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Times: Iraq war "was inevitable"
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm not sure that this story...
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... quite as damning as some seem to think. Now, clearly, the President would have had a set of requirements that had to be met to avoid war. Generally, this was expressed as "if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force", where "disarm" = "complete transparency and cooperation with inspectors leading to proof of the absence of WMDs".

As far as I can tell, it seems like Saddam thought the apparent absence of WMDs would be enough to avoid war. Meanwhile, Bush seems to have been more interested in process. It was clear that Saddam was failing on that front. What's more, in 2002 Bush had explicitly and publicly laid out procedural and substantive requirements to avoid war. In front of the United Nations, he said that, if "the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will"....
...immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

...immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it...

...cease persecution of its civilian population...

...release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

...immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program.

Days before the war began, Bush made his position — derived, no doubt, from Saddam's failure on the aforementioned fronts — more explicit, saying that Iraq "will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power".

Weeks before the war, when the conversations described in the New York Times story occurred, the President knew full well that Iraq had not — and was not about to — comply with the previously stated demands.

There's nothing at all contradictory about being simultaneously "certain that war was inevitable" and interested in avoiding war. Whether the metrics he laid out in front of the United Nations were a good idea is a separate question, but they were laid out publicly. It's disingenuous to pretend now that the Presidents Jan 2003 belief that war was "inevitable" was somehow inconsistent with an interest in avoiding war.

The metric were clear and Iraq had clearly failed to meet those metrics. This is not news.


Captain Ed weighs in with a similar argument, writing that, by the time of the meeting, Iraq's intransigence had already been reported. Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics also writes...
A more benign - and some would say fair - view of the meeting would be to say that by late January, 2003 President Bush had lost almost all hope that Saddam would comply with the demands... [...] In fact, President Bush had every reason to be pessimistic. As I've written about before, by late January 2003, Iraq had already submitted a WMD declaration which many experts found dubious, and only four days prior to the meeting Van Natta writes about Hans Blix had gone before the UN Security Council and declared that "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace."
In fact, in Hans Blix' UN Report of January 27 — just days prior to the meeting in question — he explicitly said that, while Iraq was generally cooperating on the inspection process, they were not cooperating on substance. ["It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of “catch as catch can”."]

At Mahablog, Barbara O'Brien tries to argue that "it was far from the truth to say that Iraqis “would not cooperate”" by pointing to Blix' testimony that Iraq has "on the whole cooperated rather well so far [in this field]". But "this field" was "process", and — as she does not see fit to bring up — Blix went on to report that Iraq's 12,000 page declaration "does not seem to contain any new evidence that would eliminate the questions or reduce their number"; that Iraq's own documents indicated a "discrepancy of 6,500 bombs", for which Iraq was not accounting; that Iraq had deliberately tried to hide another discrepancy relating to anthrax; that Iraq has provided "no technical information" on one missile program and that other missile program activities "circumvented the restrictions imposed by various resolutions".

I could go on to list the interference Blix described on documents and interviews, but you get the idea. It was quite apparent by the time of the January 31st meeting that Iraq was not meeting the metrics laid out by the administration — or, indeed, by the UN.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Personally - I believe this story was released to support Helen Thomas’ questioning of Bush last week. I absolutely loathe the media for putting out non-stories as a defense for their crap reporting.
Written By: Monica
URL: http://
January 27, 2003 — Hans Blix reports to UN Security Council —

"Iraq has on the whole cooperated rather well so far with UNMOVIC in this field. The most important point to make is that access has been provided to all sites we have wanted to inspect and with one exception it has been prompt. We have further had great help in building up the infrastructure of our office in Baghdad and the field office in Mosul. Arrangements and services for our plane and our helicopters have been good. The environment has been workable."

Blix reported some problems, as you say. However, UNMOVIC’s capability was "still growing." At this time the inspectors had been back in Iraq for only two months. Blix thought his mission could be successful. Of course, we’ll never know.

Regarding Iraqi transparency — by now it’s plain that the government of Iraq was a shambles, with some parts of it (like weapons scientists) hiding information from other parts (like Saddam). Complete transparency wasn’t possible, WMDs or no. You might as well have asked spinach to tap dance.
Written By: maha
URL: http://
Agreed. The left believes that Bush intended to go to war all along, in spite of the facts on the ground. The right tends to believe he intended to go, because of them.

What is striking about the memo is that Bush supposedly proposed painting a U2 with UN colors and sending it over Iraq in an attempt to provoke some kind of response on Saddam’s part in order to justify the war declaration. So why would he do that?

I think I know the answer. Oh, and along the same lines, why does Bush continue to say that Saddam kicked the inspectors out? Ever see a news story where Saddam said that?
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Blix reported some problems, as you say. However, UNMOVIC’s capability was "still growing."
The problems — and his gripes — were not with UNMOVIC, but with Iraq. It was rather clear that they were continuing to play games.

I’m sure that a longer inspection would have revealed some greater degree of information, but it’s far from clear that it would have produced greater cooperation.

In any event, the issue under discussion was the Jan 31st understanding of Bush and Blair, and that understanding would have clearly been that Iraq was not in compliance with the UN’s or Bush’s established metrics, nor did they appear likely to suddenly become so.

Argue that the metrics were wrong all you like. I may even agree with you. But Bush was quite clear on his metrics and this story is merely evidence that Bush meant what he said to the UN and followed through.
Written By: Jon Henke
I think I know the answer. Oh, and along the same lines, why does Bush continue to say that Saddam kicked the inspectors out? Ever see a news story where Saddam said that?

Well after the fireworks in the desert during Desert Fox I believe the inspectors left...they left or were thrown out, the fact is MK that they weren’t THERE and hadn’t certified the completion of their mission well prior to OIF.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Regarding Iraqi transparency — by now it’s plain that the government of Iraq was a shambles, with some parts of it (like weapons scientists) hiding information from other parts (like Saddam). Complete transparency wasn’t possible, WMDs or no. You might as well have asked spinach to tap dance.
Decisions to go to war aren’t made on what is available or obvious now. They’re made on what is available or seemingly obvious at the time. And, as Jon points out, what was available at the time said that while Saddam and Iraq were cooperating with the process (to a point), they weren’t at all cooperating with answering the fundamental and outstanding questions, such as "what happened to those 6,500 bombs"? It was answers to those questions which would determine whether force was used or not.

What seemed obvious then was they wouldn’t answer those questions even when threatened. Given that sort of intransigence, certain assumptions were made. Given Iraq’s past, its refusal to answer the questions, the shared intelligence about its capabilities and the secretive nature of its government, those assumptions appeared to be valid.

The fact that we know now that those assumptions weren’t valid has no relevance at all to reasoning used to make the decision to go to war then. The Times argument is simply an exercise is post hoc reasoning.
Written By: McQ
Yeah - this is all true man. I mean, even though Bush and Co. weren’t exactly "right" with their reasons for going to war, it doesn’t mean that they were being deceitful - or that they were interested only in war, If Saddam had satisfied all the demands (whatever those were) I’m sure that Bush would have backed off.

I mean really - the US Military, and the US government rarely release information that is designed to deceive. However, al-Qaeda’s top notch Public Relations department that Rumsy told us about recently - they’re doin a hell of a job with their own propaganda. Does anybody know if they have offices on Madison Avenue yet?

For example - check out the work of art in this story:


Man, that government minister is obviously on the Qaeda PR firm’s payroll. Look at the poor US Military, thank God they’re telling us the truth:
The U.S. military’s account of Sunday evening’s incident said Iraqi special forces with U.S. advisers killed 16 "insurgents", arrested 15 people and freed an Iraqi hostage. The military denied entering any mosque.
Good thing we have the US military there to set things straight for us eh? Like in this story - where they let us in on the truth, by letting us know that the troops didn’t enter the mosque, but entered a building next door to the mosque - where they killed some of those "insurgents".
Members of the US special forces were said to be present "in an advisory capacity". The fighting took place in an office adjacent to the mosque, and the US military insisted no religious site was entered or damaged.
However, the Qaeda PR Agency is good - like check out this BBC news clip. They somehow managed to get an Iraqi firefighter onto their payroll, even though he had just shown up at the scene. Really, we’ve got to get some of these raghead pr guys to come and teach at our universities. You’ve got to admit, they’re good.


Everywhere you turn these days - it’s like those raghead’s are takin over the newswires. It’s like that Reuters report that came out a couple of weeks ago that was accusing the good American boys of killing a family of eleven.

Then, they somehow manage to get pictures of eleven dead people, even though the good US Military spokesmen keep tellin us that it was only four people who died, two men, and a woman and child. I must have been the neighbours that offed the rest of the family, just so they could take these pictures:

Good thing that barely any of the mainstream media was sucked into covering this story. Always watchin out for our best interest those left wing pinkos at Fox and USA Today.

Man, like I said before, this is the best f*ckin site on the net. Keep it up - you guys are a bunch of f*ckin heroes!!!!!!
Written By: Neil
URL: http://
Neil, if you are going to comment here, please refrain from racist language like raghead.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Oh my goodness Chris! You’re right - I’m sorry. I mean sometimes I slip, you know. It’s just difficult for me - I’m not perfect you know. I haven’t quite yet been able to bring myself to the level of the people of this site who show such respect for the people who’s nations the US is occupy...., oh sorry I mean liberating. Someday I will successfully learn how to quell my racist tendencies - perhaps I’ll be able to do it by learning from US foreign policy which has become racism-free. God Bless The US of A.
Written By: Neil
URL: http://
Neil -

You’re debate thru sarcasm technique is failing miserably.
Written By: Monica
URL: http://
Oh - is somebody debating me Monica? Unfortunately I’m having difficulty finding those particular comments. I’ll keep looking.
Written By: Neil
URL: http://
well, what have you actually argued? You havent actually voiced an issue with any part of the main post. All you’ve done is pointed out instances of conflicting reports, and suggested we are all racists.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Weeks before the war, when the conversations described in the New York Times story occurred, the President knew full well that Iraq had not — and was not about to — comply with the previously stated demands.
I think this is a good point.

Question. Who’s "demands" were they?
Answer. Bush’s.

Had the UN actually made these demands they would have had more bearing. It wasn’t only Iraq that Bush was angry with, it was also the UN Security Council for not rubber-stamping his invasion plans. And why should they whilst the inspectors were still in there and not finding anything significant?

Also, would ANY nation comply with the humiliating demands posited by Bush. Disarm and show the world how week you are and will jump when the US says so. They were like the present demands on Iran, unrealistic and in any case impossible. i.e. prove you ’don’t’ have weapons of mass destruction / prove that you aren’t going to make nuclear weapons.
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://

It is always amusing to see someone beat themselves up shadow boxing. So if you have a point, please make and move on.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://

We are hardly talking about Canada or Iceland here. There is a long history to this thing with Iraq. The US did not suddenly wake up one day and decide to pick on poor wittle Iraq.

So with all the run up to this, the lying and deceipt from Saddam and his cronies, what do you do. Do a Emily Litelia and say "Nevermind"?

It’s been talked about before here and other places but there was no credible voice (Scott Ritter does not count) that ever made the claim that Iraq had no WMD. No one.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Capt joe,

Exactly, would Canada or Iceland disarm at a demand from the US? No?

Why would Iraq? Even less so.

If the US makes these unreasonable demands, knowing full well that they wouldn’t comply, it would give them so called credible justification to invade.

Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
symptomless, the UN did make that demand. Resolution 1441 I believe, and about 12 or 13 others. It said to come clean, give up weapons programs or face the consequences. As Hans Blix said, they werent cooperating in spirit, they were still attacking US planes, they were bribing other offcials in a perversion of the Oil-for-Food plan, they were ready to bring chemical/biological weapons programs back up and running as soon as sanctions were lifted, they attempted to buy yellow cake from Niger, ect. All this is not enough to follow through on UN resolutions?
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
or face the consequences.
It said nothing about invasion.

As for your not-so-well researched reasons FOR invasion; "not complying in spirit" hardly warrants war, US aeroplanes were striking border targets before the invasion, an "yellow cake"?

Dodgy Dossiers ’R Us!
On Tuesday, the White House for the first time officially acknowledged that the Niger claim was wrong and suggested it should not have been used in the president’s State of the Union speech in January.
You’ve been listening to the President too much.
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
Sigh, not another person who doesnt know about the whole yellow cake issue. As per Joe Wilson and his trip to Niger, although former Nigerien prime minister Ibrahim Assane Mayaki was unaware of any pending sales contract with Iraq, an Iraqi delegation had approached him in June 1999, expressing an interest in "expanding commercial relations." Mayaki believed this may have meant that they wanted to purchase yellowcake uranium, one of Niger’s few exports. You can find this on page 43 of the Senate Intelligence Assesment on Iraq.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Mayaki believed this may have meant that they wanted to purchase yellowcake
So that’s your basis for invasion?

The Presidents words were: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"

The only evidence is what Mayaki supposes.
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://
No I listed out many reasons for invasion, including the fact that Saddam was not complying with the many UN resolutions, including the fact that that above statement is true. Perhaps you should read the pdf I linked to.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Veteran: War based on greed

Delta Force founder finds Bush deaf to Iraq criticism

By Diane Wagner
Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer

03/27/06 "Rome News-Tribune" — — Harsh criticism of the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq is nothing new, but this critic has the counter-terrorism credentials and military connections to bolster his assertions.

Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major and founding member of the elite Delta Force commando unit, charged Monday that the president’s policy is based on cultural arrogance and corporate greed rather than sound military strategy.

“I understand the people who are doing this and where they’re coming from,” the veteran said. “Delusional ideology is a big factor, and there’s a huge amount of venal corporate activity. Halliburton and other companies are making so much money that they don’t want to see it changed.”

National Security Council spokesman Fred Jones disputed Haney’s contentions on the war.

“I think the president has made increasingly clear why we are in Iraq and the value he places on the military,” Jones said Monday. “He has said decisions on troop levels will be made by commanders on the ground.”

A 1970 graduate of Pepperell High School, Haney is now executive producer and technical adviser for the new CBS hit drama “The Unit,” based on his 2002 memoir titled “Inside Delta Force.”

His comments follow a round of speeches by President Bush last week, marking the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bush called Iraq “the central front in the war on terror” in an appearance at the City Club of Cleveland in Ohio and said the security of the United States is directly linked to the liberty of the Iraqi people.

“By standing with them in their hour of need, we’re going to help the Iraqis build a strong democracy that will be an inspiration throughout the Middle East,” Bush said. “A democracy that will be a partner in the global war on terror.”

But Haney said Bush “may well have started the third world war” by his focus on Iraq instead of on Saudi Arabia’s role in funding and encouraging the centuries-old culture clash between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East.

“Saudi Arabia is the root source of Islamic extremism and terrorism,” he said. “But this administration keeps the public blinded to the fact because it makes so much money from the monarchy.”

Haney said his concerns are military, not political, and he is surprised more “dyed-in-the-wool” Republicans are not speaking out.

“I don’t care if it was the pope in charge; wrongdoing does not recognize partisanship,” he said. “I had the same problem with (former President) Clinton and the Democrats — you should clean up your own mess.”

The few experienced soldiers who have challenged the Bush strategy — such as U.S. Army joint chief Gen. Eric Shinseki — have been marginalized and forced out, Haney said.

Shinseki retired in August 2003, after testifying before Congress that postwar Iraq would need an occupying force of hundreds of thousands of troops.

“At every turn, in the upper levels of our administration, they refused to listen to what they did not want to hear,” Haney said.

He said Shinseki’s fate served as a warning to other career soldiers considering public contradictions of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“Rumsfeld said the generals are getting all the troops they ask for, but they’ve gotten the word not to ask,” he said. “If you don’t play ball, you don’t get that other star or that book deal or the chance to sit on corporate boards when you retire.”

Still, Haney said he is hearing of a few commanders ready to buck the pressure and reject the blame for failed Iraq policies. Despite what supporters claim, he said, criticizing Bush’s decisions is not unpatriotic.

“The henchmen of Hitler said it. The henchmen of Pol Pot said it. Every low-life tyrant has said it, but it is the duty of every American citizen to stand up and say it when something is wrong,” he said. “This administration has wrapped itself in the troops. They’ve learned from Vietnam to say, ‘If you don’t support me, you don’t support the troops,’ but they’re hiding behind those kids.”
Written By: Neil
URL: http://

I read it, the part relating to Yellow Cake, at least. I saw no ’evidence’ apart from Mayaki’s supposition.

If Saddam wasn’t complying with the UN, why didn’t the UN want to invade? Why did Bush and the US rush to war?

UN Resolution 1441 did not advocate invasion, but referral to the UNSC for future action.

None of the reason you gave hold water.
Written By: symptomless
URL: http://

Saddam violated the terms of the ceasefire, iow, the 1990 war was back on. Plus there were four declarations of war involved, 1990, 1998, 2001, and 2003.
Written By: Charles D. Quarles

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