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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on February 23rd, 2016 (All posts by )

    But despite all the opportunistic campaign rhetoric, the newly elected President Eisenhower more or less followed Truman’s policies. By July 1953 he had achieved an armistice. And by keeping sizable U.S. deployments of peacekeepers in place, he also ensured what would become a long evolution to democracy in South Korea and the country’s current dynamic economy. Had Eisenhower, in Obama-like worry over his 1956 reelection bid, yanked out all U.S. peacekeepers in December 1955, and blamed the resulting debacle on his Democratic predecessor (“Truman’s War”), while writing off the North Korean aggressors as jayvees, we can imagine a quick North Korean absorption of the South, with the sort of death and chaos we are now seeing in Iraq.
     
    [. . .]
     
    We can surely argue about Iraq, but we must not airbrush away facts. The mystery of the current Iraq fantasy is not that a prevaricating Donald Trump misrepresents the war in the fashion of Democratic senators and liberal pundits who once eagerly supported it, but that his Republican opponents so easily let him do it.

    Victor Davis Hanson, “Iraq: The Real Story”
     
     
    Actually it’s not a mystery. The Republican candidates opposing Trump must have discovered that the dishonest “Bush lied” narrative about Iraq polls better than the truth. (None of the remaining Republican candidates seems qualified to be President. Unfortunately, the Democratic candidates are even worse.)

    In 2009 news stories reported that fewer Americans had been killed in Iraq the previous year than were murdered in Chicago. Iraq had an imperfect but functioning democratic government. The war was essentially won.

    In 2016 Iraq has largely fallen apart. ISIS, Iran and Russia dominate much of Iraq and Syria. ISIS controls territory in North Africa. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are hanging by threads. Turkey and Russia have skirmished. Israel no longer has regional air superiority, perhaps not even air superiority in all of its own territory. Talk of regional and even world war is in the air.

    The principal differences between 2008 and 2016 are Obama’s terrible decisions to withdraw US forces from Iraq and then to stop defending our other Middle Eastern interests. Bush had nothing to do with it except to the extent he was inept at promoting his case at home. Many if not most Americans neither understand why we invaded Iraq nor remember the bi-partisan, international consensus for invasion that existed in 2002 and 2003.

     

    24 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. TangoMan Says:

      Bush lied. Here is a comment I left at Jonathon Last’s blog, which he didn’t approve, but I recovered from my cache.
      ———-
      Here is the anatomy of a lie. From Wikipedia on the topic of Curveball:

      Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (Arabic: رافد أحمد علوان‎, Rāfid Aḥmad Alwān; born 1968), known by the Defense Intelligence Agency cryptonym “Curveball”,[1] is a German citizen who defected from Iraq in 1999, claiming that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program.[2] Alwan’s allegations were subsequently shown to be false by the Iraq Survey Group’s final report published in 2004.[3][4]

      Despite warnings from the German Federal Intelligence Service and the British Secret Intelligence Service questioning the authenticity of the claims, the US Government and British government utilized them to build a rationale for military action in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including in the 2003 State of the Union address, where President Bush said “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs”, and Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council, which contained a computer generated image of a mobile biological weapons laboratory.

      There are a few ways to spin this. One is that gross dereliction of duty is simply a mistake and not a lie. The other is that willfully being selective in which intelligence to count and which to disqualify counts as a lie of omission, something that journalists use regularly in order to craft their stories to advance their particular point of view.

      Relying on Curveball is impossible to defend as a honest mistake. Making the choice to highlight Curveball’s “intelligence” by making no effort to validate it counts as a lie of omission because the gambit of keeping in place plausible deniability arising from not investigating, and running to ground, Curveball’s accusations strongly suggests that Feith and Bush and the others likely knew that any serious investigation of Curveball would result in his story being exposed as a fiction and thus denying them the use of his story to sell the war.

      Subsequently shown to be false. Yeah, after it didn’t matter, after the decision was made and implemented. The time to verify his allegations was BEFORE the decision was made and BEFORE any action was taken.

      Remember, it was Bush officials who claimed that they had the power to make reality what they wanted it to become. This is exactly what is in play here. There is a huge amount of hubris on display and it’s trying to give cover to, what is at the core, a lie of commission by Curveball which is transformed into a lie of omission by Bush’s team.

      Bush and crew lied by CHOOSING to rely on Curveball.

      ——-

      Actually it’s not a mystery. The Republican candidates opposing Trump must have discovered that the dishonest “Bush lied” narrative about Iraq polls better than the truth.

      My opinion is that there are a few factors in play here. The actual truth and falsity of the decision is probably the least important factor. More important is voters are tired of defending Bush for this decision. They’re tired of this albatross around their necks costing them politically. There is a tactical advantage of running in an election where the Republicans can be on the offensive against Hillary and her support for the war. Voters are eager to find a way to reconcile previous support for the war with their present desire to reject the war and the best way for individual voters to safe face on this flip-flop is to blame Bush for misleading them. The Party is healthier moving forward without having to defend Bush than continuing, forever after, until the end of time, having to defend Bush’s decision.

