As a condition for ending the conflict, the United Nations imposed a number of requirements on Iraq, among them disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, stocks used to make such weapons, and laboratories necessary to do the work. Saddam Hussein agreed, and an inspection system was set up to ensure compliance. And though he repeatedly lied, delayed, and obstructed the inspections work, the inspectors found and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction capability than were destroyed in the Gulf War, including thousands of chemical weapons, large volumes of chemical and biological stocks, a number of missiles and warheads, a major lab equipped to produce anthrax and other bio-weapons, as well as substantial nuclear facilities.
In the case of Iraq, recent comments indicate that one or two Security Council members might never approve force against Saddam Hussein until he has actually used chemical, biological, or God forbid, nuclear weapons.
So, Mr. President, the question is how do we do our best to both defuse the real threat that Saddam Hussein poses to his people, to the region, including Israel, to the United States, to the world, and at the same time, work to maximize our international support and strengthen the United Nations?
While there is no perfect approach to this thorny dilemma, and while people of good faith and high intelligence can reach diametrically opposed conclusions, I believe the best course is to go to the UN for a strong resolution that scraps the 1998 restrictions on inspections and calls for complete, unlimited inspections with cooperation expected and demanded from Iraq. I know that the Administration wants more, including an explicit authorization to use force, but we may not be able to secure that now, perhaps even later. But if we get a clear requirement for unfettered inspections, I believe the authority to use force to enforce that mandate is inherent in the original 1991 UN resolution, as President Clinton recognized when he launched Operation Desert Fox in 1998.
The UN resolution referred to by Senator Clinton is 687, under which Iraq was to reaffirm unconditionally its full compliance with international treaties it had signed against the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and to submit existing stockpiles, subsystems, and components for removal and destruction under international supervision.
Senator Clinton's declaration mas made in the context of a speech given by President Bush on September 12, 2002, one year and one day after the worst terror attacks in history, before the United Nations General Assembly. President Bush sought just such a resolution for the "unfettered inspections" advocated by Senator Clinton, citing in particular Iraq's violations of U.N. Resolutions 686, 687(!), and 688, which were the terms for the cessation of hostilities in the first Gulf War. Then the President issued this challenge to the United Nations:
My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.
Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.
There could be no question that without Iraqi compliance with the aforementioned resolutions--particularly 687, cited by both President Bush and Senator Clinton--military consequences would follow.
On November 8, 2002, the U.N. responded with Resolution 1441, which cited the three resolutions discussed by President Bush, as well as eight others that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had violated:
The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990, 686 (1991) of 2 March 1991, 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991, 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, and 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999, and all the relevant statements of its President,
Recalling also its resolution 1382 (2001) of 29 November 2001 and its intention to implement it fully,
Recognizing the threat Iraqís non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security,
Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,
1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);
2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council;
3. Decides that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament obligations, in addition to submitting the required biannual declarations, the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material;
4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below;
11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;
12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;
13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;
14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
This is as uneqivocal a declaration as can be imagined. "Full compliance with all relevant Council resolutions" was required. "Any interference by Iraq" was to be reported "immediately to the Council." Senator Clinton's conditions for "unfettered inspections" had been met, and the authority to use force in Iraq that had existed since 1991 was in effect. According the January 27, 2003 report to the United Nations by Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, Dr. Hans Blix, Iraq was not in full compliance. The Blix Report has been questioned by no one; there is no specter of faulty intelligence to dispute it. The Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein had violated yet another U.N. resolution, squandering its "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and avoid the "serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations." The U.S. invasion of Iraq to enforce 1441, 687, and numerous other U.N. resolutions, was thereby fully and legally justified under international law.
Sidebar: Operation Desert Fox occurred after the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which called for regime change against the government of Saddam Hussein. President Bill Clinton said of the results of Operation Desert Fox, on July 27, 2003:
"When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know."
Around the blogoshpere on Democrat revisionism on Iraq:
When you watch this incredibly good RNC web video you might ask how on earth the Democrats ever thought they would get away with accusing the President of lying and misleading the country into the war in Iraq. I would answer that with the following...
2. They knew they had control of the MSM and that most reporters are too lazy to check previous statements of Democrats and their memories are too short to remember those statements, unless, of course, they would be harmful to Republicans. (Update: Some readers have argued that reporters are not so much lazy as agenda-driven. I think it is both, and would agree that agenda often is the overriding factor.)
No one believed then or since that any US action including Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 completely destroyed Saddam's WMD programs. So if the Democrats believed in those weapons back then, why are they claiming to have been fooled by Bush into believing in them in 2002 and 2003? Well, it's obviously politics at work--the leftwing base of the Democrat party has pulled even its national security hawks to the left, where conspiracy theories rule. And the biggest conspiracy theory that the left loves concerns the war, and how Bush LIED us into it.
So Google it. Prove for yourself that he didn't, and indeed couldn't have. Tell your wavering friends to Google Clinton Iraq 1998. If you have Bush-hating friends, make them do that search and then watch their world crumble around them.
We have a group of people in the Senate (both Republlicans and Dems) who went to prestigious schools and have led impressive careers. Each member ran a successful campaign in order to convince their peers that they were a good representative for their state (or somebody else's state in the case of Hillary Clinton). Therefore, it is hard to believe that these bright, intelligent people still don't understand the administration's policy in Iraq. It is impossible to imagine that these intellectuals need the Iraq policy explained to them. After all, Bush has explained to them time and time again that we are there until the Iraqi's can handle things themselves. What part of the President's speech when he said, "as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down" does the Senate not get?
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will host a blogger conference call later today to discuss the newly released GOP web video "Democrats: Dishonest on Iraq" (aka Bush Fights Back - Round 3).
The video offers a high-production value, nicely-scored montage of notable Democrats (Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, Sandy Berger, Nancy Pelosi, Jay Rockefeller, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Evan Bayh) in their erstwhile pre-war zeal for taking action against Saddam Hussein. It ends with a clip from Bush's speech from Tobyhanna last Friday - that long-awaited day when the President finally called out his critics on their brazen hypocrisy, fair-weather policymaking, and revisionist rhetoric.
Just watched a Time correspondent on FOX tell FOXNews' Bill Hemmer that this pushback by the President isn't working (quite the quick diagnosis, that) and isn't likely to work because-here's the irony-the President's problems aren't with the Democrats, but rather with the American people, who now believe that the mess in Iraq wasn't worth the effort in blood and treasure, and that the President misled us into that war.
This, I suspect, will the be the canned answer from the legacy media, who will now pretend to step back and look at the political situation dispassionately. But what was left unsaid was precisely how and why the "American people" now believe such things-none of which are true.