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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Criticisms and suggestions for "International Law and the War in Iraq" (John Yoo, 2003)

PREFACE: The John Yoo is a professor at UC Berkeley law school. More significantly, "From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers."



from: [ELC]
to: [John Yoo]
date: Sun, Dec 10, 2017 at 7:03 AM
subject: Edited v1.1: Criticisms and suggestions for "International Law and the War in Iraq" (July 2003) Re: President Bush's decision on Iraq was correct on the law and facts

Professor Yoo,

Due to the White House's recent derisive invocation of the Iraq intervention to put down President Bush's implied criticism of President Trump, followed the next day by Prime Minister Brown's accusation that the Bush administration lied about Saddam's WMD to trick the UK into war with Iraq (see my rebuttal), I'm moved to e-mail you my criticisms and suggestions for your monograph, International Law and the War in Iraq (2003), with the hope that they will encourage and help you to set the record straight on the Iraq issue in the public discourse. Public corrective on the Iraq issue is urgently needed.

First, before I begin the critical exercise, the compliance basis for the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom was the proper one, and knowing what we know now, it has been well substantiated. The Bush administration should have hewed to the established compliance frame instead of tacking on an "independent" 2nd claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense. More on that below.

Criticism:
Your description of the UNSCR 687 WMD disarmament process misstates the procedure with "destroy its chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles and agree to on-site inspections" (Yoo). Your construction implies that Iraq was permitted to unilaterally destroy proscribed items and separately agree to inspections, when in fact, destruction was integrated with disclosure, verification, and supervision. Whereas unverified unsupervised unilateral destruction subverted the mandated accountability.

Following Operation Desert Fox, on January 25, 1999, UNSCOM executive chairman Richard Butler clarified the UNSCR 687 WMD disarmament procedure and summarized Iraq's strategy to undermine it:
3. For the conduct of this work [mandated by "Paragraphs 8 and 9, in section C of resolution 687 (1991)"], the resolutions of the Council established a three-step system: full disclosure by Iraq; verification of those disclosures by the Commission; destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all proscribed weapons, materials and facilities.
4. From the inception of the relevant work, in 1991, Iraq's compliance has been limited. Iraq acknowledges that, in that year, it decided to limit its disclosures for the purpose of retaining substantial prohibited weapons and capabilities.
5. Actions by Iraq in three main respects have had a significant negative impact upon the Commission's disarmament work:
Iraq's disclosure statements have never been complete;
contrary to the requirement that destruction be conducted under international supervision, Iraq undertook extensive, unilateral and secret destruction of large quantities of proscribed weapons and items;
it also pursued a practice of concealment of proscribed items, including weapons, and a cover up of its activities in contravention of Council resolutions.
It's important to be a stickler about clarifying the disclosure, verification, and supervision elements of the UNSCR 687 "three-step system" (Butler) because anti-OIF propagandists tout Iraq's unverified unsupervised unilateral destruction of proscribed items as proof of false accusation by President Bush and exoneration of Saddam, when in fact, unverified unsupervised unilateral destruction was a critical ceasefire breach.

Suggestion:
Pair President Bush's "axis of evil" quote from the 2002 State of the Union with matching quote from President Clinton's 17FEB98 remarks at the Pentagon regarding the Iraqi threat. For example:
In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers, or organized criminals, who travel the world among us unnoticed.
Suggestion:
Update the statement, "At the time of this writing, coalition forces in Iraq continue to search for WMD sites; while no weapons have yet been discovered, it may take months if not years to learn the fate of Iraq’s WMD stockpile" (Yoo).

It should be clarified to the public that the Iraq Survey Group's findings are rife with UNSCR 687-proscribed items and activities. The operative definition of WMD violation per UNSCR 687 included more proscribed items and activities than battlefield-ready stockpile. ISG confirmed Saddam was reconstituting his WMD program via the IIS. The Iraqi Perspectives Project also confirmed Saddam's UNSCRs 687 and 688-violating IIS-run domestic, "regional and global terrorism" was vastly underestimated before OIF.

At the same time, it should be clarified to the public that we don't actually know the fate of Iraq's WMD stockpile. The ISG non-findings, which are prevalently portrayed in the politics as unequivocal evidence of absence, are in fact heavily qualified with evidentiary gaps and other practical limitations to the ISG investigation. The ISG report is properly read as a floor, not a complete account of Saddam's WMD. Although David Kay, Charles Duelfer, et al. did their best, the highly adverse conditions they encountered on the ground in Iraq meant the ISG survey of Saddam's WMD was not a thorough investigation. Duelfer's assessment of the fate of Saddam's missing weapons is really a heavily qualified best guess, not a proven disposition.

For more detail, see my criticism of President Bush's memoir for its misrepresentation of the ISG findings as a "thorough search of Iraq".

Suggestion:
You take much care to rebut the opposing view that the decision for OIF was illegal, eg, "Some have argued, however, that, Resolution 678’s authorization had expired. Representatives from France, Germany, and Russia, for example, seemed to take the position that because the current members of the Security Council would not agree to the use of force in the spring of 2003, the 1991 resolution’s broad authorization was somehow extinguished."

I suggest working in the credibility factor that the UNSC members, including and especially Russia, France, and Germany, that led the international opposition to OIF were implicated in the Oil For Food scandal and complicit with Saddam breaking the UNSCR 687 arms embargo.

For example, ISG found that even as the UNSCR 1441 inspections were ramping up in late 2002, France was selling UNSCR 687-proscribed anti-aircraft technology to Iraq. If OIF hadn't happened in March 2003 and the illegal French sale had gone through, then the US and UK presumably would have continued to enforce the UNSCR 688 humanitarian no-fly zones versus newly purchased UNSCR 687-proscribed French anti-aircraft technology.

Clarifying that the casus bellli was Iraq's evidential noncompliance, and not the pre-war intelligence estimates, sets the stage to highlight the fault of Saddam's accomplices on the UNSC who increased Saddam's threat, exacerbated his harm, and helped cause OIF by encouraging and enabling Saddam's intransigent choice to breach rather than comply and disarm in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). More on that below.

Nitpick:
UNSCR 678 was adopted in 1990, not 1991.

Criticism:
The choice of frame that "International law permitted the use of force against Iraq on two independent grounds" was a compounding political error. I agree with Jeanne [Jeane] Kirkpatrick that the Bush administration should have hewed to the well established compliance basis for enforcement with Iraq and should not have tacked on a claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense as an "independent" cause of action.

I appreciated your fine explication of the Caroline test and your well-reasoned argument that it should adjust for modern threats. But the novel character of the intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense argument for OIF, no matter how sensible, should have warned President Bush's legal advisors that it was unwise to claim it as an "independent" basis for OIF's casus belli.

It looks like Bush's legal advisers were getting ahead of themselves in trying to set a modern precedent for intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense. Instead of trying to set a precedent with "independent grounds" for OIF, you should have incorporated the component parts of anticipatory self-defense in the established compliance-based case against Saddam for future reference, while making sure to strictly frame the case against Saddam with the well established operative context of the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement.

In fact, the defense and compliance enforcement grounds were already related because Saddam's threat was defined as and measured by the "threat [of] Iraq's non-compliance with Council resolutions" (UNSCR 1441), ie, Iraq's ceasefire breach. Saddam's noncompliance was demonstrably evidential and thus indisputable, and it was plainly stated as the casus belli in the operative US law, policy, and precedent, and UNSCRs. Yet the Bush administration's "independent" 2nd claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense enabled anti-OIF propagandists to obfuscate in the politics that Saddam's evidential ceasefire breach was the casus belli.

Evidence of Bush's legal advisors getting ahead of themselves is exemplified in your statement, "In future cases, the possession of WMD and signs of hostile intent must be taken into account in deciding whether to use force preemptively. That decision will rely, in part, on intelligence about a rogue nation’s WMD programs, their ability to acquire components and technical knowledge, and their ability to assemble a weapon."

Instead of trying to litigate "future cases", you should have stayed focused on the task at hand of properly reiterating the long established case against Saddam, wherein the threat of Saddam's WMD was not primarily defined by and based on the intelligence. Rather, the threat of Saddam's WMD was primarily defined by the UNSCR 687 mandates and based on Iraq's evidential noncompliance in the operative context of Iraq's burden to prove it disarmed upon the UNSCOM/IAEA-established fact of Iraq's proscribed armament. The pre-war intelligence, if raised at all, should have been carefully presented only as supporting indicators of Iraq's noncompliance within the operative context of the "threat [of] Iraq's noncompliance" (UNSCR 1441) and Saddam's burden of proof, not as "evidence" for an "independent" cause of action that obfuscated the well established, operative grounds for enforcement.

The "independent" 2nd claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense opened the door for anti-OIF propagandists to shift the burden of proof and assert the legally inapposite but politically viral claim that the legitimacy of OIF rested on proving the predictive precision of pre-war estimates.

It was a dumbfounding mistake. The Clinton administration spoon-fed its successor a long developed mature compliance-based case for regime change against intransigently noncompliant Saddam. As you explained, President Bush properly carried forward the compliance-based case against Saddam. Yet Bush also chose to deviate from his predecessor by tacking on an "independent" 2nd claim that relied on misrepresenting speculative pre-war estimates of Saddam's secret holdings as "evidence" of specific armament. That's an obviously improper use of intelligence in general, and worse in the specific instance, the struggle of Western intelligence to assess Saddam's WMD versus rigorous Iraqi counter-intelligence was well known by the time that Bush entered office.

Worse still, the notion of finding WMD in Iraq to match the pre-war estimates was always unrealistic. The UNSCR 687 disarmament process, OIF invasion, and post-war occupation were not designed to seize, guard, and preserve evidence in order to later prove the predictive precision of the pre-war estimates. If the burden of proof was shifted to the US to prove the predictive precision of the pre-war estimates, then of course, OIF would be de-legitimated given that Saddam had a long, practically free hand to conceal, alter, and destroy evidence before and during the ex post ISG investigation.

See my rebuttal to Gordon Brown's new argument against OIF for a proper apposite presentation of the compliance-based case for regime change against Saddam.