      In 2009 news stories reported that fewer Americans had been killed in Iraq the previous year than were murdered in Chicago.

      What is that supposed to show? The number of troops in Iraq was FAR less than the population of Chicago. They were armed to the teeth and conducted themselves in a very defensive fashion, moving in well armed squads, driving in bullet proof vehicles, moving around with ready air cover nearby, etc.

      The principal differences between 2008 and 2016 are Obama’s terrible decisions to withdraw US forces from Iraq and then to stop defending our other Middle Eastern interests.

      I don’t disagree but you seem to miss the obvious point here so let me illustrate this is a novel way:

      “Honey, I know you love me. Don’t cry about being locked up in this dungeon. I’m sure that you’d love me and stay with me and be loyal to me even if I unshackled you and let you live the life of a free woman but right now the time just isn’t right for you to have that freedom.”

      Boy, that’s a heck of a relationship this guy has with his lady! Am I right? Iraq is stable so long as American might is keeping a lid clamped down on a powder keg of a society but as soon as we remove our imposing presence then everything goes to hell. Wouldn’t it be better to be the guy who doesn’t imprison women in a dungeon at all, ever?

      Bush had nothing to do with it except to the extent he was inept at promoting his case at home.

      Bush played the part of the guy who imprisoned the woman in the dungeon and showed his love to her. Obama played the part of the guy who inherited the woman when he bought the house and then set her free. Unsurprisingly she didn’t want to stick around and be Obama’s girlfriend.

    2. Mike K Says:

      “Relying on Curveball is impossible to defend as a honest mistake.”

      The CIA had NO assets in Iraq and there was no way to check “curveball’s” information.

      You are getting into conspiracy theory territory here.

      I have read a long time ago, Can’t remember where, that Eisenhower also told the North Koreans that, if they did not observe the armistice and the DMZ, he would attack them with nuclear weapons.

      The first mistake was MacArthur’s in going to the Yalu. He should have established a line at the narrow waist of North Korea. The Chinese were telling anyone who would listen that they would respond if we approached the Yalu. The best defensive line in Korea was at Pyongyang or just north of it.

      The American public is doing to Republicans what they did to Democrats over Vietnam. The trouble is that Nixon tried to do an honest job of securing a reasonable peace in Vietnam while Democrats, as usual, are ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Imagine if the Marines had been thrown off Guadalcanal. All our losses in WWII were in the first six months. After the Philippines fell, we did not lose another major battle. The only example we have of American public hysteria in war, prior to LBJ, is the internment of the Japanese civilians in California.

    3. TangoMan Says:

      You are getting into conspiracy theory territory here.

      Please don’t try this disqualification tactic on me. It’s laughably ineffective.

      The CIA had NO assets in Iraq and there was no way to check “curveball’s” information.

      You’ve undercut your own argument. What kind of idiot sends a nation to war based on unverified information? Besides there was plenty of information developed about Curveball based on inconsistencies within HIS OWN TESTIMONY and his ever-evolving story to cast enough suspicion on the man so as to discredit his account. From Wikipedia:

      He gave many hours of testimony about Iraq’s WMD program and in particular its mobile weapons laboratories. Despite CIA technicians and weapon experts finding major flaws and inconsistencies with the designs and systems he asserted the military was developing, this information made it to the American government and although there were wide doubts and questions about the claimed informant’s reliability and background, assertions attributed to Curveball claiming that Iraq was creating biological agents in mobile weapons laboratories to elude inspectors appeared in more than 112 United States government reports between January 2000 and September 2001

      More background:

      The Bush administration laid blame on the CIA, criticizing its officials for “failing to investigate” doubts about Curveball, which emerged after an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. In May 2004, over a year after the invasion of Iraq, the CIA concluded formally that Curveball’s information was fabricated. Furthermore, on June 26, 2006, The Washington Post reported that “the CIA acknowledged that Curveball was a con artist who drove a taxi in Iraq and spun his engineering knowledge into a fantastic but plausible tale about secret bioweapons factories on wheels.”[15]

      On April 8, 2005, CIA Director Porter Goss ordered an internal review of the CIA in order to determine why doubts about Curveball’s reliability were not forwarded to policy makers. Former CIA Director George Tenet and his former deputy, John E. McLaughlin, announced that they were not aware of doubts about Curveball’s veracity before the war. However, Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA’s European division, told the Los Angeles Times that “everyone in the chain of command knew exactly what was happening.”

