Sunday, July 27, 2014

Moral dilemma, Lone Survivor, Torture Report

Comment at this post about the possible declassification of a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture in the War on Terror:
It’s a moral dilemma to be sure.

Last week, I watched the movie, Lone Survivor. It’s based on the account by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell whose team, along with a Chinook crew and whole squad of SF operators, were killed in action.

Nineteen of the US military’s best men died because PO Luttrell’s commanding officer, LT Michael Murphy, decided to release 3 prisoners – 1 old man and 2 boys – rather than kill them outright or bind them, which the SEALs believed would likely result in their deaths (animal predators, weather).

LT Murphy made his decision in accordance with his morality, the rules of engagement, and laws of war. He also made this decision expecting that his erstwhile prisoners would inform the nearby Taliban forces of his SEAL team. These particular Taliban were known to be responsible for, and thus capable of, killing US Marines, which is a hard thing to do.

Nineteen of America’s best men, many of whom were husbands and fathers of young children, were killed because LT Murphy made an all-American moral decision, the kind we teach our soldiers to make with their dedicated ethical training from the earliest stage of their military indoctrination.

His only reprieve is that he didn’t survive long enough to see his close comrades in the rescue squad, whom he had called to save his team with his last act in life, also die as a result of his moral decision to spare the lives of the old man and 2 boys who would kill him and his men.

LT Murphy honored the highest traditions and values of the US military and was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

The moral dilemma of “enhanced interrogation” does not rise to killing old men and young boys who accidently stumble on a secret op. It’s usually not even torture by the standard of our enemy in the War on Terror.

But the other side of the moral dilemma of “enhanced interrogation” is even heavier than the life-or-death choice that faced LT Murphy and killed him.

Rather than LT Murphy’s own life, the lives of the three men in his command, and even the doomed rescue team he didn’t live to see, our interrogators are tasked with preventing the killing of 10s, 100s, 1000s, maybe even 10000s or more – depending on the kind of weapon the terrorists can obtain from terrorist supporters like Saddam – civilians, not just soldiers. Interrogators are charged with protecting the homeland itself.

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, I was disgusted, as was every other Army veteran I knew. But my reaction was tempered by the appreciation that the terrorists were assassinating and mass-murdering 10s and 100s of Iraqis at a time, almost every day, along with humanitarian aid workers and the coalition soldiers defending Iraq. Our interrogators at Abu Ghraib were wrong … but they were wrong while trying desperately to save American, coalition, aid workers, and most of all, Iraqi lives by stopping an enemy who was – and is – zealously committed to achieving social dominance through unrestrained terror-style murder and real torture.

Our morality – Michael Murphy’s morality – demands our judgement that certain acts are wrong and intolerable. Had I been in command, I’m certain I would have made the suicidal decision that LT Murphy made. I also would have penalized the interrogators and MPs at Abu Ghraib.

But know that that our morality, while we are competing with this enemy, comes with a very, very high price. At least consider the price when you judge.


Labels: ,

. . . tell me more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thoughts of the day

Yikes, it's been three months since I started new thoughts of the day. There's no schedule; I cap one and start the next one by feel. But three months is a long time. The last one is stuffed. I delayed starting a new one because of several posts, such as my OIF FAQ, that I wanted to keep at or near the top of the main page. They've been pushed down since, though.

The adage about an overnight success that's a lifetime in the making is true. It refers to a natural phenomenon that plays out in many ways. A long process of transformation often only appears as small incremental changes, or may be hardly apparent at all, until there is a seemingly sudden large change, a breakthrough, like a volcanic eruption following a long build-up of magma. I baked crackling and potatoes in the Nesco today, which takes hours. The potatoes gradually browned and the pernil skin gradually hardened from the outside in. For hours, the changes were slow. Then within the last hour, the potato slices transformed into oil-soaked thick, crunchy potato chips and the whole pernil skin slab turned into crackling. The life lesson is sticktoitiveness matters because immediate returns on investment are not the norm.

Comment and again at a Thomas Ricks article.

The US Embassy in Libya has been totally evacuated amid battles between rival militias. Obama's Libya intervention was touted as his alternative-to-OIF showpiece. What a disaster.

The formal version of perk, ie, extra benefit, is perquisite.

Moon (2009) is well-crafted with a seamless mix of CGI and practical models and a well-acted small, indie sci-fi set piece starring Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell opposite Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell 2, and co-starring Kevin Space as Gerty. The movie has touching background music.

Lone Survivor (2013) is an engrossing tearjerker that depicts the incident where a "total of 11 SEALs died that day in the War against Terror, in the biggest single loss of life for Naval Special Warfare forces since World War II." Eight soldiers died in the rescue attempt, too. The running battle is frightening to watch. The humanizing characterizations of the SEALs reminded me of the depictions of the Delta soldiers in Blackhawk Down.



. . . tell me more.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tim Duncan

. . . tell me more.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Jeremy Lin traded by Rockets to Lakers for salary cap space

Jeremy Lin is on the move again. Lin was traded along with a first-round draft pick by the Houston Rockets to the Los Angeles Lakers for salary cap space to sign Chris Bosh. Rumors had Lin being traded to the 76ers for the same terms of the deal struck with the Lakers. The Rockets had already traded Omer Asik, the other 'poison pill' contract they acquired in the summer of 2012, at the start of the off-season to the New Orleans Pelicans.

There's no reaction to the trade yet on Lin's twitter or facebook. The Lakers will be his fourth NBA team entering his fifth season after the Warriors, Knicks, and Rockets, not including his first summer league with the Mavericks.

Leaving the Rockets should help Lin. Before his first season in Houston, the primary playmaking role that he was signed to fill with his new team was given to James Harden. After that, Coach Kevin McHale and the Rockets never did figure out a comfortable role for Lin. It remains to be seen how Lin will be used with the Lakers, who are a team in flux and have yet to replace Mike D'Antoni as head coach. [Update: The Lakers' new head coach is Byron Scott.] Current Lakers guards include SG Kobe Bryant, PG Steve Nash, PG Kendall Marshall, G/F Nick Young, G/F Xavier Henry, G/F Wesley Johnson, SG MarShon Brooks, SG Kent Bazemore, and rookie PG Jordan Clarkson. [Update: In a surprise move that clears the way for Lin at PG, Kendall Marshall was released by the Lakers.]

Given the contretemps over the Rockets recruiting Carmelo Anthony by showing him in a Rockets uniform with 7, the uniform number he shares with Lin, it will be interesting to see how Lin and the incumbent Lakers number 7, Xavier Henry, will work out who wears 7 next season. [Update: Lin will wear 17 and Henry will keep 7.]

A year in the company of Kobe Bryant and maybe Steve Nash should boost Lin's development. It's also possible Lin may be traded again during the season. It's important for Lin to rehabilitate his NBA stature this season for next off-season, when he'll be an unrestricted free agent.

Sunday update: Done deal. "The Lakers also received a future first-round pick and a 2015 second-round pick in the deal, sending the rights to center Sergei Lishchuk to Houston." Lin has updated his twitter and instagram with his Lakers hail and Rockets farewell.



. . . tell me more.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The oaths I've taken

In honor of the 238th birthday of the United States of America, the oaths I've taken:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962) *

"I, (your name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State or Country whatsoever; and that I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." (The Cadet Oath taken upon entering the United States Military Academy) *


* Originally posted 7/23/2007 11:17:00 PM

Labels: ,

. . . tell me more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Fall of Mosul

The Wall Street Journal reports The Fall of Mosul.

