October 27th, 2015

Fred Hof: “I was wrong”

First, let’s take a look at Fred Hof’s resume. Here’s an excerpt:

Frederic C. Hof is a senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. On March 28, 2012 President Obama conferred on Ambassador Hof the rank of ambassador in connection with his new duties as special advisor for transition in Syria. Amb. Hof was previously the special coordinator for regional affairs in the US Department of State’s Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, where he advised Special Envoy George Mitchell on the full range of Arab-Israeli peace issues falling under his purview and focusing on Syria-Israel and Israel-Lebanon matters. He joined the Department of State in April 2009 after serving as president and CEO of AALC, limited company, an international business consulting and project finance firm formerly known as Armitage Associates LC.

Amb. Hof’s professional life has focused largely on the Middle East. In 2001 he directed the Jerusalem field operations of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee headed by former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and was the lead drafter of the Committee’s April 30, 2001 Report. In 1983, as a US Army officer, he helped draft the “Long Commission” report which investigated the October 1983 bombing of the US Marine headquarters at Beirut International Airport. Both reports drew considerable international praise for fairness and integrity.

So in Hof we have a State Department guy who was part of the Obama administration, with a long history of study and service in the Middle East. That part at the end of the quote about “fairness and integrity” may not just be the usual blah-blah-blah praise, either, because Hof has actually shown himself to be a man of integrity by writing a Politico piece entitled “I Got Syria So Wrong.” [hat tip: Richard Fernandez of Belmont Club.]

I’ve devoted a lot of verbiage on this blog to demonstrating how hard it is for most people to admit they were wrong about something, and how rare it is as well. Hof has done just that, in a very public and difficult way. No, it doesn’t change the consequences of his having been wrong, but it’s still the act of a person of integrity—and, I might add, bravery. His piece makes almost tragic reading and he does not for a moment excuse himself or whitewash the truth.

I know what it feels like to feel so wrong and so duped. But I was just a little person with one tiny vote; I never made policy or advised a president. And yet it’s still a bad bad feeling, whether about something public or something so personal as having trusted a friend or a spouse who does you wrong. Hof’s mea culpa is on a bigger scale, since he was someone who helped make policy in Syria. He trusted a president who was not the man he thought he was, and a State Department that he’d known for decades.

But let him describe it:

By September 2012, when I resigned my State Department post as adviser on Syrian political transition to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I knew that Syria was plunging into an uncharted abyss—a humanitarian abomination of the first order. And I knew that the White House had little appetite for protecting civilians (beyond writing checks for refugee relief) and little interest in even devising a strategy to implement President Barack Obama’s stated desire that Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside. …

And as Syria began to descend into the hell to which Assad was leading it, I did not realize that the White House would see the problem as essentially a communications challenge: getting Obama on “the right side of history” in terms of his public pronouncements. What the United States would do to try to influence Syria’s direction never enjoyed the same policy priority as what the United States would say.

I’ve indicated I admire Hof’s honesty and courage in admitting this. But that doesn’t mean I admire everything about him. For example, why didn’t he speak up in September of 2012, which after all was prior to Obama’s re-election? Might it have mattered? I really don’t know, but maybe. And why, oh why, had this very smart man not noticed that the biggest “policy priority” of the Obama administration has long been politics and spinning to political advantage?

Seriously, by March of 2012, how could he have not realized this? His bio doesn’t say much about his political affiliation—I would guess “Democrat” and probably “liberal Democrat”—and this is the most likely explanation for his failure to notice things that were absolutely obvious but would mean splitting with the party.

Too little, too late, I’m afraid. And yet I applaud what he’s done now.

[ADDENDUM: DaTechGuy has some comments, based on an old Soviet joke.]

50 Responses to “Fred Hof: “I was wrong””

  1. Cornhead Says:

    America’s foreign policy is all about Obama.

    Everything is all about Obama.

    I.

    Me.

  2. F Says:

    What Cornhead said.

  3. Nick Says:

    I’m not as taken with the article as you were, Neo. It seems like he’s saying that he was wrong for not seeing the future, and not realizing that he was the only actor who was non-idealistic and non-heroic. He doesn’t really state what he did wrong other than fail to predict it.

  4. Artfldgr Says:

    on another duping note:

    Beijing ‘Not Frightened to Fight War’ With USA…

    China’s growing military built from stolen weapon designs…

    [russia is also been not only ramping up behavior, but social hatred of the US and has actually been replacing US old positions like protecting religion, etc… so the world is starting to side with him over wacko’s in US offices]

    and as far as Frederic C. Hof goes, all he is doing is throwing himself on the sword to give the administration a winning excuse going forwards.

    ie. he advised us, he admits he was wrong, what could you expect of us?

    duh…. duped on top of being duped…

    I have said over and over, and will continue to say things until they change, that people are making assumptions and guesses based on small pictures and refusing to expand their analysis to include the whole..

    ie. russia, china, operatives, games that go past the immediate, and on and on…

    these other things spend a lot of time and money and control a lot of press and companies, and to pretend that they dont exist, have no influence and that whats going on is larger than just the elction, but the spear tip of a 60 year game plan, is ignored.

    you will ALWAYS be duped if you do that…

    ALWAYS…

    Being people of freedom, you see things through the lens of individuals… meaning that you do not think or assess in terms of collectivism.

    so you see hof as ain idividual, and not as a part of a larger thing that controls the points and can even make people sacrifice what they would never do as individuals..

    There are two basic ways of understanding the relationship between individuals in a group. The first way is individualism, which states that each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it’s as individuals. Collectivism is the second way, and it views the group as the primary entity, with the individuals lost along the way.

    you keep thinking its a failure of the press, or your not looking right, etc.. its not.. its a failure to think like your opposition does when the opposition is not like you.

    as an individual, one has to watch out what one does, one hangs alone, is also responsible, etc.

    as a part of the collective, you dont have to watch what you do as long as what you do helps the collective, as it will take care of its own. so

    bernie didnt have to care about a prostitute business his boyfriend was running out of his apartment before he gave him a state job, the collective will work to move that stuff aside for the purpose of using his power base.

    if hof was a normal ambasador, or hillary was a normal secretary of state, these things would stick, but because she serves the collective, and Hof does as well, they will push the bad away to preserve the usefulness.