Given that intelligence analysis is by nature inexact, then how does the leader of the free world sufficiently enforce against a rogue nation's WMD threat while also guarding against ex post accusations like Brown's conjectural accusation of conspiracy? The answer is rigorously upholding a UNSCR 687-type disarmament process which establishes and presumes the rogue nation's guilt of proscribed armament, and fixes the burden of proof on the rogue nation to comply and disarm in accordance with a comprehensive "governing standard". Clarify that noncompliance, rather than intelligence, establishes threat and triggers enforcement.

Evidential noncompliance with a robust disarmament process, such as the justification for Operation Desert Fox, not only the intelligence, can define (and with Operation Iraqi Freedom should have defined) the WMD threat to establish the justification for anticipatory self-defense.

The takeaway from the 2002-2003 enforcement with Sad[d]am for "future cases" should have been to fix up and strengthen the compliance-based UNSCR 687 model as the gold standard for disarming rogue nations. On the facts, according to the compliance-based operative law, policy, and precedent that actually defined the OIF decision, the case against Saddam was a slam dunk. Saddam's guilt of "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) was decided by UNSC and has been confirmed and corroborated as categorical. In the operative context, the OIF decision was correct.

But the Bush administration's ham-handed attempt to tack on an "independent" 2nd claim in order to set a modern precedent for intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense enabled anti-OIF propagandists to shift the burden of proof in the politics so that the legitimacy of OIF pivoted on proving the predictive precision of inherently inexact intelligence estimates despite that the disarmament process, invasion, and occupation were not designed to seize, guard, and preserve evidence for that kind of proof.

President Clinton, the Yale JD, was savvy enough to strictly hew to the operative compliance basis of the case against Saddam. The members of President Bush's team who convinced the Harvard MBA to tack on the "independent" 2nd claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense - when they should have incorporated the component parts into the well established compliance-based case against Saddam - are responsible [share responsibility] for the political, policy, and real harms that have drastically compounded from that deviant, inapposite, uncalled for, stupid error.

Suggestion:
Regarding the national security priority to prevent rogue nations from committing terrorism with WMD or supplying terrorists with WMD, cite President Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-39 (21JUN95) as a background reference.



Also see Decision Points suggests President Bush has not read key fact findings on Iraq carefully and Rebuke of and advice to Charles Duelfer.

For more exposition on the "independent" 2nd claim of intelligence-based anticipatory self-defense in addition to the John Yoo monograph linked in the e-mail, see The Legality of Using Force Against Iraq by Christopher Greenwood (2002), War, Responsibility, and the Age of Terrorism by John Yoo (2004), Less than Bargained for: The Use of Force and the Declining Relevance of the United Nations by John Yoo and Will Trachman (2005), Preventive War by Gary Becker (2004), and Preventive War by Richard Posner (2004).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Correcting the Iraq section of Miller Center's "George W. Bush: Foreign Affairs"

PREFACE: Dr. Gary L. Gregg, II, holds the Mitch McConnell Chair in Leadership at the University of Louisville and is director of the McConnell Center. He authored the Miller Center history, "George W. Bush: Foreign Affairs". Professor Gregg's e-mail in the exchange is omitted except for the relevant excerpt.



from: [ELC]
to: [Gary Gregg]
date: Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 10:20 PM
subject: My explanation of Op Iraqi Freedom's law and policy, fact basis

Professor Gregg,

I read https://millercenter.org/president/gwbush/foreign-affairs with particular interest in the Iraq section.

I hope you'll be kind enough to give your feedback on my explanation of Operation Iraqi Freedom's law and policy, fact basis: https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/. It synthesizes the controlling law, policy, and precedent, and determinative facts that defined President Bush's decision for OIF.

Some highlights:
• A direct confrontation with Saddam actually was consistent with the enforcement position that President Clinton handed off to President Bush. Clinton's pronouncement "Iraq has abused its final chance" with Operation Desert Fox meant the compliance process was past, upon which Clinton policy had positioned the military to respond directly to any indication of Iraqi violation of the ceasefire terms. And there were indications across the board of Iraqi violation of UNSCRs 687 and 688. In other words, Clinton didn't pull the trigger before he left office, but he cocked the trigger for his successor. Bush going back to the UNSC for UNSCR 1441 was a step back from the enforcement position that Clinton had reached with ODF, tantamount to retracing to UNSCR 1205. Speculatively, going back to the UNSC likely made it worse for Saddam. A direct confrontation would have entailed a US-issued, rather than UN-issued "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). If Saddam had reversed his post-ODF policy on inspections upon a direct confrontation, then the guiding mandate for inspections more likely would have been the more pliable UNSCR 1284. Whereas the US going back to the UNSC ahead of confronting Saddam resulted in the strict UNSCR 1441. Either way, the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) confirmed what everyone expected after a decade+ of intransigence: Saddam "never intended" to comply as mandated with the terms of ceasefire. However, sans UNSCR 1441, Iraq plausibly could have resorted to more "tactics of delay and deception" (Clinton) if UNSCR 1284 had been the guiding mandate for inspections.
• Preemption policy for the WMD and terrorism combination didn't begin with President Bush. Bush carried it forward from President Clinton's policy. Clinton had been chiefly concerned about Saddam's combined WMD and terrorism threat. That being said, while WMD-and-terrorism preemption was a policy position, the casus belli for OIF was the Saddam regime's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of ceasefire.
• The 'containment' was broken by 2000-2001 with "concomitant expansion" (ISG) of Saddam's conventional military and WMD-related proscribed procurement. Therefore, once Saddam failed his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), the real alternative to OIF wasn't 'containment'. The other "choice" was compromising the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) to free a Saddam who was in categorical "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the ceasefire.
• Saddam's military-level conventional and WMD threats were degraded, although they were reconstituting in violation of UNSCR 687. However, the Iraqi Perspectives Project found that Saddam's terrorist threat, which also violated UNSCR 687, was worse than assessed before OIF, while the ISG findings indicate a ready terrorist-level WMD capability.
• The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) non-findings of WMD, including concerning stockpiles, although portrayed as unequivocal in the politics, are in fact heavily qualified in the ISG report.
• Note that Saddam did not unilaterally destroy his WMD "as requested" (Gregg). UNSCR 687 mandated or "requested" a verified total declaration of Iraq's entire WMD program and elimination of all proscribed items and activities "under international supervision". Recall that unilateral destruction prevented a verified total account which Saddam could exploit to hide proscribed items and activities, such as the IIS program uncovered by ISG. In fact, despite significant evidentiary gaps and other practical factors that limited the ex post investigation, the ISG report is rife with UNSCR 687-proscribed items and activities.

---------------

Excerpt from Professor Gregg's e-mail: "Are there specific factual errors that need to be fixed, beyond the wider interpretive/ contextual picture you are pointing out problems in?"

---------------

from: [ELC]
to: [Gary Gregg]
date: Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 12:32 AM
subject: Re: My explanation of Op Iraqi Freedom's law and policy, fact basis

Professor Gregg,

I look forward to your feedback.

Critical comments on Iraq-related portions of https://millercenter.org/president/gwbush/foreign-affairs:

1. My general criticism is your omission of Clinton's Iraq enforcement is a fundamental oversight. The "crisis between the United States and Iraq" (Clinton) matured under Clinton. President Bush carried forward the case against Saddam and Gulf War ceasefire enforcement procedure from President Clinton.


2. Your phrasing "expanding the war to Iraq" in the Afghanistan section isn't wholly wrong, but it's ambiguous enough to be misleading in the context of the section.

OIF wasn't an expansion of OEF - the Saddam problem preceded the al Qaeda problem. President Bush didn't blame Saddam for 9/11. Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) with the terms of ceasefire was the coda of the decade-plus UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement which had come to a head in its own right.

However, while not an expansion, the two interventions were related under the War on Terror rubric insofar OIF's casus belli included Saddam's breach of the UNSCR 687 terrorism mandates with "regional and global terrorism" that included "considerable operational overlap" (Iraqi Perspectives Project) with the al Qaeda network. The "continuing unusual and extraordinary threat" (Clinton) posed by Saddam's WMD, terrorism, and other ceasefire breaches in particular and the threat posed by the WMD-terrorism combination in general had been marked under President Clinton. Their threat value, already pegged as the "highest priority" in US policy under Clinton, was heightened due to 9/11.

I clarify the link between 9/11 and the why of OIF at https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html#911.

(Note: If you use Google Chrome version 61 or 62, the # anchor won't jump to the section. It works on other browsers. Or you can scroll down.)


3. "In his State of the Union speech in January 2002, President Bush called out an “Axis of Evil” consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, and he declared all a threat to American security."

It's worth clarifying that Bush's statement has been oft mischaracterized in the politics. While Bush used the phrase "axis of evil", he warned about north Korea, Iran, and Iraq separately and did not characterize an alliance between the three nations. Substantively, Bush merely restated standing views on their illicit activities. In fact, the "axis" nations were (and in the case of Iran and north Korea are) cooperating in various illicit armament activities to a greater degree than Bush characterized in the 2002 SOTU.

See Iraq Survey Group: Regime Finance and Procurement:
https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/chap2.html
Naval Post-Graduate School: The A. Q. Khan Network: Causes and Implications by Christopher Clary, December 2005:
http://fas.org/irp/eprint/clary.pdf
Congressional Research Service: Iran-North Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Cooperation, 26FEB16:
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R43480.pdf


4. "Bush Doctrine, officially traceable to September 2002" is misleading insofar it implies preventive counter-terrorism, right of defense, and liberal international leadership (a.k.a., American leadership of the free world) were novel policy.

Right of defense is as old as nations and counter-terrorism is intrinsically preventive. The "Bush Doctrine" is "traceable" to policy and precedent from the Clinton administration which had engaged the Saddam and al Qaeda problems and undertaken unilateral military action and post-Cold War liberal advocacy. To be fair, Clinton carried forward from his predecessors, too, but the policy evolution represented by the "Bush Doctrine" was mainly iterative update of post-Cold War developments under Clinton.