I am angry, but there isn't more I can add to what I said in January when Fallujah fell to the terrorists invading Iraq from the Syria war:
The feared consequence of the Obama administration's weakness in the Arab Spring, abandonment of President Bush's Freedom Agenda, and bungling of the SOFA negotiation causing our irresponsible exit from Iraq is becoming real. [Read the rest.]
Blaming President Bush for current events in Iraq relies on the fallacy of attenuated causation. The proximate causes of the crisis in Iraq are, one, the construction of ISIS in Syria that combined with, two, the U.S.-abandoned vulnerability of Iraq. Both conditions arose from post-Bush events, such as the degeneration of the Arab Spring, that are related to policy course changes made by Obama that fundamentally deviated from Bush's foreign policy.

Always remember that President Obama inherited Iraq from President Bush as a strategic victory and keystone strategic partner growing at peace.

President Obama, May 19, 2011:
Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.
Statement on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq website:
After a long and difficult conflict, we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States and will ensure that Iraq can realize its full potential as a democratic society. Our civilian-led presence is helping us strengthen the strong strategic partnership that has developed up to this point.
The Iraq praised by President Obama and the U.S. Embassy website as a "strategic partner" was the post-Saddam Iraq that developed under U.S. protection. What is happening to Iraq now is because Obama made the historic error of prematurely leaving Iraq unprotected surrounded by danger instead of staying the course like President Eisenhower stayed the course with Korea. The necessary condition for securing and building the peace is security. Obama took away Iraq's security. Obama's foreign policy has created insecurity.

The issue of the President's legal authority to deploy the military to Iraq under current circumstances, absent a new statutory authority, presents interesting legal questions.

President Clinton deployed the military to Iraq throughout his presidency with the statutory authority of P.L. 102-1 (1991). President Bush deployed the military to Iraq with the redundant statutory authority of P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 (2002). Because a "specific statutory authorization" is equivalent to a declaration of war under the War Powers Act, within the constitutional scope, there is no domestic legal controversy over the U.S. military mission with Iraq from 1991 to 2011.

The failure to negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq that was effective past 2011 was cited as the main reason for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq. However, did the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011 coincide with an actual severing of all the relevant, or at least plausible, statutory authorities for deploying the military to Iraq? Or was some legal authority retained, perhaps applicable in the event of an emergency such as the current crisis, despite the physical removal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011? I don't know; I hadn't thought about the post-OIF legality of deploying the military to Iraq without a new statutory authorization.

Note that the United States has a Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq. See the State Department press release, U.S. Iraqi embassy statement, and a PDF of the agreement. Also see this legal summary.

The first question is whether P.L. 102-1 and/or P.L. 107-243 are still live. Since they authorized the President to enforce the UNSC resolutions relevant to Iraq, a related question is whether the UNSC resolutions related to the security of Iraq are still live. For example, UNSC Res 1511 (2003) "authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq". Update: The answer is that the 17NOV08 agreement between the US and Iraq terminated the authority of the older UNSC resolutions. However, I haven't come across that P.L. 102-1 and P.L. 107-243 have been repealed, so if the UNSC passes a new resolution for Iraq, the President should be authorized to enforce it.

The second question is whether P.L. 107-40 (2001) or other counter-terror law cover the situation in Iraq "in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism" (P.L. 107-40), especially if a plausible 'organizational' link can be drawn between ISIS and al Qaeda. Furthermore, the standing policy since the Clinton administration has been "the President has authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States". The unsettled question, which was debated for OIF, has been the specific character of a threat that opens such authority. If President Obama can make the case that ISIS is a threat to the U.S., this seems the most likely route for Obama to take military action without seeking additional authority from Congress.

The third question is whether the U.S. has an operative Congressionally approved multi- or bilateral security agreement (treaty) that covers Iraq. For example, President Clinton cited to the NATO treaty when he skipped Congress for the Balkans intervention. As far as I know, we only have the Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, which only states a commitment to "close cooperation" on defense and security issues. That does not by itself rise to a treaty.

The fourth question is whether there is a statutory authority linked with a security agreement under international law. For example, President Obama claimed the 'Responsibility to Protect' justification was authorized by the general U.S. agreement with the United Nations covenant when he skipped Congress for the Libya intervention. I thought R2P was a weak stand-alone legal basis in domestic and international law to deploy the military even before Obama severely stretched an already controversial novel application of R2P in the Libyan regime change. Nonetheless, it is a precedent.

The question of statutory authorization may be rendered moot if a U.S. entity is attacked in Iraq. According to 50 USC 1541 (1973) of the War Powers Act, other than by Congressional declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, the military can also be deployed by the President "pursuant to ... a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." When I served with 2ID in Korea, we sometimes would joke that our function was less to stop (really, delay) a north Korean attack than to serve as a tripwire for the insertion of U.S.-led UN forces.



. . . tell me more.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Another one: Elliot Rodger

Aaron Alexis, Jared Lee Loughner, Charles Carl Roberts IV, George Sodini, Chris Dorner, James Holmes, Robert Bales, Adam Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho, Yoselyn Ortega, Nidal Hasan . . . not an exclusive list, but a famous segment of a growing and diverse list of killers who, often without significant prior indicators of murderous violence, suddenly exploded in their homes and communities by committing a few or many homicides openly, impersonally if not randomly, with considerable forethought, and with little or no attempt to escape. (I didn't include the Tsarnaev brothers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, and Eric Bellucci Stuy'98 on the list because they tried to get away with their actions.)

Those are exceptionally publicized recent cases, but this isn't a new phenomenon, of course. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, Colin Ferguson, and Charles Whitman come to mind.

Many of them had unexceptional, if not ideal, middle-class backgrounds. However, many of them also had psychological treatment and medication histories.

Like the Columbine high school killers, they weren't murderers or serial killers who tried not to be caught. Many of them publicized off-beat manifestos like the Unabomber, except Ted Kaczynski tried not to be caught. They acted like attention-seeking political Islamist suicide attackers, but with the exception of Nidal Hasan, without the conventional script of political Islamists.

Add murderer-suicider Elliot Rodger to their ranks. He was a rich, style-conscious, good-looking 22-year-old kid. His use of multi-media to set the stage reminds me of Seung-Hui Cho. Reading his autobiography/manifesto, My Twisted World, his motive sounds like George Sodini's. Rodger suffered from acute sexual alienation, or involuntary celibacy, which is a serious life-changing problem shared by many men. Rodger's obsessed approach and psychotic solution to his problem, however, were atypical. The incongruity is that like Sodini, Rodger looked like a guy who should have had no problem getting it on with the ladies. There's a lot more to sexual dynamics than looks.

Rodger felt boxed in and acted with hopeless desperation. If just one girl had given him intimate feminine affection - not sexual intercourse, just affection - would that have provided enough hope for Rodger to hang on and prevent his "day of retribution"? Parts of his autobiography claim it would have made a difference. Other parts imply it wouldn't have been enough. Rodger's mind was trapped in a corrupted inner dialogue and who knows what he needed to break free.

It sounds like he had a psychological profile similar to Adam Lanza's with a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome. I've also read he was extremely paranoid and heard voices, which are indicators of schizophrenia. He wrote his mother was on birth control and a medication for an unspecified illness when he was conceived, and I wonder if his DNA was damaged from the start. My armchair layman's diagnosis is Rodger suffered from schizoaffective disorder.

The proximate cause of Elliot Rodger's "retribution" is his psychosis. Of possible contributory social factors, however, the thing that stood out from his autobiography is the seeming absence of his father teaching him how to be a man, especially guidance on sexual relations. They weren't estranged, yet there doesn't seem to have been even a birds and the bees talk. A strong father can powerfully influence his son, perhaps even enough to help his son overcome a phobic aversion to approaching girls. An actively paternal, positive masculine role model provided by Peter Rodger for his eldest son might not have prevented the harm caused by Elliot Rodger's mental illness. But it might have. Add: Insight from a family friend, Dale Launer, who tried to help Rodger with his lady problems.