      Must I really explain how the game of plausible deniability is played in politics? Really? Bush and his team simply didn’t want Curveball to be discredited, his “intelligence” was too useful to the case, to the “reality,” that the administration was shaping. Or to put it into Clintonian terms – “Don’t ask and don’t tell” and we’ll pretend that there’s nothing discreditable about Curveball. That’s how a lie is constructed.

      As for the remainder of your comment it lacks connective tissue so it’s not clear to me what point you’re trying to make by referencing these historical events. Care to expand on your thoughts?

    4. TangoMan Says:

      The only example we have of American public hysteria in war, prior to LBJ, is the internment of the Japanese civilians in California.

      What hysteria?

      The Niʻihau incident (or Battle of Niʻihau) occurred on December 7, 1941, when Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi (西開地 重徳 Nishikaichi Shigenori) crash-landed his Zero on the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was killed in a struggle with people on the island.

      The island’s Native Hawaiian residents were initially unaware of the attack, but apprehended Nishikaichi when the gravity of the situation became apparent. Nishikaichi then sought and received the assistance of three locals of Japanese descent in overcoming his captors, finding weapons, and taking several hostages. Eventually, Nishikaichi was killed by Niihauans Benehakaka “Ben” Kanahele and Kealoha “Ella” Kanahele;[1] Ben Kanahele was wounded in the process, and one of Nishikaichi’s confederates, Yoshio Harada, committed suicide.

      The incident and the actions of Nishikaichi’s abettors demonstrated the potential for racial or ethnic allegiance to overwhelm national allegiance; this ultimately may have influenced the decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II. Ben Kanahele was decorated for his part in stopping the incident; Ella Kanahele received no official recognition.[1]

    5. Tyouth Says:

      “Wouldn’t it be better to be the guy who doesn’t imprison women in a dungeon at all, ever? ”

      Nope, not if the woman was deranged, dangerous, armed and a threat to the neighbors.

    6. Mike K Says:

      The Niihau incident has been commented on here by me. Still Japanese and Japanese American were NOT interned in Hawaii where it occurred.

      The British were also subject to hysteria early in the war and they exiled many German immigrants, most of whom were Jews fleeing Hitler, to Canada. Many were children.

      One of those children was Max Peretz, the founder of molecular biology.

    7. TangoMan Says:

      Nope, not if the woman was deranged, dangerous, armed and a threat to the neighbors.

      We don’t need no mansplaining here. The neighbors are the equals of the deranged man, closer to the problem than us, and it was their responsibility to take care of him, not ours.

      Having a permanent occupation force in Iraq simply wasn’t worth it. Bush had a consequential presidency, for all the wrong reasons, Iraq chief among them.

      The hubris of the Bush view was that the deranged, the dangerous and the threatening aspects of Saddam were simply a top-down aspect of Iraqi society/politics and that with Saddam removed then Jeffersonian Democracy would flower, first in Iraq, and then spread all across the region. Well, Saddam is gone, so where is the flowering democracy, the peaceful societies?

      Some ideologies are really, completely divorced from reality, and that’s what we, the American electorate and, specifically, the Republican voters, put into the White House in 2000. The Clintons weren’t much better, same too with Obama. The entire elite infrastructure, from selecting, to training, to grooming, to promoting, is seriously off-track. It’s selecting for the wrong characteristics, rewarding those who view the reality in a skewed fashion, rewarding with promotion those who fail to achieve good results, etc.

    8. PenGun Says:

      It’s funny. I agree almost completely with TangoMan on the facts here and almost completely disagree with his take on many other things. One should not make enemies easily, as those you disagree with, have their part of the story too.

    9. Mike K Says:

      “Some ideologies are really, completely divorced from reality, and that’s what we, the American electorate and, specifically, the Republican voters, put into the White House in 2000.”

      You and PenGun make a nice couple. No more time wasted reading your posts.

    10. TangoMan Says:

      You and PenGun make a nice couple. No more time wasted reading your posts.

      What’s the problem? Under law there is a duty to not be negligent. Walmart can’t have a water spill in the aisle and ignore it, or mop it up and not put up either a warning sign indicating a wet floor or a barrier to divert people around the hazard. If they are negligent in preventing easily foreseen accidents then they’re held accountable under the law.