See The Myth of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy Revolution by Chin-Kuei Tsui, 02DEC12:
http://www.e-ir.info/2012/12/02/the-myth-of-george-w-bushs-foreign-policy-revolution-reagan-clinton-and-the-continuity-of-the-war-on-terror/. Tsui does a fair job of describing the continuity from Clinton to Bush.


5. "As it turned out, Iraq was a war of choice rather than a war of necessity."

The 'containment' was broken. The alternative was giving up the ceasefire enforcement in the face of noncompliant Saddam, which was not a choice allowed in US policy.


6. "In light of intelligence reports describing an Iraqi plant that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the administration considered Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq a dangerous threat."

Recall that Saddam's pre-Gulf War WMD program was built with "dual use" items and activities, which informed the UNSCR 687 standard. The Iraq Survey Group, despite significant limitations, was able to confirm intent, procurement, a covert bio and chem lab network, readily convertible bio and chem production capability, nuclear and missile development, and deception.


7. "Bush and neoconservative members of his administration wanted to develop Iraq into a democratic country friendly to U.S. interests in the heart of the Middle East".

"Iraq liberation" was standing US law and policy that had progressed through HW Bush and Clinton's enforcement of the UNSCR 688 human rights mandates. The position was well mature by the time Bush entered office. It was simply part of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, not novel policy.


8. "Many members of the Bush administration who had been in office during the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s considered Iraq unfinished business."

Well yeah - so did members of the Clinton administration during the rest of the 1990s and everyone else in the US and around the world involved in the UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement. Until either Iraq proved compliance with the UNSCR 660 series or the UN (which meant the US and UK) gave in to noncompliant Saddam, Iraq was "unfinished business".


9. "President Bush had personally decided on the need to go to war, long before congressional or U.N. action."

That's not wholly wrong, but it is essentially misleading. Actually, Bush decided Iraq needed to be brought conclusively into compliance with the terms of ceasefire via Saddam's volitional compliance preferably, or via regime change if Saddam remained noncompliant. A credible threat of regime change - i.e., the "need to go to war" - was requisite for restoring the UN inspections.

Per the standing Iraq policy that Bush inherited from Clinton, the US could have attacked Iraq forthwith. Following Operation Desert Fox, Clinton's 'containment' policy included the contingency for direct military response to any indication of Iraqi violation of the ceasefire terms. And there were clear indications across the board of Iraqi violation. Casus belli was breach of ceasefire, and Iraq's breach of the Gulf War ceasefire was UNSC-established fact. Bush's decision to go back to the UNSC for UNSCR 1441 in effect stepped back from the position Clinton had reached with ODF, tantamount to retracing to UNSCR 1205.

Bush and Blair's approach to Iraq in 2002-2003 iterated Clinton and Blair's approach to Iraq in 1998, when it was established that compelling Saddam to cooperate at all with the UN inspections required the threat of regime change because Saddam was breaking the sanctions. The obstacle that Bush and Blair faced in 2002 was the bar for credible threat of regime change had been raised by Saddam successfully calling Clinton's bluff with ODF. Recall that after ODF until UNSCR 1441, Saddam refused UN inspections even when UNSCR 1284 held out the promise of a more pliable inspections regime.

Setting aside political and practical (military) considerations, there was little material difference between an ultimatum issued from the longstanding UNSCR 678-authorized ceasefire enforcers or from a new redundant UNSCR. Either way, Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) was established, compelling Saddam's cooperation required a credible threat of regime change, inserting the UNSCR 687 inspectors into Iraq required UNSC action, and enforcement pivoted on whether Iraq met its burden to prove compliance with the terms of ceasefire.


10. "In an August 2002 speech, Vice President Cheney made the Administration’s case quite clear: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

I criticize how the pre-war intel was presented at https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html#intelnotevidence.

That said, the view of possession was grounded in Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441), which imputed continued intent and possession, and was bolstered by the growing indicators of WMD-related activity, especially procurement.

ISG confirms at least intent and capability. Per UNSCR 687, there was no difference of enforceability between capability and stocks. There's a thin threat margin between them, and the margin shrinks with the IIS program.


11. "They believed that Iraq did, in fact, have WMDs, but that it did not necessarily have the capabilities to use them that Bush and Cheney believed."

This is a confusing statement. How would Saddam have WMDs but not the capability to use them? If you mean Saddam's WMD-terrorism combination, it does appear that pre-OIF analysis significantly underestimated Saddam's terrorism, though what was known was enough to breach UNSCR 687.


12. "Bush continued to assert that the United States could not trust Saddam Hussein with WMDs and that they could easily be transferred to terrorists."

The 1st part was a tenet of the Gulf War ceasefire. The 2nd part, Saddam's WMD-terrorism combined threat, was the standing US position from Clinton. Both parts were US positions as long as Saddam remained in breach of the UNSCR 687 WMD and terrorism mandates.


13. "A passionate debate ensued that ended with Congress passing a resolution authorizing the President to go to war with Iraq if he found it necessary."

"If he found it necessary" is ambiguous, which obscures that Public Law 107-243 wasn't ambiguous. It was particularly focused on enforcing Iraq's ceasefire-mandated compliance. It essentially reiterated and updated the standing US law and policy on Iraq.


14. "It later was discovered that the regime had actually disposed of its WMD stockpile as requested, but had hid its actions from the world."

If the Saddam regime hid its actions from the world, then ipso facto, it did not dispose of its WMD stockpile as mandated or "requested".

In fact, after Iraq did not account for its WMD stocks with UNMOVIC, ISG also did not account for WMD stocks as mandated in Saddam's stead. ISG gave the best assessment it could, but it's heavily qualified nonetheless. The ISG findings comprise a floor, not a complete account. And of course, the UNSCR 687 WMD standard covered more than stocks.


15. "Critics charged that the Bush administration did not have an adequate plan for Iraq after the initial war was won and Saddam Hussein was ousted from power."

I offer exposition about the initial post-war "humanitarian reconstruction" plan and early difficulties at https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html#postwar.

Adequacy wasn't the basic problem. The basic problem was the humanitarian policy-oriented keystone premise that informed the "light footprint" calibration for the initial military role in the post-war peace operations. The same premise informed the UN's initial post-war approach to Iraq which resulted in the death of UN envoy Sergio Vieira.

The 2nd problem was the pre-war underestimation of Saddam's domestic rule by "widespread terror" (UNCHR) and world-leading "regional and global terrorism" (IPP), which converted to the terrorist insurgency that exploited the basic problem.

---------------

from: [ELC]
to: [Gary Gregg]
date: Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 11:02 AM
subject: Re: My explanation of Op Iraqi Freedom's law and policy, fact basis

Professor Gregg,

An additional critical comment on Iraq-related portions of https://millercenter.org/president/gwbush/foreign-affairs:

It's a general criticism that's closely related to 1, so it's labeled 1a rather than 16.

1a. A fundamental oversight in your overview is the omission that Saddam's noncompliance with the Gulf War ceasefire terms established by UNSCRs 687 and 688 constituted ipso facto threat because the ceasefire terms were purpose-designed according to Saddam's established manifold threat. Therefore, measurement of Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441) functioned as measurement of Saddam's outstanding threat. And Saddam's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441) of the ceasefire regarding WMD and other areas was categorical.

In the operative enforcement procedure, Saddam's noncompliance was de jure threat, i.e., "Recognizing the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions ... poses to international peace and security" (UNSCR 1441), so that "it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced" (P.L. 107-243).

In the operative context, Iraq was on probation. Saddam's guilt with "the threat [of] Iraq’s non-compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was established and presumed until it was cured by Iraq proving it had rehabilitated with the mandated compliance. The post-Gulf War threat assessments and compliance enforcement decisions regarding Iraq were made in the operative context.

Whereas in the politics reflected in your overview, the operative context of Saddam's established and presumed guilt, which included UNSCR 687-proscribed intent and possession, has been replaced with an inapposite presumption of innocence, and the operative burden on Iraq to prove the mandated compliance has been replaced with an inapposite burden on the US to prove the predictive precision of pre-war estimates. The actual "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) regarding WMD that was enforced per US law and policy has been largely replaced in the politics by an inapposite narrow focus on whether the US found battlefield-ready WMD stockpiles.

It's also been obscured that in the operative context, the role of the intelligence regarding Iraq's WMD was ancillary: assist the UN inspections assess Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates. The intelligence was weighed upon the UNSCOM-established fact of Iraq's WMD and the over-all outstanding threat of Saddam's noncompliance, which remained uncured due to Iraq's "continued violations of its obligations" (UNSCR 1441). As IIS counter-intelligence adapted expertly to thwart Western intelligence-gathering efforts, pre-war intelligence analysis practically relied on the UNSCR 687 findings, e.g., "With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq" (UNMOVIC, 06MAR03).

Applying the operative context of the decade-plus UNSCR 660-series compliance enforcement, particularly of the purpose-designed ceasefire terms, is necessary to filter all the data and discourse for a correct apposite understanding of the threat assessments and compliance enforcement decisions regarding Iraq. Trying to explain the why of OIF removed from its operative context is like trying to explain the why of World War One removed from the context of European treaties or World War Two removed from the context of autarky.

---------------

from: [ELC]
to: [Gary Gregg]
date: Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 2:54 PM
subject: Re: My explanation of Op Iraqi Freedom's law and policy, fact basis

Professor Gregg,

Pasted below is a longer version of my critical comment on "President Bush had personally decided on the need to go to war, long before congressional or U.N. action" from https://millercenter.org/president/gwbush/foreign-affairs. If the links in the text don't work in the e-mail, the text and embedded links are copied from https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html#ultimatumoptions:

[Read it here.]

Of course, I continue looking forward to your feedback on https://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/.

---------------

from: [ELC]
to: [Gary Gregg]
date: Sun, Dec 10, 2017 at 11:44 AM
subject: Detailed correction of "It later was discovered that the regime had actually disposed of its WMD stockpile as requested"

Professor Gregg,

Gordon Brown's calumnious accusation in his memoir that the US tricked the UK into war with Iraq by lying about Saddam's WMD (see my rebuttal) affirms the need to correct ASAP the flaws in your Miller Center account of President Bush's decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Miller Center's on-line resource is the kind of readily accessible, assumed credible source that high school students typically cite with the approval of their social science teachers, college underclassmen often cite with the approval of their instructors, and the public in general relies upon to be accurate.

