I'm truly surprised, and yet not surprised one bit, that the American mainstream media have largely ignored the Downing Street Secret Memo.
What Downing Street Secret Memo? you ask? The one written after British/US meetings long before the War on Iraq, that says this:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
This is the internal British government memo that blew up in the face of Tony Blair. It outlines how Bush had already decided to invade Iraq and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
Let's look at that again.
"The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
In other words, Bush and his cohorts "fixed" the facts to back up their policy intentions. In plain talk, they lied to us. But wait, there's more:
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
Ramp up before the elections, to make all the politicos look tough, but start the mess afterwards.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors.
What? "WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran"? So obviously WMD was not the real justification. Maybe regime change and the humanitarian cause was the real reason to invade. Oh, wait....
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: selfdefence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.
And yet we had people in this country voting for Bush because they thought Saddam was going to bomb West Virginia. How did they get that idea?
Now we have over 1600 American soldiers killed in Iraq. Over 12,000 have been wounded, some very seriously. Why? Not terrorism -- Iraq was a military dictatorship, not an al-Qaeda host. Not self defense -- with his old tanks and archaic short-range missiles, Saddam couldn't attack us if he wanted to. Not regime change -- there was "no legal base" for that.
We always knew that Bush and especially Cheney were hell-bent on getting revenge on Saddam as soon as they got into the White House. Their own staffers have admitted that. But here's a high-level government document that clearly states that Bush had already decided to go to war long before the weapons inspections were anywhere near completed.
Mark Danner has a fascinating analysis in the New York Review of Books: