Fools Rush In

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Bush Administration, Iraq War

The Brits are mourning the loss of 100 soldiers in Iraq, and this story by Richard Norton-Taylor in today’s Guardian probably isn’t much comfort:

Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was “solidly” behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion’s legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today.

A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 – nearly two months before the invasion – reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

This disclosure comes from Phillipe Sands, a QC (Queen’s Counsel; a barrister appointed as counsel to the Queen) and professor of international law at University College, London. Last year Professor Sands exposed doubts of Foreign Office lawyers about the legality of the invasion. These disclosures forced Blair to publish the full legal advice given to him by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. Norton-Taylor continues,

Downing Street did not deny the existence of the memo last night, but said: “The prime minister only committed UK forces to Iraq after securing the approval of the House of Commons in a vote on March 18, 2003.”

According to Professor Sands, the memo reveals:

· Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so worried about the failure to find hard evidence against Saddam that it thought of “flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours”. Mr Bush added: “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach [of UN resolutions]”.

Isn’t that entrapment?

· Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector would be extracted from Iraq and give a “public presentation about Saddam’s WMD”. He is also said to have referred Mr Blair to a “small possibility” that Saddam would be “assassinated”.

· Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN resolution would be an “insurance policy”, providing “international cover, including with the Arabs” if anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq.

You’ll like this part:

· Mr Bush told the prime minister that he “thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups“. Mr Blair did not demur, according to the book.

It’s clear to me that the Bushies came into office with a burning desire to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. And out of that burning desire came the various and ever-shifting rationales offered by the Bushies about why this was necessary. But these were always the excuses, not the reason. The reason was never eliminating weapons of mass destruction; otherwise, word coming from the weapons inspectors that they weren’t finding any would have at least suggested to the Bushies that perhaps the invasion wasn’t necessary. Instead, Bush was eager to entrap Saddam Hussein so that there was a backup excuse in case the WMD thing didn’t pan out.

And it was never about fighting terrorism, or they wouldn’t have passed on three opportunities to take out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before the invasion. NBC News’s Jim Miklaszewski reported in March 2004:

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

In other words, the Bushies needed Zarqawi to be in Iraq, even though he was operating in an area not controlled by Saddam Hussein, because they needed reasons to get Saddam Hussein. (See also Daniel Benjamin in Slate.)

And it’s hard to believe Bush ordered the invasion with serious aspirations of nation building when he and his “advisers” prior to the invasion hadn’t bothered to make any plans for nation building. The “ending tyranny in our world” stuff has all the earmarks of a post-hoc excuse. They’re making it up as they go along.

Certainly, the hard core Neocons for years believed in the fairy tale that taking out Saddam Hussein would, by itself, trigger a domino effect that would spread democracy and American hegemony all around the Middle East. I don’t call these people “over-educated twits” for nothing. And a lot of these twits advised Bush to go ahead and invade on any excuse he could patch together, I’m sure.

I don’t think oil was a primary consideration for most of the Neocons, but to many — like Dick the Dick — I’m sure it made the prospect of invasion a lot more interesting. And all those mega-GOP campaign contributors in the defense industry certainly added to the interest. The Bushies may not have made plans for nation building, but they were johnny-on-the-spot about handing out those no-bid contracts.

In 2002, Karl Rove realized that the drumbeat to war could easily drown out the Democratic mid-term campaigns, but I think this reason was a by-product, an added benefit, not the Real Reason. I wrote about other added benefits in March 2003:

The Cakewalk War was supposed to be the magic bullet that would solve all of Shrub’s problems. First, the war would stimulate the economy. Second, all that news coverage of joyous Iraqis dancing in the streets and thanking their American liberators would put Shrub’s approval numbers right up to where they were after September 11! Win-win!

In other words, the Iraq War must have seemed a better and better idea to the Bushies, the more they thought about it. Niggling little details like a lack of WMDs or no solid connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were brushed aside. Oh, and the pain and death of war? What’s that?

But the Real Reason, the ultimate reason, that George W. Bush came into office burning to invade Iraq was, I think, revealed in the hours after the Marines entered Baghdad. What did they do? Did they immediately occupy government buildings known to have contained records about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs? Of course not. Instead, they were ordered to the Rashid Hotel to tear up the floor mosaic portrait of Poppy, George H.W. Bush, placed there as an insult to the 41st President.

For the Boy King, it was about besting his old man and settling a score. All the other reasons were just props. He may have persuaded himself that invading Iraq was the right thing to do, but without the score to settle Iraq wouldn’t have gotten his attention to begin with.

In other Fools News, Murray Waas writes in National Journal,

Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger, according to government records and interviews with current and former officials. …

… Despite the CIA’s findings, Libby attempted to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been sent on a CIA-sponsored mission to Niger the previous year to investigate the claims, which he concluded were baseless.

(Digby: “I guess that blows ole patriotic whistleblower Karl Rove’s excuse out of the water, too. Remember how all the wingnuts said he was just warning the press off a bad story when he spoke to Matt Cooper?”)

Eriposte at The Left Coaster
provides detailed background and analysis to the Waas article. The one aspect of this that stands out for me is the extent to which Dick the Dick and Scooter would go to ensure compliance with their beliefs and plans. Whether the uranium story was true or not doesn’t seem to have worried them.

Update:
See more links to news stories about the January 2003 memo at After Downing Street.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Anonymous  •  Feb 3, 2006 @11:51 am

    making it up as they go along– the entire republican/bushco motto.

    There a british journalist on npr claiming that the brits had binladen in their sites and called for permission to fire and wer told not to as ‘this( afghan war) is an american operation’. I can believe it.
    the war was inevitable- you could see it comingyears before- this is not ‘hindsight’ it was foresight and it was plain even before 9/11.

  2. erinyes  •  Feb 3, 2006 @12:49 pm

    So the foreign policy genius didn’t think there would be war between the ethnic factions after the invasion? That’s like not expecting a boom after lighting a firecracker.
    Stupid is as stupid does…….
    Kirkuk is now exploding with violence, the various factions wanting to control the oil rich area.

  3. Steve Nichols  •  Feb 3, 2006 @12:56 pm

    I watched “Fahrenheit 9/11” for the second time last night.

    While I missed some of it, it reminded me of some of the stuff that we forget over time.

    The invasion of Iraq was illegal and these folks should be on the dock for it.

  4. xpara  •  Feb 3, 2006 @6:24 pm

    Why were we in Vietnam? I still wonder. Why are we in Iraq? Oil, sure. Israel and the apocalypse? Maybe some. Upstaging daddy? Yeah, probably. The major reason? Votes.

    Appalling as it may seem, we are afflicted with masters able to put politics so far above principal that they are willing to betray their oaths of office and their very nation by waging an invented war with other people’s kids to burnish the slacker-in-chief’s image.

    Remember that Rove had to overcome a lot to continue the con that Georgie is some kind of man. Shrub sports cowboy boots, but is afraid of horses. He’s all hat and no cattle. He ducked his generation’s war with Poppy’s help while joining in the denunciations of those willing to publicly put themselves in opposition to our debacle in Southeast Asia. Even with his cushy billet safe in the Champagne Unit, he unilaterally quit flying when his boozing made it too dangerous. Or maybe politics seemed like more fun. Anyhow, he had the family clout to get away with it without so much as an Article 15 much less a court martial for desertion.

    As president, thanks to a Supreme Court decision that can charitably be described as corrupt, he was slacking off on vacation when he should have been calling out the cavalry, judging by the smoke signals that most everybody else seemed to see coming from al Qaeda. And when 9/11 happened, he sat in a funk, looking like a delusional derelict plopped helplessly down in a puddle of his own pee, for almost a quarter hour before summoning the courage to flee to a bunker in Nebraska.

    Silver Star or Yellow Streak? That was our choice in 2004, if we were bright enough to see it. Thanks to lies, spin, and propaganda, we were not.

    Did we go to Iraq as part of Rove’s plan to finally win an election for his master? They certainly used the props, including the aircraft carrier landing, to make it seem so. So were we conned into sacrificing our blood (2,500 soldiers dead and 15,000 wounded not to mention that tens of thousands of Iraqis) and treasure ($450 billion and counting) to rehabilitate the coward? I think it all too likely, given this crew’s disdain for our nation’s traditions and welfare. Duty, honor, country. Can anyone still be delusional enough to think that Bush and Cheney and the rest of whole sick crew have ever taken those words seriously?