      Relying on Curveball was gross negligence. Playing the plausible deniability game doesn’t shield Bush from the charge of negligence. That’s point 1. Point 2 is the whole spreading Democracy strategic goal. Where else do we see a cousin-marriage oriented tribal culture having established a functioning democratic state? There is no precedent to point to, so now we’re into greenfield territory. On what basis do these mission strategists believe that a society which owes fealty to cousins will abandon that long-standing social practice and instead migrate over to our type of society? How would that work? An Iraqi in the civil service tasked with hiring an employee is supposed to pass-over hiring his cousin and instead hire the best qualified person who is from another tribe? How is this guy going to survive the pressure his family puts on him? Moreover, why would he want to do this when other managers in other departments are staffing up with tribe members in order to strengthen their tribes? The entire cultural foundations of Iraq are not compatible with Democracy, so how the heck did these Bush wizards figure that this was a good strategic goal? Experts usually have subject expertise. Being an ideologue doesn’t give one any subject expertise except in the ideology, it’s kind of like Marxist-Leninist political officers in the Soviet Army/Navy thinking that they know better how to operate a nuclear submarine than the vessel’s captain who has come up through the ranks and knows the details of how every crew member must function in order to operate the vessel at top efficiency. The Bush crew didn’t have nuclear weapons engineers on staff, they didn’t have experts on Iraqi culture on staff, etc. they were almost all political and foreign policy strategists from a particular school of American political ideology. A Marxist-Leninist political officer on a ship knows how things should be in order to advance a Marxist-Leninist vision of how a military organization SHOULD function but knows squat about how to effectuate this outcome. This is the classic IS-OUGHT problem writ large.

      Relying on Curveball, playing games with plausible deniability, well, this is all lying by omission, it’s gross negligence. None of this reflects well on leadership qualities. It’s too bad that you’re so invested in defending gross incompetence and malfeasance by the Bush crew that you are prepared to go down with the ship as all of the evidence turns against you. Apparently a great many Republican voters in South Carolina have reached the point where they’re OK with divorcing themselves from the Bush Legacy.

    11. Eric Says:

      On the law and the facts, the decision for OIF was correct. Excerpt from “Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?”:

      A: No.

      One, the law and policy of the Gulf War ceasefire plainly show the Iraq enforcement was compliance-based. The pre-war intelligence, no matter how precise, did not and could not trigger OIF. By procedure, only Iraq’s noncompliance could trigger enforcement, and only Iraq’s compliance could switch off the enforcement.

      The prevalent myth that Operation Iraqi Freedom was based on a lie relies on a false premise that shifted the burden of proof from Iraq proving it had disarmed in compliance with the UNSC resolutions to the US proving Iraqi possession matched the pre-war intelligence estimates. In fact, neither the intelligence nor demonstration of Iraqi possession was an element of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement because it pivoted solely on whether Iraq proved compliance with the UNSC resolutions. The US as the chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions held no burden of proof in the Iraq enforcement. From the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire, Saddam as the probationary party held the entire burden of proof to prove Iraq was fully compliant with UNSCRs 687, 688, and related resolutions. The question of “Where is Iraq’s WMD?” was never for the US and UN to answer; it was always a question Saddam was required to answer according to UNSCR 687 to prove Iraq had disarmed.

      OIF is often isolated out of context and misrepresented as a new policy by Bush. In fact, Operation Iraqi Freedom was the coda of the US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions for Iraq that began when Saddam seized Kuwait in 1990 and continued through the subsequent Gulf War ceasefire. President Bush inherited Saddam’s “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (Clinton) and carried forward the Iraq enforcement from President Clinton. No amnesty was given for Iraq’s “continued violations” (UNSCR 1441) of UNSCR 687; the UNMOVIC inspections that found “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” (Cluster Document) in breach of UNSCR 687, the principal trigger for OIF, explicitly took up from the UNSCOM inspections that triggered Operation Desert Fox. Demonstration of Iraqi possession of WMD was not necessary to confirm Saddam’s material breach because, from the outset, Iraq’s guilt of armament was established in the factual baseline of the Gulf War ceasefire as the foundational premise of the disarmament process. The basic presumption of the disarmament process was anywhere Iraq provided deficient account of its weapons imputed continued intent and possession. Thus, if Bush had presented none of the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons, the compliance-based enforcement procedure would have been the same. In December 1998, Clinton cited neither the intelligence nor demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD to justify Operation Desert Fox. Saddam was guilty until he proved Iraq was compliant. If Iraq was not compliant, then Saddam continued to be armed and dangerous.

      On March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC presented the 173-page Cluster Document to the UN Security Council with its finding of “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” pursuant to UNSCR 687:

      UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became [sic] available and … produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues
      … [for example] UNSCOM considered that the evidence was insufficient to support Iraq’s statements on the quantity of anthrax destroyed and where or when it was destroyed[,] … UNMOVIC has credible information that the total quantity of BW agent in bombs, warheads and in bulk at the time of the Gulf War was 7,000 litres more than declared by Iraq[, and] … With respect to stockpiles of bulk agent stated to have been destroyed, there is evidence to suggest that these was [sic] not destroyed as declared by Iraq.
      … UNMOVIC must verify the absence of any new activities or proscribed items, new or retained. The onus is clearly on Iraq to provide the requisite information or devise other ways in which UNMOVIC can gain confidence that Iraq’s declarations are correct and comprehensive.

      UNMOVIC’s findings confirmed that “Iraq … remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 … Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein” (UNSCR 1441). The UNMOVIC Cluster Document triggered Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 in the same way that the UNSCOM Butler Report confirmed Iraq’s material breach and triggered Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.

