Charles Duelfer

Charles Duelfer in the News & Media



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Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraqfrom Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on

Radio Interviews

7 Responses to

  1. Amarjit says:

    Yes, it’s real. Also, another shell desvocired May 2 has been proven to contain Mustard Gas.Then again, David Kay documented 41 specific violations of the WMD restrictions. The Left yawned.Four trucks designed for no other purpose than bioweapons research have been found buried in the sand. The Left smirked.A group of terrorists, at least two of which have admitted they were trained and supplied in Iraq for more than 2 years, attempted to use several tons of VX gas to kill more than 80,000 people. even though only Iraq (in the region) had the ability to make VX gas, or the motive to attack Jordan, the Left pretended it was meaningless.Liberal has come to mean Hypocrite, especially in an election year.

  2. Dale says:

    I read your latest, “Tehran’s hold on Iraq” and it sounded like one could just change the names and location to Washington, D.C. And you would have this White House and congress.

  3. Eric says:

    Mr. Duelfer,

    You state in “Canaries in the Cooling Tower” (National Interest, July/August 2009), “The Clinton administration conducted a feckless bombing exercise dubbed “Desert Fox” in response to UNSCOM’s assessment of inadequate cooperation by Iraq … and soon after, George W. Bush launched his infamous war.”

    From your practical standpoint on the ground with UNSCOM, I agree that the 1998 action would be reasonably viewed as “feckless”.

    However, from a policy standpoint at the presidential level, Operation Desert Fox (ODF) was not feckless at all. Operation Desert Fox cleared the penultimate enforcement step and set the baseline precedent for the ultimate enforcement step, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

    Read the December 16, 1998 announcement of ODF from a policy-making perspective. President Clinton pronounced, “Iraq has abused its final chance,” and enunciated a fully formed policy for Iraqi regime change justified by the threat from Saddam’s intransigent noncompliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions. While Clinton didn’t fulfill the regime-change policy with ODF, the ODF action completed the set of law, policy, and precedent developed by the President to set the stage for the coda of the US-led enforcement of the Gulf War ceasefire, Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441) under credible threat of regime change in 2002-2003.

    When the law and policy underlying OIF is compared to the law and policy underlying ODF, it’s apparent that President Bush’s case against Saddam was really President Clinton’s case against Saddam, updated from 9/11, and Bush’s enforcement procedure for Iraq carried forward Clinton’s enforcement procedure with Iraq, updated from ODF.

    Sir, I invite you to review my explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom and tell me what you think.

    Thank you for your service.

  4. Charles Duelfer says:


    Gees, you have really studied this stuff. I have not read your entire piece carefully, but it looks to be excellent. Perhaps you do make the point, but people also forget the context of the time when President Bush was making decisions about Iraq–just after 9-11 and we had been attacked and badly hit. The attitude, was not to take any risks about emerging dangers. Hindsight often leaves out some key factors…this is simply one.

    I happened to notice you made a point on VX. This is one of those points where the Iraqis got caught by their own pattern of lies. I believe that they did not weaponize VX in the sense of loading large amounts in many munitions. However, it may be that they did put some in one or more warheads and then emptied them (why I have no clue). This could account for some of the evidence(VX degradation products on warhead remnants) that suggested they had (again) lied. Not 100% sure on this, like many other parts of this puzzle. Thanks for you comments and very serious analysis. It is exactly the sort of questioning I hoped for in collecting and publishing so much in the report of the Iraq Survey Group (and at such great cost).

  5. Eric says:

    Mr. Duelfer,

    Thank you. I’ve looked forward to your response especially since my explanation leans on your work with ISG. My curiosity increased when I read your view of President Clinton since my explanation also leans heavily on Clinton’s Iraq enforcement.

    The influence of 9/11 is a main element of part 3 in my answer to why Bush left the ‘containment’ (status quo), addressing Saddam’s combined terrorism/WMD threat that had been warned by Clinton. In the next section, the Bush quote from his September 2002 speech at the UN refers to 9/11. Saddam’s terrorism is mentioned in a few other answers. In my answer to was OIF legal, I say, “By 2001, however, the ‘containment’ of Saddam was evidently failing, if it ever worked at all. Then the 9/11 attacks shifted the threat calculation for the practically uncontained Saddam with increased focus on Iraq’s violation of the terrorism mandates of UNSCR 687.”

    I appreciate the praise, “you have really studied this stuff” and “It is exactly the sort of questioning I hoped for”. At the same time, though, that strikes a sore point: my understanding should be commonplace, not impressive. The sources I cite are obvious and easily accessed for free on the internet. I deliberately hewed to basic primary sources, the major UNSCRs, presidential policy statements, US laws, and UN agency and US intel fact findings. While not free of my bias, I wanted to minimize speculation and ground my explanation in the bedrock law and policy of the mission.

    I found the primary sources provide a straightforward explanation. The discourse around the Iraq intervention should not be skewed like it is, rife with misconceptions that have warped our politics and policy decision-making. I wish I could do more to help set the record straight than an explanation on my blog. As you said, “at such a great cost” – the men and women who paid it deserve to have their mission understood correctly, at least.

  6. W. Scott Butcher says:

    Charlie – excellent April 1 2021 blog entry on Bill Burns. I too recall his father from his time in the Pol-Mil Bureau at State, and although never having worked with Bill know well of his reputation, which you have captured well.

    All the best,

    Scott Butcher

  7. Charles Duelfer says:


    Thank you for your thoughts, and reaching out. I have a book you gave me here someplace…. Burmese Tales. And of course all the experience of our days in PM are echoed in current Asia concerns. Hope you are well….

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