I'll focus here on a readily correctable flaw that, if left uncorrected, will continue to propagate the prevalent fundamental misconceptions that underlie PM Brown's accusation: "It later was discovered that the regime had actually disposed of its WMD stockpile as requested, but had hid its actions from the world."

A: Iraq's unverified unsupervised hidden unilateral destruction of UNSCR 687-proscribed items was not "as requested", but in fact a critical violation of the UNSCR 687-mandated disarmament procedure and a longstanding tactic to subvert the mandated accountability of proscribed items and activities.

B: The notion that Iraq "actually disposed of its WMD stockpile" is unproven. Iraq did not account for its WMD as mandated with UNSCOM and UNMOVIC, and subsequently, the Iraq Survey Group was unable to account for Saddam's WMD as mandated. The ISG assessment that Iraq secretly unilaterally "disposed of its WMD stockpile" in violation of UNCR 687 is a heavily qualified best guess, not an "actually" proven disposition.

A: See paragraphs 8 to 13 in UNSCR 687 (1991) for the basic mandated - "as requested" - WMD disarmament procedure.

Following Operation Desert Fox, on January 25, 1999, UNSCOM executive chairman Richard Butler clarified the UNSCR 687 WMD disarmament procedure and summarized Iraq's strategy to undermine it:
3. For the conduct of this work [mandated by "Paragraphs 8 and 9, in section C of resolution 687 (1991)"], the resolutions of the Council established a three-step system: full disclosure by Iraq; verification of those disclosures by the Commission; destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all proscribed weapons, materials and facilities.
4. From the inception of the relevant work, in 1991, Iraq's compliance has been limited. Iraq acknowledges that, in that year, it decided to limit its disclosures for the purpose of retaining substantial prohibited weapons and capabilities.
5. Actions by Iraq in three main respects have had a significant negative impact upon the Commission's disarmament work:
Iraq's disclosure statements have never been complete;
contrary to the requirement that destruction be conducted under international supervision, Iraq undertook extensive, unilateral and secret destruction of large quantities of proscribed weapons and items;
it also pursued a practice of concealment of proscribed items, including weapons, and a cover up of its activities in contravention of Council resolutions.
On January 27, 2003, UNMOVIC executive chairman Hans Blix clarified the mandate for "substantive cooperation" to the UN Security Council:
The substantive cooperation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusion that nothing proscribed remains.
Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002) states that this cooperation shall be "active". It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of "catch as catch can".
UNSCR 687 integrated the destruction mandate with disclosure, verification, and supervision mandates. Unverified unsupervised hidden unilateral destruction of proscribed items violated UNSCR 687, subverted the mandated accountability, and enabled Iraq to hide proscribed items and activities, which Iraq did throughout the Gulf War ceasefire period. In fact, after Saddam chose to breach the ceasefire in his "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441), ISG was able to confirm Iraq hid many proscribed items and activities that should have been declared in accordance with UNSCRs 687 and 1441.

It's important to be a stickler for clarifying the disclosure, verification, and supervision elements of the UNSCR 687 "three-step system" (Butler) because anti-OIF revisionists tout Iraq's unverified unsupervised hidden unilateral destruction of proscribed items as proof of false accusation by President Bush and exoneration of Saddam, when in fact, the opposite is true: unverified unsupervised hidden unilateral destruction was a critical ceasefire breach and a longstanding Iraqi tactic to hide proscribed items and activities.

B. The Iraq Survey Group's non-findings, which are prevalently interpreted in the politics as unequivocal evidence of absence, are in fact heavily qualified in the ISG report's Transmittal Message, Scope Note, and various sections with cautionary notes that the Saddam regime was expert at hiding proscribed items and activities, much evidence was lost before and during the ISG investigation, key Saddam regime officials were not forthcoming, statements conflicted, there were clear signs that suspect areas were "sanitized", and other practical factors, such as the terrorist insurgency, limited the ex post investigation. In other words, the ISG report is properly read as a floor, not a complete account of Saddam's WMD.

I address the issue in the OIF FAQ answer to "Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq"; note especially parts 5 to 7 of the answer. This excerpt addresses the popular misconception that Iraq "actually disposed of its WMD stockpile", which is actually unproven:

Six, OIF opponents who accuse Bush of lying his way to war with Iraq cite the ISG finding, "While it appears that Iraq, by the mid-1990s, was essentially free of militarily significant WMD stocks, Saddam’s perceived requirement to bluff about WMD capabilities made it too dangerous to clearly reveal this to the international community, especially Iran."

However, although OIF opponents represent the ISG finding as unequivocal, it is in fact heavily qualified in the Duelfer report:
With the degradation of the Iraqi infrastructure and dispersal of personnel, it is increasingly unlikely that these questions will be resolved. Of those that remain, the following are of particular concern, as they relate to the possibility of a retained BW capability or the ability to initiate a new one.
ISG cannot determine the fate of Iraq’s stocks of bulk BW agents remaining after Desert Storm and subsequent unilateral destruction. There is a very limited chance that continuing investigation may provide evidence to resolve this issue.
• The fate of the missing bulk agent storage tanks.
• The fate of a portion of Iraq’s BW agent seed-stocks.
• The nature, purpose and who was involved in the secret biological work in the small IIS laboratories discovered by ISG.
...
ISG’s investigation of Iraq’s ammunition supply points—ammunition depots, field ammunition supply points (FASPs), tactical FASPs, and other dispersed weapons caches—has not uncovered any CW munitions. ISG investigation, however, was hampered by several factors beyond our control. The scale and complexity of Iraqi munitions handling, storage, and weapons markings, and extensive looting and destruction at military facilities during OIF significantly limited the number of munitions that ISG was able to thoroughly inspect.
• ISG technical experts fully evaluated less than one quarter of one percent of the over 10,000 weapons caches throughout Iraq, and visited fewer than ten ammunition depots identified prior to OIF as suspect CW sites.
• The enormous number of munitions dispersed throughout the country may include some older, CW-filled munitions, and ISG cannot discount the possibility that a few large caches of munitions remain to be discovered within Iraq.
In many instances where ISG the Iraq Survey Group cited a lack of evidence, it meant the evidence required for a definite determination was missing or lost, not that absence of evidence was evidence of absence. [With the burden on Iraq to prove the mandated disarmament and no mandate for the ceasefire enforcers to demonstrate Iraq's proscribed armament, ISG's post hoc investigation was handicapped by that the UN inspections, OIF invasion, and post-war occupation simply were not designed to scour for, guard, and preserve evidence like a crime-scene forensic investigation. Concurrently, the systematic Iraqi "concealment and deception activities" (ISG), much unfettered, rid evidence of proscribed armament, e.g., "many of these [WMD-related] sites were either sanitized by the [Saddam] Regime or looted prior to OIF", "M23 [Directorate of Military Industries] officers also were involved in NMD [National Monitoring Directorate] document concealment and destruction efforts", and "extensive looting and destruction at military facilities during OIF" (ISG), thus preventing a complete account of Saddam's WMD by ISG.]

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



Critical responses to pundits:
Explaining the grounds for Operation Iraqi Freedom to a law professor (Chibli Mallat);
Correcting Politifact's fundamental distortion of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement;
Correcting the Iraq section of Miller Center's "George W. Bush: Foreign Affairs" (Gary Gregg);
Comments on Stephen Knott's "When Everyone Agreed About Iraq";
Augmenting William Inboden's critique of J.E. Smith's Bush biography regarding Iraq;
Objection to Paul Miller's characterization of OIF as an "outlier" in American Power and Liberal Order;
Critique of the Iraq portion of chapter one of Anne Pierce's A Perilous Path;
Critical response to John Rentoul's "Chilcot Report: Politicians".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Responses to substantive criticisms from The Strategy Bridge editors

PREFACE: The 1st section is the e-mail from The Strategy Bridge (TSB) rejecting my article. The 2nd section is my critical responses to the substantive criticisms from the TSB editors who reviewed my submission. The 3rd section is my article submission to TSB criticizing Jordan Chandler Hirsch's National Review article, “Freedom from Iraq: How the GOP Can End the War over the War". It's the same as the draft reviewed by the TSB editors (in other words, there are no grammatical, stylistic, formatting, or substantive alterations), except I changed the too-uncomfortable passive-voice opening as marked. Had the editing process with TSB progressed further, I expected to and would have made edits to the article, such as updating links, better fleshing out some points, and more clearly identifying the supplemental references to my other work on the Iraq issue. Several likely edits are addressed in the 2nd section. Enjoy:



from: [The Strategy Bridge]
to: [ELC]
date: Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 1:32 AM
subject: Re: Submission for The Strategy Bridge

[ELC],

I’m extremely sorry it took so long for us to get you a complete edit, especially as we’re getting close to your requested publication date.

I also regret to inform you that we won’t be able to publish your article. While mechanically well written, we find its main arguments lack substantive (and sometimes credible) sourcing…and frequently the facts in the credible sourcing are misrepresented. We also strive for balanced content; this article definitely has a more one-sided oped feel to it.

We apologize for not being able to fit it into our publication, as well as delaying the bad news inadvertently. We do our best to work with authors to get to “yes” for publication, but this one just seems a bit too far outside of our mission and style.

You can find our edits and recommendations/comments here, however. We hope they're useful in your efforts to get this published…we recommend War on the Rocks or the Institute for the Study of War as possible outlets based on the article.

Again, our sincere apologies for the delay.

Best,
The Strategy Bridge Team
—NF



Publication
TSB: The Strategy Bridge

Editors
SF:
OG:
NF:

OG re "tyrannical":
Bad link
_Link to the 2004 UNCHR report: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/committees/afet/20040405/un%20mavrommatis%20addendum.pdf.

FYI, I usually cite the 2002 UNCHR report: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/CHR/resolutions/E-CN_4-RES-2002-15.doc but I couldn't get the link to work with the Word doc.