    No blood for oil? How about no blood for votes.

    Support our troops and support our nation. Impeach the yellow lying bastards and bring them home now.

  5. maha  •  Feb 3, 2006 @7:23 pm

    Remember that Rove had to overcome a lot to continue the con that Georgie is some kind of man.

    You’re saying that in January 2001 Karl Rove was already planning an invasion of Iraq just to get votes for congressional and senatorial candidates in 2002? That’s a stretch even for Karl. Sure the Bushies used saber rattling to screw the Dems in 2002, but they were already burning with desire to invade Iraq all through the 1990s.

  6. emel  •  Feb 4, 2006 @10:47 am

    maha george himself in the 21999 interview talked about war to bolster a president( and party) ratings. it was all politics and timed just so. there is no question

  7. maha  •  Feb 4, 2006 @10:58 am

    maha george himself in the 21999 interview talked about war to bolster a president( and party) ratings. it was all politics and timed just so. there is no question

    If you read the post above all the way through, you’ll see I did talk about the election thing. I’m not saying that wasn’t part of the calculation. Certainly, it was, and a big one. But I’m saying that wasn’t the ur-reason, the primordial reason, the bedrock reason, the reason from which all other reasons sprang. Baiting Democrats was more of an add-on reason, like oil.

  8. xpara  •  Feb 4, 2006 @3:10 pm

    “You’re saying that in January 2001 Karl Rove was already planning an invasion of Iraq just to get votes for congressional and senatorial candidates in 2002?” –Maha

    Sure, these malignant incompetents have dreamed of owning Baghdad since at least Gulf War I. And, yes, it was the first thing on their agenda after Rehnquist (at the suggestion of his former clerk Roberts?) and Scalia broke all their own vows of states’ rights and oiled the Shrub into office. But I still maintain that they “fixed” the facts and plunged us into a illegal, immoral, unprovoked, and disastrous war (with Afghanistan less than half done) primarily to insure AWOL George’s re-election as a “WAR PRESIDENT.”

    No, I don’t think Rove thought it up on Jan. 21, 2001. I do think it occurred to the lead Mayberry Machiavelli shortly after 9/11 showed the utter fecklessness and wide yellow streak of his mentally lazy client. We had a president obviously guilty of the grossest negligence in not taking any action during eight months in office to detect or deter the attacks that had been telegraphed again and again. Compounding this was his inability to rise to the occasion. How do you cover up the commander in chief hightailing it for the interior when the coasts are under attack? Well, you plump him down in the crater and give him a bullhorn. Then dress him in a uniform and give him more flags to wave. The man is an utter embarrassment. He brings shame to our country, nay the human race. He and his crew have no scruples about money, power, or truth.

    Now other American politicians have continued wars to guard their re-election odds. LBJ comes to mind. And, you could even argue, that he not only continued a war begun by JFK but escalated it into the disaster it became. You could also argue that LBJ had his regrets, crushing regrets. He was destroyed by his war, politically, historically, and personally.

    Can you imagine Bush feeling regrets, much less admitting them?
    But what other president (with the possible exception of Polk and the Mexican War) started one from scratch? At least Polk’s war had the excuse of defending American citizens (well, I said it was an excuse) in their manifest seizure of more or less contiguous territory.

    The Spanish-American War? McKinley, who had been a Union sergeant in such bloodbaths as Antietam, resisted bravely until overcome by the war hawks (and mainstream media) of his day. And we had the excuse of the U.S.S. Maine (which of course possibly, maybe probably, blew itself up with a coal bunker fire next to a powder magazine).

    I think history will show that the Iraq disaster was motivated as much by partisan political motives as anything else. I think you can arrive at this by a process of elimination, Each and every reason that they gave for going to war has been proved false, from WMDs to spreading democracy. What’s left besides oil, spite, petty revenge, Oedipal rage, and Neo-con concern for Israel? Are any or all of these reason enough for this war without the trump card of politics? I think not.

