"Trump is a sissy who thinks Bush's war in Iraq was a mistake."
The essential defect of Trump's view that "Bush's war in Iraq was a mistake" is not that it's "sissy", but rather that his view is based on legal and factual error - which bears on assessing his judgement as a candidate for Commander in Chief.
The premise of Trump's position is that Iraq was exculpated on the WMD issue, but that premise is demonstrably false.
According to the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) and fact record for the Gulf War ceasefire (UNSCR 687) disarmament process, Iraq's guilt of proscribed armament was established. To cure its guilt of proscribed armament, Iraq was required to meet its burden [to prove disarmament] with the [declare/yield/eliminate-under-international-supervision] procedure outlined in UNSCR 687.
From the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire, Saddam refused to comply and disarm as mandated and as he agreed to do in order to suspend the Gulf War short of regime change.
Accordingly, in 2002, the UN Security Council decided "to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions", "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991)", and "to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" (UNSCR 1441).
Concurrently, Congress instructed the President "to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" (P.L. 107-243).
Yet in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), Saddam opted again not to disarm as mandated. Instead, on March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC reported to the UN Security Council, "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues ... Little of the detail in these declarations, such as production quantities, dates of events and unilateral destruction activities, can be confirmed. Such information is critical to an assessment of the status of disarmament. Furthermore, in some instances, UNMOVIC has information that conflicts with the information in the declaration."
In other words, after 12 years, including 4 months of inspections in his "final opportunity to comply", Saddam had failed to comply with even the basic step of the ceasefire disarmament process, a total verified declaration that accounted for Iraq's entire WMD program, which Iraq had been mandated to provide within 15 days - in April 1991.
The post hoc Iraq Survey Group corroborated UNMOVIC and further substantiated President Bush's decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF): "ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs" - "[In addition to preserved capability,] we have clear evidence of his [Saddam's] intent to resume WMD" - "the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions...[o]utward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities" - "it has become evident to ISG that [Iraqi] officials were involved in concealment and deception activities"[ - "From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency"].
The truth is at the decision point for OIF, Iraq had not disarmed as mandated. Saddam was in fact rearming in violation of UNSCR 687 and evidentially in material breach across the board of the Gulf War ceasefire mandates, including and especially the (WMD) disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688.
Contrary to Trump's position that "Bush's war in Iraq was a mistake", the President's decision for OIF was correct on the law and facts.
See the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis - the why - of the decision for OIF, which includes the answers to "Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?" & "Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?".
[P.S. Trump's assertion that Saddam was an effective counter-terrorist is diametrically wrong. In fact, Saddam was a world-leading vector of terrorism: "Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime" (IPP). Saddam also ruled Iraq with "widespread terror" (UNCHR).]
Comment criticizing Hillary Clinton's latter 'evolved' position on her vote for the 2002 AUMF and the decision for OIF. An upgraded version of the comment:
“She only makes admissions against interest when there is no alternative to acknowledging the truth in a controversy. Clinton’s history of changing positions and spinning facts is now legendary.”
[A] prime example of Mrs. Clinton’s penchant for brazen spin is her ‘evolving’ position regarding her Senate vote for the 2002 AUMF (Public Law 107-243) in response to partisan pressure.
Clinton’s latter position is that she voted for the 2002 AUMF as Senator to provide the President the necessary leverage for “coercive diplomacy” to enforce Iraq’s compliance with the UN inspections, which is partially correct.
However, as her latter position ‘evolved’ under partisan pressure, Clinton subsequently misrepresented the operative enforcement procedure that defined the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom in order to disclaim her Senate vote with accusation that the decision for OIF abused the 2002 AUMF.
That accusation [by Clinton] is incorrect on the law and facts. The evidence shows that the decision for OIF hewed to Congressional instruction in the 2002 AUMF.
[The nub of Clinton's accusation is the charge that Bush curtailed the UN inspections, but she's incorrect; UNMOVIC discharged its mandate from UNSCR 1441. See the answer to "Did Bush allow enough time for the inspections?"]