NF re "revitalized international enforcement in the defining international enforcement of the post-Cold War":
Another bold statement without a ton of evidence. What exactly do you mean here?
_That the US-led enforcement of Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 660 series set the baseline for post-Cold War international enforcement is general knowledge. That the failure to enforce Iraq's mandated compliance risked a model failure for US-led international enforcement is also general knowledge. To wit, "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity -- even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program." (Clinton, 17FEB98)

[PS: The Operation Iraqi Freedom enabling of the UNSCR 660-series compliance process, which succeeded per the 15DEC10 UNSC assessment, was a necessary corrective for the failed penultimate enforcement step in the US-led Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, the December 1998 Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign. ODF encouraged Saddam - with the complicity of UNSC permanent members - to escalate Iraq's noncompliance with the Gulf War ceasefire including NBC+M reconstitution in violation of UNSCR 687, nullify Iraq's ceasefire obligations in Iraqi law, and dismiss US-led enforcement even as President Clinton was touting 'containment' after the compliance process was cut off. The post-ODF ad hoc 'containment' was broken by 2001, if it ever worked at all.

In relation to OIF, Iraq's judgement of the US as "weak" (Duelfer) due to ODF and consequential dismissal of US-led enforcement was a key factor in Saddam's decision to not comply with the "final opportunity to comply" of the UNSCR 1441 inspections which established casus belli for OIF.]


NF re "resolved the festering problem":
A very strong assertion without evidence at this point. Compliance with UNSCR does not equal national stability or good governance...as ISIS and factional politics in Iraq has shown.
_Your criticism conflates the task of nation-building post-Saddam Iraq with the resolution of the specified "festering problem", ie, the categorically noncompliant Saddam regime.


NF re "devastated the terrorists with the counterinsurgency "Surge"":
My understanding is that most of these terrorists just "reincarnated" as ISIS. Some could argue this means they were not "devastated".
_Again, you're criticizing general knowledge. "Devastated" doesn't mean the cancer was killed. The post-Surge "reincarnation" occurred with the radically changed condition in the region due to the corruption of the Arab Spring, which was worsened by Obama's deviation with Iraq, Iran, and from the Bush Freedom Agenda.

See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL462053._CH_.2400 for a typical contemporary account of the Surge effect on the terrorists. Also see (well, hear) the Columbia SIWPS assessment of Osama bin Laden's reaction to the Surge and Sahwa at http://www.siwps.org/watch-video-of-siwps-panel-discussion-isis-in-iraq-syria-and-the-us/.


NF re "December 15, 2010, the United Nations declared victory in Iraq":
Again, pretty strong language...my read is they recognized progress, and that there was work to be done. For instance, see: "The Security Council underscores UNAMI’s important role in supporting the Iraqi people and Government to promote dialogue, ease tension, and encourage a negotiated political agreement to the nation’s disputed internal boundaries, and calls upon all relevant parties to participate in an inclusive dialogue to this end.”
_Again, you're conflating the intrinsically long task of nation-building post-Saddam Iraq with the resolution of Iraq's mandated compliance, which was the policy objective of the US-led enforcement of the UNSCR 660 series and the main point of the 15DEC10 UNSC press release.


NF re "Vice President Biden, serving as the Council president, observed Iraq was on the cusp of “something remarkable”":
Citation?
_I should have linked it again - the Biden quote is pulled from his opening remarks in the 15DEC10 UNSC press release.


NF re "respects the rights of its people":
I'd bet there are a ton of Sunnis in Iraq that would disagree with the idea that we helped honor this part of the commitment.
_The standing US policy per UNSCR 688 carried forward by Bush was pluralistic inclusion. The Surge was a strategic adjustment, not a policy change. As much as they would join it, Sunnis were included in the political process from the beginning. The Sahwa was as much due to the Sunnis coming around to take the American hand that had been offered to them from day one as it was due to the strategic adjustment by coalition forces that sufficiently countered the insurgents' deterrent strategy.


NF re "compliant":
Why is compliance with political documents/agreements your main metric of "victory"? Still struggling to see its relevance to actual progress on the ground or a metric of strategic success...
_Strategy follows policy. Your question goes to the fundamental policy objective of the Iraq intervention since its 1990 inception, which was the enforcement of Iraq's mandated compliance with the UNSCR 660 series. The comprehensive Gulf War ceasefire measures were purpose-designed to resolve the manifold Iraqi threat manifested with the Gulf War in order to satisfy "the need to be assured of Iraq's peaceful intentions" (UNSCR 687). In other words, Iraq's mandated compliance was the defining metric prescribed in the law and policy. Hence, the benchmark value of the 15DEC10 UNSC assessment. If you haven't known the compliance piece, that means you've fundamentally misconceived the Iraq intervention.

For a basic understanding of the Iraq intervention, see these key UNSCRs, US laws, and US presidential policy statements, which are listed in chronological order:

United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, 1990-2002:
https://web.archive.org/web/20140701184550/http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/sres/index.html
Public Law 102-1, Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, 14JAN91:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-105/pdf/STATUTE-105-Pg3.pdf
Section 1095 (Iraq and the Requirements of Security Council Resolution 687) and Section 1096 (Iraq and the Requirements of Security Council Resolution 688) of Public Law 102-190 are addenda to Public Law 102-1, 05DEC91:
http://www.lawandfreedom.com/site/historical/PL102-190.pdf
President HW Bush letter to Congressional Leaders reporting on Iraq's compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions, 19JAN93:
http://bush41library.tamu.edu/archives/public-papers/5191
Secretary of State Albright speech on President Clinton’s 2nd term policy on Iraq, 26MAR97:
https://web.archive.org/web/20140701184550/http://fas.org/news/iraq/1997/03/bmd970327b.htm
Public Law 105-235, Iraqi Breach of International Obligations, 14AUG98:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-105publ235/pdf/PLAW-105publ235.pdf
President Clinton letter to Congress on the legal authority for Operation Desert Fox, 18DEC98:
http://clinton6.nara.gov/1998/12/1998-12-18-text-of-a-letter-from-president-on-iraq.html
President Bush remarks to the United Nations General Assembly, 12SEP02:
http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html
Public Law 107-243, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, 16OCT02:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ243/pdf/PLAW-107publ243.pdf
President Bush letter to Congress on the determination and legal authority for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 18MAR03:
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CDOC-108hdoc50/pdf/CDOC-108hdoc5


NF re "severing the essential peace operations with Iraq":
False flag here...on a couple of accounts. 1) the source talks about removing intel resources in Iraq, not troops/resources to conduct/support peace operations, and 2) Obama did not "sever" the SOFA, it was due to expire in Dec and because the US govt and the Iraqi govt couldn't agree to critical stipulations (i.e. that US troops would not be charged under Iraqi law), it was no renewed. Under the SOFA SIGNED BY BUSH, troops were required to be removed - "All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, water and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011." http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24511081.html
_Your criticisms are incorrect.

1) The 15AUG16 Propublica/Washington Post article addresses the losses of both "intel resources in Iraq" and "troops/resources to conduct/support peace operations". Indeed, the article discusses the loss of intelligence mainly within the scope of the loss of the peace operations.

2) I didn't write that President Obama severed the SOFA. I wrote, "severing the essential peace operations with Iraq in contravention of the conditions-based US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement". First, the peace operations and SOFA are not interchangeable terms. Second, the SFA and SOFA are related, but they're different documents. See the SFA, SOFA fact sheet: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/iraq/. Your McClatchy citation omits the SFA; yet the conditions-based SFA - not the 2008-2011 SOFA - is the overarching guide for the long-term US-Iraq relationship.

Think about it: if "troops were required to be removed", then there would have been no US-Iraq negotiation by the Obama administration for a post-2011 US military presence in Iraq. The US-Iraq negotiation took place because the SFA, not the SOFA, was the overarching guide. The concept of the SFA and SOFA was the US and Iraq would continue mission with the 2008-2011 SOFA while assessing the situation, and then per the SFA mutually determine the next partnership arrangement based on conditions. As you pointed out with the 15DEC10 UNSC press release, the 2010-2011 conditions in Iraq dictated continued peace operations. As such, Iraq offered the US an executive arrangement which Obama rejected with the rationale that Iraqi parliamentary approval was necessary. Yet US forces returned to Iraq in 2014 without an Iraqi legislative codification, with only a(n executive) diplomatic assurance that was weaker than the 2010-2011 Maliki offer. The implication is the SFA was a sufficient basis all along to house the executive arrangement that Obama rejected in 2010-2011. Hence, Obama severing the peace operations with Iraq in spite of conditions in light of the SFA was an Executive determination that was not "required" by the 2008-2011 SOFA. For further unpacking of the 2011 exit issue, see the sources and my commentary on Obama's "irresponsible exit from Iraq" at http://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2012/09/an-irresponsible-exit-from-iraq.html.


NF re "victory":
A word that can be debated, and which you provide no evidence for.
_To support the victory characterization and set up criticism of Obama's deviation, I provided the 15DEC10 UNSC press release as a benchmark for the principal basis and metric for the Iraq intervention, ie, Iraq's mandated compliance with the UNSCR 660 series, especially the Gulf War ceasefire measures. I also provided President Obama's 19MAY11 regional assessment at the dawn of the Arab Spring, which included an assessment of Iraq's nation-building progress, as a benchmark. Again, take care not to conflate the fundamental policy objective of the Iraq intervention, ie, resolution of Iraq's "material breach" (UNSCR 1441), with the intrinsically long task of nation building, which according to the UNSC and Obama 2010-2011 benchmarks was making solid progress before Obama's deviation. While both aspects - accomplishing the principal purpose of the Iraq intervention and the progress of the nation building - are relevant, my article distinguished them in terms of the victory characterization.


NF re "Obama proudly reneged":
Not at all seeing this in your source...and that's assuming it's a credible source, which is dubious.
_It's general knowledge that President Obama backing down from the "red line" with the Assad regime foreclosed a UNSCR 688 or Responsibility-to-Protect-type humanitarian intervention in the Syria crisis. See the Doran and Abdulhamid articles I linked in the same sentence.