It's not enough to chalk this up to the mysteries of maladaptive mental abnormality. There's that, but there's also something wrong here, a cancer in the social fabric that's deeper even than the things we normally worry about.



. . . tell me more.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Operation Iraqi Freedom FAQ

PREFACE: Context is everything. My take in the debate over Operation Iraqi Freedom is the mission cannot be judged properly until the popular misconceptions of its policy basis are corrected. Although OIF was ended by President Obama in 2011, setting the record straight remains important because the popular judgement of OIF with its fundamental premises of American leadership bears directly, with large weight, on the course of American foreign policy. Here's my latest attempt to set the record straight.

Click on the questions or scroll down for my answers to these frequently asked questions about Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Note: The further reading section includes links to basic essential primary sources on OIF and select posts that cover the same ground as this FAQ and link-cite extensively to primary sources, including Clinton and Bush statements, US laws and UNSC resolutions, Congress and UN reports, and the Iraq Survey Group's Duelfer Report.

Q: What were President Bush’s alternatives with Iraq?

A: By the close of the Clinton administration, after ten years of struggle as chief enforcer of the Gulf War ceasefire and UN Security Council resolutions to disarm and rehabilitate Saddam Hussein, only 3 options remained for the US with Iraq: kick the can with ‘containment’ (status quo), remove the Iraq ceasefire enforcement and free Saddam, or resolve the Saddam problem with a final chance for Iraq to comply under credible threat of regime change.*

An intellectually honest argument against President Bush's decision to resolve the Saddam problem must include a compelling case for kicking the can and/or freeing Saddam.

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

Q: Why did Bush leave the ‘containment’ (status quo)?

A: One, the purpose of the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions was the expeditious compliance and disarmament of Iraq, not a stalemated 'containment' of Saddam.

Two, the ‘containment’ was toxic and broken. The ad hoc 'containment' that followed Operation Desert Fox (ODF) was, in effect, a euphemism for failed disarmament. There was no substantive change in the enforcement measures after ODF from the strategy in place when President Clinton pronounced, "Iraq has abused its final chance." According to the Duelfer Report, Saddam responded to ODF by nullifying the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions in domestic Iraq policy, reconstituted Iraq’s NBC capabilities with a clandestine active program in the Iraqi intelligence services (IIS), fostered international opposition to the Iraq enforcement, and de facto neutralized the sanctions.

Three, the pre-9/11 threat calculation for Saddam was based primarily on a conventional military-based "imminent" threat standard. The 9/11 attacks, coupled with the uncovering of an international WMD black market, shifted the threat calculation to a "grave and gathering" threat standard with a focus on Saddam’s unconventional capabilities, such as the IIS and terrorist ties.

President Bush explained the changed threat calculation in the 2003 State of the Union:
Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. ... Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Citing to his own experience with the Iraq enforcement, Clinton endorsed Bush acting to resolve the heightened threat:
I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change ... I mean, we're all more sensitive to any possible stocks of chemical and biological weapons ... it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons.
Noting that Bush had to be "reeling" in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton said Bush's first priority was to keep al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining "chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material."
"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for," Clinton said in reference to Iraq and the fact that U.N. weapons inspectors left the country in 1998.
"So I thought the president had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, 'Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process.' You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks," Clinton said.
This Duelfer Report finding illustrated the "grave and gathering" danger of the broken 'containment':
Saddam had direct command of the Iraqi intelligence services [which] ... ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations.
Each of those violations by itself justified OIF, and the IIS was, of course, Saddam's regime arm notorious for working with terrorists and carrying out Saddam's in-house black ops. Saddam was ready to secretly produce weapon for covert precision attacks, whether in league with terrorists like al Qaeda or by his own means.

While it was the 9/11 attacks that pushed President Bush to resolve the Saddam problem, the Iraq enforcement was in a terminal state. With or without 9/11, the Saddam problem had come to a head with the ‘containment’ broken.

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

A: See Saddam’s history from 1980 onward with the instigation of successive wars and the continued harmful, malfeasant behavior causing a humanitarian crisis within Iraq and threatening a region critical to international security and stability.

Dealing cautiously with unsavory competitors that are rational actors is normal for the US and shaped the initial American approach to the Iran-Iraq War. A common misconception is that the US was allied with Iraq against Iran, like the US relationship with the Soviet Union during World War 2. Actually, although Iran had recently become an enemy, the US viewed Iraq with, at best, cautiously favorable neutrality. The US priority was containing the conflict per the Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine, which established the security and stability of the Middle East as a US national security interest. However, Saddam proved to be an irrational actor with dangerously poor judgement. Saddam was warned over his actions in the Iran-Iraq War, yet followed his defeat by brutalizing Kuwait, defying international demands to stop, and even attempting to expand the conflict. Saddam acted as though proscriptive international law and custom was a guide for what to do, rather than what not to do as a national leader.

The Gulf War ceasefire was purposefully designed to rehabilitate Saddam so he could be trusted with the peace. If Saddam failed to comply with the UNSC resolutions, then he could not be trusted with the peace; in that case, the ceasefire was breached and the Gulf War would resume and be completed. As chief enforcer, the US simply could not trust Saddam with any less than full compliance on all obligations, weapons and non-weapons related, especially after 9/11.

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

IR realists like to claim US interests, including regional stability, were better served with Saddam countering Iran. The faulty premise of IR realists is Saddam could be trusted, yet Saddam acting out of control, destabilizing, and against US interests is the reason for the US intervention with Iraq in the first place. I think they're stuck in 1980 with our ally, the Shah, only just replaced by our enemy, the Ayatollah, and Baathist Iraq, led by then-new President Saddam Hussein, thought to be the lesser of 2 evils. IR liberals understand that by the time of the Bush administration (either one works), the Iran-Iraq conflict was a source of the region's problems, not a stabilizer. IR realists are effectively proposing an unreconstructed Hitler should have been propped up in Germany in order to serve as a regional counter to the Soviet Union. Hitler + USSR = the worst of World War 2, not peace in our time. The IR realist belief that after 9/11 we should have trusted and empowered a noncompliant Saddam to deal with Iran on our behalf is madness.

By the same token, the claim that Saddam was the antidote for the post-war insurgency seems incredible when considering the humanitarian crisis caused by Saddam's regime that was a primary focus of the Iraq enforcement, e.g., UNSCR 688. Saddam, his sons, and their loyalists were the original cause and major driver of the terroristic insurgency that attacked the Iraqi people, which was adapted from Saddam's terroristic governance of Iraq. Saddam was a vector of the disease, not the cure for it. He was not a person who should hold authority over any civilized society.

Nonetheless, the fact is that Saddam was given opportunities throughout the Iraq enforcement to rehabilitate and stay in power, yet refused. The Duelfer Report describes Saddam growing increasingly irrational in his thinking even as he consolidated power, abused his nation's people, and reconstituted his WMD capabilities. Saddam was convinced Iraq needed WMD in order to counter Iran as well as his other enemies. Iran’s WMD development is bad enough by itself. An irrational Saddam with dangerously poor judgement spurring an urgent Iran-Iraq WMD arms race was neither the way for the US to counter Iran nor a formula for regional stability.

Q: Why did resolution of the Saddam problem require a credible threat of regime change?

A: One, because every non-military and lesser military enforcement measure had been used up during the Clinton administration. The ODF bombing campaign was the penultimate military enforcement. When Saddam was debriefed after his capture, he confirmed that he had been ready and willing to absorb another bombing campaign like ODF. By progressive sequence, the next - and last - step up from the ODF bombing campaign was the OIF ground invasion, the ultimate military enforcement.

Two, as the lesser enforcement measures were exhausted against Saddam's persistent subversion of the disarmament process, President Clinton concluded regime change was the only way to bring Iraq into compliance. The object of regime change for Iraq was made into US law along with active measures. Clinton also reinforced the US legal authority to use military force to bring Iraq into compliance.

Three, according to Hans Blix (UNMOVIC) and confirmed by the Duelfer Report, the credible threat of regime change was necessary to compel Saddam to cooperate at all. Again, Saddam had de facto neutralized the sanctions and, after ODF, set domestic Iraq policy nullifying the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions, and determined another bombing campaign like ODF could be absorbed.

In the end, even the threat of regime change was not enough incentive for Saddam to comply, disarm, and rehabilitate.

Q: Did Bush allow enough time for the UNMOVIC inspections?

A: Yes. UNMOVIC's presentation of the Cluster Document to the UNSC on March 7, 2003 concluded the UNMOVIC inspection period.

The nearly 4-month inspection period - tacked onto the preceding 12 years Saddam had been obligated to comply and disarm - was more than enough time for UNMOVIC to establish that Iraq remained in breach of its weapons obligations. In comparison, President Clinton ordered ODF based on a 3-week compliance test by UNSCOM. Clinton had set a hard line with ODF due to Saddam's recidivist pattern of signaling cooperation in the face of American force and then subverting the inspections. President Bush carried forward Clinton's hard line to OIF when Saddam resumed his pattern of signaling cooperation then subverting the inspections with UNMOVIC.

However, when the UNMOVIC inspections ended with Saddam failing the compliance test, Hans Blix requested an indefinite number of additional months to change the UNMOVIC mission. While relying on the unreasonable presumption of an indefinitely sustained credible military threat of regime change underlying a "reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification" - despite the failure of the OIF invasion force itself to compel the requisite Iraqi cooperation for the baseline UNMOVIC inspections - over an indefinitely extended trial period, Blix also proposed tacitly complying with Saddam's undermining strategy by relaxing the theretofore strict standard of disarmament for Iraq. In other words, Clinton's assessment of the UNSCOM inspections preceding ODF applied to the UNMOVIC inspections preceding OIF: "Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors."

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

Blix has implied that with more time, he would have found Saddam in compliance, but achieving that would have required a lax standard of compliance. With Saddam in charge, we had to be sure. The Duelfer Report strongly suggests Blix's proposed alternative would have failed to disarm Saddam.

The regime change did not end the UNMOVIC disarmament mission in Iraq. UNMOVIC was able to complete its task after the regime change and concluded its mission in 2007.

Q: Did Iraq failing its compliance test justify the regime change?

A: Yes.

One, the “clear and present danger" of Saddam was imputed from Iraq’s noncompliance, not Iraq's demonstrated possession of WMD stocks. With the broad spectrum of mandates and proven success of Saddam's "denial and deception operations", which included hidden stocks, Iraq's compliance with the UNSC resolutions was determined by necessity with measures other than demonstrated possession.

Once Saddam pulled the trigger by failing his "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441) to prove compliance, President Bush had to make his decision while weighing Iraq’s unaccounted for weapons and other violations, the intelligence at hand, and Saddam's track record with the heightened threat consideration induced by 9/11.

Two, Bush’s decision either way was final. After ODF, 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. President Clinton's justification for ODF applied to OIF:
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. Let me explain why. First, without a strong inspections system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years. Second, if Saddam can cripple the weapons inspections system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community, led by the United States, has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction. And some day, make no mistake, he will use it again, as he has in the past. Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspections system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.
Calling off the regime change when Saddam pulled the trigger would have meant either a return to ‘containment’ or ending the Iraq enforcement altogether with a noncompliant Saddam. If returning to ‘containment’ was even practical at that point, the ‘containment’ option was broken. The failure to follow through on the threat of regime change would have left only freeing Saddam.

In hindsight, the Duelfer Report shows that a free Saddam meant an unreconstructed Saddam rearmed with WMD. Saddam’s motive was defeating the US-led Iraq enforcement and rearming Iraq, not compliance and rehabilitation. He was already reconstituting Iraq’s NBC capabilities, with an active program in the IIS, and was intent on fully restoring Iraq’s WMD, which he believed was necessary for Iraq’s national security, countering Iran, countering Israel, countering the US, and advancing his regional ambitions.

Three, the Iraq ceasefire enforcement was the defining UN enforcement of the post-Cold War. The UN had been unreliable during the Clinton administration, and Bush tried to reform the UN as a credible enforcer for the 9/11 era. If the US had backed down when Saddam failed to comply, then UN enforcement of international norms with rogue actors and WMD proscription would have been undermined, perhaps beyond recovery.

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

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

President Clinton explained the union of the issues with Operation Desert Fox:
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world. The best way to end that threat once and for all is with the new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. ... Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors; he will make war on his own people. And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.
Before Operation Desert Fox, regime change for Iraq had become a legal mandate with the Iraq Liberation Act. Clinton explained the US policy when he signed the Iraq Liberation Act:
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and lawabiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region. The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian makeup. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.
The regime change mandate was based on Clinton’s conclusion that achieving Iraq's compliance would require regime change either with a voluntarily rehabilitated Saddam complying or, the much likelier way, Saddam removed from power. The source of the “clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere” was not Iraq’s WMD, but rather the intrinsic nature of Saddam’s regime within and outside Iraq. Iraq’s WMD was a symptom only, albeit a very dangerous symptom, of the cancer afflicting Iraq: Saddam's rule, unreconstructed.

When Saddam failed to comply volitionally in his "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441), the objectives set by Clinton to resolve the Saddam problem were achieved by OIF: Iraq in compliance, Iraq at peace with its neighbors and the international community, and Iraq internally reformed with regime change.

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

Q: Did Bush lie his way to war with Iraq?

A: No.

One, President Bush's presentation of intelligence 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 OIF was based on lies relies on a false premise that shifted the burden from Iraq proving compliance with the UNSC resolutions to the US proving Iraq possessed WMD. In fact, the US as the chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions held no burden of proof in the Iraq enforcement. Iraq as the probationary party held the entire burden to prove Iraq was compliant and disarmed. The question of "Where is Iraq's WMD?" was never for the US President to answer; it was always one of the questions Saddam was required to answer to the chief enforcer's satisfaction in order to pass the compliance test.

Iraq's guilt was established as fact from the outset of the Gulf War ceasefire and presumed in the enforcement of the UNSC resolutions. The basic presumption of the disarmament process was anywhere Iraq provided deficient account of its weapons imputed possession. Thus, had Bush presented no intelligence on Iraq's weapons, the compliance-based enforcement procedure would have been the same because Saddam was guilty until he proved Iraq was compliant and disarmed.

Two, it is undisputed that Iraq was noncompliant at the decision point for OIF. Inspectors' reports throughout the inspection period made clear Iraq had failed to sufficiently account for documented NBC stocks and cooperate to the mandated standard along with other violations. On March 7, 2003, UNMOVIC reported to the UN Security Council that Iraq presented "about 100 unresolved disarmament issues".

The public controversy is over Bush's presentation of intelligence on latter Iraqi NBC stocks and programs. In the context of the Saddam problem, Clinton and Bush officials were obligated to judge the intelligence in an unfavorable light for Iraq, and 9/11 compelled US officials to increase their wariness due to Saddam’s belligerence and guilt on terrorism.

The intelligence that Bush presented was the intelligence that was available. Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans, who reviewed the same intelligence largely shared Bush's view of Saddam's threat. Bush’s procedural mistake was presenting the intelligence inapposite of its actual, circumscribed role in the Iraq ceasefire enforcement. The imprecision of intelligence due to Saddam's deception was a known issue from the start and accounted for with Iraq’s presumption of guilt and burden of proof. For ODF, President Clinton had cited only to Iraq’s noncompliance in terms of insufficient cooperation and deficient account of weapons when he declared “Iraq has abused its final chance” and imputed the "clear and present danger" of Saddam. Clinton's citation of noncompliance as the reason for bombing Iraq matched the operative enforcement procedure. When Clinton endorsed Bush on Iraq, Clinton stayed consistent with his justification for ODF by citing to the threat, heightened by the 9/11 attacks, of Saddam's "unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons".