    Collectivism views it in some other way. It sees the group as the important element, and individuals are just members of the group. The group has its own values somehow different from those of the individual members. The group thinks its own thoughts. Instead of judging the group as a bunch of individuals interacting, it judges the group as a whole, and views the individuals as just members of the group.

    so you look at hof and admire his leftist confessional (duh), and do not realize that what makes you think that is brave is the consequences he is sheilded from!!!!!

    what he did served the whole, by removing responsibility from obama… that is not a true confession where the consequences are allowed to fall upon the offender.

    if you dont think in terms of the collective group and its outcome, then your gonna get duped again by such shows… your misattributing the whole as your looking at it in terms of individuals (and your missing that your assuming he is telling the truth about details you cant validate)

    “COLLECTIVISM: Collectivism is defined as the theory and practice that makes some sort of group rather than the individual the fundamental unit of political, social, and economic concern. In theory, collectivists insist that the claims of groups, associations, or the state must normally supersede the claims of individuals.” — Stephen Grabill and Gregory M. A. Gronbacher

    “Individualism is at once an ethical-psychological concept and an ethical-political one. As an ethical-psychological concept, individualism holds that a human being should think and judge independently, respecting nothing more than the sovereignty of his or her mind; thus, it is intimately connected with the concept of autonomy. As an ethical-political concept, individualism upholds the supremacy of individual rights …” — Nathaniel Branden

    as an individual what he did is admirable, but given he is a modern dem in a modern collectivist state, he is not going to have individual pain from his actions, he will be rewarded from the collective for his personal sacrifice to the cause.

    in this way, they get to make faux sacrifices… ie. do things that to you seem to curry favor because of how hard it is for an individual to do them. but to him, he is just making a calculated gambit as to how to be favored more by the collective for his sacrificial action that not only prove his loyalty, but that he is willing to do anything for them.

    not much of a sacrifice is it?

    “Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group — whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called ‘the common good’.” — Ayn Rand

    “Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.” — Ayn Rand

    in this way, pain is shared, reward is shared…

    why would a person blow themselves up for islam? because its a collective religion and what they do is a collective good… the larger whole will do better because of their sacrifice

    individuals see this as stupid, because he no longer has an individual life. he loses contact with his family, he cant get his reward, and they have to make fun of his virgins in heaven reasons (and completely ignore that his side wins).

    “Soviet patriotism” provided the focus for collective sacrifice and obedience – The Faces of Janus: Marxism and Fascism in the Twentieth Century

    you can read about it, but its all part of that library no one wants to read as guessing is more fun…

    david fitzpatrick the logic of collective sacrifice

    Ireland and the British army, 1914–1918
    his point is that you dong join the miltary during war time to have a better life, but to support the collective effort.

    under this concept, the point of sacrifice makes it easy to see how the larger more important thing benefits from the sacrifice.

    it would be admirable in the old context
    but among communists, its nothing

  5. Wooly Bully Says:

    I thought I was wrong once, but it turned out I was mistaken.

  6. F Says:

    Having now read the article (and two others about Hof’s efforts at diplomacy) I am left to wonder if he ever had the authority to do what he now wishes he had done. I can imagine Hof, in all good conscience, telling Asad one thing and Valerie Jarrett or Huma Abedin (who are clearly pro-Iran) coming along afterward and giving Asad different signals.

    I would not want to be negotiating on behalf of this administration. Not only are they less interested in results than they are in Obama’s image, they are also handicapped when dealing with serious thinkers on the other side of the table. And always, when dealing on any subject that touches on Iran, Jarrett and Abedin are there to second-guess and meddle.

    No thanks. I’ll stick to something safe, like juggling chain saws.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    He’s wrong? Great, send me a notice when he’s dead, that would be more interesting.

    There is a price to atonement and the wages of sin is Death.

  8. Fred Says:

    This not just one off from US officials who are getting things wrong.

    US ME policy have had many hold and truly one sided view to the conflicts in the region.

    However this man admiting he is wrong bring to the mind David Key the smart guy from CIA who falsly head UN team to Iraq looking for WMD in till today nothing worth reading if its there he also came by saying ” We All Wrong”

    As for Arab Israeli confilict bring UN envoy Tony Blear he is the now he appologies for iraq mistake!
    Is to let to littil to undow the suffring of millions there.

  9. G6loq Says:

    Ah feeeel that this post is a continuation of the
    It used to be… post.
    ie: trying to make the case that Libtards are humans just like us ….

  10. Ymarsakar Says:

    Kay was sent to cover up the finding of WMDs by US military members, which he did.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kay

  11. G6loq Says:

    A colleague of Kay is outraged:
    The head of the CIA was “outraged” by a teenager’s apparent hacking of his personal AOL email account, he said on Tuesday.
    Outraged! A human feeeeling that!

  12. Cornflour Says:

    Towards the end of his piece in “Politico,” Hof writes the following:

    “The United States could stop it or slow it down significantly without invading and occupying Syria—indeed, without stretching the parameters of military science.”

    The “it” that Hof mentions is a broad generalization for all of the horrible violence going on in Syria. And how exactly would the United States stop “it”? I’ve read and re-read Hof’s prescription, and I can’t believe I even understand what he’s saying.

    Hof says that the United States should offer “real support for courageous Syrian civil society activists who represent the essence of a revolution against brutality, corruption, sectarianism and unaccountability.” And how are we to do that?

    This is as specific as Hof gets: “With regard to ISIL, a professional ground combat component provided by regional powers is desperately needed to work with coalition aircraft to sweep this abomination from Syria and permit a governmental alternative to the Assad regime to take root inside Syria. With central and eastern Syria free of both the regime and ISIL, an all-Syrian national stabilization force can be built. Western desires for a negotiated end to the Syrian crisis would be based, under these circumstances, on more than a wish and a hope.”

    I think that’s a nice dream, but it’s just a dream. I think Hof was wrong about Syria and continues to be wrong. He was wrong about Obama and is still mostly wrong.

    Please don’t misunderstand this as support for Obama or his Syrian policy. I used to think that James Buchanan was the worst of our presidents, but I now believe that Obama has surpassed him. I know that there are plenty of others who share my loathing for the man, but I’m afraid those feelings keep us from accepting that Syria is a terribly difficult problem. Sure, Obama has made Syria worse, but I’ve yet to read a convincing proposal for American action that is both realistic and effective.

    Since the theme of Neo’s post was the recognition of one’s own mistakes, I looked up my comment from about two years ago:

    “Cornflour Says:
    August 27th, 2013 at 9:04 pm
    Al Queda is fighting Hezbollah and civilians are getting in the way. How can American armed forces fix this situation?

    Chemical weapons — or fake chemical weapons — don’t change the equation.

    As far as I can tell, Obama’s new attitude is based on a fear of losing the 2014 mid-term elections. His Syrian calculation would be designed to maximize domestic benefit and minimize foreign involvement.

    Or else I’m just too simple-minded for all this politics stuff.”

    I think I was right about Obama, and I still don’t know what should be done about Syria. If anyone can provide a reference to an article describing a serious and convincing policy proposal for solving the problems in Syria, then I’d really appreciate it, because I’d love to be wrong about this.

  13. Ann Says:

    In this 2009 interview, Hof says he’s a Democrat, but in talking about setting up a business with the Republican Richard Armitage, he sounds more old-school Democrat than the current variety. Also, he’s not a dyed–in-the-wool State Dept. type — he spent much of his career in the Army and working for the Pentagon. He seems to also have been more an analyst than involved in negotiations, so the day-to-day machinations at State and the White House could have been something of a surprise to him.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Regime Change in America would be a good start to resolving the Syrian issue.

  15. Eric Says:

    Fred,

    As Ymarsakar alludes to, the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) did in fact find violations of the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441) for disarmament mandated by UNSCR 687.

    According to the ISG Duelfer Report, “ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs up to OIF” with findings such as “IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Services] also ran a large covert procurement program, undeclared chemical laboratories, and supported denial and deception operations”.

    In other words, David Kay’s – later Charles Duelfer’s – Iraq Survey Group corroborated the UNMOVIC confirmation that Iraq remained in breach of the disarmament standard mandated by UNSCR 687.

    The UNMOVIC confirmation of Iraq’s breach of the Gulf War ceasefire was the main trigger for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    However, at the same time that ISG corroborated the casus belli, Iraq’s breach of the Gulf War ceasefire, the ISG findings also informed the criticism of the pre-war intelligence by the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission, etc.

    The key point missed by many supporters and critics of OIF is that post hoc assessments of the predictive precision of the pre-war intelligence do not affect the casus belli for OIF – because the pre-war intelligence was not the casus belli for OIF.

    The law and policy are clear that the casus belli for OIF was Iraq’s breach of the ceasefire. Iraq’s breach of the ceasefire was confirmed at the decision point by UNMOVIC et al.

    That Saddam’s violations of UNSCR 687 may have been different than as indicated in the pre-war intelligence neither makes Saddam’s disarmament violations less dangerous nor more permitted under the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” mandated by UNSCR 687.

    See the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Excerpt:

    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 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).

  16. n.n Says:

    He doesn’t quite get it.

    Syria began to descend into the hell to which Assad was leading it

    How dishonest. He’s equivocating.

  17. Tatterdemalian Says:

    I’m pretty sure the only reason he’s doing this is to claim responsibility for decisions that were actually made by Hillary. It’s like the Stalinist show trials, and I expect the coming months will see almost the entire Obama cabinet falling on their swords to pretend Queen Clinton is entirely blameless for everything that happened during her time leading the State Department.

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    Kay was basically saying that terrorists were looking to buy Saddam’s WMDs once the program was restarted, that if there hadn’t been a war, the terrorists would have bought them already.

    The Islamic Jihad, international arms sellers in Europe, and the Leftist alliance in the US wanted those WMDs in the hands of jihadists. They worked very hard to ensure it happened.

  19. AMartel Says:

    Fall guy.
    Has failed miserably and therefore will now be promoted to a better pay grade in the establishment eschelon.

  20. Eric Says:

    Cornflour,

    President Obama put in place a formula for US involvement in the Syria situation that has been worse than plausibly deniable involvement or omitted American leadership. It’s been a formula for visibly failing and ineffectual American intervention in a situation that Obama determined holds high stakes for the US.

    The answer to your question is, if both the Assad regime and the majority of insurgents are unacceptable moving forward, then the logical policy alternative is a humanitarian intervention with a regime change and peace operations like the Balkans intervention under President Clinton. Under that policy alternative, the practical alternative is the OIF/COIN template.

    Needed? Urgently, years ago. “Both realistic and effective”? No.

    Perhaps there was a window of opportunity at the beginning of the Arab Spring, with the old US position in Iraq, where some form of that option would have been “realistic and effective” under different American leadership. But that moment, if there was one, and the US position in Iraq are gone.

    This Ambassador Ryan Crocker assessment of the Syria crisis, from 2013 with the perspective of conditions at that time, has informed my view on the issue.

    Ambassador Crocker is not just any academic, of course. He was second only to General Petraeus among the American officials who led the Counterinsurgency “Surge” in Iraq.

    At the time, Crocker recommended we should work harder around Syria, especially with Iraq, to contain the damage to Syria, but we should not intervene inside Syria. Unfortunately, President Obama neglected to do that, too.

  21. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    Terrorist application of WMD is distinguished from military battlefield application of WMD in scale, among other differences. With that in mind, the Iraq Survey Group found a WMD-capable, secret active program in the IIS that suited terrorist-scale application.

    Excerpt from the ISG Duelfer Report:

    ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The network of laboratories could have provided an ideal, compartmented platform from which to continue CW agent R&D or small-scale production efforts, but we have no indications this was planned. … however many of these sites were either sanitized by the Regime or looted prior to OIF. Interviews with key IIS officials within and outside of M16 yielded very little information about the IIS’ activities in this area.
    The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN.

    This is where understanding the burden of proof in the Gulf War ceasefire is critical for properly judging the decision for OIF.

    In terms of judging Saddam’s compliance with UNSCR 687, the ISG finding of a WMD-capable, secret active IIS program whose “existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN” plus the IIS “large covert procurement program” is dispositive corroboration that Iraq was guilty of the breach that triggered enforcement.

    However, in terms of judging the precision of the pre-war intelligence, because IIS sites were found “sanitized” and IIS officials were uncooperative, ISG could not conclusively determine whether the activities within the WMD-capable, secret active IIS program precisely matched pre-war intelligence estimates.

    Of course, the US and UN held no burden to prove the pre-war intelligence was precise. Instead, Iraq held the burden to prove Saddam disarmed as mandated. The WMD-capable, secret active IIS program uncovered by ISG clearly breached the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” mandated by UNSCR 687.

    If we set aside the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), the ISG finding of a WMD-capable, secret active IIS “ideal, compartmented platform from which to continue CW agent R&D or small-scale production efforts” where the “existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN” is incriminating.

    The ISG finding, while recalling that Saddam’s biological and chemical weapons programs were started in the IIS, is incriminating.

    To your point, the ISG finding, while recalling the IIS was also the regime arm that handled Saddam’s terrorist network, which was also a breach of UNSCR 687 that triggered enforcement, is incriminating.

    The ISG finding, while recalling Saddam’s larger track record, is incriminating.

    Under the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance”, Saddam was guilty – but we knew that already from the UNMOVIC findings before ISG investigated anything in Iraq. The ISG findings simply corroborated what UNMOVIC had confirmed at the decision point for OIF.

  22. Eric Says:

    As far as Neo’s post, Hof’s criticism of the Obama administration’s priority on domestic partisan politics in foreign affairs, he’s not alone among former Obama officials with that criticism.

    From a 2013 Fiscal Times article:

    These critics are not coming from conservative think thanks. They’re coming from former Obama administration officials.

    POINTED CRITICISMS

    For instance, Vali Nasr, who served as senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke when he was ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said this of Obama’s Afghan policies: “Their primary concern was how any action in Afghanistan or the Middle East would play on the nightly news, or which talking point it would give the Republicans. The Obama administration’s reputation for competence on foreign policy has less to do with its accomplishments in Afghanistan or the Middle East than with how U.S. actions in that region have been reshaped to accommodate partisan political concerns.”

    Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011, said this about Obama’s Syria policy: “Obama must realize the tremendous damage he will do to the United States and to his legacy if he fails to act. He should understand the deep and lasting damage done when the gap between words and deeds becomes too great to ignore, when those who wield power are exposed as not saying what they mean or meaning what they say.”

    And Rosa Brookes, a former senior adviser at the Pentagon, attacked Obama for his failure to outline a broad, sweeping foreign policy strategy. “The Obama administration initially waffled over the Arab Spring, unable to decide whether and when to support the status quo and when to support the protesters. The United States used military force to help oust Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi, but insisted at first that this wasn’t the purpose of the airstrikes — and without any clear rationale being articulated, the use of force in seemingly parallel situations seems to have been ruled out.”

  23. Eric Says:

    FIX:
    As far as Neo’s post and Hof’s criticism of the Obama administration’s priority on domestic partisan politics in foreign affairs, he’s not alone among former Obama officials with that criticism.

  24. Oldflyer Says:

    Why indeed did he not speak in September 2012, and is speaking now?

    I would guess that he hopes to salvage his own legacy if he can at this late date.

    There may also have been perceived personal risk to speaking before the 2012 election. Chicago politics, you know.

    Eric’s information from the 2013 FT’s article smacks of the proverbial rats and the sinking ship. Or am I too cynical?

  25. AesopFan Says:

    Ann Says:
    October 27th, 2015 at 2:53 pm
    In this 2009 interview, Hof says he’s a Democrat, but in talking about setting up a business with the Republican Richard Armitage, he sounds more old-school Democrat than the current variety. …He seems to also have been more an analyst than involved in negotiations, so the day-to-day machinations at State and the White House could have been something of a surprise to him.
    * *

    THIS Richard Armitage?

    Richard Lee Armitage (born April 26, 1945) is an American former naval officer and a Republican politician who was appointed the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State at the State Department, serving from 2001 to 2005 under George W. Bush.
    He has acknowledged that he publicly released the classified information that Valerie Plame Wilson was a secret agent for the CIA, triggering the Plame affair,[1] although he has said it was inadvertent.[2]
    * * * *
    Maybe Hof’s judgment is more than a little impaired by his personal and business relationships.

  26. NeoConScum Says:

    Interesting, Neo. However, does Hof know—as Sec’y Kerry stated last week—that part of that danged Syrian situation was brought on by… GASP…”Climate Change”??

    Just saying…

  27. Banned Lizard Says:

    A minute at my computer today produced a powerful reminder of why I switched to the Republican party seven years ago. One of the top items listed in search results of my hard drive for everything with “God” in it was a file titled “United States Declaration of Independence”.
    I’m not sure why that touched me so deeply, but after a few moments it sent me to Bing for another search. When I typed the words “Democrat Convention”, Bing knew exactly where I was headed, and autofilled the words “booing God.” Right now I don’t have the stomach to watch the video, but I rest my case.

