Read the whole thing at the link. It really shows that Pres Bush did not want war nor did he ignore the post-Saddam era. He wanted to give Saddam a way out but he also had a deadline for action. Pres Bush was tired of waiting on the politicians in the UN to finish wringing their hands. But even with that, in the end, he went back to the UN to get his SECOND recommendation that Saddam must comply or face consequences. This makes it perfectly clear Pres Bush did all he could to avert war..... and that the Arab nations along with many other nations also wanted to get rid of Saddam. This is by far NOT Pres Bush's war. This is Earth's war on terror, dictators and those seeking WMD to the detriment of their neighbors (hint Iran).
Juan Cole is calling for the impeachment of George Bush over the transcript of a private conversation the President had with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar in 2003. But startlingly enough, it could be the exoneration of Bush. PJM’s senior editor Jose Guardia translates the memo in its entirety from Spanish and comments.
Much is being made of the scoop by Madrid’s daily El País of the - until now top secret- transcript of a conversation between Bush and Spain’s former PM Jose Maria Aznar during their meeting in Crawford in March 2003 as the Iraq war was about to start. Editor & Publisher has a machine translation, which is quite atrocious. If you can read Spanish, the full text is here.
Several areas of interest emerge in this memo, but perhaps the most interesting is this part concerning negotiations being conducted with Saddam. Bush told Aznar:
“The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It seems he has hinted he’d be willing to leave if he’s allowed to take 1 billion dollars and all the information on WMDs.”
All the information on WMDs? What would that imply to Bush and to Aznar? And this was coming from Egyptian Intelligence in direct communication with Saddam. Wouldn’t the normal person assume from that that Saddam had WMDs or at the very least was seriously engaged in creating them? Why would he wish to preserve this information if he didn’t have any forbidden weapons programs is something that war critics should reconcile. I guess all the people who are trumpeting this leak will now stop saying that Bush lied and mislead us on the WMD issue. Can’t have it both ways. But I won’t hold my breath.The part being ballyhooed by them is that Bush was planning to go into Iraq under any conditions.
But even that is wrong. What the transcript doesn’t say in accurate translation, no matter the headlines, is that Bush was going to invade even if Saddam complied. What it says is that the US would be in Iraq in mid-March whether there was a second UN resolution or not, one that Bush said he would try to get by all means, which is an entirely different matter. As everybody knows, there’s certainly a debate on whether the first resolution was enough or not - many reputable experts think it was, though there’s not unanimity on this, certainly. But the issue is different.
Here’s the relevant section (by Pres Bush):Saddam won’t change and will keep playing games. The moment of getting rid of him has arrived. That’s it. As for me, from now on I’ll try to use the softest rhetoric I can, while we look for the resolution to be approved. If some country vetoes [the resolution] we’ll go in. Saddam is not disarming. We must catch him right now. We have shown an incredible amount of patience until now. We have two weeks. In two weeks our military will be ready. I think we’ll achieve a second resolution. In the Security Council we have three African countries [Cameroon, Angola, Guinea], the Chileans, the Mexicans. I’ll talk with all of them, also with Putin, naturally. We’ll be in Baghdad at the end of March. There’s a 15% chance that by then Saddam is dead or has flown. But these possibilities won’t exist until we have shown our resolution. The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It seems he has hinted he’d be willing to leave if he’s allowed to take 1 billion dollars and all the information on WMDs. Ghadaffi told Berlusconi that Saddam wants to leave. Mubarak tells us that in these circumstances there are big chances that he’ll get killed.
We would like to act with the mandate of the UN. If we act militarily, we’ll do with great precision and focalizing our targets to the biggest degree possible. We’ll decimate the loyal troops and the regular army will quickly know what it’s all about. … We are developing a very strong aid package. We can win without destruction. We are working already in the post-Saddam Iraq, and I think there’s a basis for a better future. Iraq has a good bureaucracy and a relatively strong civil society. It could be organized as a federation. Meanwhile we’re doing all we can to fulfill the political needs of our friends and allies.
If anything, the transcript proves precisely the opposing point that critics want to make. The conversation shows both Bush and Aznar trying to avoid war as much a possible; that they were concerned of its human toll and that they were quite confident that they would obtain a second resolution. It was the threat that they would act if there wasn’t a second resolution that made them quite confident that there would be one.