Maybe the LOOOOOOONG deliberation on the Keystone pipeline will need to be decided soon. Obama has been stalling until after the November elections. What has amazed me about Obama is how deliberative and long he processes decisions and then gets it flat ass wrong. Maybe he needs to read, Blink.

  83. Bob,Esq,

    PL 102-1.

    From http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html#wasOIFlegal

    P.L. 102-1, passed on January 12, 1991, stated, “The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678.”

    UNSC Resolution 678, adopted on November 29, 1990, stated, “[a]cting under Chapter VII of the Charter . . . [a]uthorizes 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.”

    From http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/crs/rl31641.pdf

    [The] Clinton Administration cited the original authorization enacted by Congress before the Gulf war in 1991 (P.L. 102-1) as a legislative basis for using force against Iraq as the crisis over U.N. weapons inspection heated up in 1998. 34

    34 P.L. 102-1 has no expiration date, and according to the press, some specialists in international law have expressed the view that it provides sufficient authority to use force against Iraq. Philip Shenon, “U.S. To Use ‘91 Law to Justify Air Strikes on Iraq,” The New York Times, February 4, 1998.

  84. Nick Spinelli
    Hilarious. Pee your pants funny, watching people flee for their lives.
    = = =
    Hardly funny at all… when you think about it, Nick. really.
    America keeps setting up the dominoes and keeps blaming others for setting the whole thing off! Why are we setting up dominoes in the first place?

    Of course it’s planned… Set ’em up and knock ’em down.

  85. Nick Spinelli wrote “Sunni/Shiite war”

    It is sickly amusing that Islam, the religion of peace, has had a civil war raging from the death of Muhammad. Iraq always was a force-fit country from the legacy of the Versailles Treaty, France (there I go again), and Britain. Did you know that one of the proposals of the Versailles Treaty was to create Kurdistan, including the northern part of Iraq, the adjoining section of Turkey, and other bits? By the way, a good book to read on this and other subjects is “Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World” by Margaret MacMillan, the great-granddaughter of Lloyd George.

    “terrorist army that is organized, focused, and ruthless”

    That’s what makes me think this is an offshoot of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The other Islamist groups always employ guerilla tactics, but this is a battle.

    “We should assist the Kurds if they are attacked”

    Quite right. And given that the Kurdish section contains most of the oil, we could kill a few birds with one stone.

  86. The US-led Iraq enforcement was a continuous mission from the Gulf War through Operation Iraqi Freedom. Compliance with Iraq’s obligations, weapons and non-weapons related, under the UNSC resolutions – not the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons – was the cause of action for US-led military enforcement with Iraq. The basic legal authority was PL 102-1 (1991) and UNSC Resolution 678 (1990).

    Before PL 107-243 (2002), Congress reaffirmed President Clinton’s use of the military to enforce Iraq’s “full compliance”. [Hat tip to I, citizen]

    105th CONGRESS
    1st Session

    H. RES. 322

    Expressing the sense of the House that the United States should act to resolve the crisis with Iraq in a manner that assures full Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding the destruction of Iraq’s capability to produce and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and that peaceful and diplomatic efforts should be pursued, but that if such efforts fail, multilateral military action or unilateral United States military action should be taken.

    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    November 12, 1997

    Mr. LANTOS (for himself, Mr. GILMAN, Mr. GOSS, Mr. YATES, Mr. HUNTER, Mr. SKELTON, Mr. SISISKY, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. ACKERMAN, Mr. SPRATT, Mr. HORN, Mr. KING, Mr. WEXLER, Mr. ROTHMAN, and Mr. SHERMAN) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations

    Resolved, That it is the sense of the United States House of Representatives–

    (1) that the current crisis regarding Iraq should be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means but in a manner which assures full Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding the destruction of Iraq’s capability to produce and deliver weapons of mass destruction;

    (2) that in the event that military means are necessary to compel Iraqi compliance with United Nations Council resolutions, such military action should be undertaken with the broadest feasible multi-national support, preferably pursuant to a resolution of the United Nations Security Council; and

    (3) but that if it is necessary, the United States should take military action unilaterally to compel Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

  87. Americans still believe that they can invade a Muslim country (or any other country), win at one point and then leave? After their last two adventures in Iraq and in Afghanistan (where I spent a year), there are still those that rally to send our young men and women there to be killed, maimed and lose their minds? Iraq is a place where both religion and politics have pitted citizens against citizens and will most likely never end that conflict. Doesn’t this country have enough problems already than to spend even more money on that place? How many years will be enough to insure peace there? What a tragic thought. I am not a great fan of Pres. Obama but I hope that he means it when he stated today that there won’t be US troops on the ground. Don’t get me started on the incredible waste of tax monies this will mean again. Most of you have mentioned the lives and injuries of American people in Iraq; what about the lives of all Iraqi men, women and children. The Sunni population fleeing Mosul have told the media they’d prefer to keep to the militias, brutal as they may be, to the government of Maliki. We never came even close to winning that war and we won’t by bombing the country once again. Only the military industrial companies will be the ‘winners’. The soldiers who fought there and want to return are out of their mind. Their commanders need to tell them the truth.

  88. Nick…what you say about the Christian elements in the Iraqi fiasco is probably right, although I doubt in Iraq they had much power per se. My conversations with my Lebanese neighbors imply the same thing amongst Lebanese, and there the Christians did have power. No matter what, keeping track of who hates who in the ME these days is a full time job. We cannot continue to be stupid as I believe were, late in Libya, early on in Syria. Alliances there are not the stuff westerners can grasp.

  89. Eric,

    Just one of the things standing between history as you desperately want to remember it and history as it actually happened is…

    50 USC 1541

  90. Bob,Esq,

    Re 50 USC 1541, PL 102-1 and PL 107-243 are statutory authorizations.

    PL 107-243:

    (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.

    The 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement was authorized by its own statutes.

    However, keep in mind that the policy area encompassing “statutory authorization” has greatly expanded since the US became a leading world power in the 20th and 21st centuries. At times, generalized, standing authorities have been utilized for military deployment.

    To wit, http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2012/05/Regime-Change-in-Iraq-from-Clinton-to-Bush.html

    Unless the Executive’s foreign powers and obligations are rolled back to the 19th century and the need and form of a legislative declaration of war are far more narrowly defined, any attempt to have Operation Iraqi Freedom declared unconstitutional has little hope of succeeding. Under President Clinton, Congress had made clear the President was authorized to use military action to bring Iraq into compliance with the UNSC resolutions. Operation Iraqi Freedom was well grounded in the national interest, multiple statutes, as well as modern foreign-policy precedent. For example, P.L. 107-243 and UNSC resolution 1441 included strong humanitarian grounds. In 1999, while still bombing Iraq in the wake of Operation Desert Fox, President Clinton used humanitarian grounds to bypass Congress and the UNSC altogether when he deployed airpower and ground forces against Serbia. 34

    34 Over a decade later, President Obama cited humanitarian grounds, specifically Responsibility to Protect, to deploy airpower in Libya without Congressional authorization.

  91. jonathanturley: “We replaced a dictator based on lies in a massive invasion ordered by George W. Bush.”

    Professor Turley, it’s clear you have fundamentally misunderstood the 1991-2003 US-led Iraq enforcement.

    The US role was enforcing Iraq’s compliance with its obligations under the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions.

    Here’s the key you’ve missed: Iraq’s guilt was established at the outset of the ceasefire (which Saddam then continuously compounded). The entire burden of proof was on Saddam to cure Iraq’s guilt by proving Iraq’s full compliance.

    The ceasefire of the Gulf War was contingent on Saddam curing Iraq’s guilt, ie, disarmament along with a host of non-weapons obligations. If Saddam fully complied, then the war was over. If Saddam fell short of proving full compliance, then the ceasefire was breached, Iraq’s guilt was presumed, and the “clear and present danger” (Clinton) was imputed.

    In 1998, Operation Desert Fox was triggered by Saddam’s failure to pass the “testing [of] Iraq’s cooperation” (Clinton) with UNSCOM. In 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom was triggered by Saddam’s failure to pass Iraq’s compliance test with UNMOVIC.

    That Saddam was in breach of Iraq’s ceasefire obligations at the decision point for OIF is undisputed – UNMOVIC’s reporting is rife with Iraq’s violations.

    (Note: While the Bush administration cited properly to Iraq’s noncompliance, I agree that the pre-war intelligence was misrepresented as “evidence”. The pre-war intelligence should have been represented as ‘indicators’, which is the normal role of intelligence. Judged as indicators rather than “evidence”, the pre-war intelligence did point in the right direction. Keep in mind that because Iraq’s guilt was established, the entire burden of proof was on Saddam to cure Iraq’s guilt, and the triggering test was Iraq’s compliance, ‘proof’ was not a required element for enforcement. If the US had presented no ‘proof’, the enforcement procedure would have been the same. Indeed, Clinton cited entirely to Iraq’s noncompliance for Operation Desert Fox.)

  92. From http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html

    Q: The reasons for OIF seemed to change. Was OIF about WMD or democracy?

    A: OIF was about both. The issues of Iraq’s WMD and regime change in Iraq were tied together. There was a bundle of reasons in the body of US laws and UNSC resolutions on Iraq. The short answer to ‘Why?’ is ‘All of the above’.

    The regime change mandate in the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act was based on Clinton’s conclusion that achieving Iraq’s compliance on all of its obligations, weapons and non-weapons related, would require regime change either with a rehabilitated Saddam or Saddam removed from power. The source of the “clear and present danger” was not Iraq’s WMD, but rather the intrinsic nature of Saddam’s regime. Iraq’s WMD was a symptom only, albeit a very dangerous symptom, of the cancer afflicting Iraq: Saddam, unreconstructed.

    When Saddam failed to comply volitionally, the objectives set by President Clinton to resolve the Saddam problem were achieved by OIF: Iraq in compliance, Iraq at peace with its neighbors and the international community, and Iraq internally reformed with regime change.

    For America the liberal hegemonic leader of the free world, the regime change that brought Iraq into compliance meant shepherding post-Saddam Iraq to a pluralistic liberal society, commonly called democracy.

  93. INFPs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.

    Loyal to the people and causes important to them, INFPs can quickly spot opportunities to implement their ideals.

    INTPs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference. When making decisions, they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations.

    Perhaps if the INFP spent a little more time THINKING and a lot less time FEELING loyal to a particular cause, he’d wake up, stop lying to himself and others while realizing that the administration of George W. Bush defrauded the country into war.

  94. We should pack, the ‘Dumbass in Chief’ George W. Bush… and his horse, and send them both to Iraq, on the earliest jet. Maybe ‘Dumbass’ could paint us a few pictures of the failure of his, ‘brainless’, disastrous policies…… Or at least do us a favor by getting shot!

  95. Steve Kellam, I retrieved your comment at 11:37.

    Folks, Steve wrote a lengthly comment that got snagged a while ago. It is available at 11:37.

  96. Darren Smith,

    I thought comments weren’t posting due to a connection or computer problem. If I’ve been filling up your queue, I apologize.

    Is there a rhyme or reason for comments that post immediately v comments that get swallowed? I can’t tell the difference between my comments that go up right away and the ones that disappear.

  97. Yes, and just how well are things going in that beaker of liberal society coming along?? Did we not add enough of this or that yet?? The pompous nature of the above defense that has no rational connection to anything but the think tank that spawned it is the reason why we are in a total spiral. We are failing at just about every turn diplomatically, and it ain’t hard to see why.

  98. I suppose the bottom line is the use and sale of weapons. Consumed quicker than drugs so higher in profit. Does this make me proud to be in a ‘democracy’ ?…not really. We get to discuss more than the Chinese but we’re not listened to by our government any more than they are.

  99. Appended to comment at June 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    After the regime change, the Duelfer Report corroborated that Iraq was in broad violation of its weapons obligations. For example, a clandestine program was active within the Iraqi intelligence services.

    Saddam had direct command of the Iraqi intelligence services and the armed forces, including direct authority over plans and operations of both. … The IIS also ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations.

    Any of those violations alone validates OIF.

    The IIS was – of course – Saddam’s regime organ that worked with terrorists, handled Saddam’s in-house black ops, repressed the Iraqi people, and was famously notorious for all of the above. Although a military/battlefield amount of WMD stocks was not found in the post-war investigation despite Saddam’s failure to account for a large amount of WMD, a terrorist attack requires a smaller amount of materials than used by the military on the battlefield, an amount within the capability of the IIS.

    Professor Turley, if you have not done so yet, I encourage you to review the Duelfer Report. The picture it paints of Saddam’s violations and the failure of the ‘containment’ suggests that the regime change was none too soon.

    While politically controversial, Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law and justified on the policy.

  100. Eric,

    You don’t have to worry about a queue building up it’s not a big deal for us to go in to retrieve the comments, it only takes about a minute, provided they were slurped up by the spam filter or moderation.

    Most of us do not comprehend the mysterious ways of the WordPress Vortex of Doom, as we aren’t privy to its algorithm. I can say it is better to have it a little on the crabby side since the website receives on average between 1,500 and 4,000 pieces of spam per day. This would clog up the comments badly with all sorts of ads for junk nobody needs.

    So don’t worry we’ll try to help as best we can.

  101. Reblogged this on saboteur365 and commented:
    Common sense would say that those in the Middle East region cannot be forced to accept a form of government and a culture they do not like and do not want, Western style egalitarianism and so-called democracy. Israel is the prime beneficiary of the breakup of Iraq, which will result from this chaos. If I didn’t know better, I would say that Israel conspires to create these situations. Well, actually I do know better. Bush and Obama, two of Israel’s favorite lapdogs. Sit! Woof! Woof!

  102. John
    Did someone say Rachel MAD COW???

    She is disrespectful.
    ===================================

    you’re just pissed because she has twice your IQ and gets more women.

  103. Let Israel handle the situation. It is their neighborhood. They have a connection to the outcome. I say give Israel the Trillion of Dollars, there will be less stolen from the United States and they will get the job done right. And send disgraced Texas magistrate Trey Loftin there to mediate.

  104. pete
    John
    Did someone say Rachel MAD COW???

    She is disrespectful.
    ===================================

    you’re just pissed because she has twice your IQ and gets more women.

    Supposedly Maddow is in a committed relationship with a woman whose lawn she used to mow, literally.

  105. [music]
    And its one, two, three, what’re we fightin for?
    Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn!
    Next stop is Viet Nam!
    And its five, six, seven, open up the Pearly Gates.
    Aint no time to wonder why,
    Whopee! We’re all gonna die.

    -Country Joe and the Fish

  106. Is it Iraq? Or Iran?
    The Eye countries. Never the Twain shall meet. George Bush confused the two. One had an EyeaTohla and the other one didn’t. If we would just let them break up into distinct religious regions. Kurds here, Sharia there, Farsi over there, Funki underwear. etc

  107. Eric,

    Did you ever consider that the reason you keep referring back to your own blog site for authority is that you’re all alone in your beliefs?

    See my comments about INFP’s above.

  108. TheSaucyMugwump (@TheSaucyMugwump) 4:09

    John wrote “All agencies knew 9/11 was coming.”

    Large conspiracies are difficult to keep secret. If “all agencies” knew 9/11 was coming, then you would have had tens or even hundreds of potential Snowdens. I think it is highly likely that someone would have sounded the alarm before the event, especially given how many of those officials would have families in the firing line, but now that we are almost 13 years after the event, it boggles the mind that such a secret could be maintained.

    *******************************************************************************************
    Obama is keeping this conspiracy secret.

    Obama destroyed the salient e-mails of the notorious Lois Lerner.

    Obama’s “plumbers” are in there working as we speak.

    Obama’s “plumbers” are obliterating the physical connection (i.e. e-mails) to the White House, the Obama committee to reelect, involved democrats and IRS officials.

    “Obama is the President, Nixon wanted to be.” PT

    Obama’s handlers won’t pussy foot around like Nixon’s people.

    They don’t care who knows that they willfully and deliberately destroyed evidence. They just send Holder, the “enforcer,” after them, shut them up and destroy the evidence.

    They are writing a new narrative for Bergdahl, including the release of the Taliban General Staff, and they will write a new narrative for any witness who speaks out; perhaps an obituary. They wrote a new narrative for Michael Hastings (which you may want to inform yourself of).

    “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”

  109. In the coming days and weeks, the October, 2011, decision, which had the overwhelming support of the American public, will be relitigated. That’s a legitimate debate to have. But it shouldn’t be allowed to distract from the broader truth, which is that Iraqis and the rest of us are still living with the consequences of the initial determinations made by President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and their colleagues.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2014/06/the-iraq-mess-place-the-blame-where-it-is-deserved.html

  110. As with our attempts to miliarily intervene in the affairs of China, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — just to name four of America’s most spectacular criminal blunders, a simple G.I. slogan from Vietnam says it all: namely, “We lost the day we started and we won the day we stopped.” If the late-great historian Barbara Tuchman still graced this planet, she would no doubt have update her classic March of Folly with more gruesome examples of U.S. bungling in the Middle East. America has betrayed itself again and has no one else to blame for the genuine fear and loathing with which so much of the world now regards us. The Lunatic Leviathan has done quite enough, no thank you, and needs to do no more harm for at least the next century.

  111. Darren Smith

    “Steve Kellam, I retrieved your comment at 11:37.

    Folks, Steve wrote a lengthly comment that got snagged a while ago. It is available at 11:37.”

    Thank you sir!

  112. “Here’s the key you’ve missed: Iraq’s guilt was established at the outset of the ceasefire (which Saddam then continuously compounded). The entire burden of proof was on Saddam to cure Iraq’s guilt by proving Iraq’s full compliance.”

    We did not miss it. It is just irrelevant to the question of whether it made any sense to go to war, whether the aftermath of war would be better or worse, or whether they lied because they could not make a compelling case – there was no compelling case to be made.

    Sometimes it is easy to find justification to go to war. That does not mean that any reasonable person would do it.

    There are still neo-cons out there who think all we have to do is scrape off the top 5,000 or 10,000 of the elites and then we can impose political and social structures much like our own; and create allies and trading partners.

    What naive, incompetent rubbish. Somewhere out there, Bolton is still telling dictators to take a number.

    If the road to peace in the middle east runs through Baghdad, would some one please check the GPS again.

  113. bfm – whether it makes sense or not is a judgment call. Clearly you do not think it make sense. Clearly, Bush and a bunch of other countries thought it did.

  114. ‘ Clearly, Bush and a bunch of other countries thought it did.’

    …Bush thought it did. I ought to rest my case right there.

    So whats the verdict. In retrospect does it really look like we can scrape off the top few thousand of the elites and impose western political and social institutions to create an ally and trading partner – or – does it look like there might be some complexity not fully appreciated by our magnificent neo-con leaders?

    Any body care to make the argument that sectarian strife is only a remote possibility?

  115. Paul: “whether it makes sense or not is a judgment call. Clearly you do not think it make sense. Clearly, Bush and a bunch of other countries thought it did.”

    “Fraud is kaleidoscopic, infinite. [And that] being infinite and taking on protean form at will, were courts to cramp themselves be defining fraud with hard-and-fast definition, their jurisdiction would be cunningly circumvented at once by new schemes beyond the definition… Accordingly definitions of fraud are of set purpose left general and flexible and thereto courts match their astuteness against the versatile inventions of fraud-doers.” (Stonemets v. Head, 1913)

  116. 935 False Statements

    In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

    President Bush, for example, made 232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Powell had the second-highest total in the two-year period, with 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda. Rumsfeld and Fleischer each made 109 false statements, followed by Wolfowitz (with 85), Rice (with 56), Cheney (with 48), and McClellan (with 14).

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2008/01/23/5641/false-pretenses

    Fraudulently inducing the country into war is a felony. Attempting to lie on behalf of the fraud-doers is equally offensive.

  117. Paul C. Schulte
    bfm – whether it makes sense or not is a judgment call. Clearly you do not think it make sense. Clearly, Bush and a bunch of other countries thought it did.
    =============================================
    i don’t know that i’d say a bunch of other countries. poland, who sent the fourth largest army only sent 194 troops, and they were very open about the fact they were there for the oil.
    Australia, who sent the third largest army, only sent 2000 troops. I believe iceland was on our side and they don’t have an army.

  118. Bob, Esq – Members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees have access to the intelligence reports (the same briefings that Obama blows off). I am not sure you can bring a charge of the President defrauding Congress.

  119. pete – I saw the pussy-footing of other countries as well. Personally, I put it down to their being chicken. However, given that during the first Gulf War the majority of the work was done by American and British tanks after air raids by American and British planes. What you really needed was the two most well-equipped armies

    Here are the Democratic fellow-travelers. You will note the list of anti-war people on it.

    One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.” – President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.
    “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.”
    – President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.
    “Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
    – Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998.
    “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
    – Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
    “[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
    – Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998.
    “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
    – Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.
    “Hussein has … chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.”
    – Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999.
    “There is no doubt that . Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.”
    The effort by many Democratic politicians to appear every bit as bellicose as their Republican counterparts generated some irresponsible rhetoric. Their failure to take a more principle, more critical view of miltiarism eliminated the most improtant obstcle to the imperialist adventure in Iraq that the second Bush administration was determined to launch even before it had defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan. That means that Democrats own a share, albeit far less than the Republcians, of the responsibility for the quagmire in Iraq and the unfinished war in Afghanistan.
    – Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, Dec, 5, 2001.
    “We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”
    – Sen. Carl Levin (d, MI), Sept. 19, 2002.
    “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
    – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.
    “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
    – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.
    “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seing and developing weapons of mass destruction.”
    – Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.
    “The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons…”
    – Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.
    “I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
    – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.
    “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years . We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.”
    – Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002,
    “He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do.”
    – Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.
    “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”
    – Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002
    “We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. “[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime … He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction … So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real…”
    – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.

    http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Gulf_War_II

  120. Bob, Esq – let us take a closer look at the Center for Public Intergrity who came out with the list of all the Bush administration lies. For starters, it is a journalistic organization. Then, there is the fact that most 90+% of voters are liberal. Can you honestly think they are gong to give Bush a break on this? And why were they not all reporting this when it was happening? If they knew that Saddam did not have WMDs why were they not reporting it loud and proud? Hindsight is 20/20.

  121. Bob, Esq – the Center for Public Integrity is a group of investigative journalists. Journalists are 90+% liberal. Do you really think they are going to give Bush a break

  122. ” you have to get past the idea that Bush was a neo-con. He was neither neo or con.”

    I think Bush is a pretty good amateur painter of the type you frequently see in retirement villages. Beyond that I am not too sure.

    But from the wiki entry on Neo conservatism:

    “Prominent neoconservatives in the Bush administration included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer.”

    I realize wiki may be questionable. However that short list seems completely consistent with my recollection of news reports from the time of the early Bush administration. There were many others both in the administration, and outside the administration acting as opinion makers – cheer leaders for the ideas and policies of the administration.

    I am pretty sure I heard Bolton in his own words state that it would only be a short period of time before we reformed 5 or 6 other countries much the same way we reformed Iraq. Seven countries in 7 years. What a magnificent record!

    Do I really have to dig out the people who were making statements that reforming middle eastern countries was as easy as booting the elites out of power and putting our people in charge – much like an erector set or substituting parts in a home computer?

    You have a back ground in education. Perhaps we should have our own little project in recent intellectual history and trace ideas from ‘Project for the New American Century’ to their implementation in the Bush administration. It might be interesting to chart career moves from academia to ‘Project for the New American Century’ to the administration and back again.

  123. Paul C. Schulte,

    Add this to the pile of top Democrats who flipped their position 180 degrees on the Saddam problem:
    “I’ve very concerned,” Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who served as the chief American representative at the United Nations during last year’s confrontation, told reporters on Wednesday. “My experience with the Iraqis is if you give them an inch, they take a mile.” – NY Times, August 13, 1999

    The point you make is essential: Bush’s actions on Iraq cannot be understood properly outside the context of the whole 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement, most of all the escalating nature of the Saddam problem in the Clinton administration.

    Opponents of OIF act like Bush invented the Saddam problem, when in fact, the Saddam problem and enforcement procedure were both mature by the close of the Clinton administration. Bush inherited the Saddam problem and the enforcement procedure to resolve it.

  124. btm – personally, I blame it all on the Illuminati. You will notice even the very slippery Wikipedia did not accuse Bush of being a neo-con.

  125. The burden-shifting away from Iraq proving compliance onto the US proving the intel is one fundamental error by revisionist critics of OIF.

    As Paul points out, a second fundamental error by revisionist critics of OIF is removing Bush’s decisions on Iraq from the context of the whole 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement, despite that Bush inherited a Saddam problem and Iraq enforcement procedure that were mature by the close of the Clinton administration.

  126. ” personally, I blame it all on the Illuminati. You will notice even the very slippery Wikipedia did not accuse Bush of being a neo-con.”

    Your remark seems to acknowledge there is something blameworthy here, so we do agree on something.

    Are you sure you want to debate that the Bush administration foreign and military policy were not take whole from the neo con play book?

    I think you will loose on that one.

    Besides, it seems to me decisions were being made by Cheney, Rumsfeld and their staffs that seemed to operate in parallel to the presidents. If your point is that Bush was a moderate in comparison to the neo cons, then I don’t think he was a very effective counter to Cheney and Rumsfeld. I would argue that whatever Bush’s personal views, the administration followed the Cheney/Rumsfeld/neo con world view on issues of foreign and military policy.

    If that view has such strong arguments for its policies why the deception to take us to war.

    As for the threat of Iraq, this nation negotiated and contained a far more powerful adversary in the USSR for decades till we finally gained indisputable dominance without waging a war.

    The neo con world view was proven defective at a cost of maybe 4 trillion dollars, nearly 10,000 US military lives, countless civilian lives, tens of thousands of US casualties, and maybe 750,000 veterans in treatment by the VA. Admittedly some of those vets would be in treatment at the VA in any case – But probably far fewer with traumatic brain injury and things like that, if you catch my drift.

    But enough chatting about our exceptional past.

    The real question before us is what are our real interests in the current situation, what can we realistically expect to accomplish, and what costs will we incur?

  127. “you are going to have to link to the neocon playbook before I can make any agreements.”

    Unfortunately the web page for the New American Century think tank has been suspended.

    But here is an article by William Kristol advocating attacking Iraq and a position paper from PNAC advocating rebuilding US military might.

    I left out the leading ‘www’ for these web pages. But you should have no trouble copying those to your browser adding the www in front, linking, and enjoying a good read.

    I also though the wiki article on Neo-cons was pretty good. Even if you take issue on their editorial view there is a wealth of information about people and their articles.

    Neo-cons were prolific writers so there is not much of a problem putting together some of their favorite themes and favored policies.

    ://web.archive.org/web/20030321070617/www.newamericancentury.org/AttackIraq-Nov16,98.pdf

    ://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

  128. bfm – I do not accept wikipedia articles for more then the briefest of information. I really cannot be concerned with an organization that no longer exists.

  129. ‘I thought we had worked through that BS. I was apparently wrong.’

    I suppose I should be cheered that you are admitting you were wrong -once.

    Now if I could only figure out what we were talking about when you were wrong it would be like a gift on father’s day.

    Do you channel with select observers of the internet?

    What BS? When did we talk about it? What are you talking about anyway?

    Sorry,Nick. But you should understand we don’t all have the perception and deductive ability of a Mike Hammer.

  130. Paul: “Bob, Esq – the Center for Public Integrity is a group of investigative journalists. Journalists are 90+% liberal. Do you really think they are going to give Bush a break”

    Paul, is it your contention that the Center for Public Integrity made up the 935 false statements? Did they re-define the term “truth” just to undermine your hero?

    How long has this conspiracy against your hero been going on Paul?

    I say “your hero” only because no other description could account for your willingness to lie to yourself and to others for the man.

    To wit:

    Paul: “Saddam tripped a series of UN resolutions which then gave the United States and others the right to go into Iraq and finish the first Iraq War. There was no lying going on, Prof. Turley. You have to go back to the UN resolutions and the US actions regarding those resolutions.”

    Here we see you’ve been lying to yourself about the existence of a legal mechanism by which a U.N. resolution obligated the U.S. to declare a state of war existed between Iraq and the United States upon “tripping” said resolution.

    And yet you continue to tell yourself and others that “there was no lying going on.”

    “Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him….”

    ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  131. ” I really cannot be concerned with an organization that no longer exists.”

    I thought we were talking about the historical record and whether the Bush administration was influenced by neo-cons.

    If that was roughly the subject then it would seem that persons, living or dead, and organizations, existing or folded, would be on point.

    Why would the current existence of PNAC have anything to do with whether their personnel, or associates, or their positions influenced either the administration directly or persons in the administration?

    As for wiki, if all you do is take names and their articles you could keep busy for days. My quick look suggest wiki is a pretty good starting point for a list of key players and their key publications.

    If all you do is limit your self to Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld and their influence, I think you have a hard argument to deny the Bush administration was not deeply influenced by neo-cons.

    Of course some people prefer a ‘see not evil…’ approach to understanding current events.

  132. BFM, Myself, Paul and a few other back benchers had some terrible times getting comments retrieved. I went through an 0 for 20 something slump earlier this year. I thought I was going to get sound to AA! But, in recent months our comments have been retrieved just like others. Today, it looked like the bad ol’ days. Rafflaw came through in the clutch for me on his thread since I made my comment to Paul. It’s just inside baseball stuff, really. Small potatoes in the scheme of things.

  133. Thanks, Nick.

    It may not work for everybody, but if it is more than a few lines I put it in an editor first. If it disappears, I wait a few hours and just put it up their again.

    The first time something would not post, I did not have a clue. I posted the same think some many times I must have single-handedly increased the site stats for a day or two.

    I am a much calmer person now.

  134. BFM, Thanks. I have done that, and then go through streaks where wordpress is kind. So, I stop taking that step. Then, “Just when you think you’re out, it pulls you back in!”

  135. bigfatmike: “they could not make a compelling case – there was no compelling case to be made.”

    They didn’t have to. The Bush administration inherited the case for regime change. President Clinton made the case for regime change the official US policy on Iraq before Bush was elected, and, by the same token, endorsed Bush on Iraq.

    http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/EOP/NSC/html/nsc-11.html

    December 19, 1998 President Clinton speaks to the role of American and British troops fighting to generate Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. The President announces that U.S. policy toward Iraq would seek the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.

    December 16, 1998 President Clinton orders air-strikes against Iraq in response to Iraq’s lack of compliance with UN inspectors, as outlined in UNSCOM Chairman Richard Butler’s report to the UN Secretary General. President Clinton describes Iraqi actions as a failure in their “last chance” to prove willingness to comply.

    http://clinton4.nara.gov/WH/New/html/19981216-3611.html

    I made it very clear at that time what “unconditional cooperation” meant, based on existing U.N. resolutions and Iraq’s own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.
    … This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance. And so we had to act, and act now.
    … 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.

    transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0307/22/lkl.00.html

    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.com/2004/US/06/19/clinton.iraq/

    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.

  136. “They didn’t have to [make the case for war against Iraq].”

    So…we have looked at the causes of the war and found that Clinton made Bush do it? Bush was powerless under the Svengali-like persuasion of Clinton?

    They could not make the case on its merits so they planted evidence, used evidence known to be false, duped gullible news reporters, and lied to the US public which is why they sent Powell to the UN, organized a coalition of the willing, and used trumped up and false data regarding nuclear weapons, yellow cake uranium, chemical and biological weapons, and planted news reports with reporters like Judith Miller of the NYTs.

    ‘They did not have to do that'; I suppose those activities are a sort of presidential intramural sport for amusement only. They did not have to do because you know the American public was on a tear to go to war no matter what. But heck, all that UN stuff is lots of fun. And who doesn’t enjoy grabbing a Frenchie by the scruff of the neck and rubbing his nose in it.

    You can talk all you want about others who voiced similar views or support but it was neo cons in the Bush administration who actually orchestrated support and made the decision to take the nation to war.

    But enough chit chat about the past.

    What are the lessons for our current situation? What are our real interests in Iraq and that part of the world. What should be our immediate and near term objectives. What can we realistically hope to accomplish. What is a reasonable estimate for the cost and duration for our involvement . What do we put at risk, what is the downside if we intervene or if we stay out? What can we possibly hope to gain?

    Does your read on the past suggest that we use diplomacy only, air strikes, advisors in country, combat troops supporting… which faction, the national government, the Kurds, some moderate not now in power, Iran or their surrogates?

    If you support military action, how may air craft, from what bases, how many air craft carriers, how may combat brigades, for how long, at what cost in dollars, in lives?

    Come on neo-neo-cons. I know you have the answers and are dying to enlighten us.

  137. bfm – my only concern was that Bush was not a neocon. After that I didn’t care. This is your cause.

  138. Bob, Esq – Bush is not my hero. However, you have to be careful about sources. However, given the number of Pinocchios received by Obama and the fact that the Center for Public Integrity is not covering his lies, lets me know who they are after.

  139. Sources Paul?

    The Bush administration didn’t defraud the country into war because you question the particular source that cited 935 false statements they made to do it?

    Tell me about the Apollo 11 moon landing Paul.

    Are you sure you have enough reliable sources to confirm that it happened?

    Your reputation for truthfulness is plummeting.

  140. Bob, Esq – I am going to refer you to everything that Eric has posted over the last few weeks. Hopefully you have read it. He has posted and reposted and reposted the reasoning behind Iraqi Freedom.

  141. Paul,

    Are you too lazy now to lie for yourself?

    Everything Eric posted cited his own blog and his own term paper from law school as his “authority.”

    In his solipsistic view, Bush didn’t defraud the country into war because the U.N. authorized the invasion back in 1991.

    Forget the obvious legal problems with the stance, but the desperate need to re-write history as he wished it occurred is something he should take up with his therapist.

  142. Bob, Esq – please don’t get off on these little personal issues. We can have a pleasant debate or not. I do enjoy discussing things with you but when you start attacking my veracity, I tend to get less pleasant to play with.

    Those supposed 935 false statements included statements made after the war started. We were looking for the WMDs for 3 years before we gave up. I quoted this from an article that JAG offered up but did not actually read.

    And still another said the survey group found some potential nuclear-related equipment was “missing from heavily damaged and looted sites.” Yet, because of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, the survey group was unable to determine what happened to the equipment, which also had alternate civilian uses.
    “Some of it probably has been sold for its scrap value. Other pieces might have been disassembled” and converted into motors or condensers, an addendum said. “Still others could have been taken intact to preserve their function.”

  143. Bob, Esq – I agree with the contention that the clock was ticking on getting Iraq to comply with agreements under the UN agreements, so those are the operative agreements to start with. Did we HAVE to go to war? NO. Should we go to war? Depends on the intelligence. Intelligence from several countries tells us that Iraq has WMDs. Intelligence tells us he has used gas against his own people. Intelligence tells us he is a major disruptive force in the Middle East.

  144. OK. Fair enough.

    My only point was that neo-cons have a set of well known positions and advocate well known policies and that the Bush administration was deeply influenced by that body of work.

    I think that is important to recognize because we still have real problems in that part of the world, and it is good to know a little about who is offering advice, what their record is, and how similar advice has played out in the past.

    Having said that, it solutions are not simple or obvious – at least to me.

    The real questions have to do with our real interests, what we might realistically hope to accomplish and at what cost in both dollars and lives.

  145. bfm – the important thing to remember is that the Bush administration has been OUT of office for five years.

  146. bigfatmike: “It is just irrelevant to the question of whether it made any sense to go to war”

    In order to answer whether OIF “made any sense” in the context, you must weigh the alternatives at the decision point. After the penultimate Operation Desert Fox, we only had 3 choices remaining with Saddam:

    A: The status quo – a ‘containment’ that was toxic, unstable, and most important, failed.
    B: End the ‘containment’ by freeing a noncompliant, unreconstructed Saddam from further enforcement.
    C: End the ‘containment’ by a Iraq made compliant either through Saddam complying under threat of regime change or if Saddam failed, then regime change.

    The preferred way was for Saddam to comply on his own. Bush gave him a last chance to comply, as Clinton had done in 1998. Saddam had officially voided the UNSC resolutions in Iraq’s domestic policy after ODF. The only way to compel Iraq to cooperate with UNMOVIC in any measure was under credible threat of regime change.

    Had Bush backed down when Saddam failed again, that left only freeing a noncompliant, unreconstructed Saddam.

    Setting aside the precision of the pre-war intelligence and the fact of Saddam’s noncompliance, the Duelfer Report shows that freeing Saddam certainly meant a rearmed Saddam.

    While the media made much of not finding a military/battlefield level of ready stocks and active production in post-war Iraq, the media virtually ignored that the Duelfer Report found Iraq to be in broad violation of its weapons obligations. In terms of the UNSC resolutions, WMD was found in Iraq.

    Basically, Saddam was guilty on everything else, including an active program in the Iraqi intelligence services – Saddam’s regime organ that worked with terrorists and carried out Saddam’s black ops.

    The question of whether OIF “made sense” in context is discussed here:
    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html

    Excerpt:

    Q: Why not remove the Iraq enforcement and free Saddam?

    A: See Saddam’s history from 1980 onward.

    Dealing cautiously with unsavory competitors that are rational actors is normal for the US. However, Saddam proved to be an irrational actor with dangerously poor judgement. The US simply could not trust Saddam with any less than full compliance on all obligations, weapons and non-weapons related, especially after 9/11.

    Freeing a noncompliant Saddam was out of the question. The Duelfer Report confirms that Saddam was not rehabilitated.

    IR realists like to claim US interests, including regional stability, were better served with Saddam countering Iran. Their faulty premise is Saddam could be trusted, yet Saddam acting out of control, destabilizing, and against US interests is the reason for the US intervention with Iraq in the first place. Saddam was given opportunities throughout the Iraq enforcement to rehabilitate and stay in power, yet did not. The Duelfer Report describes Saddam growing increasingly irrational in his thinking even as he consolidated power. Moreover, Saddam was convinced Iraq needed WMD in order to counter Iran as well as Iraq’s other enemies. Iran’s WMD development is bad enough by itself. An irrational Saddam with dangerously poor judgement spurring an urgent Iran-Iraq WMD arms race was neither the way for the US to counter Iran nor a formula for regional stability.

  147. Link to her comment so we can see in what context she posted the link and it’s original source, not just your cherry picked exerpt.

  148. Oy. It’s difficult to partake in conversation or respond to critics in a timely manner when only 1 in X comments randomly survives the filter.

    Bob,Esq,

    One thinks showing one’s work adds, rather than recycles, value and allows for better judgement on the merits rather than disqualification on the very grounds of showing one’s work. At least, that’s how it normally works in our field, Bob,Esq – correct?

    My analysis is my own, of course, but I do refer to primary sources. If you rather, these 2 links take you to tabulation of much (not all) of the sources I’ve relied upon to form my view, if you prefer to do the work yourself.

    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2012/05/Regime-Change-in-Iraq-from-Clinton-to-Bush.html#endnotes

    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2004/10/perspective-on-operation-iraqi-freedom.html

    Plus this summary: The foundational legal documents for the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement mission were P.L. 102-1 (1991), P.L. 107-243 (2002), UNSC Res 678 (1990), UNSC Res 687 (1991), UNSC 688 (1991), and UNSC Res 1441 (2002). The greater body of UNSC resolutions informing and US statutes enforcing Saddam’s ceasefire obligations operated on that platform. P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 satisfied the “statutory authorization” standard of the War Powers Act.

  149. ” the important thing to remember is that the Bush administration has been OUT of office for five years.”

    That doesn’t seem to stop some of their people from offering advice now. Why shouldn’t we consider the record when we evaluate advice?

    And what does your revered expert advise for the current situation?

    Do we stand with diplomacy, offer material support, apply air assets, send in advisers, special forces, combat brigades? What do the neo cons say? What is our next move?

  150. bigfatmike: “We did not miss it” [regarding the legal basis for OIF]; “Sometimes it is easy to find justification to go to war”.

    The discussion here is straining from pull in different directions. The Iraq debate includes several issues and inflection points. I’m pleased to discuss the policy question, but I would like first to settle the issue of OIF’s legality – get it out of the way.

    My comment was in response specifically to jonathanturley’s statement that OIF was “based on lies”. In a previous post, he called OIF an “undeclared war” in a constitutional context. Both of those points convey a legal implication.

    Of law, policy, and politics, “based on lies” can have a politics (political) meaning or a law (legal) meaning. Politically, it can mean popular support for OIF was “based on lies”. Legally, it can mean the cause of action for OIF was “based on lies”. I’m setting aside the political question for now and addressing the legal question.

    Legally, jonathanturley is incorrect that OIF was “based on lies”. Saddam’s noncompliance is fact and the cause of action for the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement, including OIF, was whether Iraq fully complied with UNSC Res 687, 688, etc.. For example, President Bush, Oct 2002: “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.”

    If jonathanturley agrees with me that OIF was legally (distinct from politically) based on fact, not “based on lies”, I hope he clarifies his position.

    On the 2nd issue that OIF was an “undeclared war”, jonathanturley is technically correct. However, his implication that OIF was therefore unconstitutional per the War Powers Act is incorrect.

    In fact, military enforcement with Iraq was authorized by two statutes – PL 102-1 and PL 107-243 – within the greater bundle of US law on Iraq enforcement. Per 50 USC 1541, a statutory authorization is equivalent to a declaration of war. Moreover, our last declaration of war was in World War 2. Every military deployment with the War Powers Act has been authorized by statute and/or response to attack. Therefore, the statutory authorization for OIF was not only equivalent to a declaration of war, it conformed to modern norms.

    Unless he is actually arguing for amendment of the War Powers Act, if jonathanturley agrees with me that the statutory authorization for OIF was equivalent to a declaration of war, I hope he clarifies his position on the constitutional question.

    bigfatmike, am I correct that you agree with me that Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law?

    If we can stipulate that OIF was right on the law, as distinct from the policy and political questions, then we can move onto whether OIF was justified on the policy.

  151. bfm – they can offer advice as is their wont, however, take if for what you paid for it. Free. They are not the ones making the final decisions.

  152. “am I correct that you agree with me that Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law?”

    I am not prepared to take a position on the legal basis for OIF.

    I am no expert but I feel informed enough to make statements regarding reasonableness for policies and techniques used to mobilize public opinion.

    What ever the legal basis it cannot possibly justify a disastrous policy based on a simplistic view of Iraqi society and lies to the American public.

    Simply put, my position is that a legal basis for war is necessary but can never be a sufficient reason, by itself, to go to war.

    Was is too important to be left to legal technicalities.

    Some of the assumptions that made it easy for some experts to argue for war included the view that Iraqi society could be easily reconfigured with new elites to rule a reliable trading partner and ally, sectarian strife would be minimal, resistance to our forces would be minimal, therefore the war short and cheap, Iraqi oil would pay for much of our cost and reconstruction of Iraqi society, after the war Iraqi oil would act to stabilize international oil markets, the quick overthrow of Saddam would be both an object lesson to enhance our position and a threat to other tyrants that opposed us.

    Far more important than the legal case, it is vital to understand the world view that lead to the waste of trillions of dollars, thousands of US lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives, increased turmoil in an already volatile region, and directed our attention away from the real problems of how to deal with Islamic extremism.

    You can debate the legal details. I am sure that is fascinating. However, I think the legal details are largely irrelevant to the important questions we face today.

  153. “The burden-shifting away from Iraq proving compliance onto the US proving the intel is one fundamental error by revisionist critics of OIF”

    I think that gets it exactly wrong.

    Legal justification is a necessary condition but can never be sufficient by itself to justify war.

    War is far too deadly and important to be left to legal technicality.

    Forget revisionism. We all have an interest and I would argue an obligation to reach an objective understanding of the recent past.

    The policies that took us to war were based on a simplistic, flawed understanding of Iraq and its diverse ethnic groups.

    That hubris lead to lies that cost us trillions of dollars, thousands of US lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives, and took us away from the real threat in the form of Islamic radicals.

    It is hard to imagine a more deeply flawed policy.

    The legal basis is simply irrelevant to understanding the arrogance, the stupidity, and the lies.