  28. AntiLeftist Says:

    Neo, you are too kind. History is replete with instances of “well-meaning” people waiting too long (until the wind changes) to say “my bad, mistake, can I get a do-over.” The plea usually comes when their heads are actually on the chopping block and the mob is screaming for blood. The mob will be, as usual, unable to understand the nuances. I think the mob is screaming for blood now and they are going to get it. The only question is where the mob will coalesce. I think it will be Germany, as per usual.

  29. Richard Saunders Says:

    Artfldgr, you’re always saying nobody but you gets the big picture. You’re wrong.

    Islam has been a war with the West since 650. There was a 300 year hiatus after 1638, now it’s back on. We get it.

    Russia’s foreign policy has been the same since Peter the Great — secure buffer states as barriers against invasion from the West, exploit the resources of the East, secure a warm-water port. For the last century, since 1917, the commies added a new policy – tweak the US whenever they can. We get it.

    China thinks it is the center of the world, is royally pissed that the foreign devils kicked sand in its face for 100 years, so now they want to kick sand in our face. We get it.

    Since 1848 in Europe and 1930 or so in the US, generations of people have been born and bred (yes, by very evil people) to believe that somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly . . . that if they turn off their brains to the reality of human conduct, if they sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya, life will be pleasant and untroubling. If only they could get rid of us biting little ants who are spoiling their pot-infused picnic, everything would be perfect. We get that one, too.

    The question is, what to do about it? Constantly pointing out things we already know, and know well, accomplishes nothing.

  30. Ymarsakar Says:

    The UN is full of war criminals, arms dealers, sexual slave dealers, and human atrocity machines. Anyone dealing with it, will inevitably fall into the corruption of said crowd and be sabotaged, if their aims are noble.

    It’s like thinking you have the CIA under your thumb because your President is a Republican, then find out what Wilson and Plame has been up too. Maybe you don’t control the CIA/UN as much as people think they do.

  31. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    The Wilson controversy with the forged documents goes in several directions.

    Strictly in terms of the operative enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire, the 2 things to know about Wilson’s forged documents are that, one, they were not part of the British intelligence assessment that was cited by President Bush in the 2003 State of the Union address. Therefore, they were not part of the US intelligence analysis of the British intelligence assessment. On the substance, Wilson’s findings were irrelevant.

    Two, the British intelligence assessment was not cited by Bush as casus belli for OIF but rather as an example of suspicious indicators that emphasized the requirement for Iraq to prove compliance with the disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687, which included nuclear mandates.

    At the decision point for OIF, the IAEA findings on the UNSCR 687 nuclear mandates were comparatively promising. However, the “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” reported by UNMOVIC on the other UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates were the main trigger for OIF.

    That being said, the post hoc findings by the Iraq Survey Group and Iraqi Perspectives Project include nuclear-related activity by Iraq that was at least suspicious and possibly noncompliant with UNSCR 687. At the least, the presidential concern underlying the demand for Iraq to conclusively prove compliance with UNSCR 687 was warranted.

    The demand for Iraq to comply with UNSCRs 687, 688 et al was warranted regardless of the pre-war intelligence given Saddam’s track record and the terms of the Gulf War ceasefire.

    As far as dealing with the UN, that simply was how the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement was structured in the law and policy. As well, President Bush made clear that part of his motivation was to rehabilitate the UN as an effective enforcer for the 9/11 era. I agree that it was hopeful of him since the opposition he faced over the Iraq enforcement was unchanged from the opposition that President Clinton faced over the Iraq enforcement.

    Yet notably, even while the political controversy over the Iraq intervention diverged from the actual Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, the official business of the UN with Iraq throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom stayed on course with the Gulf War ceasefire “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” via UNSCR 1483 (2003) et al.

  32. LogicalUS Says:

    For this guy to have any capability at all, one would have to find a single instance in the history of this horrible man currently in the White House were he ever took the advice of some other person……

    Obama listens to NOONE…..except the crazy voices in his head.

    Remember this is the man who said that it didn’t matter in the least how long it took him to name cabinet positions\advisers or their backgrounds because NONE of them could do the job better than himself and NONE of them had more knowledge than himself.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    As well, President Bush made clear that part of his motivation was to rehabilitate the UN as an effective enforcer for the 9/11 era.

    That was more Tony Blair’s motivation, since Bush decided to go along with the Blair show as Blair was the one that wanted the UN to work and waited endlessly months for it, giving Saddam time to prepare.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    The two critical decisions that lead to the aftermath of 2003 Iraq were Powell and Tony Blair. Those were the two people Bush decided to go along with and help, with predictable consequences.

  35. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar: “That was more Tony Blair’s motivation, since Bush decided to go along with the Blair show as Blair was the one that wanted the UN to work

    Is that from their memoirs or similar source?

    It’s an interesting question because for the ad hoc ‘containment’ that followed Operation Desert Fox in 1998, President Clinton stated a policy alternative to the UNSCR 687 compliance procedure wherein indicators of proscribed activity by Iraq, rather than a UN-based assessment of Iraq’s noncompliance, could trigger enforcement.

    Clinton was frustrated by the UNSC split that carried forward to President Bush’s Iraq enforcement. Thus, Clinton established the position that UNSCRs 678 and 687 provided standing UN authorization so that additional UN authorization was not needed to act to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (P.L. 105-235).

    Yet in 2002, Bush opted to step away from Clinton’s post-ODF policy alternative. Instead, Bush went back to the UN for UNSCR 1441’s reinforced UNSCR 687 compliance procedure with UNMOVIC. In doing so, Bush essentially retraced Clinton’s steps in 1998 with UNSCRs 1154, 1194, 1205 and UNSCOM leading up to Operation Desert Fox.

    The question is interesting because Clinton partnered with PM Blair on the Iraq enforcement.

    So presumably, Blair shared Clinton’s frustration with the UNSC split and agreed with Clinton’s post-ODF policy alternative for the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement.

    Yet you’re saying that Blair actually disagreed with Clinton and, in 2002, convinced Clinton’s successor to go back to the UNSCR 687 compliance procedure and retrace the steps with the UN that had frustrated Clinton and Blair in 1998.

