The Belmont Club's Wretchard, rummaging around on his hard drive, uncovered a 1998 article
, which is the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute and essential reading for those who closely follow military affairs (which I do not). The article discusses the 1998 Gulf crisis following Saddam's de facto expulsion of the United Nations' weapons inspectors. The clips from the article and Wretchard's commentary remind us that we were (have been?) in an almost constant military encounter with Saddam's government since 1991. The article also exposes the belief of a United States naval commander that France was helping Saddam track American U-2 flights long before George Bush began making everybody uncomfortable by insisting that Saddam actually comply with the terms of his cease fire. Wretchard:
The United States was being played like a fiddle, its huge fleet and aerial assets led in circles in the sham blockade that we now know was set up by 'friends' on the Security Council who were running a covert rearmament effort called the Oil-for-Food Programme. History may show that Oil-For-Food; the corrupt regime of UN inspections, the AQ Khan nuclear proliferation industry -- and much else -- were all of a piece. Future generations will be astonished, not at how terrible that September day in New York was, but at how lightly the US got off for the folly of the 1990s, escaping not so much through vigilance as sheer good fortune.