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

      On January 28, 2004, David Kay, who preceded Charles Duelfer as head of the Iraq Survey Group, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

      In my judgment, based on the work that has been done to this point of the Iraq Survey Group, and in fact, that I reported to you in October, Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities — one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687 and that should have been reported under 1441, with Iraqi testimony that not only did they not tell the U.N. about this, they were instructed not to do it and they hid material.


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

    12. TangoMan Says:

      Thus, if Bush had presented none of the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons, the compliance-based enforcement procedure would have been the same. In December 1998, Clinton cited neither the intelligence nor demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD to justify Operation Desert Fox. Saddam was guilty until he proved Iraq was compliant. If Iraq was not compliant, then Saddam continued to be armed and dangerous.

      There is a fundamental logical misunderstanding at the heart of your argument and it is this – American government, and its foreign policy, don’t operate on the Columbia Record House negative option billing methodology. Simply because Iraq is not in compliance doesn’t mean that the US must not AUTOMATICALLY go to war against Iraq.

      The case you seem to be arguing is that Iraq not showing that it was in compliance serves as justification for going to war. It seems that the Bush Administration didn’t buy that reasoning for they engaged in a multi-pronged effort to sell the war on more than just Iraq not living up to compliance demands. Visions of A-bombs exploding in New York are not needed if you’re satisfied with making the case that Saddam failed to live up to his obligations and therefore we must automatically go to war because we have no choice in the matter.

    13. Eric Says:

      Tangoman:
      “What kind of idiot sends a nation to war based on unverified information?”

      Not President Bush.

      The casus belli for Operation Iraqi Freedom was established upon the verified evidential material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire by Iraq, principally the disarmament mandates of UNSCRs 687 (1991) and 1441 (2002). According to the operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire, President Bush could not go to war with Iraq based on the pre-war intelligence estimates. Starting with the Gulf War and carried forward to enforce Iraq’s compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire, US military enforcement with Iraq responded to Iraq’s noncompliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions, ie, material breach, especially the ceasefire resolutions 687 and 688.

      That being said, President Clinton had set up his successor with the policy to go to war with Iraq based on the intelligence. With Operation Desert Fox, Clinton declared, “Iraq has abused its final chance.” Following the suspension of the inspection-centered UN disarmament process in December 1998, Clinton had implemented an enforcement procedure for the ad hoc post-ODF ‘containment’ where the intelligence was drafted to fill in for the suspended UN weapons inspections as the substitute trigger for enforcement.

      To wit, on May 19, 1999, President Clinton explained to Congress, “Saddam Hussein’s record of aggressive behavior compels us to retain a highly capable force in the region in order to deter Iraq and respond to any threat it might pose to its neighbors, the reconstitution of its WMD program, or movement against the Kurds in northern Iraq.”

      The only way we could know to “respond to … the reconstitution of its WMD program” was the intelligence.

      The Iraq Survey Group confirmed, among Iraq’s many disarmament violations, that “From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency.”

      Although the pre-war intelligence estimates fell short as “evidence”, the intelligence correctly indicated Saddam was in fact reconstituting Iraq’s WMD program in “continued violation of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) under UNSCR 687. So, according to Clinton’s post-ODF procedure, Bush could have gone to war with Iraq directly based on the intelligence.

      But the President opted not to do that. Instead, Bush ended the ad hoc ‘containment’ and moved to restore the inspection-centered UN disarmament process to give Saddam a 2nd chance for a “final opportunity to comply with [Iraq’s] disarmament obligations” (UNSCR 1441). From the moment that the UN weapons inspectors were set to go to work in Iraq, Clinton’s intelligence-based trigger for the ad ‘containment’ was retired and the compliance-based trigger with the UN weapons inspections was restored.

      Again, casus belli for Operation Iraqi Freedom was established with the UNSCR 1441 inspections when on March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC reported to the Security Council the finding of “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” in violation of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) which confirmed Iraq’s “continued violations of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441) in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply with [Iraq’s] disarmament obligations” (UNSCR 1441).

    14. Eric Says:

      Tangoman:
      “The case you seem to be arguing is that Iraq not showing that it was in compliance serves as justification for going to war.”

      Not arguing, just reiterating what the controlling law, policy, and precedent of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement plainly show.

      Public Law 105-235, 14AUG98:

      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations, and therefore the President is urged to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.

      Public Law 107-243, 16OCT02:

      Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;
      … The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to … enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

      UNSCR 1441, 08NOV02:

      Determined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions and recalling that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance,
      …Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions,
      Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,
      1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991) …
      2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council;

      President Clinton, 16DEC98:

      I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq’s own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.
      … The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance. And so we had to act, and act now.