    Again, is that from their memoirs or similar source? Because I haven’t seen in Bush’s policy speeches that his 1st choice to enforce Iraq’s compliance was Clinton’s post-ODF policy alternative but then Bush changed course due to Blair convincing him to give the UN another chance.

  36. Fred Hof | Transterrestrial Musings Says:

    […] “I was wrong“: […]

  37. Eric Says:

    As far as Secretary Powell, he screwed up in his February 2003 presentation to the UNSC by emphasizing the pre-war intelligence disproportionately to the functional role of the pre-war intelligence in the operative enforcement procedure for the UNSCR 687 disarmament mandates. In fact, President Clinton didn’t cite the intelligence at all while enforcing UNSCR 687.

    The saving grace for Powell is, before the panned presentation of the pre-war intelligence, Powell properly laid the foundation with the compliance basis for enforcement:

    Iraq had already been found guilty of material breach of its obligations, stretching back over 16 previous resolutions and 12 years. Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a regime this council has repeatedly convicted over the years. 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.

    Other than Powell’s error of presentation with the pre-war intelligence, what else do you think he did wrong?

  38. Cornflour Says:

    Eric,

    After reading your comments on the Iraq war, I went to your blog and started reading your FAQ on the war. Have you considered making this the beginnings of a book? Maybe add more ground-level information? Maybe find a known journalist to act as co-author, help create a story, and stimulate sales? Someone like Michael Totten?

    The idea of “narrative conflict” would naturally come out of what you’ve already written, and I don’t think that anyone’s written a good, short, objective counterpoint to what’s now become the accepted narrative created by the mainstream media at the behest of the Left.

    Or am I wrong? Do you think someone’s already done this?

  39. Ymarsakar Says:

    Is that from their memoirs or similar source?

    It was on the question of why Bush waited for Blair his ally, and it was a direct quote, can’t remember source per say, that Bush was going to wait for Blair because of honor issues. That put the whole UN inspection thing right up Blair and Powell’s park, way way before Powell ever gave the UN address and it became “policy”.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    Yet you’re saying that Blair actually disagreed with Clinton and, in 2002, convinced Clinton’s successor to go back to the UNSCR 687 compliance procedure and retrace the steps with the UN that had frustrated Clinton and Blair in 1998.

    Yes, because Blair was facing election issues or vote of no confidence, thus he lacked…. leverage to convince his party and the opposition that going to war (Britain was providing actual troops, this was no mere agreement). That was not particularly popular with Labour… well Labour being Labour, nor was it particularly popular with the Tories or the Conservative parties.

    If there was a new UN resolution and the findings for the inspection was “Saddam=WMD”, then Blair could sell his position better in his own domestic circle, but Bush II wasn’t required to go along, since we didn’t need British troops for an initial invasion. What does it matter to Petraeus and COIN if Britain spends 3 years getting their leverage needed for troop mobilization. Except Bush likes honor and loyalty, and down the route they went.

    Time wise this would be 2002, but I only heard about this sometime later in 2005-2006, if I recall. Anyways, years have gone by a lot, so one would have to verify things if you want complete accuracy.

    Other than Powell’s error of presentation with the pre-war intelligence, what else do you think he did wrong?

    Powell was the guy who was responsible for telling Schwarz that the Shia would get support, so tell the Shia that and rise up against Saddam. Which they did, then Schwarz called for authorization to move troops to the Shia side of the border from Kuwaitt, because they told them they would get support if they rebelled. Nothing happened. Shia got bombed and gassed. Later on, they had a “no fly zone”.

    So Powell’s always been looking for his own political pov for a long time, and those political interests didn’t necessarily align with America’s best interests nor the Iraqi’s best interests.

    The whole State Department post Iraq occupation was almost like an intentional sabotage, where they moved in and cracked/rejected the expatriate offer to install a new government in Iraq. Then as 2003 and 2004 passed on by, the US military, even though they weren’t appointed as governor or leader, kept fighting with the State Department about what to do. The State Department looked like they were doing nothing, but refusing to hand over the reigns to the Pentagon. This caused enormous friction and delayed several things on the ground, because Bush’s cabinet level officers were messing with each other’s sphere of influence.

    They ended up with Petraeus as military leader and Crocker as civilian/state department representative, but it was pretty late by then.

    Whether this was Powell’s instigation or Bush II giving his cabinet a free hand or whether the State Department and the Pentagon were naturally at each other’s throats and trying to one up or sabotage each other, is hard to sya.

  41. Fred Says:

    To Eric & Ymarsakar
    With all due respect of your view about the “out of context” subject with Kay coverup all that, I would point out that Tyrant Saddam was a must to go, most importantly he was a monster who killed thousands of Iraqis.

    The US invasion of Iraq cost the American so far? We know the exact numbers of U.S. military dead and injured (4,436 dead and 32,009 wounded) and the “reported Iraqi deaths” (between 100,000 and 109,000), then there were many dead from the illness and malnutrition that comes from having an entire country’s infrastructure destroyed — water lines, health clinics, vaccines and common medicines, grocery stores, produce markets, dairies, etc. A lot of military contractors died, too.

    The series being “I was wrong” or “We All Wrong” or “Another Changed Mind” going from 2003 till now even dominate US presidential election now.

    I hope you both took a look and read those articles were the problem of US policy maker error and fallers by listening to incompetent advisors “Some Lairs” like Fred Hof, or the Iraq’s one-man war machine Ahmad Chalabi, or The defector “Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi “ who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons program
    and others like Fouad Ajmi, Vali Nasr and others …

  42. Eric Says:

    Cornflour,

    My reach on the subject is my blog posts, for now.

    It’s been suggested that I should write a law review article on the subject, which I haven’t followed up. Neo-commenter JJ said he’s shared links to my stuff with a writer who might be interested.

    Has someone else “written a good, short, objective counterpoint to what’s now become the accepted narrative created by the mainstream media at the behest of the Left” by hewing to a similar selection of primary sources as cited in the OIF FAQ?

    Not that I know of. There are articles, like an American Thinker piece by Randall Hoven I linked in my table of sources, that hew to the 2002 AUMF. But I haven’t seen anyone else draw from a similar range of UNSCRs, precedent and standing law and policy from Clinton, UNMOVIC and IPP findings, etc.

    That being said, the law and policy of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement isn’t esoteric. So I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a similarly comprehensive take in an academic thesis or a law & policy journal somewhere. But for the cultural/political zeitgeist, the “accepted narrative created by the mainstream media at the behest of the Left” is prevalent – even among putative supporters of the mission.

    I learned from JJ that the late Jeane Kirkpatrick characterized the Iraq intervention as enforcement of Iraq’s compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire mandates in her book, Making War to Keep Peace. However, Kirkpatrick approached the issue from her personal diplomatic experience. She didn’t hew to the primary sources of the mission to flesh out the law and policy, fact basis of OIF in the way and to the extent that I did.

  43. Ymarsakar Says:

    The US invasion of Iraq cost the American so far? We know the exact numbers of U.S. military dead and injured (4,436 dead and 32,009 wounded)

    Half of that was due to Democrat sabotage and selling the country out for power.

    And in the final tally, a few thousand is far less than what the Leftist alliance turned into a bag of cash using PlannedProfit.

    Want more soldiers? How about you stop turning children and viable births into bags of cash, how about you start there.

  44. Eric Says:

    Fred: “convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons program”

    There was no need to convince the US and UN that Iraq had a biological weapons program because the question of Iraq’s compliance with UNSCR 687 was not whether Iraq was guilty of proscribed armament.

    The question that Iraq was required to answer correctly as the 1st step to switch off enforcement was whether Iraq disarmed, including its biological weapons program, as mandated by UNSCR 687.

    Or, as Hans Blix explained to the Security Council in January 2003:

    The substantive cooperation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programmes of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusion that nothing proscribed remains.

    Paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002) states that this cooperation shall be “active“. It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of “catch as catch can”.

    As such, the relevant question is, did Iraq in fact take the 1st step to switch off enforcement by proving Iraq disarmed, including its biological weapons program, as mandated by UNSCR 687?

    The answer is no. Operation Iraqi Freedom was mainly triggered by Iraq’s failure to prove Iraq disarmed, including its biological weapons program, as mandated by UNSCR 687.

    The UNMOVIC Cluster Document (“Unresolved Disarmament Issues Iraq’s Proscribed Weapons Programmes”) confirmed Iraq’s failure to disarm as mandated:

    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 has credible information that the total quantity of BW [biological weapons] agent in bombs, warheads and in bulk at the time of the Gulf War was 7,000 litres more than declared by Iraq
    … 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.

    The post hoc Iraq Survey Group Duelfer Report corroborated Iraq’s failure to disarm as mandated:

    Through an investigation of the history of Iraq’s bulk BW [biological weapons] agent stocks, it has become evident to ISG that officials were involved in concealment and deception activities.
    • ISG judges that Iraq failed to comply with UNSCRs up to OIF by failing to disclose accurate production totals for B. anthracis and probably other BW agents and for not providing the true details of its alleged 1991 disposal of stocks of bulk BW agent.
    • Officials within the BW program knowingly continued this deception right up to OIF and beyond, only revealing some details well after the conflict.

    [The] following are of particular concern, as they relate to the possibility of a retained BW [biological weapons] capability or the ability to initiate a new one.
    • ISG cannot determine the fate of Iraq’s stocks of bulk BW agents remaining after Desert Storm and subsequent unilateral destruction. There is a very limited chance that continuing investigation may provide evidence to resolve this issue.
    • The fate of the missing bulk agent storage tanks.
    • The fate of a portion of Iraq’s BW agent seed-stocks.
    • The nature, purpose and who was involved in the secret biological work in the small IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Services] laboratories discovered by ISG.

    What convinced the world that Iraq had a “secret biological weapons program”?

    Iraq did – principally by Iraq failing to prove it disarmed, including its biological weapons program, as mandated by UNSCR 687.

  45. Eric Says:

    Fred: “I would point out that Tyrant Saddam was a must to go, most importantly he was a monster who killed thousands of Iraqis.”

    Then you support the peace operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Indeed, the humanitarian crisis from the “systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror” (UN Commission on Human Rights, 2002) caused by Saddam’s regime was a primary focus of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement per UNSCR 688 (1991).

    As such, the mission to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (PL 105-235, 1998) featured a “new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people” (President Clinton) with America “support[ing] Iraq’s transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people” (Iraq Liberation Act of 1998) by leading “a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq … for the purpose of ensuring necessary conditions for … key humanitarian and economic infrastructure” (UNSCR 1511).

    Unfortunately, the terrorists and insurgents opposed the replacement of “Tyrant Saddam … he was a monster” with a “new Iraqi government, a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people” (Clinton).

    In order to disallow the building of the UNSCR 688-compliant post-Saddam Iraq we envisioned, the terrorists and insurgents concentrated on inflicting maximal chaos, terror, death, and destruction on Iraq with methods that recalled Saddam’s brutal suppression that compelled UNSCR 688 in the 1st place.

    Who do you think agreed the most with your opposition to the death and destruction inflicted on Iraq by the terrorists and insurgents?

    The answer is, the American-led coalition who committed a great deal of blood and treasure to build a better future for Iraq after Saddam and protect the people of Iraq from the terrorists and insurgents.

    Logically, if you’re against “Tyrant Saddam … he was a monster” and you’re against the chaos, terror, death, and destruction inflicted on Iraq by the terrorists and insurgents, then you support the peace operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And you oppose President Obama’s premature withdrawal of the American-led peace operations from Iraq.

  46. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar: “If there was a new UN resolution and the findings for the inspection was “Saddam=WMD”, then Blair could sell his position better in his own domestic circle, but Bush II wasn’t required to go along, since we didn’t need British troops for an initial invasion.”

    See the answer to “If a new UN authorization was not needed for OIF, then why did Bush go to the UN?”.

    Excerpt:

    Because President Bush’s primary intent was not to invade Iraq. Rather, Bush’s motive was to resolve the Saddam problem expeditiously and conclusively with Iraq’s full compliance with the Gulf War ceasefire UNSC resolutions.

    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 with the inspections. 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 other words, the notion that the US mission with Iraq was simply regime change due to, as Fred said, “Tyrant Saddam was a must to go” misses critical pieces from the law and policy of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    See Public Law 102-1 (1991) and related President HW Bush policy speeches. The law and policy from the outset of the Iraq enforcement through OIF is clear: from 1990 onward, the US mission was to bring Iraq into compliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions.

    The preference was for Saddam to comply with the UN mandates of his own volition, but the requirement was Iraq’s compliance as mandated – with or without Saddam.

    Key: The OIF regime change was not the end goal, but rather the means to the end goal of bringing Iraq into compliance once Iraq failed to prove compliance in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441).

    The content of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions points to the problem of “Tyrant Saddam … he was a monster”. At the same time, the law and policy for the enforcement of the UNSCR 660-series resolutions set a procedural approach for dealing with the Saddam problem that was followed by the HW Bush, Clinton, and Bush administrations.

    President Bush didn’t reinvent the wheel. After a decade-plus, Bush came on for the coda of the Gulf War ceasefire enforcement and enforced the standing law and policy on Iraq by following precedent.

    The authority to deploy a nation’s military for an international enforcement is sovereign authority. So did the US ‘wait’ for our UK partner to establish the sovereign authority for OIF? That makes sense. The UK had to ‘wait’ for us to do the same.

    However, the notion that the primary reason for UNSCR 1441 and the UNMOVIC inspections was deference to PM Blair to establish UK sovereign authority for OIF ignores that the procedural approach with UNSCR 1441 and UNMOVIC to confirm Iraq’s noncompliance, ie, breach of ceasefire, was established by two administrations before President Bush came into office.

    As I said, due to the UNSC split over his Iraq enforcement, Clinton stated a policy alternative following Operation Desert Fox wherein indicators of proscribed activity by Iraq could trigger enforcement without an updated UN-based assessment of noncompliance via the established procedure. That option was available to Bush. But, while indicators of proscribed activity by Iraq compelled Bush to move from the ‘containment’ status quo, I haven’t seen that Bush’s first choice was ever the Clinton post-ODF policy alternative rather than to follow the established procedure to assess whether Iraq continued to breach the ceasefire.

  47. Ymarsakar Says:

    The sooner Bush II invaded Iraq and began the occupation, the sooner Saddam Hussein’s dragon’s teeth and Vietnam strategy would be accounted for and countered.

    Thus by waiting extra months and years for the UN Resolution due to Blair being on the team and stomping in the United States Congress even for support, national reconstruction and regime change were both endangered.

    The ceasefire was already broken by any number of pretexts, such as the capture of American pilots.

    One didn’t need a UN Resolution, another one, for invasion, because one didn’t need a UN Resolution to reconstruct the country. Didn’t need the State Department’s internal sabotage either. A military governoship and GHQ like MacArthur wouldn’t have solved the issue, and Petraeus later proved that that was exactly what it took.

    Vietnam, however, destroyed the Army’s ability to recall just exactly what happened and what worked, whose fault it was that it failed.

  48. Ymarsakar Says:

    A military governoship and GHQ like MacArthur wouldn’t have solved the issue

    Clarification, a military governorship wouldn’t have solved the issue if one were asking the opinion of internal traitors and State Department representatives. It took an administration cabinet level change for Crocker to show up, and several years of Diversity Casey managing things.

    There was heavy propaganda in 2006 about a “military solution” not working, thus favoring State Department’s solution of doing nothing but relying on Iraqis.

  49. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar,

    You just described President Clinton’s post-ODF policy alternative to the established procedure.

    From President Clinton report to Congress, May 19, 1999:

    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. We demonstrated our resolve in mid-December when forces in the region carried out Operation Desert Fox to degrade Iraq’s ability to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction and its ability to threaten its neighbors. We will continue to maintain a robust posture and have established a rapid reinforcement capability to supplement our forces in the Gulf, if needed.

    Notice that Clinton set the trigger to “respond” on indicator of proscribed activity as opposed to UN-based confirmation of breach.

    This Iraq Survey Group finding of “the reconstitution of [Iraq’s] WMD program” is an example of a triggering indicator:

    The successful implementation of the Protocols, continued oil smuggling efforts, and the manipulation of UN OFF [Oil for Food] contracts emboldened Saddam to pursue his military reconstitution efforts … 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.

    Nonetheless, President Bush stayed with the established procedure, so that the OIF enforcement was triggered by UN-based confirmation of breach, such as the UNMOVIC Cluster Document.

    Why did Bush stay with the established procedure despite Clinton’s groundwork for moving away from it?

    Keep in mind that the UN role in bringing Iraq into compliance with its international obligations didn’t end with the invasion. As I said upthread, even while the political controversy diverged from the actual Gulf War ceasefire enforcement, the official business of the UN with Iraq stayed on course with the Gulf War ceasefire “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” via UNSCR 1483 (2003) et al. IAEA and UNMOVIC continued their UNSCR 687-mandated work until 2007.

    It’s a fair question whether, from a practical standpoint, the benefit from keeping the UN closely involved throughout the Iraq intervention was worth the drawbacks.

  50. Da Tech Guy Blog » Blog Archive » Neo Neocon & Fred Hof tell an old Soviet Joke Says:

    […] couldn’t help but think of this when I saw this post from Neo Neo­con the Obama Strat­egy in Syria quot­ing Ambas­sador Fred […]

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