The essential defect of Clinton’s latter position is she mischaracterized the operative historical context for the UNSCR 1441 inspections, the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) that was enforced under the 2002 AUMF, the Congressional instruction to “ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (P.L. 107-243), the UNMOVIC findings in the UNSCR 1441 inspections, the UN Security Council consideration of the UNMOVIC findings, and the standard for the determination to use force in section 3(b) of the 2002 AUMF by which President Bush determined to use force with OIF.
[Section 3(b) in Public Law 107-243:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
... (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.—In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that—
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and
(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations ...]
While mischaracterizing the UNMOVIC [Clusters document] findings [of "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues"] that confirmed “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687” (UNSCR 1441), which were the principal trigger for OIF, Clinton ignores the various other fact findings that also confirmed Saddam was in material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire mandates enforced under the 2002 AUMF.
For example, the Iraq Survey Group reported, “ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs”[, "In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his [Saddam's] intent to resume WMD",] and “the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions” in breach of UNSCR 687 et al, the Iraqi Perspectives Project reported, “evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime” in breach of UNSCR 687, and the UN Commission on Human Rights reported, “systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq” in breach of UNSCR 688.
In addition, Clinton’s later claim that her Senate vote for the 2002 AUMF opposed Iraqi regime change elides section 4 of the 2002 AUMF, which invoked section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and “expected” regime change would result from Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).
To properly assess Clinton’s latter ‘evolved’ position on her Senate vote for the 2002 AUMF and the decision for OIF, see the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of the decision for OIF. The scope of Clinton’s misrepresentations are wide enough that I can only recommend reviewing all the answers in the explanation for a sufficient understanding of the 2002 AUMF and the decision for OIF to judge her.
The sad, tragic aspect of Clinton’s spin is that she made the correct decision in her Senate vote for the 2002 AUMF based on the standing law, policy, and precedent that had matured under her husband’s frustrated efforts to enforce Iraq’s compliance with all of the Gulf War ceasefire mandates. Given her proximity to President Clinton’s administration-long struggle with the Saddam problem, Senator Clinton likely understood the gravity of Saddam’s “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (President Clinton) at least as much as, and likely better than, President Bush.
Rather than ‘evolve’ her position on her Senate vote for the 2002 AUMF when her choice was correct in the first place, America, our allies, including and especially Iraq, and she herself would have been better served if she had instead set the record straight on the why of the Iraq intervention and stood up for her right decision and the justified mission.
[P.S. A post expressing my anger at Secretary Clinton and President Obama's fundamental betrayal of American leadership of the free world with their political partisan-based sabotage of the Iraq intervention. Secretary Clinton also reneged on her promises to the Iraqi people to uphold the Strategic Framework Agreement.]
Comment criticizing Evan McMullin's position on OIF:
In the context of a permanent competitive movement, I remain interested in the McMullin campaign’s progress.
In terms of his 2016 presidential candidacy, Evan McMullin disqualified himself from my vote by failing the same litmus test that disqualified Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
McMullin’s chief calling card within his over-all branding as a principled conservative departing from a Trump-corrupted GOP is his center-right Republican national security platform and background, including “House GOP policy director”.
Therefore, McMullin’s position on Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) is particularly dismaying as both a poor reflection of his judgement and as a window to the evident misunderstanding of OIF’s grounds in GOP inner circles.
Excerpt from McMullin’s speech on national security at Georgetown University (21SEP16) –
Now, I am going to say something that many may find surprising. As an intelligence officer who saw it firsthand, I believe the invasion of Iraq was misguided – a tragic and expensive mistake. More than four thousand Americans lost their lives in an effort that will end up costing the American taxpayer over 2 trillion dollars. The justification for the war was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, which were not found, and his suspected terrorist connections.Again, keep in mind that McMullin’s lead credentials are his national security platform and background.
In our haste and fear we launched a war in which American forces fought with valor and courage, but it was driven by misjudgment on the front end and a lack of clear objectives once it began.