I'm surprised that you consider Kyle Orton (http://henryjacksonsociety.org/people/professional-staff/research-staff-and-associates/kyle-orton/) to be a "dubious" source; I wasn't citing the Chicago Bears quarterback.

Granted, Orton is relatively young. But his analysis and commentary are well regarded. Orton's work at his personal blog is meticulous and exceptionally enriched with content. His added content pertinent to my article is why I linked to Orton's review of The Atlantic Jeff Goldberg article (https://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/barack-obama-comes-clean/ re http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/). The characterization of Obama's "proud" decision on Syria is in and of itself straightforward and carried through from Goldberg's article to Orton's review.

To wit, Kyle Orton:
"Obama announces himself “very proud” of his decision on August 30, 2013, to stand down from his threat to punish Bashar al-Assad for gassing to death 1,400 people nine days earlier."

Compare to Jeff Goldberg:
"Obama understands that the decision he made to step back from air strikes, and to allow the violation of a red line he himself had drawn to go unpunished, will be interrogated mercilessly by historians. But today that decision is a source of deep satisfaction for him.
“I’m very proud of this moment,” he told me."


SF re "President Obama needs to be held to account for his transformation of the critical strategic victory with Iraq into a rippling strategic blunder":
Held to account in what manner? Not sure what the implication is here, if it's the "public airing" as the following quote implies, then I'd say there has been plenty of litigation and relitigation of the merits of the decision not to further pursue the SOFA. Just a thought, this is a fairly loaded sentence, politically speaking.
_Correct, a "public airing" that sets the record straight on the justification of the Iraq intervention and the error of Obama's deviation with Iraq.

Politically speaking, my article addresses the political problem in Hirsch's article that has profoundly affected American politics, policy, and thus strategy. I recommend an alternative prescription to Hirsch's proposal. The "litigation and relitigation of the decision not to further pursue the SOFA" speaks to the second piece of the political problem. The primary piece of the political problem in Hirsch's article is the prevalent misconceptions about the justification of the Iraq intervention. As NF's faulty criticisms exemplify, "litigation and relitigation" of the various aspects of the Iraq issue have been corrupted by basic misconceptions.

SF:
Further, declaring Iraq a "critical strategic victory" it seems only applies in this context as it relates to the UNSCRs and Saddam's repeated failure to comply. Consider the views counter to the narrative being pushed here (post-war governance planning, sectarian considerations that sparked insurgencies, power vacuums vis a vis Iran's neighboring malign influence, etc)
_Again, I distinguish the two aspects. The success of the principal policy objective is usually distinguished from the subsequent progress of the peace process. At the same time, I cited the 15DEC10 UNSC and 19MAY11 Obama benchmarks to address both aspects.

Following the WW2 victories, the post-WW2 peace operations weren't quickly completed with short, simple occupations, either. Among other post-WW2 challenges for American leadership, five years after VJ day, the soldiers of Task Force Smith were sacrificed to buy time against a Soviet-armed north Korean blitzkrieg. In comparison, at the five-year point of OIF, the US was wrapping up the COIN "Surge". Of course, the ROK is what it is today, despite worse hardships for the US in the Korea intervention and the continued nK threat, because the leader of the free world didn't irresponsibly disengage the peace operations with Korea like Obama did with Iraq.

Regarding Saddam nostalgia, that's reminiscent of blaming our troubles with the Soviets on our choice to take sides against the Nazis, especially in the early 1950s when the Communists seemed ascendant worldwide.

I unpack the post-war planning issue here: http://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-year-anniversary-start-Operation-Iraqi-Freedom-thoughts.html#postwar.

The US planned extensively for post-war Iraq. In terms of governance, the CPA hit its political objectives on schedule. Plan A was derailed by insufficient security versus a terrorist insurgency that caught the US-led coalition off guard, not insufficient planning. The enemy competes, too, and the OIF peace operations weren't the first instance in US military history that success followed setback and adaptation rather than perfection as planned.

The pre-war underestimation of the difficulties that confronted the OIF peace operations is explained by the underestimation of Saddam's tyranny that corrupted Iraqi society worse than even the Iraqi expats who advised the US realized and the underestimation of the depth of Saddam's terrorism inside and outside Iraq which included "considerable operational overlap" (IPP) with the al Qaeda network. The rapid rise of the organized insurgency that derailed the post-war Plan A is most readily explained by a conversion of Saddam's terroristic governance and terrorism to guerilla operations that strategically targeted sectarian fault lines that Saddam had worsened, rather than a spontaneous sectarian social combustion.

Keep in mind that the UN mandates, including the ceasefire mandates on terrorism and human rights, were purpose-designed to rehabilitate Iraq from the manifold Iraqi threat that manifested with the Gulf War. Saddam's categorical failure to comply measured Iraq's unreconstructed threat. By the same token, Iraq's mandated compliance was the principal metric for the Iraq intervention.

Addressing the "malign influence" of the Saddam problem was more urgent than the Iran problem. Iran's influence only subsequently metastasized in the corruption of the Arab Spring enabled by Obama's deviations with Iraq and Iran. Saddam's ambitions were intact, Iraq had no intention to disarm as mandated, and far from 'contained', was in fact rearming in breach of UNSCR 687 with the complicity of UNSC permanent members. Saddam's terrorism and human rights abuses, also in violation of the ceasefire, were found to be worse than they were assessed before OIF.

Neither the Saddam problem nor the challenges of Iraqi regime change would have improved by kicking the can any further on Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441). Obama's notion as an Illinois state senator that Saddam "can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history" was not realistic. Jim Lacey, who authored the Iraqi Perspectives Project post-war assessment of Saddam's terrorism, referred to his work with IPP and the ISG findings to conclude, "Given the evidence, it appears that we removed Saddam’s regime not a moment too soon."


SF re "Republican elites":
Who is this? Any Republican that doesn't think OIF was an overwhelming victory?
_Whomever Hirsch means by "Republican elites". As I wrote in the sentence, Hirsch's article addresses ""Republicans elites" who have criticized Obama's foreign affairs while hamstrung by their reluctance to advocate for alternatives that are reminiscent of the Iraq intervention".


NF re "As General David Petraeus stated in 2008, “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”":
This pushes to a comment on a Sunday Times article...and doesn't have the following quote at all...
_My mistake. I forgot the article excerpts at the Small Wars Journal post don't include the Petraeus quote. The Sunday Times article link stopped working, so I linked the Small Wars Journal post where I had learned about the article. The Sunday Times article and the Petraeus quote can be reviewed at https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20081010234241/http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article4212055.ece.


NF re "Said another way, “U.S. primacy in the global order” can only work when the means sufficient to achieve America’s policy ends, such as the regime change and peace operations that were ultimately necessary to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations":
I don't get this at all from the Petraeus quote.
_Your confusion is the sort that's usually cleared up by a writer working with his editor. Upon your criticism, I agree "said another way" is too ambiguous to express the sequence of the paragraph's 3 parts: the Hirsch reference, the deterrence model of American leadership, and the Petraeus reference. The intended point of the paragraph is, one, affirmation of American primacy in the world order per Hirsch requires, two, the American capability to enforce the American-preferred ("U.S. primacy") world order over the spectrum of war and peace per the deterrence model, which requires, three, mastering the kinds of methods and conditions - both practical and political - the US competed with in the Iraq intervention per Petraeus's “If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq ... we have to get it right in Iraq".

That paragraph is a linchpin for the article, so clarifying its meaning would have been critical in the editing process.


NF re "Yet the “Iraq problem” outlined by Hirsch stems from the Republican failure in the first place to uphold OIF's "credibility" versus the conjecture, distorted context, and misinformation that flooded the politics to discredit the mission. But rather than make amends for the seminal Republican failure, Hirsch instead concedes the faulty premises that Republicans should have counteracted all along":
So the issue is an image problem? A narrative problem of who agreed or disagreed with the results of OIF?

I am completely confused by this paragraph. What are you trying to say?
_In contrast to your confusion over the Petraeus quote in relation to my ambiguous "said another way", the flaw with this paragraph isn't clear to me since the point of the paragraph ought to be clear in context as a set with the prior and following paragraphs. Furthermore, the confusion in your 3rd question is belied by the understanding in your 1st 2 questions.

Indeed, the "image problem" and "narrative problem" are core aspects of the political problem in Hirsch's article. Again, Hirsch proposes a prescription for the political harm to the GOP from the stigmatization of the Iraq intervention. According to Hirsch, "Republican elites" should solve the political problem by accepting the stigma and disclaiming OIF. With TSB, I had hoped to recommend the alternative prescription that Republicans should instead solve the problem by vigorously correcting the prevailing revisionist narrative that has stigmatized the Iraq intervention.


SF re "President Bush’s determination for Operation Iraqi Freedom was justified on policy, substantively correct on fact, and procedurally correct on law and precedent":
Would recommend primary source documentation to substantiate this sweeping assertion, rather than a personal blog. Understand that the blog uses the primary sources, but for the purposes of our publication, and the scrutiny our readers may place on this already politically charged narrative, I'd recommend sticking to the primaries.
_With http://operationiraqifreedomfaq.blogspot.com/, since I assume TSB doesn't publish the kind of fleshed-out novelette-length articles featured in trade political science or law journals, cite-linking to my fact pattern-type analysis of the Iraq issue is a necessary compromise for the format. I did both in the article: link to the fleshed-out exposition on my site and cram key primary and corroborative sources into the condensed exposition in the article.

When a publication's format significantly limits content, a writer usually is afforded the liberty of referring to his own work as a supplement as opposed to a source as such. Clarifying the self reference is a reason I amended my short bio statement. If I've assumed wrong about the limits of TSB's format, the fleshed-out exposition at my site could be incorporated in the article. But an enhanced article that covers the ground on my site would be much longer and digressive due to the breadth of the Iraq issue and the misconceptions.

I encourage readers to critically engage the content on my site. I don't expect readers to accept my take on faith. I'm not the authority; the sources are the authority. And the sources are plain. I just synthesized them into a coherent narrative to set the record straight.