      President Bush, 12SEP02:

      To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq’s dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations. He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge — by his deceptions, and by his cruelties — Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.
      … The Security Council resolutions will be enforced — the just demands of peace and security will be met — or action will be unavoidable.

      Secretary of State Powell, 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.

      Again, UNMOVIC, 06MAR03:

      UNMOVIC evaluated and assessed this material as it has became [sic] available and … produced an internal working document covering about 100 unresolved disarmament issues

      And, David Kay speaking on behalf of the Iraq Survey Group, 28JAN04:

      Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of [U.N.] Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 required that Iraq report all of its activities — one last chance to come clean about what it had. We have discovered hundreds of cases, based on both documents, physical evidence and the testimony of Iraqis, of activities that were prohibited under the initial U.N. Resolution 687

    15. Eric Says:

      Tangoman:
      “Visions of A-bombs exploding in New York are not needed if you’re satisfied with making the case that Saddam failed to live up to his obligations and therefore we must automatically go to war because we have no choice in the matter.”

      Excerpt:

      A false premise asserted by OIF opponents is the casus belli for OIF was based on a claim that Saddam possessed nuclear weapons. However, President Bush stated on October 7, 2002, “Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don’t know exactly, and that’s the problem.”

      That there were indicators of proscribed nuclear activity by Iraq is true. Sections 490-503 of the 2004 Butler Review of British intelligence upheld the analysis behind the controversial statement in the 2003 State of the Union that “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The Iraq Survey Group corroborated that “ISG found a limited number of post-1995 activities that would have aided the reconstitution of the nuclear weapons program once sanctions were lifted.”

      Nonetheless, President Bush did not claim Saddam possessed nuclear weapons. By “confront it now” (Bush, 07OCT02), he meant bringing Iraq into compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions. The warning of a possible “mushroom cloud” was stated neither as knowledge of Iraqi nuclear weapons nor as casus belli, but rather that the pre-war intelligence added weight to Bush’s call for UN and IAEA inspectors to return to Iraq forthwith in order to verify Iraq was compliant with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687. The nuclear disarmament mandates were part of the diverse bundle of disarmament mandates in UNSCR 687.

      By procedure, the pre-war intelligence could not trigger enforcement. Only Iraq’s noncompliance with the UN mandates, i.e., breach of ceasefire, could trigger enforcement. The best representation of the justification for invasion is Public Law 107-243, the 2002 AUMF, which mandated enforcement of Iraq’s full compliance with all the UNSCR 660-series resolutions with emphasis on the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687, humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688, and all the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

      The military threat of regime change enabled the UNSCR 1441 inspections for Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441). Subsequently, the principal trigger to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (P.L. 105-235) with Operation Iraqi Freedom was not the pre-war intelligence on proscribed nuclear activity, but rather Iraq’s evident failure to disarm as mandated by the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), which was confirmed by the UNMOVIC finding of “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” in the UNSCR 1441 inspections. While several nuclear-related disarmament issues remained unresolved at the decision point for OIF, the IAEA report was less alarming than the UNMOVIC report.

    16. Eric Says:

      Tangoman,

      Excerpt from “Did Iraq failing its compliance test justify the regime change?”:

      A: Yes.

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

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

      The “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” (Clinton) was imputed from Iraq’s noncompliance with the UN mandates, not from demonstrated Iraqi possession of WMD stocks. With the spectrum of mandates and success of Saddam’s “concealment and deception activities” (Duelfer Report), which included hidden stocks, a large covert procurement program, and undeclared chemical and biological laboratories, Iraq’s compliance with the UNSC resolutions was determined by necessity with measures other than demonstrated possession. Demonstration of Iraq’s “continued violations of its obligations” (UNSCR 1441), e.g., the UNSCOM Butler Report and UNMOVIC Cluster Document, imputed continued intent and possession by Iraq.

      The failure to prove Iraq was compliant and disarmed to the mandated standard meant Saddam’s regime continued to be pegged to “the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security” (UNSCR 1441). Once Saddam pulled the enforcement trigger by failing his “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) with the Gulf War ceasefire, President Bush, under mandate to “(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq” (P.L. 107-243), had to make his decision while weighing the threat of Iraq’s unaccounted for weapons together with other violations of the ceasefire, such as Saddam’s terrorism, the intelligence at hand, and Saddam’s track record in light of the heightened threat consideration induced by 9/11.

      Two, Bush’s decision either way was final. After Operation Desert Fox, the credible threat of regime change was the last remaining leverage to compel Saddam’s cooperation. The threat of regime change would no longer have been credible if it had been a dud when triggered by Saddam. Operation Iraqi Freedom carried forward President Clinton’s justification for Operation Desert Fox:

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

      The UNMOVIC findings were not the only evidence of material breach, of course. At the decision point for OIF, Saddam was evidentially noncompliant across the board with the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), including the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687 and humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688. Saddam’s terrorism and terroristic rule were each a trigger for OIF in their own right and also combined with Saddam’s WMD threat to heighten the need for “full and immediate compliance” (UNSCR 1441) by Iraq with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

    17. Eric Says:

      Tangoman:
      “because we have no choice in the matter”

      We had a choice. They were just all hard choices, except obviously, the preferred choice was for Iraq to switch off the enforcement by complying volitionally in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441), but that was Saddam’s decision to make.