    I also think that Bush and his crew will go down as not only the worst administration ever, but as the most morally despicable in our fragile democracy’s not negligible history. But, as Bush cheerfully notes, by then he’ll be dead. I think it would be good for the national weal if he spent some years in prison first. It would certainly be good for my morale.

    But, first things first: Impeach now. Imprison later.

  9. maha  •  Feb 4, 2006 @4:54 pm

    Sure, these malignant incompetents have dreamed of owning Baghdad since at least Gulf War I. And, yes, it was the first thing on their agenda after Rehnquist (at the suggestion of his former clerk Roberts?) and Scalia broke all their own vows of states’ rights and oiled the Shrub into office. But I still maintain that they “fixed” the facts and plunged us into a illegal, immoral, unprovoked, and disastrous war (with Afghanistan less than half done) primarily to insure AWOL George’s re-election as a “WAR PRESIDENT.”

    Some day (dare I hope?) people will actually read my entire posts before they comment on them. I realize I go on at length sometimes, and maybe wading through all the verbiage is a daunting task. I appreciate that. But if you can’t read the entire post, please don’t comment on the post, OK?

    Now, what you’ve said in the paragraph above is pretty much the same stuff I wrote in the post. In fact, I have been going on and on and on at length on this very topic since I started the bleeping blog in 2002. And I know full well that Cheney, Rummy et al. have been itching for a do-over of the Gulf War since, well, the Gulf War. Anyone paying attention knows this.

    What I’m saying is that OF COURSE manipulating elections was a big part of why the Bushies were determined to invade Iraq. That is obvious.

    However, it is not the ur-reason they wanted to invade Iraq.

    IMO it makes absolutely no sense to think that the Bushie team longed to refight the Gulf War all these year PRIMARILY to manipulate elections. That’s not what motivates Cheney, who I believe was the chief instigator. Judging by his behavior Cheney is barely interested in election campaign politics. Cheney is all about power.

    My theory is that what motivates Cheney and Bush, ultimately, is locked up in their seriously twisted psyches. Cheney and Bush are psychologically diseased, and you will always go wrong if you try to find some inner logic in what they do.

    Cheney is delusional and Bush is a walking soup of syndromes, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Everything that motivates these two comes out of their diseases.

    Once the desire to invade had gripped them, and the more they thought about it, the better the idea seemed, I’m sure, for the reasons I wrote in the post. Oil was a factor, and politics was a factor, but bedrock reason is something beyond reason.

  10. proudliberal  •  Feb 5, 2006 @8:11 am

    This summary of the true motives for the invasion of Iraq is absolutely right on target. It is clear that the primary motives had nothing to do with protecting the American people. They were multiple and personal. Don’t forget the close ties of the Bush family with the Saudi Royal family. The Saudi’s were afraid of Sadam especially after his invasion of Kuwait. The points made about war bolstering the president’s popularity are so true as are the comments about the interest in invading Iraq long before 911. Georgie Boy surrounded himself with war hawks from the beginning. They were just looking for an opportunity. That was 911. This article also points to one major area of this whole debacle that Karl rove and the conservative right can’t control. That is the international press, in particular the British press. This will be thier downfall

  11. xpara  •  Feb 5, 2006 @11:55 am

    “Some day (dare I hope?) people will actually read my entire posts before they comment on them. I realize I go on at length sometimes, and maybe wading through all the verbiage is a daunting task. I appreciate that. But if you can’t read the entire post, please don’t comment on the post, OK?” -Maha

    That hurt. Of course I read through the whole thing. And I do indeed appreciate the symbolic importance of the destruction of Poppy’s portrait. Who better than the son and heir to rescue the helpless old fart from the insulting tread of brown people’s shoes.

    We are in agreement on everything but emphasis. You would give this murderous gang the out of an insanity defense. Or at least ameliorate their guilt. I, on the other hand, would say it is worse than that. You can forgive a mad dog. How do you forgive calculating monsters? You are too charitable to these slugs. They bear a moral responsibility for crimes beyond reckoning, not the least of which is subverting the American compact that has held this nation together and survived a great Civil War by the skin of our collective teeth.

    That said, I admire your posts immensely. Please keep them coming.

  12. QnvXYdezOU  •  Feb 24, 2006 @11:03 am

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