Bush cited properly to Iraq’s noncompliance as Clinton had done for ODF, but Bush also cited to the intelligence, despite that the intelligence could not trigger enforcement. Propagandists pounced on Bush’s error of presentation to shift the burden of proof from Iraq to the US, but the mistake does not change that Saddam was noncompliant at the decision point for OIF and Bush properly applied the operative enforcement procedure.

Three, albeit irrelevant to the enforcement procedure at the decision point for OIF, the post-war findings in the Duelfer Report corroborate Iraq was in broad violation of its weapons obligations. Although Bush improperly characterized the pre-war intelligence as "evidence", the normal and proper role of intelligence is indicators, and the pre-war intelligence correctly indicated Saddam was in breach of Iraq's weapons obligations.

Four, it is undisputed that Saddam was in violation on non-weapons issues, such as illicit trade outside the Oil for Food program (which funded Saddam's weapons procurement) and humanitarian and terrorism standards. They were also triggers for the military enforcement. Saddam's non-weapons obligations are often overlooked, yet they were as serious as Iraq's weapons obligations. For example, the no-fly zones were the most visible, dangerous, invasive, and provocative component of the 'containment', yet the no-fly zones were not part of weapons-related enforcement. Rather, they helped enforce UNSC Resolution 688, which demanded an immediate end to the repression of the Iraqi civilian population.

The truth is Saddam was rearming and noncompliant on the weapons and non-weapons mandates of the UNSC resolutions.

Q: Was Operation Iraqi Freedom legal?

A1: There is no domestic legal controversy. Under American law, the whole 1990-2011 Iraq mission, including the 1991-2003 ceasefire enforcement and 2003-2011 post-war peace operations, was legal.

Under Presidents Bush (the father) and Clinton, Congress had made clear the President was authorized per Public Law 102-1 to use military action to enforce Iraq's compliance with all relevant UNSC resolutions, including the Gulf War ceasefire. The foundational UNSC resolutions of the Iraq enforcement were UNSCRs 678, 687, 688, and 1441. In 2002, Congress passed Public Law 107-243, which states:
The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to—
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
In Spring 2003, Saddam's continued material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire was confirmed when Iraq failed its "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441) to comply with the weapons and non-weapons mandates of the UNSC resolutions.

Lawsuits against OIF have claimed P.L. 107-243 did not rise to a Congressional declaration of war or that Congress improperly delegated the power to declare war to President Bush. Yet P.L. 102-1 and P.L 107-243 fulfilled the "specific statutory authorization" standard of 50 USC 1541 (1973 War Powers Act), which is legally equivalent to a Congressional declaration of war. In fact, the statutory authorization for the 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations in Iraq conformed to the modern norm for US military deployment; the last Congressional declaration of war was in World War 2. The lawsuits against OIF have also attempted to carve out a novel and nowhere recorded distinction between the deployment of ground forces and every other military application the President was authorized to "[determine] to be necessary and appropriate" under P.L. 107-243. In short, the lawsuits against OIF have been emotionally forceful but legally flimsy and thus dismissed as ‘political question’, meaning whatever their political merit, President Bush’s decisions on Iraq were legally within the Constitutional scope of the Executive authority.

OIF was well grounded in the national interest, multiple US statutes and UNSC resolutions, as well as modern foreign-policy precedent. For example, P.L. 107-243 and UNSCR 1441 include strong humanitarian grounds. In 1999, while still firing on Iraqi air defenses in the wake of ODF, President Clinton used humanitarian grounds to bypass Congress and the UNSC altogether when he deployed airpower and ground forces against Serbia. Over a decade later, President Obama cited humanitarian grounds, specifically Responsibility to Protect, to deploy airpower in Libya without Congressional authorization.

A2: While there is no domestic legal controversy over OIF, there is an international legal controversy over the US-led military enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire between 1991 and 2003, including but not limited to Operation Desert Fox and Operation Iraqi Freedom - i.e., the episodic view that UN authorization was required for each US military action, versus the American progressive view that a priori and de facto authority for the US-led military enforcement of the UNSC resolutions carried over the legal authority of the original Gulf War authorization to enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire and subsequent UNSC resolutions.

The United States was the chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions with Iraq beginning in 1990 with the UN demand for Saddam to cease his aggression with Kuwait. The Iraq enforcement crossed the war threshold in 1991 with the US-led military enforcement of the UNSC resolutions in the Gulf War. The Gulf War was only suspended short of regime change by a ceasefire with strict conditions for Iraq. Iraq's ceasefire obligations under the UNSC resolutions were designed to assure the international community that Iraq was compliant and disarmed so that Saddam could be trusted with the peace. The initial expectation was Iraq's ceasefire obligations would be satisfied within 1-2 years.

However, after Iraq agreed to the ceasefire and the Gulf War military threat was withdrawn, Saddam defied the compliance and disarmament process. As non-military enforcement measures proved inadequate to compel Saddam, it soon was apparent that Saddam's cooperation, let alone compliance required a credible military threat. The US, as chief enforcer of the UNSC resolutions, shouldered the responsibility of supplying the credible military threat necessary to compel Saddam's cooperation.

Limited military enforcement measures also proved inadequate to compel Saddam's compliance, and the penultimate military enforcement step of bombing Iraq was passed with Operation Desert Fox in 1998. After the ODF bombing campaign failed to move Saddam to comply and disarm, the only remaining military enforcement measure was the threat of regime change via ground invasion, which President Bush exercised in 2002.

International law is murky on the question of the US-led military enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire due to the loosely ‘gray’ legal character and ad hoc nature of UN enforcement.

It is undisputed that Iraq was in material breach of the weapons and non-weapons mandates of the Gulf War ceasefire and UNSC resolutions in Spring 2003. The disagreement was whether the US President or the UN Security Council, which included Saddam's ally in Russia, held the ultimate authority to order the enforcement of the credible military threat of regime change in response to Saddam's failure to seize his "final opportunity" (UNSCR 1441) to comply with the UNSC resolutions.

The objections to OIF were carried forward from opponents' objections to ODF and Clinton's military enforcement with Iraq. The claim that OIF was illegal under international law is based on language in UNSCR 1441 and other UNSC resolutions that the UNSC remained “seized” on the issue, which opponents have interpreted with the episodic view that each US military action with Iraq required a new UN authorization. However, the UNSC permanent members that led the opposition to a strict standard of compliance and enforcement for Iraq also held separate grievances with US-led international enforcement and were implicated in the Oil for Food scandal.

During his enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, President Clinton overcame the impasse in the UN Security Council by setting the precedent for US-led military enforcement without applying for new UN authorization for military action. According to Clinton, the sovereign and ultimate authority to deploy US forces for the Iraq enforcement was vested in the US President by the US law and UNSC resolution in the original Gulf War authorization:
P.L. 102-1, passed on January 12, 1991, stated, “The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678.”

UNSC Resolution 678, adopted on November 29, 1990, stated, “[a]cting under Chapter VII of the Charter . . . [a]uthorizes Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the above-mentioned resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.
The standing legal authority for military enforcement with Iraq that Clinton inherited from President Bush (the father) was also inherited by Bush from Clinton. Under the American progressive view, OIF technically was not a new war at all, but rather a resumption of the Gulf War due to Iraq's failure to satisfy the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire. P.L. 107-243 and UNSCR 1441 summarized the existing US laws and UNSC resolutions on Iraq and reiterated with resolute language the legal authority for military enforcement and strict standard of compliance, respectively.