NF re "which set the stage for OIF":
There is no causation here. One operation flowed from it, but ODF was in no way designed to set the stage for a regime-changing invasion. It was designed for a specific purpose - per DoD: "To strike military and security targets in Iraq that contribute to Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction." http://archive.defense.gov/specials/desert_fox/
_Actually, the Operation Desert Fox bombing campaign included targets "on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs, on the command structures that direct and protect that capability, and on his military and security infrastructure" (Clinton, 19DEC98).

The targeting for ODF either was not limited to WMD or considered an expansive range of regime targets to be related to WMD, which wouldn't have been wrong. At the same time, the regime targets in the ODF bombing campaign were notable in light of the threat of Iraqi regime change in US policy that backed the UNSCRs 1154, 1194, and 1205 inspections that triggered ODF.

It should be apparent from context that I don't mean the ODF bombing campaign operationally prepared the battlefield for OIF which commenced over 4 years after ODF. By "set the stage", I mean that from a policy standpoint at the presidential level of the Iraq enforcement, Operation Desert Fox cleared the penultimate enforcement step and set the baseline precedent for the ultimate enforcement step, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The continuity from Clinton to Bush in the progression of the Iraq enforcement is a core theme of my OIF FAQ explanation. When the law and policy underlying OIF is compared to the law and policy underlying ODF, it’s apparent that President Bush’s case against Saddam was really President Clinton’s case against Saddam, updated from 9/11, and Bush’s enforcement procedure for Iraq carried forward Clinton’s enforcement procedure with Iraq, updated from ODF.

Read the December 16, 1998 announcement of ODF from a policy-making perspective. President Clinton pronounced, “Iraq has abused its final chance,” and enunciated a fully formed policy for Iraqi regime change justified by the threat posed by Saddam’s intransigent noncompliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions. While Clinton didn’t fulfill the regime-change policy with ODF, the ODF action completed the set of law, policy, and precedent developed by the President to set the stage for the coda of the US-led enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, which was brought to bear with his successor's enforcement of Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).

After ODF, Clinton's alternative for the US with the Saddam problem was 'containment', which really meant maintaining standing measures indefinitely with the compliance process cut off, poised to react to signs of Iraqi violation and oriented on regime change. Except ODF encouraged Saddam to breach and the 'containment' was broken by 2001, if it ever worked at all. With the 'containment' broken, the President's options were reduced to conclusively enforce Iraq's mandated compliance, which meant regime change if Saddam did not comply volitionally, or allow US leadership to fall to the categorically noncompliant uncontained Saddam.


SF re "he confirmed that he had been ready and willing to absorb another bombing campaign like ODF":
Source?
_FBI Agent Piro: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/interrogator-shares-saddams-confessions/4/

"...He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 under Operation Desert Fox. Which was a four-day aerial attack. So you expected that initially," Piro says.
Piro says Saddam expected some kind of an air campaign and that he could he survive that. "He survived that once. And then he was willing to accept that type of attack. That type of damage," he says."

The Iraq Survey Group, to which Agent Piro reported, corroborates that Saddam's reaction to ODF was to escalate Iraq's noncompliance and the regime was prepared for an ODF-type bombing campaign: https://www.cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/iraq_wmd_2004/chap1.html.

13AUG99 New York Times article describes Iraq's fast recovery from ODF and the recognition that, after ODF, the next enforcement step was regime change:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/081399iraq-conflict.html.

Charles Duelfer refers to the confident Iraqi reaction to the American "weakness" of ODF in his recollection of the UNSCR 1205 inspections: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-iraq-done-in-by-the-lewinsky-affair/2012/02/21/gIQA7dKfYR_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.d407b2e43b39.


OG re "cause":
I'm not sure causality is the right word, but that's up to you.
SF:
Agreed. Recommend rewording
_Cause is the right word. The operative enforcement procedure for the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) was clear. As Secretary Powell reiterated at the UNSC on 05FEB03, "Resolution 1441 gave Iraq one last chance, one last chance to come into compliance or to face serious consequences. No council member present in voting on that day had any illusions about the nature and intent of the resolution or what serious consequences meant if Iraq did not comply."

Iraq did not comply. Saddam's choice not to cure Iraq's "material breach" with the required "full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions" in Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441) established casus belli. That's straightforward causality.


OG re "record":
I suggest indicating that you are citing yourself (as you do above). Since you have very solid references, I recommend acknowledging where you've come to these conclusions elsewhere.
SF:
Agreed. As stated above, primary sources are best, but be very specific if citing a personal blog.
_I don't cite to my site as a source but rather as a supplement for my content in this article. That aside, I don't understand this suggestion since "record" doesn't link to my content as such. Rather, it links to my selection of basic essential sources, comprised of first-among-primary UNSCRs, US laws, US presidential statements, and fact findings, for properly understanding OIF. The selection linked at "record" is equivalent to the required readings for a course section, not the professor's lecture notes.


OG re "principles":
A refresher of just what these principles are would be helpful for those who don't remember exactly what is in the two laws you cite.
_If a refresher is needed after 70+ years of American leadership of the free world since WW2, nearly 30 years of American primacy since the end of the Cold War, and over 15 years since 9/11, that helps explains why the paradigmatic Iraq intervention, despite being headline news since 1990-1991 with a readily accessible, exceptionally plain law, policy, precedent, fact record, has somehow been misunderstood even by ostensible experts.

That being said, my citation of the particular UNSCRs and US laws in the sentence is the refresher. Which is to say, those who don't remember what's in them should read them to refresh what should already be general knowledge.


OG re "deterrence sufficient to effect compliance":
What is the distinction you are making from deterrence as such?
SF:
Agreed. This is generally implied in the definition of deterrence. Moreover, I'd posit that we may well be referring to a strategy of coercion vice deterrence in the context of the pre-OIF Iraq period. Up for debate, but something to consider.
_Right. I'm not defining deterrence differently from the standard meaning in terms of a model or strategy. Rather, the restatement is meant to focus on sufficiency of application in terms of effect.


OG re "Korean War":
Interesting comparison.
_As inflection points, the Korean War is the analogue for the Iraq intervention. Secretary Rumsfeld made the comparison. It caught my attention at the time because most of my military service was with USFK. The baseline policy effect of the Korean War is touched on here: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/NSC68.

At their respective inflection points, Eisenhower followed Truman by going one way, but at the analogous point, Obama followed Bush by going the other way, as Jeff Goldberg explained in The Atlantic article reviewed by Kyle Orton.

[See What American Credibility Myth? How and Why Reputation Matters by Alex Weisiger and Keren Yarhi-Milo, War On the Rocks, 04OCT16.]


OG re "They":
Who's the they? The "Republican elites"?
_Yes.


SF re "OIF-level force":
Which, it's important to note, was markedly less than the plans called for, due to Rumsfeld's desire to fight the war with a leaner force.
_Rumsfeld was a "light footprint" proponent, which, to be fair, worked well enough for the MCO and matched the initial post-war plan: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030224-11.html.

By "OIF-level force", though, I mean the level of force needed for the mission to succeed in the context of the Petraeus quote. Mindful of Petraeus's prognostication, I'm implicitly criticizing Hirsch's prescription which would have Republicans politically sabotage American leadership from even credibly bluffing the level of force proven needed for “If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq".

As stated, my meaning with "OIF-level force" is ambiguous and would have been clarified in the editing process.


OG re "deviation":
Is it a deviation or more of a severance?
_President Obama severed the peace operations with Iraq in 2011 but the US is not severed from Iraq. The US and Iraq still share the SFA and the underlying reasons for it, although as Obama showed in 2011, the US commitment to honoring the SFA can be reneged by an irresponsible President with harmful consequences. Part of my hope with my submission to TSB was to start the ball rolling on fixing the politics of the Iraq issue, including President Trump's misconceptions about the Iraq intervention, so hopefully Trump will correct rather than exacerbate Obama's errors.

See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/iraqi-prime-minister-my-country-needs-more-help-from-the-us/2017/03/23/3fff51a0-0fdb-11e7-ab07-07d9f521f6b5_story.html?utm_term=.0e705137833d.



Submission for The Strategy Bridge by [ELC], 20JAN17

President Obama was handed Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) by President Bush[President Bush handed Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) to President Obama] having resolved the festering problem of Saddam's noncompliant, threatening, tyrannical, radicalized sectarian, rearming, terrorist regime, revitalized international enforcement in the defining international enforcement of the post-Cold War, and proved the mettle of American leadership and devastated the terrorists with the counterinsurgency "Surge".

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

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

Pursuant to UNSCR 688 and UNSCR 1483, President Bush had enabled American and allied forces to honor President Clinton’s pledge to “help a new leadership in Baghdad that abides by its international commitments and respects the rights of its own people” and carry out Congress’ instruction to "support Iraq’s transition to democracy ... once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq" (Public Law 105-338). The emerging pluralistic, liberalizing, compliant post-Saddam Iraq provided the US with a keystone "strategic partner” in the region.

Accordingly, at the dawn of the Arab Spring, President Obama marked the historic opportunity for peace in the Middle East where “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.”

However, while Iraq was evidently on the right track, building a nation to secure the peace does not happen faster than raising a child, no less with post-Saddam Iraq than the World War 2 peace operations with post-Axis Germany, Japan, and Korea. The OIF peace operations were not yet complete when President Obama chose to break with the cardinal precedent for American leadership of the free world by severing the essential peace operations with Iraq in contravention of the conditions-based US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement.

America’s hard-earned victory with Iraq should have set the cornerstone for steadfast American leadership in the post-9/11 era. Yet the opposite has happened. President Obama’s radical shift of American foreign policy has resulted in disastrous consequences for Iraqis and others who staked their lives on the American president’s pledge to “stand with them [Iraqi people] as a steadfast partner” and “stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights”, which Obama proudly reneged.

President Obama needs to be held to account for his transformation of the critical strategic victory with Iraq into a rippling strategic blunder. In the November 21, 2016 issue of National Review (“Freedom from Iraq: How the GOP Can End the War over the War"), Jordan Chandler Hirsch, a visiting fellow at Columbia University, writes, “Only that kind of public airing can telegraph that Republican elites are grappling with America’s legacy in the Middle East and plotting a course forward.”

