Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Another important leak: Saddam 'ready to walk away for $1bn'

Revealed: Saddam 'ready to walk away for $1bn': Better late than never, the leak of a transcript of an eve-of-war conversation between Bush and Spain's Aznar.

It helps to confirm what was obvious at the time: there were no weapons of mass destruction, and Bush knew that as well as anybody; diplomacy [from the point of view of the US] at the UN was a farce that was designed to provide a figleaf; the decision to go to war had already been taken for undisclosed reasons and would not be reversed even if Saddam went into exile or was killed or if there were found to be no WMDs.

In other words, it was a war of aggression based on lies, the 'Supreme Crime' of aggressive war.

However it is worth emphasizing what an immense diplomatic and geopolitical defeat the US and its allies Spain, the UK and Australia suffered at the UN over the Iraq war. It was Blair and Powell's idea to bully the UN into sanctioning the aggression (Cheney wanted to ignore the UN altogether), but they were completely outfoxed by France, Germany and Russia.

Instead of gaining international sanction for their war, the effect of the UN manoeuvres was to expose and discredit the US as a criminal aggressor before a global audience. The war was thus lost before it even started.

The UN could not stop the war anymore than the League of Nations could stop Hitler invading Poland but it performed sterling service in advising the public of what was happening.

It was February 2003 at Mr Bush's Crawford Texas ranch, less than a month before the invasion. Almost 150,000 US troops and their British allies were sitting in the Kuwaiti desert. The troops were well within range of any weapons of mass destruction, military analysts have pointed out.

US administration officials had already prepared public opinion for war by raising fears of Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme and his ability to create "mushroom clouds." But the transcript reveals the two leaders were more concerned about getting a fig leaf of international approval for the war, than any imminent threat from Saddam.

The transcript revolves around Washington's frustrations at failing to get UN Security Council approval for war – the now-famous second resolution.

At the time, both Tony Blair and President Bush were officially open to a diplomatic resolution of the Iraq crisis – including a negotiated exile of Saddam - but the Spanish Ambassador's notes reveal peace was never really an option.

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