The New York Times leads with Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says, which details a 5-page British memo recounting a January 2003 Oval office meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.
LONDON – In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush’s public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.Saddam did not disarm (or even marginally prove he hadn’t disarmed) and got war. Saddam didn’t believe the U.S. would attack, and had been assured by his Russian and European allies that the U.S. wouldn’t attack, so he thumbed his nose at inspections. It was an egomaniacal and misguided calculation on his part.
You’ve got to get a bit into the article, but The Times is smart enough to note that where there’s smoke there’s not necessarily fire.
Since then, The New York Times has reviewed the five-page memo in its entirety. While the president’s sentiments about invading Iraq were known at the time, the previously unreported material offers an unfiltered view of two leaders on the brink of war, yet supremely confident.
The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
Those proposals were first reported last month in the British press, but the memo does not make clear whether they reflected Mr. Bush’s extemporaneous suggestions, or were elements of the government’s plan.
But even The Times admission that there’s no there there hasn’t stopped the the Downing Street gang from going all breathless again…
See the moonbats howl at Technorati