      Answer(s) to “What were President Bush’s alternatives with Iraq?”, “Why did Bush leave the ‘containment’ (status quo)?”, and “Why not free a noncompliant Saddam?”.

    18. TangoMan Says:

      The Iraq Survey Group reported “Senior Iraqis—several of them from the Regime’s inner circle—told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program” and “In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of [Saddam’s] intent to resume WMD”.

      You’ve posted a lot of excerpts from the report but I’m of the opinion that you’re missing the mark. You’re pointing to UN resolutions and diplomatic agreements and the evidence and reasoning incorporated within the resolutions and agreements but the decision to go to war was a political one. Powell was at the UN making a case based on “Curveball’s” stories. A political case. A decision for the US to go to war is always political, we’ve never gone to war against our will based on a treaty obligation. We didn’t go to war, automatically, against Argentina when Argentina attacked the UK in the Falklands even though we have a NATO obligation to do so.

      I selected one part from your report to critique. 1.) Insider assumptions about Saddam’s intention are nothing more than a rhetorical device, 2.) this isn’t actually evidence or as the report language stresses “clear evidence.”

      However, President Bush stated on October 7, 2002, “Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don’t know exactly, and that’s the problem.”

      Heck, one more for the road. This is another lie of omission. The statement itself looks fine but what Bush excludes from the statement completely flips the meaning of the statement. It’s not possible to develop a nuclear weapons infrastructure in a way which is undetectable. Iran has clearly demonstrated this. So, knowing that we would know if Iraq was seriously involved and deep into a program, because the infrastructure is too complicated to hide and the equipment required would leave too many commercial traces, one can’t argue that our lack of knowledge allows for the possibility that there is a threatening nuclear weapons development program underway. Put another way, if we don’t know what’s going on because we’re not picking up any clues, then we actually do know that nothing is going on. If you need an example of how this logic works think about Saddam trying to build a new Pyramid of Giza. Bush can’t say “we don’t know if Iraq is trying to build a new pyramid.” Yeah, we do know because as soon as Iraq would start such an endeavor we’d be picking up all sorts of clues, it’s not like you can build Giza in your kitchen, undetected by everyone, and then surprise the world, so if we can’t find any clues to Saddam building a new Giza, then that actually means that Saddam is NOT building a new Giza.

      A lot of this report is filled with bureaucratic ass-covering of this type.

    19. TangoMan Says:

      We had a choice. They were just all hard choices,

      Here I agree with you. Hard choices indeed, but still the wrong choice from a limited range of hard choices. Regime change and midwifing democracy in Iraq was the worst choice. Backing a coup of Saddam was a better hard choice. This is quite easy to defend in that the risk of failure limits damage to us, the resources needed are less, the damage from success or failure is constrained within a tighter radius in that we would have left competing power centers stabilized. Bush and crew apparently never listened to any risk analysis guys – they went big, they bet everything, and they let it all ride on one gambit. oops. Of the hard choices, the one that they chose was the riskiest, had the biggest downside, and was the most expensive in terms of blood and treasure. The upside of transforming Iraq into Arlington,VA on the Tigris had an impossibly small chance of success and this was obvious to anyone who understood the culture that it beggars belief that we risked so much on either a longshot associated with a good outcome or on a fair bet for what should have been the most expected outcome of a fractured society unleashed from strongman control. Democracy in Iraq, I’m still shaking my head at this idiocy.

      The hard choice wasn’t a binary construction of “Go or No-Go” there were many paths not taken. Frankly, two of the hard choices were delay and continued containment. The embargo was fraying but Bush didn’t want to expend diplomatic capital in shoring up the embargo.

    20. Eric Says:

      Tangoman:
      “Powell was at the UN making a case based on “Curveball’s” stories.”

      Not “based” on the pre-war intelligence. Powell began his 05FEB03 speech by reiterating enforcement was compliance-based. Although Bush officials too often improperly represented the intelligence as “evidence”, rather than its normal and proper role as indicators, the intelligence was just the intelligence, not the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441). The burden of proof was on Iraq to disarm as mandated. As such, the case was being made in Iraq with the UN weapons inspections, not with Powell’s presentation at the UN. The UNMOVIC reports throughout the UNSCR 1441 inspection period showed Saddam was failing his “final opportunity to comply”, and the 06MAR03 UNMOVIC report was damning and alarming. I quoted a little of it upthread. Here’s how the head of the Iraq Survey Group (Kay’s successor), Charles Duelfer, characterized the UNMOVIC findings:

      It’s worth recalling that the UN weapons inspectors also found it impossible to give Saddam a clean bill of health [and] … their work formed the basis for many key assessments. And the weapons inspectors were certainly unconvinced that Saddam had come clean. In fact, they delineated the areas where Saddam had not provided verifiable accounts of his WMD activities. And the substantial gaps in his story were more readily explained by “hidden WMD” than he innocently “forgot how much he had or where it went.”

      Tangoman:
      “I selected one part from your report to critique.”

      Keep in mind that casus belli was established by the UNMOVIC findings, not the ISG findings. The terms of ceasefire were purpose-designed to resolve Saddam’s threat, which therefore was assessed in the context of Iraq’s noncompliance especially with the disarmament and terrorism mandates. If ISG had found Iraq scrubbed clean post-war, that wouldn’t have canceled the casus belli established by UNMOVIC. The ISG findings are informative, but in terms of the casus belli, they’re obviously post hoc and corroborative only. ISG gave the caveat with its findings that much evidence was missing, key regime officials were uncooperative, and suspect areas were “sanitized”.

      The ISG assessment of Saddam’s intent goes to the basic purpose of the disarmament mandates of the Gulf War ceasefire, which was full and permanent disarmament in the proscribed areas, not containment. Saddam’s intent was not assessed solely from interviews, of course. Saddam’s intent was evident with ISG findings such as,
      “From 1999 until he was deposed in April 2003, Saddam’s conventional weapons and WMD-related procurement programs steadily grew in scale, variety, and efficiency”; “ISG found a limited number of post-1995 activities that would have aided the reconstitution of the nuclear weapons program once sanctions were lifted”; “The pace of ongoing missile programs accelerated, and the Regime authorized its scientists to design missiles with ranges in excess of 150 km that, if developed, would have been clear violations of UNSCR 687”; “the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons”; “The UN deemed Iraq’s accounting of its production and use of BW agent simulants—specifically Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus lichenformis, Bacillus megaterium and Bacillus thuringiensis to be inadequate. ISG remains interested in simulant work because these items may be used not only to simulate the dispersion of BW agents, develop production techniques, and optimize storage conditions, but also the equipment used for their manufacture can also be quickly converted to make BW agent.”

      Tangoman:
      “Regime change and midwifing democracy in Iraq was the worst choice. Backing a coup of Saddam was a better hard choice.”

      The Gulf War ceasefire enforcement didn’t begin when Bush became President. By the time Bush came into office, we had tried everything else, including a CIA-style coup. Saddam snuffed it out in 1996. Bush officials tried fixing the sanctions regime, but it was beyond repair by the time Clinton left office. The damage was already done.

      See the answer(s) to “Was Operation Iraqi Freedom about WMD or democracy?” and “Was the invasion of Iraq perceived to be a nation-building effort?”. Bush only came on for the coda of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement. The law and policy had matured under Clinton. There wasn’t wiggle room. Bush inherited the policy for regime change that had been active policy since his father’s administration. Keep in mind that the basic US mission was Iraq’s compliance, including the humanitarian mandates of UNSCR 688. No matter how the regime change came about – coup, revolution, invasion – section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (1998) and longstanding relations with the Iraqi opposition locked the US into peace operations with post-Saddam Iraq.

    21. Mr Black Says:

      I think a regional war will be a good thing overall. There are obviously an awful lot of bad people who have had a lid kept on their evil for a long time. Now the lid is off and they are all killing each other. A completely depopulated middle east would be vastly superior for world order than the “people” who currently live there. I can’t see how this isn’t good news. The only negative is that is took thousands of dead and wounded Americans to get to this point.

    22. dearieme Says:

      “The British were also subject to hysteria early in the war and they exiled many German immigrants, most of whom were Jews fleeing Hitler, to Canada.” That’s an odd comparison to draw. The Americans put their own citizens into concentration camps, and robbed them of many of their possessions. The British locked up people who were German citizens, amongst whom, they reasonably supposed, might be Nazi and Communist agents. (Remember that at the time the USSR was an ally of Hitler.) Once they’d been checked, they were released. Indeed many were given important jobs. I am at a loss to see why sending people to Canada was a wretched thing to do. Can you explain?

    23. Anonymous Says:

      Dearieme….FYI, this paints a somewhat different picture:

      http://www.amazon.com/Internment-Twentieth-Century-Immigrants-Minorities-ebook/dp/B00B9KBSNI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456318289&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Internment+of+Aliens+in+Twentieth+Century+Britain

      There are excerpts online. The comparison doesn’t seem much different, based on this.

    24. dearieme Says:

      Sorry, anonymous, I was basing my account on the experience of two people who were interned, as related to me by them. Obviously that matters not a whit compared to a book.