On balance, I believe the American progressive view wins out over the episodic view due to the over-decade-long precedent set by the US-led enforcement of the UNSC resolutions with Iraq and the UN's reliance on sovereign authorities, especially American sovereign authority, for military enforcement.

For over a decade with Saddam's regime and other international enforcements, the US had consistently deployed the military with sovereign authority, and only at times with concurrent specific UN authority. The US-led multilateral coalitions that conducted international enforcements had been galvanized by and organized around American leadership rather than UN imprimatur, a norm that continued with the US-led multilateral coalition in OIF.

Other than Operation Desert Fox, the nearest precedent for OIF is the US-led military intervention in the Balkans crisis under President Clinton. Like OIF, the Balkans intervention included airpower, ground forces, and a regime change followed by an occupation. Like OIF, the Balkans intervention contained a prominent humanitarian component. Like OIF, the Balkans intervention was not green-lit by the UNSC largely because, like OIF, the Balkans intervention was opposed by Russia. Unlike OIF, the Balkans intervention did not rest on longstanding a priori or de facto legal authority.

A3: There is neither a domestic nor international legal controversy over the 2003-2011 US-led occupation mandated to "take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq". As in the occupation following the Serbian regime change, the peace operations following regime change in Iraq were conducted with UN authorization. For example, see UNSCR 1511 (2003):
13. Determines that the provision of security and stability is essential to the successful completion of the political process as outlined in paragraph 7 above and to the ability of the United Nations to contribute effectively to that process and the implementation of resolution 1483 (2003), and authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq, including for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for the implementation of the timetable and programme as well as to contribute to the security of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the Governing Council of Iraq and other institutions of the Iraqi interim administration, and key humanitarian and economic infrastructure;
Also see UNSCRs 1546 (2004), 1637 (2005), 1723 (2006), 1790 (2007), and the 17NOV08 agreement between the US and Iraq.

Q: If Bush inherited from Clinton the position that the Gulf War authorization was operative for Iraq's ongoing breach of the Gulf War ceasefire and a new UN authorization for military enforcement was not needed, and given that UNSCR 1441 merely summarized and restated existing UNSC resolutions, then why did Bush go to the UN?

A: Because President Bush’s primary intent was not to invade Iraq. Rather, Bush’s motive was to resolve the Saddam problem expeditiously and conclusively.

It only looks as though Bush was intent on invading Iraq because a credible threat of regime change was the necessary piece to compel Saddam’s cooperation. Inserting UNMOVIC into Iraq required the US going to the UN, and UNMOVIC functioning in Iraq required a credible threat of regime change. However, as Bush explained on October 7, 2002, Saddam could have prevented regime change by complying with Iraq's ceasefire obligations:
In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown. By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. ... I hope this will not require military action, but it may. ... I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something.
The record shows that Bush first gave Saddam the opportunity to prevent OIF and stay in power by proving compliance with all of Iraq’s ceasefire obligations, weapons and non-weapons related. The centerpiece of the opportunity that Bush gave to Saddam to switch off the threat of regime change was the final chance to comply with Iraq’s weapons obligations via UNMOVIC.

Galvanized by the 9/11 attacks, Bush also engaged the United Nations on Iraq with the hope that a united front with UNSCR 1441 and a strong resolution of the defining international enforcement of the post-Cold War would restore the UN as an effective enforcer on rogue actors, terrorism, and WMD proliferation.

Q: Was Operation Iraqi Freedom a strategic blunder or a strategic victory?

A: OIF was a strategic victory.

President Bush handed OIF to President Obama having resolved the festering Saddam problem (none too soon, according to the Duelfer Report), 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". The emerging pluralistic, liberalizing post-Saddam Iraq provided the US with a keystone "strategic partner" to reform the region.

Obama should have built upon the hard-won foundational progress made under Bush in geopolitically critical Iraq. However, instead of staying the course like President Eisenhower stayed the course from President Truman, Obama committed the strategic blunder of bungling the SOFA negotiation with Iraq and abandoning the Bush Freedom Agenda. The premature departure of US forces removed America's protection at the same time Iraq's vicinity was growing dangerously unstable as the Arab Spring disintegrated, particularly in neighboring Syria. In the singular pivotal moment that sure-handed American leadership could have changed the course of history, Obama's feckless 'lead from behind' approach to the Arab Spring, instead, opened great gaps for the terrorists to resurge. Iraq is suffering the consequences.

Misinformation and mischaracterization have distorted the public's understanding of the context, stakes, and achievements of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement that President Bush carried forward from President Clinton and the ground-breaking peace operations by the US military in post-Saddam Iraq. The corrupted public perception of the Iraq mission has enabled Obama's elementary, catastrophic errors, undermined the enforcement of international norms, and curtailed the further development of peace operations.

Security is the necessary condition for securing and building the peace, and under the umbrella of vital American security, Iraq had turned the corner when Bush handed OIF over to Obama.

To wit, in May 2011, President Obama marked Iraq's "promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy ... poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress":
Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.
In the same vein, the welcome statement on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad website anticipated "Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region ... that can act as a force for moderation ... in the national security interests of the United States":
After a long and difficult conflict, we now have the opportunity to see Iraq emerge as a strategic partner in a tumultuous region. A sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq that can act as a force for moderation is profoundly in the national security interests of the United States and will ensure that Iraq can realize its full potential as a democratic society. Our civilian-led presence is helping us strengthen the strong strategic partnership that has developed up to this point.
President Bush was right to enforce the Gulf War ceasefire and then stay in Iraq to secure the peace the same way the US stayed to secure the peace in Europe and Asia after World War 2. When Bush left office, the Iraq mission was a success.

President Obama was wrong to leave Iraq prematurely. America's protection was needed for the continued progression of Iraq’s pluralistic liberal reform and constructive role in the Middle East and the welfare of the Iraqi people. Instead, the feared danger of Obama's feckless 'lead from behind' approach to the Arab Spring and irresponsible exit from Iraq is being realized.

Operation Iraqi Freedom was right on the law and justified on the policy, yet distorted in the politics, despite that primary sources easily accessed on-line provide a straightforward explanation for OIF. Basic essentials for understanding OIF in the proper context include the 1990-2002 UNSC resolutions for Iraq (at minimum, see UNSCRs 687, 688, and 1441), Public Law 107-243 (the 2002 Congressional authorization for use of military force against Iraq), President Clinton's announcement of Operation Desert Fox (the penultimate military enforcement step that set the baseline precedent for OIF), President Bush's remarks to the United Nations General Assembly and excerpts from the 2003 State of the Union, the March 2003 UNMOVIC Cluster Document that triggered Bush's final decision for OIF, and the Iraq Survey Group's Duelfer Report.

Further reading:
Perspective on Operation Iraqi Freedom (table of sources);
Regime Change in Iraq from Clinton to Bush (law school paper with endnotes);
A problem of definition in the Iraq controversy: Was the issue Saddam's regime or Iraq's demonstrable WMD? (historical context);
10 year anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom: thoughts (retrospective survey).



. . . tell me more.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The Higher Man, The Awakening, The Sign


The most careful ask to-day: "How is man to be maintained?" Zarathustra however asketh, as the first and only one: "How is man to be SURPASSED?"
The Superman, I have at heart; THAT is the first and only thing to me—and NOT man: not the neighbour, not the poorest, not the sorriest, not the best.—
O my brethren, what I can love in man is that he is an over-going and a down-going. And also in you there is much that maketh me love and hope.
In that ye have despised, ye higher men, that maketh me hope. For the great despisers are the great reverers.
In that ye have despaired, there is much to honour. For ye have not learned to submit yourselves, ye have not learned petty policy.
For to-day have the petty people become master: they all preach submission and humility and policy and diligence and consideration and the long et cetera of petty virtues.
Whatever is of the effeminate type, whatever originateth from the servile type, and especially the populace-mishmash:—THAT wisheth now to be master of all human destiny—O disgust! Disgust! Disgust!
THAT asketh and asketh and never tireth: "How is man to maintain himself best, longest, most pleasantly?" Thereby—are they the masters of to-day.
These masters of to-day—surpass them, O my brethren—these petty people: THEY are the Superman's greatest danger!
Surpass, ye higher men, the petty virtues, the petty policy, the sand-grain considerateness, the ant-hill trumpery, the pitiable comfortableness, the "happiness of the greatest number"—!
And rather despair than submit yourselves. And verily, I love you, because ye know not to-day how to live, ye higher men! For thus do YE live—best!
. . .
If ye would go up high, then use your own legs! Do not get yourselves CARRIED aloft; do not seat yourselves on other people's backs and heads!
Thou hast mounted, however, on horseback? Thou now ridest briskly up to thy goal? Well, my friend! But thy lame foot is also with thee on horseback!
When thou reachest thy goal, when thou alightest from thy horse: precisely on thy HEIGHT, thou higher man,—then wilt thou stumble!
Ye creating ones, ye higher men! One is only pregnant with one's own child.
Do not let yourselves be imposed upon or put upon! Who then is YOUR neighbour? Even if ye act "for your neighbour"—ye still do not create for him!
Unlearn, I pray you, this "for," ye creating ones: your very virtue wisheth you to have naught to do with "for" and "on account of" and "because." Against these false little words shall ye stop your ears.
"For one's neighbour," is the virtue only of the petty people: there it is said "like and like," and "hand washeth hand":—they have neither the right nor the power for YOUR self-seeking!
In your self-seeking, ye creating ones, there is the foresight and foreseeing of the pregnant! What no one's eye hath yet seen, namely, the fruit—this, sheltereth and saveth and nourisheth your entire love.
Where your entire love is, namely, with your child, there is also your entire virtue! Your work, your will is YOUR "neighbour": let no false values impose upon you!
Ye creating ones, ye higher men! Whoever hath to give birth is sick; whoever hath given birth, however, is unclean.
Ask women: one giveth birth, not because it giveth pleasure. The pain maketh hens and poets cackle.
Ye creating ones, in you there is much uncleanliness. That is because ye have had to be mothers.
A new child: oh, how much new filth hath also come into the world! Go apart! He who hath given birth shall wash his soul!
. . .
Shy, ashamed, awkward, like the tiger whose spring hath failed—thus, ye higher men, have I often seen you slink aside. A CAST which ye made had failed.
But what doth it matter, ye dice-players! Ye had not learned to play and mock, as one must play and mock! Do we not ever sit at a great table of mocking and playing?
And if great things have been a failure with you, have ye yourselves therefore—been a failure? And if ye yourselves have been a failure, hath man therefore—been a failure? If man, however, hath been a failure: well then! never mind!
The higher its type, always the seldomer doth a thing succeed. Ye higher men here, have ye not all—been failures?
Be of good cheer; what doth it matter? How much is still possible! Learn to laugh at yourselves, as ye ought to laugh!
What wonder even that ye have failed and only half-succeeded, ye half-shattered ones! Doth not—man's FUTURE strive and struggle in you?
Man's furthest, profoundest, star-highest issues, his prodigious powers—do not all these foam through one another in your vessel?
What wonder that many a vessel shattereth! Learn to laugh at yourselves, as ye ought to laugh! Ye higher men, O, how much is still possible!
And verily, how much hath already succeeded! How rich is this earth in small, good, perfect things, in well-constituted things!
Set around you small, good, perfect things, ye higher men. Their golden maturity healeth the heart. The perfect teacheth one to hope.
. . .
Lift up your hearts, my brethren, high, higher! And do not forget your legs! Lift up also your legs, ye good dancers, and better still if ye stand upon your heads!
There are also heavy animals in a state of happiness, there are club-footed ones from the beginning. Curiously do they exert themselves, like an elephant which endeavoureth to stand upon its head.
Better, however, to be foolish with happiness than foolish with misfortune, better to dance awkwardly than walk lamely. So learn, I pray you, my wisdom, ye higher men: even the worst thing hath two good reverse sides,—
—Even the worst thing hath good dancing-legs: so learn, I pray you, ye higher men, to put yourselves on your proper legs!
So unlearn, I pray you, the sorrow-sighing, and all the populace-sadness! Oh, how sad the buffoons of the populace seem to me to-day! This to-day, however, is that of the populace.
Do like unto the wind when it rusheth forth from its mountain-caves: unto its own piping will it dance; the seas tremble and leap under its footsteps.
That which giveth wings to asses, that which milketh the lionesses:— praised be that good, unruly spirit, which cometh like a hurricane unto all the present and unto all the populace,—
—Which is hostile to thistle-heads and puzzle-heads, and to all withered leaves and weeds:—praised be this wild, good, free spirit of the storm, which danceth upon fens and afflictions, as upon meadows!
Which hateth the consumptive populace-dogs, and all the ill-constituted, sullen brood:—praised be this spirit of all free spirits, the laughing storm, which bloweth dust into the eyes of all the melanopic and melancholic!
Ye higher men, the worst thing in you is that ye have none of you learned to dance as ye ought to dance—to dance beyond yourselves! What doth it matter that ye have failed!
How many things are still possible! So LEARN to laugh beyond yourselves! Lift up your hearts, ye good dancers, high! higher! And do not forget the good laughter!
This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown: to you my brethren do I cast this crown! Laughing have I consecrated; ye higher men, LEARN, I pray you—to laugh!


After the song of the wanderer and shadow, the cave became all at once full of noise and laughter: and since the assembled guests all spake simultaneously, and even the ass, encouraged thereby, no longer remained silent, a little aversion and scorn for his visitors came over Zarathustra, although he rejoiced at their gladness. For it seemed to him a sign of convalescence. So he slipped out into the open air and spake to his animals.
"Whither hath their distress now gone?" said he, and already did he himself feel relieved of his petty disgust—"with me, it seemeth that they have unlearned their cries of distress!
—Though, alas! not yet their crying." And Zarathustra stopped his ears, for just then did the YE-A of the ass mix strangely with the noisy jubilation of those higher men.
"They are merry," he began again, "and who knoweth? perhaps at their host's expense; and if they have learned of me to laugh, still it is not MY laughter they have learned.
But what matter about that! They are old people: they recover in their own way, they laugh in their own way; mine ears have already endured worse and have not become peevish.
This day is a victory: he already yieldeth, he fleeth, THE SPIRIT OF GRAVITY, mine old arch-enemy! How well this day is about to end, which began so badly and gloomily!
And it is ABOUT TO end. Already cometh the evening: over the sea rideth it hither, the good rider! How it bobbeth, the blessed one, the home-returning one, in its purple saddles!
The sky gazeth brightly thereon, the world lieth deep. Oh, all ye strange ones who have come to me, it is already worth while to have lived with me!"
Thus spake Zarathustra. And again came the cries and laughter of the higher men out of the cave: then began he anew:
"They bite at it, my bait taketh, there departeth also from them their enemy, the spirit of gravity. Now do they learn to laugh at themselves: do I hear rightly?
My virile food taketh effect, my strong and savoury sayings: and verily, I did not nourish them with flatulent vegetables! But with warrior-food, with conqueror-food: new desires did I awaken.
New hopes are in their arms and legs, their hearts expand. They find new words, soon will their spirits breathe wantonness.
Such food may sure enough not be proper for children, nor even for longing girls old and young. One persuadeth their bowels otherwise; I am not their physician and teacher.
The DISGUST departeth from these higher men; well! that is my victory. In my domain they become assured; all stupid shame fleeth away; they empty themselves.
They empty their hearts, good times return unto them, they keep holiday and ruminate,—they become THANKFUL.
THAT do I take as the best sign: they become thankful. Not long will it be ere they devise festivals, and put up memorials to their old joys.
They are CONVALESCENTS!" Thus spake Zarathustra joyfully to his heart and gazed outward; his animals, however, pressed up to him, and honoured his happiness and his silence.