  154. I have always though the question ‘are we safer now’ is a stupid one. After all sometimes some times we have to walk far along the ledge and lean far over the precipice to reach the valley of safety.

    But still, at some point you have to take the measure of a course of action.

    Does it really seem that the policies put into motion by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle and others have put us in the right direction. Or does it seem they have been a great diversion of our attention, our effort, our resources.

    Have the lives and treasure we spent bought us anything worth while or have then been a great, bitter waste?

    And a key point of our evaluation has to be whether these men were telling the truth when they made their case. Compelling cases do not require lies to be convincing.

  155. bigfatmike,

    Again, am I correct that you agree with me that Operation Iraqi Freedom was right (technically) on the law? Yes or No.

    When you answer the legal question and we’ve set that piece, I can address the next piece, the policy question.

  156. Paul,

    First of all you failed to address any of the specific fraudulent representations I listed.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2014/06/13/u-s-shipping-more-weapons-and-preparing-more-military-aid-to-iraq/#comment-1177417

    Your silence is hereby deemed as acceptance.

    Second, your veracity on this issue is wholly non-existent; just like your intention to back up any of your claims with even a semblance of an argument.

    How am I supposed to take you seriously, about a stance you’ve no doubt held for the past eleven years, by citing a portion of post you read just today as authority for that stance?

    This is unfortunate since I find the attention you give to detail on other matters quite refreshing.

    On this topic, however, you’re as convincing as a moon landing denier or a Holocaust denier.

    People talk about the golden age of the Republican party when Reagan was in power.

    I think that’s B.S.

    The golden age of the Republican party was during the Eisenhower administration; a decade before I was born.

    Whenever I see an alleged “conservative” intentionally lying with complete abandon, like you’ve done here, I just sit back and wonder “what would Ike think about someone like this?”

  157. “am I correct that you agree with me that Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law?”

    I am not ignoring you. I tried to send a more complete answer earlier. I have edited this a bit in the hope that it will make it through for your attention.

    I am not prepared to take a position on the legal basis for OIF.

    What ever the legal basis it cannot possibly justify a disastrous policy based on a simplistic view of Iraqi society and lies to the American public.

    Simply put, my position is that a legal basis for war is necessary but can never be a sufficient reason, by itself, to go to war.

    War is too important to be left to legal technicalities.

    Far more important than the legal case, it is vital to understand the world view that lead to the waste of trillions of dollars, thousands of US lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian lives, increased turmoil in an already volatile region, and directed our attention away from the real problems of how to deal with Islamic extremism.

    You can debate the legal details. I am sure that is fascinating. However, I think the legal details are largely irrelevant to the important questions we face today.

  158. Bob, Esq – I sent in the first team to deal with you. You deserved the best. My none statements is not an acceptance of anything. Eric picked up the argument for me. He and bfm have been debating the issue. Just work your way upstream to connect with Eric’s very cogent argument. He does take a much different tack then I do, so you may have to shift your sails a bit. ;)

  159. bigfatmike,

    “I tried to send a more complete answer earlier.”

    Yeah, this blog has a capricious filter. For awhile, all of my comments were being eaten. Then as I was about to give up, some of them appeared and new ones seem to be going through again. Weird.

    “I am not prepared to take a position on the legal basis for OIF.”

    That’s neither Yes nor No. But okay, I can accept that for now and defer the legal question with you. I thought you were implying a stipulation on the law based on how you responded to a comment that was addressing 1 possible and 1 definite legal assertion made by jonathanturley. Actually, you meant to redirect the discussion outside the legal scope altogether.

    Keep in mind, though, we can’t firewall the legal issue in a policy debate. Settling the legal question at step one helps the policy discussion because the law obviously bears weight on the policy since the law is based on the policy, and in turn, the law defines how the policy is enforced. While inextricably tied together, I agree though they’re not the same question. Well, we’ll do the best we can on the policy question missing a stipulation on the law.

  160. bigfatmike,

    Let’s get started on the policy question. I won’t unpack everything in one comment. But if you would like a cheat sheet of where I’ll go, I suggest this OIF FAQ:
    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html

    OIF was justified on the policy.

    Understanding the justification requires the proper context: Bush’s shoes at the decision point for OIF.

    Bear with me while I stretch the metaphor. To understand Bush’s shoes at the decision point for OIF requires knowing they were hand-me-downs. The shoes were new when his father had them made to confront Saddam, used them for the 1st time, and then handed them to Clinton. By the time Clinton handed the shoes to Bush, they were falling apart with frayed patches, and at the end of their wearable life.

    The Saddam problem compounded over the course of 3 presidencies, mostly Clinton’s. The official US policy that solving the Saddam problem required regime change was established by Clinton out of the escalating struggle with Saddam that preoccupied Clinton’s whole presidency. (See my comment at June 16, 2014 at 12:28 am; and Paul’s compilation at June 15, 2014 at 4:40 am illustrating the consensus view of the Saddam problem that Bush inherited from Clinton.)

    The charge that Bush invented the Saddam problem was strange given that it had been front-page, headline news for over a decade and Bush carried forward Clinton’s standing case against Saddam. Legislators and Clinton officials who had rung the bell on Saddam throughout the Clinton administration (eg, HR 322, Nov 97)were suddenly claiming that they had signed onto PL 107-243 only because Bush ‘lied’. Actually, PL 107-243 effectively only restated Clinton’s standing case against Saddam with firmer language.

    The only substantive difference between Bush and Clinton on Saddam was the additional lens of the collapse of the ad hoc post-ODF ‘containment’ combined with the heightened post-9/11 threat consideration. (See my comment at June 14, 2014 at 12:06 am and Clinton’s statements quoted at June 16, 2014 at 12:28 am.)

    Which brings me to the issue of the pre-war intelligence.

    When I began researching Regime Change in Iraq from Clinton to Bush, my first question was Clinton’s treatment of the intelligence in Operation Desert Fox.

    In terms of law, policy, and precedent, Clinton’s case for ODF established the procedural baseline for regime change. Practically, Clinton cleared the penultimate step to ground invasion with the ODF bombing and the classification of Saddam as a “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” who “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.”

    I figured, Clinton must have had his hands on rock-solid intel for ODF, right? I wanted to find out what happened to it.

    What I found out surprised me: Clinton didn’t cite to the intelligence at all.

    There was nothing in ODF about the US ‘proving’ Saddam possessed WMD. Instead, Saddam’s guilt on WMD was established, presumptive fact, the danger was imputed from the failure to cure Iraq’s guilt, and the casus belli was Saddam’s noncompliance. (For more on the compliance v intel issue, see learning-curve.blogspot.com/2012/05/problem-of-definition-in-iraq.html .)

    Furthermore, I discovered that our intel on Iraq’s weapons was unreliable by the mid-1990s – in other words, years before ODF in Dec 98 – because of Saddam’s “denial and deception operations”. It wasn’t a controversy since the Iraq enforcement was based on Saddam’s compliance, not the US intel.

    The limited role of intel was reinforced when I read Clinton’s endorsements of Bush on Iraq. Despite the outcry over the intel, Clinton was unconcerned; he said Bush should have just left it out. Instead, Clinton emphasized the post-9/11 danger based on Saddam’s “unaccounted for” weapons.

    The established and presumed guilt and burden of proof for Saddam were more than legal technicalities. They were the practical core of the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement, including the ODF precedent that set the procedural baseline for OIF.

    Bush didn’t invent the Saddam problem. Bush carried forward Clinton’s policy to solve the Saddam problem.

  161. Eric

    Your comment at 8:14 PM went into moderation because it had more than two hyperlinks. I dereferenced on of them so that it would work. If you have more than one hyperlink you would like to show readers you can use additional comments to do so.

  162. Darren Smith,

    Understood. Will do in the future. You know, I was wondering how it was that the links got truncated in my earlier comment with the Clinton Iraq quotes. Thanks for the heads-up.

  163. Paul C. Schulte: “He does take a much different tack then I do, so you may have to shift your sails a bit.”

    The main difference between me and most others, including many supporters, is an appreciation of what the burdens and presumptions meant practically.

    The enforcement procedure was designed on the premise that the burden was on Saddam and no burden was on the enforcer. By shifting the burden, revisionist critics of OIF blame Bush for not proving something that the Iraq enforcement was not designed to prove. The Iraq enforcement was designed to test Iraq’s compliance. That’s what Bush enforced and that’s what it did. Saddam failed the test.

    You defend the point that Bush, Blair, and other leaders sincerely believed that Saddam had WMD stocks, active programs, etc.. To me, what they might have believed is irrelevant. It didn’t matter what Bush or anyone else believed about Saddam. Saddam’s guilt was established. The enforcement procedure was established.

    Even if hypothetically Bush believed despite the intel, track record, and appearances that Saddam had secretly sworn off WMD forever and destroyed everything, Bush’s duty as chief enforcer meant he was not allowed>/I> to act on that belief until Saddam satisfied his burden. Until Saddam proved compliance, he was guilty and the “clear and present danger” was imputed.

    As is, the UNMOVIC reporting and the Duelfer Report show Iraq was in broad violation and the ‘containment’ was broken. Clinton was right about Saddam. If Bush backs down, Saddam rearms.

  164. pete,

    I refer to primary sources, too, but for preformed analysis, that’s the blog. If you want primary sources that have informed my view, try the 2 links in the comment at June 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm.

  165. It’s so easy to speculate what was, should be or could be after the fact. People who want US troops to return to Iraq to fight and die for factions who historically for centuries, have killed each other for power, you should volunteer; including McCain and his warmongering cohorts, to lead the charge back to Iraq. Talk to veterans who have lost limbs, suffer with disabilities daily or have PTSD, and ask them if we should send US troops back to Iraq to fight a war that our troops could not understand or knew what they were fighting for. We cannot afford to continue losing lives for people who won’t coexist peacefully, or should we continue to pay for their war while neglecting our infrastructure, ignoring poverty, education and healthcare in our Country.

  166. Nana,
    SO TRUE! I have a daughter that spent a year in Afghanistan and was he during the Taliban attack on Camp Bastion and Leatherneck in 2012. When I hear people who have no loved ones serving in the military jump at the chance of sending our troops back in harms way, I see red. There will undoubtedly be a time when we need to defend ourselves, but our troops aren’t the sacrificial lambs for those who want to police the world. It’s high time Muslim’s change their own culture and work together for peace, if they can’t do that without our help, then too damn bad for them. They should be left to their own devices and we should mind our own business here at home.

  167. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2014/06/dick-cheney-my-thoughts-and-prayers-are-with-the-iraqi-oil-wells.html

    489851141-580.jpg

    JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING (The Borowitz Report)—Former Vice-President Dick Cheney broke his silence about the crisis in Iraq on Tuesday, telling reporters, “My thoughts and prayers are with the Iraqi oil wells.”

    Speaking from his Wyoming ranch, Cheney said that he had planned to remain quiet about the current state of affairs in Iraq, but “thinking about those oil wells has kept me up at night.”

    “If Dick Cheney won’t speak for the Iraqi oil wells, who will?” he said.

    Cheney indicated that, as of now, there was no fighting near Iraq’s oil wells, but warned, “If the violence spreads, those wells could be in jeopardy. And it’s up to the international community to insure that that worst-case scenario doesn’t happen.”