Hirsch diagnoses well the quandary for "Republican elites" who have criticized Obama's foreign affairs while hamstrung by their reluctance to advocate for alternatives that are reminiscent of the Iraq intervention. Unfortunately, Hirsch’s prescription for the GOP's "Iraq problem" is misguided and muddled: "foreign-policy leaders must forswear further Iraqs but affirm U.S. primacy in the global order. Their post-Iraq foreign policy should have three watchwords: humility, credibility, and prudence."

The design flaw of Hirsch's "public airing" is it effectively stipulates a revisionist narrative of the "Iraq War's legacy" that is stitched from conjecture, distorted context, and readily debunked misinformation.

Fundamentally, Hirsch’s prescription of "foreign-policy leaders must forswear further Iraqs but affirm U.S. primacy in the global order" is a contradiction for deterrence-based American leadership. As General David Petraeus stated in 2008, “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”. Said another way, “U.S. primacy in the global order” can only work when the means sufficient to achieve America’s policy ends, such as the regime change and peace operations that were ultimately necessary to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (Public Law 105-235), are understood by allies and enemies alike to be a viable option for the leader of the free world.

Hirsch is not alone. His article joins a self-defeating trend among center-right national security voices that have called for repudiating the Iraq intervention. Hirsch's jumping off point is President Trump’s electoral victory, but before Trump won the election, Jeb Bush and Evan McMullin were disclaiming OIF as a "mistake" during their respective presidential campaigns.

Yet the “Iraq problem” outlined by Hirsch stems from the Republican failure in the first place to uphold OIF's "credibility" versus the conjecture, distorted context, and misinformation that flooded the politics to discredit the mission. But rather than make amends for the seminal Republican failure, Hirsch instead concedes the faulty premises that Republicans should have counteracted all along.

I concur with Hirsch that “Republican elites” should grapple with the legacy of the Iraq intervention for similar reasons as Hirsch states. However, my prescription is based on correcting the prevalent revisionist narrative.

Whatever is one's subjective opinion of the mission's "humility" and "prudence", objectively, President Bush’s determination for Operation Iraqi Freedom was justified on policy, substantively correct on fact, and procedurally correct on law and precedent.

President Bush had inherited from his predecessor the “crisis between the United States and Iraq” in which "Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" along with President Clinton’s solution: “the Administration's strong commitment to the objective of removing Saddam Hussein from power, and to bringing him and his inner circle to justice for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. Saddam's removal is the key to the positive transformation of Iraq's relationship with the international community and with the United States, in particular.”

Before Iraq “abused its final chance” to cause Operation Desert Fox (ODF), which set the stage for OIF, President Clinton had warned of the wider importance of the US-led enforcement of Iraq’s mandated compliance: "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity".

Yet by 2000-2001, the international order-defining challenge to American leadership had come to a head. Saddam had broken the containment by “enlisting the help of three permanent UNSC members: Russia, France and China. ... Saddam expressed confidence that France and Russia would support Iraq’s efforts to further erode the UN sanctions Regime” (Iraq Survey Group). The picture emerging outside Iraq was clear: the sanctions had been de facto neutralized and the ceasefire disarmament process had been undermined by Saddam’s accomplices on the Security Council, and the growing flow of proscribed items into Iraq indicated the reconstitution of Iraq’s WMD and conventional armament. Meanwhile, Saddam's terrorist activity and human rights abuses continued unabated.

Saddam's attack on Irbil in August 1996 effectively defeated the internal threat to his regime and the ODF bombing campaign "on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs, on the command structures that direct and protect that capability, and on his military and security infrastructure" passed the penultimate enforcement step. When Saddam was debriefed after his capture, he confirmed that he had been ready and willing to absorb another bombing campaign like ODF. The next - and last - step up from the ODF bombing campaign was a ground campaign, which President Bush activated in 2002-2003 to enforce Iraq's "final opportunity to comply" (UNSCR 1441).

Saddam should have switched off the enforcement threat with the “full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) that Iraq had been obligated to provide promptly in 1991, let alone in its “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) in 2002-2003. Instead, Saddam chose to cause OIF with evidential categorical “material breach” (UNSCR 1441) of the ceasefire measures, including the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, and human rights mandates of UNSCR 688.

On the UNSCR 687 WMD disarmament mandates alone, Iraq’s “continued violations of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) were established by UNSCOM, decided by the UNSC, confirmed by UNMOVIC for casus belli, and corroborated by the Iraq Survey Group. Over twelve years, the Saddam regime failed to satisfy even the baseline-setting step of the ceasefire declare/yield/eliminate-under-international-supervision disarmament process, a verified total declaration that accounted for Iraq's entire WMD-related program, which Iraq was obligated to provide within 15 days of the adoption of UNSCR 687 - in 1991.

At the same time, the Saddam regime's “regional and global terrorism”, which included “considerable operational overlap” with al Qaeda, and Saddam’s rule by “widespread terror” were each a trigger in their own right to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" (Public Law 107-243).

Saddam’s categorical “material breach” in Iraq’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) obliged President Bush to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” (Public Law 107-243) from the “continued violations of its [Iraq’s] obligations” bearing "the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security" (UNSCR 1441).

Hirsch's call for “Republican elites” to repudiate the Iraq intervention in disregard of the operative law, policy, precedent, and facts of President Bush’s decision can only worsen the “Iraq problem”. Instead, the solution begins with re-laying the foundation of the political discourse by de-stigmatizing OIF by setting the record straight on the justification of the Iraq intervention. In other words, the first step to "affirm U.S. primacy in the global order" is to re-litigate the Iraq issue, a needed reformative measure that Hirsch explicitly rejects at the outset of his article.

From a center-right national security standpoint, Hirsch's plan for "grappling with America’s legacy in the Middle East and plotting a course forward" by disclaiming OIF is self-defeating because he purports to revive the same national security principles that were embodied by the 1990-2011 Iraq intervention, most of all with the enforcement of UNSCR 1441 per Public Law 107-243 and the UNSCR 1483 peace operations per Public Law 105-338. America's rivals stigmatized OIF, which manifested those principles, in order to disqualify them. Yet quixotically, Hirsch concedes the very inimical premises cutting off his objective.

Per President Clinton’s warning on Iraq before ODF, the wider importance of the Iraq issue boils down to basic political science. American leadership since World War 2 has been based on deterrence sufficient to effect compliance. Deterrence sufficient to effect compliance is based on the credible threat and use of force.

As such, the US-led enforcement of Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 660 series in the Gulf War set the baseline for the liberal international order in the post-Cold War era. The subsequent US-led enforcement of Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 660 series in the Gulf War ceasefire was, in essence, the litmus test for the credibility of post-Cold War American leadership.

By kicking the can versus Saddam's "intransigence", the credibility of American leadership eroded as Presidents HW Bush and Clinton persistently failed to bring Iraq into its mandated compliance. At the turn of the post-9/11 era, American leadership under President Bush belatedly passed the litmus test.

As a matter of policy, Hirsch's view that "foreign-policy leaders must forswear further Iraqs" undermines his objective to "affirm U.S. primacy in the global order". The opposite is true – US leaders must tout the Iraq intervention as a manifestation of America’s abiding dedication to the liberal international order. Passing the test to "bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (Public Law 105-235) was fundamental for re-establishing the credibility of the threat and use of force that is essential for the deterrence base of American leadership.

OIF-level use of the military need not be usual, but to "affirm U.S. primacy in the global order", America's allies and rivals must respect that an OIF-level exercise of American power is politically and practically viable when warranted to uphold the liberal international order. Whereas advocating for American enforcement of the liberal international order while also advocating for a cap up front on the threat and use of force below a level proven necessary to enforce the liberal international order is an obvious misalignment of means to ends that invites ambitious rivals to key in on the self-imposed American restriction to assert their alternatives.

For example, Saddam refused his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) and caused OIF because he believed he had marked the limit of the American threat with Presidents HW Bush and Clinton. As the Iraq Survey Group puts it, "By late 2002 Saddam had persuaded himself, just as he did in 1991, that the United States would not attack Iraq ... Saddam speculated that the United States would instead seek to avoid casualties and, if Iraq was attacked at all, the campaign would resemble Desert Fox."

The success of OIF should have functioned for the post-9/11 era like the Korean War set the baseline for the Cold War era, a distinctive affair that nonetheless established the cornerstone for American leadership of the free world. With proper follow-up, President Obama should have cemented the baseline for credible American threat and use of force that was hard earned in Iraq like President Eisenhower cemented the harder earned baseline in Europe and Asia - earned doubly hard with Korea - at the turn of the Cold War era. Instead, President Obama broke from the cardinal precedent by employing the misinformation-based stigmatization of OIF as the keystone premise for choices that severely degraded the credibility of American leadership.

The solution for the “Iraq problem” all along has been to clarify that President Bush, America, and our allies were right on Iraq while their detractors, most of all Saddam’s “key advocates in the Security Council”, were wrong. Whereas Hirsch’s prescription dangerously overlooks the core requirement for effective deterrence-based leadership and sets up the US, and anyone still depending on American leadership of the free world, for the consequences of feckless leadership being suffered by Syrians and Iraqis. Republican concession of the prevalent revisionist narrative can only further cement the disqualification of American leadership instituted by President Obama.

For Hirsch’s objective of “Republican elites…grappling with America’s legacy in the Middle East and plotting a course forward” that re-normalizes steadfast American leadership of the free world, the proper prescription is essentially, "make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won" (West Point cadet prayer). They must de-stigmatize Operation Iraqi Freedom with a “public airing” that sets the record straight on the justification of the Iraq intervention, discredits the mission’s false detractors, normalizes the American threat and use of OIF-level force needed for effective deterrence, and holds President Obama to account for his deviation with Iraq.

By-line: [ELC] is a graduate of Columbia University and Rutgers School of Law, and re-litigates the Iraq issue at Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ.



Related: How Republicans should talk about the Iraq issue.