a “ten year anniversary”…

Posted on Saturday 26 January 2008

January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War.  In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat.  We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.  We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished.  Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.


Elliott Abrams   Richard L. Armitage    William J. Bennett
Jeffrey Bergner   John Bolton   Paula Dobriansky
Francis Fukuyama   Robert Kagan   Zalmay Khalilzad
William Kristol   Richard Perle   Peter W. Rodman
Donald Rumsfeld   William Schneider, Jr.   Vin Weber
Paul Wolfowitz   R. James Woolsey   Robert B. Zoellick

In their Statement of Principles [see yesterday’s post], the Project for the New American Century had struck a lofty tone about America’s duty to become something like the super-power that set the world straight – following Reagan’s principles of a strong military financed beyond our means while cutting taxes. The logic of this escapes us, but that was their watchword. But in this letter to President Clinton, they were much more specific. It seems like they’d picked Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as the place to flex this kind of muscle – a new American Dominion needed a premier. Iraq was the place.

Many of them had been involved in the First Gulf War, and had apparently been disappointed when George H.W. Bush, Reagan’s successor, didn’t push all the way to Bagdhad. So they are entreating President Clinton to complete the job. We know some other things about their plans from other sources. They thought that Clinton’s obsession with paying down Reagan’s massive escalation of the National Debt was misguided. They thought he was borrowing from Reagan’s Military build-up and headed in the wrong direction. Just because the Cold War was over was no reason to de-escalate our Military spending. They had other complaints. Clinton was focusing on the Arab Terrorist Organizations like Al Qaeda. The people at A.E.I. and P.N.A.C. were sure that these organizations were simply fronted by the Arab States – particularly Hussein’s Iraq. Clinton was on the wrong track. They were sure of it.

So, ten years ago today, they laid out their plans for the day they returned to power. There it is in black and white for anyone who still thinks that they invaded Iraq because of the Niger Yellow-cake Uranium [hoax], or the Hussein/Al Qaeda connection [a fantasy created by Douglas Feith], or anything to do with the 9/11 attack on New York. They planned to invade Iraq at least three years before they even got into the White House. Most of them had grown up in the Nixon era, and after a short sojourn with Carter’s Presidency, had returned to the Reagan/Bush Administrations. They were the heirs to the earlier anti-communist Hawks – though very few of them had any time in the Military, much less in any military campaign. They called themselves Neoconservatives. Many of them were involved with the Israeli government – the "eye for an eye," "take no prisoners," Israeli government.

Within a couple of years of this letter, they flooded into the White House and Defense Department as part of the Bush Administration – and quickly found a way to put their plan into action using trumped up, fallacious "intelligence." Now, it’s ten years later. Their "vision" has been a nightmare. Their "Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity" has resulted in the waste of billions of dollars, as corrupt and immoral an Administration as America has ever known, and we are, if anything, less secure than we were on the day they wrote this letter.

Today is an anniversary of a Day of Infamy, not unlike the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 attack. As an end product of this declaration, thousands of people have died. A piece of America has died. Our best principles – truth, justice, and a respect for other human beings – were betrayed. 

so few of them…
so much damage to our country…
so much damage to the rest of the world…

    January 26, 2008 | 8:26 AM

    Why are these people continually being called on for their opinions on the goings on of our country and the world as if they have any clue? When people like William Kristol who has been wrong about practically everything gets a job at the NYTimes, and William Bennett gets invited to comment on important issues of the day, reporters in the media are not doing their job. Someone has to get on the rooftop and say enough of these sick people and say go away or I’ll find a place to send you away where you can’t do anymore harm to anyone. I yearn for the day when bad people get caught, tried in court and sentenced to jail, not invited to give their opinion of a bad situation they helped create. It’s a shame that the people who lied us into war are still walking around and trying to get us into another war. The audacity of Bush to give Wolfie another job after all he has done and for Bush to make AG’s right hand man( the guy who helped write the memo about it was all right to torture prisoners) the investigator of those cases pretaining to torture. What do we have to do to stop this insanity. Bush still feels he’s right and everybody who doesn’t go along with his agenda is wrong.

    May 1, 2009 | 4:30 AM

    A lot of people are not aware about what is really going on. Most of them think that those people that are still walking among us but at the same time contributed to many aspects of firing up the war are basically innocent and there is nothing that can be done about it. If we all had the attitude that joyhollywood has then the world would definitely be a better place.

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