    The former Vice-President said that he expected to “catch hell” for inserting himself into the debate about Iraq, but was resolute in his decision to do so. “If I prevent one drop of precious oil from being spilled, it will have been worth it,” he said.

  168. http://www.salon.com/2014/06/18/george_w_bushs_horrific_deadly_blunder_would_saddam_hussein_be_better_than_iraqs_new_hell/ “Since we are at it, as those ripples are circular, we now come full circle in Iraq. No one wants to say it, so let’s say it here: The project now, best outcome, is to reassemble the Iraq of Saddam Hussein — uneasy with itself, brimming with animosities, but whole. This is the Iraq George W. Bush set out to destroy — purposely but without purpose, if you see what I mean. He did, swiftly. And now by any other name we want it back.”

  169. bigfatmike,

    Part Two: OIF was justified on the policy – in Bush’s shoes at the decision point for OIF.

    Context matters. We only had 3 options on Iraq.

    The options that Bush inherited from Clinton were circumscribed. None of them was pretty. By the close of the Clinton administration, the US-led Iraq enforcement had been reduced to:

    A. Status quo. Kick the can on the toxic and, more importantly, failing ‘containment’ – and hope.
    B. Remove the enforcement and free a noncompliant Saddam, unreconstructed.
    C. Resolution by giving Saddam a final chance to comply under a credible
    threat of regime change.

    An intellectually honest argument against President Bush’s decision for choosing resolution must include a compelling case for kicking the can and/or freeing a noncompliant Saddam. (Recall Obama’s statement as an Illinois state senator that Saddam would fade away if we kicked the can, a position contradicted by the pre-war intelligence and the post-war evidence.)

    I recommend reading the http://www.UNMOVIC.org reporting on Iraq’s triggering noncompliance at the decision point and the Duelfer Report on the post-war fact-finding of Iraq’s violations:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/

    Regarding option A, the Duelfer Report corroborated the pre-war intelligence that the ‘containment’ status quo was broken. Saddam had neutralized the sanctions, was reconstituting his WMD capability including large-scale illicit procurement, and rebuilt proscribed delivery systems. A clandestine program was already active in the Iraqi intelligence services that – by itself – validated OIF.

    Revisionist critics of OIF emphasize that a military/battlefield level of WMD stocks wasn’t found in Iraq, yet overlook that Saddam was noncompliant with UNMOVIC and found to be in broad violation of Iraq’s weapons and non-weapons obligation under the UNSC resolutions.

    Regarding option B, freeing a noncompliant Saddam was a non-starter in US policy. The last chance to free a noncompliant Saddam was in 1995, when his son-in-law – the one that Saddam tricked into returning to Iraq, then executed – revealed WMD stocks that Saddam had successfully hidden from the inspections. Instead of ending the Iraq enforcement, the US and UN reasonably reacted to Saddam’s deception and defiance by making the proof burden for Iraq stricter.

    Per the Duelfer Report, a freed noncompliant Saddam meant a rearmed Saddam. Worse, the Duelfer Reports shows that Saddam, who already owned a track record of dangerously poor judgement that compelled US intervention in the first place, was growing more irrational while also consolidating power. Obama’s pre-OIF contention that Saddam would fade away was unhinged from the facts.

    So, with the ‘containment’ broken and freeing a noncompliant Saddam a non-starter, that left us only with option C.

    The hope was Saddam would come to his senses and comply volitionally. Keep in mind, with ODF, Clinton had already declared Saddam failed his last chance. Saddam remained in material breach of both Iraq’s weapons and non-weapons ceasefire obligations. In other words, Bush would have been right on the law and justified on the policy to invade Iraq without inserting UNMOVIC as Saddam’s last chance to pass his compliance test under credible threat of regime change.

    Instead, Bush gave Saddam a second last chance to comply. Clinton bombed Iraq based on a 3-week (plus 8 years) compliance test in 1998. Bush invaded Iraq based on a 4-month (plus 12 years) compliance test in 2003.

    If Bush had backed down when Saddam ‘called our bluff’, that would have left us with the options of a broken ‘containment’ or freeing a noncompliant Saddam.

    The Duelfer Report makes clear that either alternative to regime change meant a rearmed Saddam who was increasingly irrational to boot. Keep in mind why we intervened militarily in Iraq in the first place in 1991.

    We were already deeply engaged with Iraq before OIF.

    Revisionist critics of OIF assume the false premise that the US was something other than intertwined with Iraq before OIF as the chief enforcer on the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions.

    Moreover, regime change was the official US policy for Iraq since Clinton.

    To wit, President Clinton’s statement on the Iraq Liberation Act:

    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.

    From President Clinton’s statement on 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.
    … 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.

    It wasn’t just lip service, either. Before OIF, the US was already active in regime change efforts in the infamous CIA style. However the regime change came about, the US was committed to helping the Iraqi people transition after Saddam to a liberal state. In other words, if the Iraq liberation element of Clinton’s Iraq policy had manifested without a US-led ground invasion, we still would have gone into Iraq for peace operations, eg, the US role after the Serbia regime change.

    However, it doesn’t appear that the CIA-style effort was able to overcome Saddam’s more-infamous repression of the Iraqi people in violation of UNSC Res 688, which was also a trigger for OIF.

    Would the how of regime change made a difference to the cost of the post-war?

    I doubt it. Keep in mind that the war part of the regime change was mission-accomplished in a few weeks with relatively low casualties to both the US-led coalition and the Iraqis. The vast majority of casualties was caused by the terrorist invasion of US-defended Iraq during the post-war peace operations stage.

    If the US would have been in Iraq following either way of regime change, would the terrorists have invaded Iraq if Saddam had fallen to a CIA-style regime change, instead?

    Given that the US mission in Iraq from the Gulf War onward – before OIF – was the chief source of anti-American propaganda, plus the geopolitical and cultural centrality of Iraq, plus the terrorists’ basic purpose of dominating humanity, it stands to reason that the terrorist invasion of post-war Iraq would have happened regardless of the how of regime change.

    Would other nations outside the Anglosphere have invested more troops in the post-war peace operations with a CIA-style regime change?

    I doubt it. One, the US did lead a multinational coalition in Iraq comparable to US-led coalitions in other missions. Two, to answer the question, look at the simultaneous shortfall of other nations in Afghanistan, as well as in 1990s international missions, despite the full internationalization of OEF. Three, the force make-up of the coalition in Desert Shield/Storm that included local Arab military is inapposite to OIF because neighboring troops defending their own country from Saddam is fundamentally different than the issues arising from neighboring troops occupying Iraq. The US role as a 3rd-party advocate among the Iraqis and advocate for Iraq in the international community was essential.

    Again, context matters. We only had 3 choices on Iraq. In order to be intellectually honest while opposing Bush’s decision for Iraqi compliance through a credible threat of regime change, you need to place yourself in Bush’s shoes at the decision point for OIF and make a compelling case for either kicking the can on a broken ‘containment’ (status quo) or, instead, freeing a noncompliant Saddam, unreconstructed. Read the Duelfer Report before you answer.

  170. swarthmoremom,

    Always remember that President Obama inherited Iraq from President Bush as a strategic victory and a regional keystone partner growing at peace. Blaming President Bush for current events in Iraq relies on the fallacy of attenuated causation. The proximate causes of, one, the construction of ISIS in Syria that combined with, two, the US-abandoned vulnerability of Iraq arose from changed circumstances and conditions due to post-Bush events related to fundamental policy course changes made by President Obama that deviated from Bush’s foreign policy.

    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html

    In the century we’re leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community; fear and hope. Now, in a new century, we’ll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past — but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace. Tonight, the United States is doing just that.
    — President Clinton on the commencement of Operation Desert Fox, 1998

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

    To wit, David Schanzer, Director of the Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, on the progress made by the counter-terrorism campaign:

    As the 9/11 attacks demonstrated, al Qaeda was a powerful and dangerous organization 12 years ago, but is now a shell of what it once was. Central al Qaeda and its affiliate organizations around the globe still aspire to execute attacks inside America, but their capabilities to do so are dramatically diminished. The threat is present, but no longer acute.
    . . .
    In the months after the 9/11 attacks, there was a general expectation-and dread-that 9/11 was just the first of many terrorist attacks inside the United States. Yet the total number of attacks since then is relatively few. Why is that,
    do you think?

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

    In other words, Obama was handed a succeeding counter-terrorism campaign that had greatly reduced the physical terror threat of 9/11.

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

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

    To wit, again, President Obama on post-Saddam Iraq:

    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 other words, by Obama’s own description, the emerging pluralistic,liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq was set to have “a key role” in a reforming Middle East.

    The success of OIF was hard earned. In 2006, the situation in Iraq appeared bleak, reminiscent of low points that preceded other victories in US military history. However, harsh learning curves are normal in war or, in the case of OIF, the peace operations of the post-war.

    American, Iraqi, and allied forces learned how to succeed in Iraq, and the Petraeus-led Counterinsurgency “Surge” turned the Iraq mission around.

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

    To wit, again, General Petraeus:

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

    The American victory in Iraq should have revitalized the commitment and resolve of American leadership of the free world and the concomitant pause of our competitors.

    To wit, again, US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker:

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

    Bush’s decision rocked America’s adversaries, says Crocker: “The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, ‘Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won’t have the stomach to stick it out.’ That assumption was challenged by the surge.”

    With American leadership tempered by the crucible of Iraq, the next step of winning the War on Terror was building peace in the Middle East based on new norms. How? American partnership with the emerging pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq as the keystone building block and the Bush Freedom Agenda. While the Arab Spring happened during the Obama administration, the Bush Freedom Agenda had positioned America to boost liberal reform in the Middle East. Yet in the singular window to make a historic difference, in the moment America held – as President Clinton had envisioned for the US with Iraq – “a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past”, Obama astonishingly, instead, rejected the Bush Freedom Agenda and opted to ‘lead from behind’ with tragically predictable and evitable consequences.

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

    Once again, the necessary condition to secure and build the peace is security. Obama’s foreign policy has created insecurity.

    In sum, America was winning the War on Terror when President Bush left office. Operation Iraqi Freedom was a strategic victory that had resolved the festering Saddam problem (none too soon, according to the Duelfer Report), revitalized international enforcement in the defining international enforcement mission of the post-Cold War, demonstrated the mettle of American leadership and devastated the terrorists with the Counterinsurgency “Surge”, and provided the US with an emerging keystone partner in pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq to reform the region. However, since taking office, Obama has reversed the hard-won progress made under Bush by committing the gross strategic blunders of bungling the SOFA negotiation with Iraq and changing course from Bush’s foreign policy. Consequently, the terrorists have resurged in the gaps opened by the stumbling, diminished American leadership under President Obama.

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

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

  171. The UNMOVIC website seems to be off-line.

    As a substitute, here is the key UNMOVIC finding for OIF, Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes 06 March 2003:
    http://www.un.org/depts/unmovic/new/documents/cluster_document.pdf .

    It’s 175 pages long. If you rather not slog through it, the US State Department fact sheet, Historic Review of UNMOVIC’s Report on Unresolved Disarmament Issues from March 10, 2003, is a quick easy read:
    http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/18513.htm .