Yet contrary to McMullin’s characterization of President Bush’s decision as a “misguided…mistake”, the “justification” for enforcement with Iraq was plainly stated through 3 consecutive administrations as Iraq’s mandated compliance with the UNSCR 660 series.
The OIF decision was substantively and procedurally correct. The US case versus Saddam is in fact substantiated. Saddam was evidentially in categorical breach of the Gulf War ceasefire in his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).
Contra McMullin, Saddam’s UNSCR 687 breach regarding WMD was established by UNSCOM, decided by UNSC, confirmed by UNMOVIC at the decision point for OIF, and corroborated post hoc by ISG: “ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs … the Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UNSC’s resolutions”.
Contra McMullin, Saddam’s pre-OIF “suspected” terrorism in fact underestimated Saddam’s terrorism. Saddam’s UNSCR 687 breach regarding terrorism was confirmed by the IPP findings on Saddam’s “regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations” that included “considerable operational overlap” with the al Qaeda network.
The OIF decision was not made in “haste” (McMullin), but rather at the conclusion of a decade-plus process that exhausted the alternatives until it finally reached the red line of Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) in 2002-2003.
Whatever subjective opinion McMullin holds of the 3-administration US policy of strictly enforcing Iraq’s full compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire mandates, [there was no "misjudgment on the front end".] President Bush’s decision for OIF objectively was correct on the facts according to the operative enforcement procedure for the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441).
McMullin should be the one presidential candidate who upholds the ‘Why We Fight’ of OIF because every national security principle he purports to champion manifested with the US-led 1990-2011 UNSCR 660-series enforcement, most of all with OIF and its peace operations.
Yet it’s plain McMullin is unfamiliar with the decade-plus controlling law, policy, and precedent of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement and, in the operative context, the determinative facts that triggered enforcement with OIF.
McMullin omits mention altogether of the cornerstone UNSCR 688 humanitarian mandates and thus overlooks Saddam’s “systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UNCHR) in OIF’s justification.
Consistent with his omission of UNSCR 688, McMullin’s criticism of a “lack of clear objectives once it began” exposes his ignorance of the law-and-policy framework that defined the OIF peace operations (eg, section 4 of the 2002 AUMF, section 7 of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, statement of the Atlantic Summit, UNSCR 1483, etc) which included the basic UNSCR 660-series compliance process, which the recent “House GOP policy director” is apparently unaware of.
Simply in terms of political strategy, McMullin repeats the mortal strategic error committed by Jeb Bush responding to the Megyn Kelly, May 2015 “knowing what we know now” hypothetical on Iraq, which discredited GOP leadership on national security and set the stage for Trump. Worse, he doubles down on JEB’s disqualifying mistake.
McMullin seems unconscious that disclaiming the Iraq intervention and stipulating the (demonstrably) false narrative of OIF disqualifies the very center-right national security principles he purports to champion. The OIF stigma, based on the false narrative that McMullin stipulated, has been the keystone premise of President Obama’s radical deviation of US foreign policy that has undermined American leadership of the free world.
McMullin’s fundamental misconception of OIF is mystifying. The law and policy, fact basis of the Iraq intervention’s justification is not complicated. The US led the enforcement of Iraq’s mandated compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire as headline news for over a decade while it progressed to its coda with OIF. President Bush’s decision is a straightforward fact pattern that’s easily understood from a readily accessible, plainly stated law, policy, precedent, fact record.
Yet the one 2016 presidential candidate who cla[i]ms to champion all the principles embodied by the Iraq intervention and therefore should grasp the ‘Why We Fight’ of Iraq, plainly does not know. McMullin’s failure on the OIF litmus test is disqualifying for a prospective Commander in Chief.
I hope Team McMullin is sincere about and successful establishing a permanent GOP-independent real competitive conservative movement. But as for Evan McMullin, he disappointed me.
Also see Decision Points suggests President Bush has not read key fact findings on Iraq carefully.