In the morning, however, after this night, Zarathustra jumped up from his couch, and, having girded his loins, he came out of his cave glowing and strong, like a morning sun coming out of gloomy mountains.
"Thou great star," spake he, as he had spoken once before, "thou deep eye of happiness, what would be all thy happiness if thou hadst not THOSE for whom thou shinest!
And if they remained in their chambers whilst thou art already awake, and comest and bestowest and distributest, how would thy proud modesty upbraid for it!
Well! they still sleep, these higher men, whilst I am awake: THEY are not my proper companions! Not for them do I wait here in my mountains.
At my work I want to be, at my day: but they understand not what are the signs of my morning, my step—is not for them the awakening-call.
They still sleep in my cave; their dream still drinketh at my drunken songs. The audient ear for ME—the OBEDIENT ear, is yet lacking in their limbs."
—This had Zarathustra spoken to his heart when the sun arose: then looked he inquiringly aloft, for he heard above him the sharp call of his eagle. "Well!" called he upwards, "thus is it pleasing and proper to me. Mine animals are awake, for I am awake.
Mine eagle is awake, and like me honoureth the sun. With eagle-talons doth it grasp at the new light. Ye are my proper animals; I love you.
But still do I lack my proper men!"—
Thus spake Zarathustra; then, however, it happened that all on a sudden he became aware that he was flocked around and fluttered around, as if by innumerable birds,—the whizzing of so many wings, however, and the crowding around his head was so great that he shut his eyes. And verily, there came down upon him as it were a cloud, like a cloud of arrows which poureth upon a new enemy. But behold, here it was a cloud of love, and showered upon a new friend.
"What happeneth unto me?" thought Zarathustra in his astonished heart, and slowly seated himself on the big stone which lay close to the exit from his cave. But while he grasped about with his hands, around him, above him and below him, and repelled the tender birds, behold, there then happened to him something still stranger: for he grasped thereby unawares into a mass of thick, warm, shaggy hair; at the same time, however, there sounded before him a roar,—a long, soft lion-roar.
"THE SIGN COMETH," said Zarathustra, and a change came over his heart. And in truth, when it turned clear before him, there lay a yellow, powerful animal at his feet, resting its head on his knee,—unwilling to leave him out of love, and doing like a dog which again findeth its old master. The doves, however, were no less eager with their love than the lion; and whenever a dove whisked over its nose, the lion shook its head and wondered and laughed.
When all this went on Zarathustra spake only a word: "MY CHILDREN ARE NIGH, MY CHILDREN"—, then he became quite mute. His heart, however, was loosed, and from his eyes there dropped down tears and fell upon his hands. And he took no further notice of anything, but sat there motionless, without repelling the animals further. Then flew the doves to and fro, and perched on his shoulder, and caressed his white hair, and did not tire of their tenderness and joyousness. The strong lion, however, licked always the tears that fell on Zarathustra's hands, and roared and growled shyly. Thus did these animals do.—
All this went on for a long time, or a short time: for properly speaking, there is NO time on earth for such things—. Meanwhile, however, the higher men had awakened in Zarathustra's cave, and marshalled themselves for a procession to go to meet Zarathustra, and give him their morning greeting: for they had found when they awakened that he no longer tarried with them. When, however, they reached the door of the cave and the noise of their steps had preceded them, the lion started violently; it turned away all at once from Zarathustra, and roaring wildly, sprang towards the cave. The higher men, however, when they heard the lion roaring, cried all aloud as with one voice, fled back and vanished in an instant.
Zarathustra himself, however, stunned and strange, rose from his seat, looked around him, stood there astonished, inquired of his heart, bethought himself, and remained alone. "What did I hear?" said he at last, slowly, "what happened unto me just now?"
But soon there came to him his recollection, and he took in at a glance all that had taken place between yesterday and to-day. "Here is indeed the stone," said he, and stroked his beard, "on IT sat I yester-morn; and here came the soothsayer unto me, and here heard I first the cry which I heard just now, the great cry of distress.
O ye higher men, YOUR distress was it that the old soothsayer foretold to me yester-morn,—
—Unto your distress did he want to seduce and tempt me: 'O Zarathustra,' said he to me, 'I come to seduce thee to thy last sin.'
To my last sin?" cried Zarathustra, and laughed angrily at his own words: "WHAT hath been reserved for me as my last sin?"
—And once more Zarathustra became absorbed in himself, and sat down again on the big stone and meditated. Suddenly he sprang up,—
"FELLOW-SUFFERING! FELLOW-SUFFERING WITH THE HIGHER MEN!" he cried out, and his countenance changed into brass. "Well! THAT—hath had its time!
My suffering and my fellow-suffering—what matter about them! Do I then strive after HAPPINESS? I strive after my WORK!
Well! The lion hath come, my children are nigh, Zarathustra hath grown ripe, mine hour hath come:—
This is MY morning, MY day beginneth: ARISE NOW, ARISE, THOU GREAT NOONTIDE!"—
Thus spake Zarathustra and left his cave, glowing and strong, like a morning sun coming out of gloomy mountains.

-Friedrich Nietzsche



. . . tell me more.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Regarding David Brooks's Saving the System

In Saving the System, New York Times columnist David Brooks laments the retreat of the aspirational, American-led pluralistic liberal world order. Brooks sees the current geopolitical situation much as I do: opportunistic power grabs across the board by rogue actors in competitive reaction to the weak leadership (Brooks doesn't pinpoint the source, but I will: President Obama) of the shrinking American hegemon.

What frustrates me about top-tier pundits like Brooks is they talk about America's faltering will to lead the free world as though the state of the national character is something separate from themselves when, in fact, pundits like Brooks are instrumental in shaping the national character, no more critically than when the popular narrative of the American-led Iraq enforcement and peace-building mission was in the balance.

The false narrative against the Iraq mission is patient zero for the problem described by Brooks. When pundits surrendered to the false narrative against the Iraq mission, the will of the American people to lead the free world followed suit and collapsed.

The necessary baseline step for "saving the system" is top-tier pundits like Brooks correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission.

The 1991-2003 Iraq enforcement and 2003-2011 peace operations in Iraq were the defining American intervention of the post-Cold War and 9/11 era. The Iraq mission activated all the elements of American leadership essential for the pluralistic liberal world order to compete in the geopolitical arena. Therefore, stigmatizing the Iraq mission with the false narrative has undermined the fundamental premises of the American-led pluralistic liberal world order. Correcting the popular narrative of the Iraq mission is necessary to reestablish sure American leadership of the free world.

I started reading the comments to Brooks's column, but I had to stop after two because of course the NY Times' readers blame President Bush despite that Bush reacted to 9/11 and acted to resolve the Saddam problem properly, and moved to reinvigorate the Western coalition.

The blame for the weakened West is not with Bush. Rather, the blame properly lies with the betrayers who subverted American foreign affairs under Bush for partisan gain by adopting our competitors' propaganda with compounding harmful effects. Yet with their typical sociopathic gall, the betrayers responsible for sabotaging the national character instead blame the consequences of their malfeasance on President Bush, the same American leader who tried his best after 9/11 to rally the West for the contest. The Faustian reward for their treason was winning political control of America. The damaging consequences, described by Brooks, of having the betrayers in charge of America have been predictable.

I saw this danger coming on 9/11 and tried to head it off, but my self-sacrificial college activism was for naught. I don't see how I can fix the problem now. I'm angered by President Obama's foreign affairs and I feel impotent to do anything about it, which makes for a bitter realization that the betrayers succeeded and I failed.


Labels: , ,

. . . tell me more.
Older >>

Powered by Blogger