    If you’re uninterested in the details, this is the nub: “UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became available and, as a first step, produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues, fully referenced to the database, including entries which need to be confidential.”

    Recall that Bush’s ultimatum, reiterating Clinton’s ultimatum to Saddam in 1998, was “[Saddam’s] only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited.”

    Recall that in 1998, Clinton bombed Iraq based on a 3-week compliance test by UNSCOM, 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 his forces and protect his weapons.”

    Compared to UNSCOM’s 3 week compliance test, the UNMOVIC compliance test had already stretched to 3 months by the March 2003 report. Despite that Clinton set the precedent for immediate military action upon the compliance test result, Operation Iraqi Freedom was further delayed for an extra month.

    Saddam was gifted a reprieve yet didn’t use the extra month after the Blix report to prove the full compliance necessary to prevent regime change. The post-war Duelfer Report corroborated Iraq was in broad violation.

  172. swarthmoremom,

    In case it shows up later, I wrote a longer response earlier that didn’t post. Here’s a shorter version.

    President Obama inherited Iraq from President Bush as a strategic victory and an emerging keystone regional partner growing at peace. Always remember that this was the Iraq that Obama left to the mercies of a region growing sharply more volatile and dangerous, specifically in its neighbor:

    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.

    ~President Obama, May 19, 2011

    Blaming President Bush for current events in Iraq relies on the fallacy of attenuated causation. The proximate causes of, one, the construction of ISIS in Syria that combined with, two, the US-abandoned vulnerability of Iraq arose from changed circumstances and conditions due to post-Bush events related to policy course changes made by Obama that fundamentally deviated from Bush’s foreign policy.

    The emerging trend-setting post-Saddam Iraq was the key to winning the War on Terror. Was. Due to the Counterinsurgency “Surge”, Iraq had turned the corner, earned at great cost by American and allied peace operators together with the Iraqi people, when Bush passed the presidential baton to Obama. Then Obama just threw it away. Obama threw away the Iraqi people who had staked their lives on the American promise from the leader of the free world.

  173. The necessary condition to secure and build the peace for future generations, for Iraq and America, is security. Obama’s foreign policy has created insecurity.

  174. Annie: “It’s high time Muslim’s change their own culture and work together for peace, if they can’t do that without our help, then too damn bad for them. They should be left to their own devices and we should mind our own business here at home.”

    Substitute ‘Europeans’ and ‘Asians’ for ‘Muslims’ in your statement and apply it the changing role, leadership responsibilities, and influence of the US in the world from the 1930s-1940s onward.

    Many Americans then thought the same as you and opposed US entry into WW2, then Korea in the post-war of WW2. (The Korea mission is an apt historical analogy for the Iraq mission.) See the pacifist American Friends Service Committee and the isolationist America First Committee during World War 2.

    Were they wrong? If so, are you wrong?

  175. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-scheer/up-close-and-personal-wit_b_5506092.html “The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush’s enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama presidency is obscene nonsense. This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush’s quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies.

    This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with the invented weapons of mass destruction threat that Bush, were he even semi-cognizant of the intelligence data, must have known represented an egregious fraud. So was his nonsensical claim that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when in fact he was Osama bin Laden’s most effective Arab opponent.

    Yet Bush responded to the 9/11 attacks by overthrowing a leader who had banished al-Qaida from Iraq and who had been an ally of the United States in the war to contain Iran’s influence in the region. Instead of confronting the funders of Sunni extremism based in Saudi Arabia, the home of 15 of the 19 hijackers and their Saudi leader bin Laden, Bush chose to attack the secular leader of Iraq. That invasion, as the evidence of the last week confirms, resulted in an enormous boon to both Sunni extremists and their militant Shiite opponents throughout the Mideast.”

  176. “The necessary condition to secure and build the peace for future generations, for Iraq and America, is security. Obama’s foreign policy has created insecurity.”

    I am still working on some of your documents. I am just not as prolific as you.

    But I think we can knock this comment down right away.

    Your remarks fundamentally misunderstand the nature of security. We can strive for security. But we can never have it in any absolute sense. And we never really know to what degree we do have it.

    You claim seems to be that ‘security’ is necessary for your idea of the good life. I would guess you would include an increasing standard of living for more people, safe communities, education for our children, and a vibrant economy.

    But the facts demonstrate non of that depends on security. Through most of the cold war the world stood within 30 minutes of annihilation. The US alone had about 30,000 nuclear devices. If there had been anything but the smallest exchange, hundreds of millions would have died in the initial blasts and fire balls. Hundreds of millions more would have died within days or weeks from clouds of radiation circling the globe. There is the possibility that all human life would have been extinguished by nuclear winter leading to the deepest and coldest ice age the world has seen. And it all could have started in less than 30 minutes.

    Yet, during that time, many of the people in many nations made huge strides in health, education, nutrition, standards of living, economic vitality, and most any other measure of human well being. Security, as desirable as it is, is not what allows us to make progress.

    What leads on the greater development is far from clear. But I would argue that what ever it is that leads to development, it includes a lack of violence, somehow keeping the peace, the minimization of war. It is stability and peace, even a fitful, limited peace, that allows us to build our lives and our communities.

    It is the neo cons of the Bush administration who tried to build a unilateral world in which the US was the single most powerful imperial nation on earth. To the extent they were able to implement that system, even our allies chaffed under the assumption that our presumed exceptionalism gave us the privilege to ride rough over their interests and run international affairs. Could there be a less stable international system. I think not.

    Obama does face challenges. And there are many questions regarding his techniques. But his approach has been more consultative and more cooperative, yet capable of exercising power where necessary.

    I am no fan of the Obama administration. But it is clear to me that Obama offers a path to greater international stability which is what allows our communities to flourish. Obama’s flawed approach seems far more likely to lead to enhanced long term security.

  177. swarthmoremom,

    Rosenberg’s argument fails for the 2 reasons I’ve stated: One, Rosenberg relies on attenuated causation to blame Bush for current events in Iraq, and two, he relies on the false premise that OIF was based on ‘fraud’.

    First, by Rosenberg’s logic, if President Eisenhower – who warned of the ‘military-industrial complex’ and campaigned against the Korean War – had prematurely terminated our post-war custodies (a/k/a ‘end the war’) in Europe and Asia, especially controversial Korea, and the expected happened to them within the threat environment of the time, then the consequences would have been properly blamed on President Roosevelt for displacing the functional, if oftentimes tyrannical administration by the Nazis and Imperial Japanese.

    It’s not a far-fetched counter-factual. In the early 1950s, it was not a settled issue that the US would stay the course. Following WW2, Truman and then Ike chose to stay the course of responsible American leadership of the free world despite significant dissent. Following Bush, Obama made a very different choice than Ike.

    If in FDR, Truman, and Ike’s day, the binary choice of fascists v communists required long-term US intervention to empower a relatively liberal 3rd choice, then long-term US intervention is required again to empower a relatively liberal 3rd choice in the binary autocrats v Islamists. (See http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2012/09/our-middle-east-choices-autocrats.html .)

    Practically speaking, the 1st stage of an unremarkable post-war nation-building project – let alone the distinct challenges with Iraq – takes just about 10 years. We were only in Iraq for 8 years. 8 years wasn’t enough time to secure the peace in the comparatively straightforward conditions of our post-WW2 occupations, let alone Iraq.

    Heck, 8 years after taking custody of Korea from Imperial Japan, we were fighting the Red Chinese there. The difficulty of the Iraq mission hardly compares to the challenge of the Korea mission, and the errors we made in Korea dwarf the errors we made in Iraq. Yet South Korea is what it is today because the US stayed the course with Korea. Iraq is what it is today because we failed to stay the course with Iraq.

    Second, there’s no ‘fraud’ in Operation Iraqi Freedom because the cause of action for the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement – as stated in the statutory authorities and reiterated as policy by Clinton in ODF and Bush in OIF – was whether Saddam complied with Iraq’s ceasefire obligations. For ODF and OIF, there’s no dispute that Saddam was in broad violation of Iraq’s weapons and non-weapons obligations under the UNSC resolutions.

  178. http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-signals-1403137521“The U.S. administration is indicating it wants Iraq’s political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections this past April, U.S. officials say.

    Such a new government, U.S., officials say, would include the country’s Sunni and Kurdish communities and could help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has seized control of Iraqi cities over the past two weeks. That, the officials argue, would help to unify the country and reverse its slide into sectarian division.”

  179. I drove up to the Twin Cities today. I listened to MSNBC. With the poll numbers and news the last few weeks I think they are on suicide watch over there. Andrea Mitchell was morose. The wheels are not only off the bus, the bus is careening toward a cliff.

  180. swarthmoremom,

    I notice you cite to opinions of questionable critical quality. Admittedly, I have a take on the issue, and I’m writing opinion, too. I can only hope my analysis holds up when judged on the merits.

    That said, if you would like to look through the opinion and develop a grasp of the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement that’s anchored in the law and policy, I recommend the primary sources tabulated at the 2 links in my comment at June 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm.

    The essentials are the first 4 groupings in Perspective on Iraqi Freedom: Clinton, Bush, Congress, and the UN.

  181. Eric, Saddam Hussein should have been left in office. Bush Sr did not invade Iraq and his son should not have either.

  182. ‘WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Congressional leaders left the White House on Wednesday “deeply frustrated” that President Obama had not found a swift resolution to the conflict between Sunnis and Shiites that began in the seventh century A.D.

    After meeting for more than an hour with the President in the Oval Office, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed disappointment that Mr. Obama “came up empty” when asked for a plan to heal the rift between the two religious groups, which began in the year 632.

    “All we ask of this President is that he do one thing: settle a religious conflict that has been going on for a millennium and a half,” McConnell said. “What did he offer today? Nothing.”

    Speaker of the House John Boehner acknowledged that there was a possibility that Obama might find a way to resolve the centuries-old Sunni-Shiite conflict, but the Ohio Republican was not optimistic.

    “This struggle between Sunnis and Shiites has been going on for almost fifteen hundred years,” he said. “That means President Obama has had ample time to fix it.”

  183. bigfatmike: “So…we have looked at the causes of the war and found that Clinton made Bush do it? Bush was powerless under the Svengali-like persuasion of Clinton?”

    No. Saddam’s noncompliance made Clinton and Bush do it.

  184. swarthmoremom,

    We did invade Iraq in 1991. What you mean is that we didn’t go to Baghdad and force regime change. That didn’t happen because the Gulf War was suspended with a ceasefire (UNSC Res 687) that was conditioned on Iraq satisfying its obligations under the UNSC resolutions: http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/sres/index.html .

    The hope and expectation in 1991 was that Saddam would promptly comply so we could end the Gulf War with a rehabilitated Iraq at peace. Until that happened, PL 102-1 remained live.

    Unfortunately, Saddam’s refusal to comply meant the Gulf War couldn’t end. By 1998, with the lower coercive measures exhausted, it was evident to Clinton that compliance would require regime change.

    Indeed, according to Hans Blix and confirmed by the Duelfer Report, the only thing that could compel Saddam to cooperate at all with UNMOVIC – let alone the required immediate, unconditional, unrestricted, active cooperation – was the credible threat of regime change.

    For Clinton and Bush, their regime change policy was a means to the end of achieving Iraq’s compliance. Therefore, they did not require that Saddam must be forced from power. Due to the breadth of the UNSC resolutions, which were not limited to weapons, full compliance by Saddam would have proved his regime was rehabilitated. A compliant Saddam in power was effectively equivalent to regime change.

    To wit, President Bush, Oct 2002:

    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. … this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable.

    Any less than full compliance, however, failed the bar. The enforcement of the ceasefire was strict to begin with, and Saddam had completely eliminated any benefit of the doubt at the point of Operation Desert Fox. Saddam was already classified by Clinton as a “clear and present danger” before 9/11. After 9/11, we had to be absolutely sure about Saddam given his recidivism, belligerence, terrorist ties and threats (included in the UNSC resolutions), and the uncovered international WMD black market. Bush gave Saddam another chance to assure the world Iraq was compliant, and therefore rehabilitated and no longer dangerous. Saddam failed to seize the chance for the last time. Then, after over 12 years, the Gulf War finally ended.

  185. bigfatmike,

    The accusation that the US aspired to be a “single most powerful imperial nation on earth” (though we’re more accurately described as a hegemon than an empire) pre-dated the Bush administration. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine coined the term “hyperpower” for the US in 98-99 to deride Clinton’s foreign policy and advance France’s global ambition.

    See http://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/05/news/05iht-france.t_0.html .

    Nothing has been said about Bush and “neocons” that wasn’t first said about Clinton. Be mindful of critics of American exceptionalism aspiring to replace us with their own loci of exceptionalism.

  186. bfm – MAD worked to keep us secure, so we did have security. But we also had a feeling of insecurity. Still, we advanced much. The Soviets had the same sense of security and insecurity, but did not advance as much. What do you think the reason was?

  187. Eric – FDR forced us into war with both Japan and Germany. Had he stayed in his own backyard, there is no telling how things would have ended.

  188. ” The Soviets had the same sense of security and insecurity, but did not advance as much. What do you think the reason was?”

    There are probably many reasons but I think there are probably two key ones: 1)regardless of whether central planning is possible, they did not have data collection and data processing capability to make it work, 2) a kind of intimidation or corruption that made accurate industrial and economic reporting less likely – so even if they had the data processing capability they could not develop the raw data necessary. Market economies have an advantage – when they take care to develop accurate numbers.

  189. Nick Spinelli

    Hilarious. Pee your pants funny, watching people flee for their lives.
    ====================
    What sociopath or psychopath is being quoted here?

    Someone who tortured animals as a child?

  190. Paul C. Schulte,

    Gaming out a counter-factual for something as big as WW2 does crash into a lot of what-ifs. However, staying in our own backyard depends on how big you think our backyard was preceding WW2. It’s worth looking at the ways we were involved in Europe and Asia before 07DEC41. Generally, big things like OIF and bigger things like WW2 don’t just happen spontaneously.

    swarthmoremom,

    Fareed Zakaria’s opinion is odd. One, he conflates Iraqi Sunnis as a whole with Saddam’s (Baath) regime. Two, was Zakaria a proponent of South Africa’s apartheid government, too? The National Party government in South Africa was downright benevolent compared to Saddam’s regime, which brings me to three, is he aware of UNSC Res 688 that demanded Saddam end repression of the Iraqi people? Four, he blithely dismisses Obama’s culpability in bungling the SOFA negotiation by citing a “senior Iraqi politician” and a generalized speculation to counter a significant body of investigative journalism and insider accounts that a SOFA was reasonably attainable. It’s not as though nuanced SOFA negotiations with nations where US troop presence is necessary but unpopular are new to the US. We’ve been doing them for decades.

    Again, the proximate cause of the ISIS invasion is post-Bush events, especially the degeneration of the Arab Spring, especially in Syria, combined with the vulnerability of Obama-abandoned Iraq that are related to course changes made by Obama that fundamentally deviated from Bush’s foreign policy. Like Ike following Truman, Obama should have stayed the course from Bush.

    The issue comes down to that, at this early developmental stage of post-Saddam Iraq, the US role in Iraq was essential, most importantly as the security guarantee in the increasingly volatile region surrounding Iraq. That’s not a new role for the US. It’s the main reason for our long-term military presence in Europe and Asia. But we were also an essential 3rd party intermediary and advocate within Iraq. In multiple ways, the US presence in Iraq was a critical linchpin, and Obama removed it.

  191. bigfatmike,

    It’s been a few weeks and I’m still waiting for your responses. I was holding off on Part Three until you responded to Parts One and Two, but here it is.

    Part Three: OIF was justified on the policy – in Bush’s shoes at the decision point for OIF.

    We’ve established OIF was legal and – consistent with the whole 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement – triggered by Saddam’s noncompliance.

    President Clinton endorsed OIF by citing to Clinton’s own presidential struggle with Saddam, which President Bush had resolved with OIF. As the vicious political pressure mounted, however, Clinton revised his position with the ‘out’ of criticizing Bush for not allowing enough time for the UNMOVIC inspections.

    http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2012/05/problem-of-definition-in-iraq.html

    Contrary to Clinton’s criticism, UNMOVIC concluded its inspections with its March 7, 2003 report to the UN Security Council.

    UNSCR 1441 “[instructed] UNMOVIC and requests the IAEA to resume inspections no later than 45 days following adoption of this resolution and to update the Council 60 days thereafter”. UNMOVIC was in Iraq for nearly 4 months (27NOV02 – 18MAR03) before the start of OIF. By January 2003, it was evident Iraq remained noncompliant. The March 6, 2003 UNMOVIC Cluster Document reported “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues”.

    Why did Bush conclude UNMOVIC had finished its job with Hans Blix’s March 2003 report when Blix was requesting an indefinite number of additional “months” in Iraq for UNMOVIC?

    Because Bush understood UNMOVIC to be the “final opportunity” (UNSCR 1441) for Saddam’s regime to pass its compliance test. The UNMOVIC reports throughout the inspection period demonstrated that Iraq remained noncompliant. Furthermore, Iraq had failed to fully, immediately, unconditionally, and actively cooperate with the UNMOVIC inspections, which undermined the reliability of UNMOVIC’s findings as a complete account of Iraq’s proscribed activity. That was the trigger for OIF.

    However, at the conclusion of the inspection period, Blix pressed for an indefinite period of additional months to “draw up, for approval by the Council, a work programme for the discharge of their mandates, which will include both the implementation of the reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification, and the key remaining disarmament tasks to be completed by Iraq pursuant to its obligations to comply with the disarmament requirements of resolution 687 (1991) and other related resolutions, which constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1284).

    Bush, as the chief enforcer of Iraq’s ceasefire obligations, and Blix, as the chief inspector of Iraq’s weapons proscriptions, were at odds regarding the ultimate purpose of the UNMOVIC inspections: whether they were a “final opportunity” for Saddam to comply (UNSCR 1441) or a step to a “system of ongoing monitoring and verification” (UNSCR 1284). When Saddam’s noncompliance was confirmed by UNMOVIC, Bush understood any “work programme” for disarming Iraq would only be reliable with a regime change. Moreover, Blix’s purview was limited to Iraq’s weapons obligations, while Bush was enforcing all of Iraq’s obligations under the UNSC resolutions.

    Clinton’s criticism of Bush implies that Clinton disagrees with Bush’s view of UNMOVIC and instead supports Blix’s view of UNMOVIC’s ultimate purpose in 2002-2003. However, Bush’s understanding of UNMOVIC followed Clinton’s precedent as chief enforcer with UNSCOM. Clinton decided to bomb Iraq in Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 based on a 3-week compliance test by UNSCOM. Clinton understood UNSCOM’s function to be a compliance test that triggered enforcement for Saddam’s regime in the same way that Bush understood UNMOVIC’s function.

    From Clinton’s announcement of Operation Desert Fox, 16DEC98:

    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. . . . If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler’s report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons.

    In 1998, not only did Clinton deem 3 weeks were sufficient for UNSCOM to prove Iraq’s conclusive noncompliance, Clinton declared it was urgently necessary to bomb Iraq as soon as possible upon receiving Butler’s report in order to disallow Saddam time to “disperse his forces and protect his weapons”. Clinton contradicts his own precedent with Operation Desert Fox by criticizing Bush for not granting the indefinite period of additional “months” requested by Blix after allowing nearly 4 months for UNMOVIC to complete the inspections. Yet Bush used the same standard for enforcement with Iraq that Clinton used when Clinton had determined as President that “Iraq has abused its final chance” and rapid military action was necessary as soon as Iraq was demonstrated to be noncompliant with UNSCOM.

    Moreover, as a former chief enforcer of Iraq’s ceasefire obligations, Clinton understood why Bush had set a time limit for Saddam to prove Iraq was in compliance and, as a former Commander Chief, knew or should have known the temporal and other practical limits of the invasion force that was providing the credible threat of regime change necessary to compel even the deficient cooperation from Saddam with UNMOVIC.

    At the same time, the Blix alternative was flawed on its face for two reasons: Hans Blix’s assumption of an indefinitely sustained credible military threat and the unreliability of Blix’s ad hoc replacement standard of compliance against Saddam’s “denial and deception operations” (Duelfer Report).

    Blix agrees that the credible military threat presented by the build-up of the invasion force was necessary to compel Iraqi cooperation. Blix also agrees that once the force build-up surpassed a certain mass that it could no longer be sustained as an indefinite presence. In other words, Blix understood that once it surpassed a certain size, the credible military threat required for the inspections would either need to be used on schedule or lost altogether. To paper over this fatal flaw in his proposed alternative, Blix observed that Iraq had started to cooperate at the 50,000 point, so he claimed that freezing the size at 50,000 indefinitely would ensure an indefinite Iraqi cooperation. However, 50,000 was by itself an insufficient size to pose a credible military threat to Iraq. The Blix alternative relies on the unreasonable conclusion that Iraq was compelled to begin cooperation with UNMOVIC by the unthreatening size of 50,000 rather than the passing of the 50,000 point on the developing trajectory of the invasion force build-up. Blix, perhaps deliberately, conflated the context and signal communicated by 50,000 with the number itself.

    The strict standard of compliance imposed on Iraq was a consequence of Saddam’s history, especially the record of deception, denial, and defiance towards Iraq’s ceasefire obligations between the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet while relying on the unreasonable premise of an indefinitely sustained credible threat of regime change to underlie a “reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification” – made more unreasonable when one considers the failure of the OIF invasion force itself to compel the requisite Iraqi cooperation with the baseline UNMOVIC inspections – Blix also proposed altering the hitherto strict standard of compliance for Iraq over an indefinitely extended trial period.

    President Bush rightly recognized that the Blix alternative was impractical in its military requirements, failed to account for UNMOVIC’s lack of sufficient coverage due to Saddam’s “denial and deception operations”, and substituted an unreliable standard of compliance that fell short of ending Saddam’s – as President Clinton had determined – “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere.”

    Blix has implied that with more time, he would have found Saddam in compliance, but doing so would have required a lax standard of compliance. With Saddam in charge, we had to be sure. The Iraq Study Group’s findings strongly suggest Blix’s proposed alternative would have failed to disarm Saddam to the standard enforced by Clinton and Bush.

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