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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Sunday, 12 June 2005

Topic: For policy wonks...

But Wait! There's more!

In these pages there has been much, perhaps too much, on that Downing Street memo, revealed May 1 by the Times of London (UK, not London, Ontario). As early as July 2002 we were "fixing" the intelligence to support the predetermined policy – we had decided to go to war in Iraq and remove that government and occupy that country, even though we said we weren't set on doing that at all.

Yeah, yeah. So?

Sunday morning, June 12, we get two more memos. Yep, two. Even worse.

Bob Patterson emailed me about the first Saturday evening, but I was busy assembling the weekly online magazine and couldn't respond.

Okay, now that Just Above Sunset has been put to bed, as they say in the newspaper world, what is going on here?

The Times of London got their hot little hands on another memo, actually a briefing paper, prepared for Prime Minister Blair in July 2002 – saying Blair had, in April, agreed to join in with us in a war to take over Iraq, so, as the memo suggests, it might be wise to figure out some way to make it legal, somehow. Geez.

Someone is leaking to the Times - and no doubt has an agenda. A British Deep Throat who has a grudge?

The Times says, among other things, this -
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal.

... "US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia," the briefing paper warned. This meant that issues of legality "would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation".

... The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.
Difficult? Yep. He kept letting the inspectors have more and more access.

Yes, yes – we all know Bush said, on July 14, 2003, with the Secretary General of the UN standing beside him, in the Rose Garden, "we gave him [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." What? As Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, said back them - "Technically, he's obviously wrong, UN inspectors did obviously go in and then leave shortly before the bombing started. On the other hand, he was probably thinking of that time before the UN resolution when Iraq actually was refusing to allow the inspectors in, at least unconditionally."

Maybe. Now it seems it was part of a general approach worked out with the Brits a year earlier. You just have to make this seem legal, somehow. The "conditions" on the inspectors made the war perfectly legal. Given we knew, or a fact, that there were WMD there – tons of stuff as we "proved" - any restrictions or conditions Iraq wanted to discuss were exactly the same as not letting anyone from anywhere see anything at all. Same difference.

Whatever. No one cares.

As for the other memo, that's from the Washington Post, and it's also from the summer of 2002. Same deal. Different document.

But this one speaks not to motive, but to competence -
A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.

The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.

In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."

… Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."
The US military plans are virtually silent on this point…. No kidding. Well, we're working on it now.

Whatever. No one cares. We'll get it fixed.

Over at the Washington Monthly Kevin Drum explains -
One of the reasons the previous Downing Street Memo hasn't gotten much traction — and the reason these new memos will probably get limited attention as well — is that I don't think anyone really finds any of this a surprise. After all, previous evidence has already made it clear that George Bush was intent on war against Iraq almost immediately following 9/11. It was the first thing on Donald Rumsfeld's mind on 9/11 itself, and Dick Clarke has testified that hours later Bush himself was more eager to go after Iraq than Afghanistan — although the Iraq plan was subsequently delayed due to pressure from both Tony Blair as well as more levelheaded Bush staffers. Even so, by early 2002, with Osama bin Laden still on the loose, intelligence assets and special forces were already being moved out of Afghanistan and into the Iraqi theater.

By April it was clear to the British that war was inevitable, and in July they were discussing a strategy to use the UN as a cassus belli. In September Bush went to the UN as planned, and White House chief of staff Andy Card explained the timing with his famous statement that "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Two months later, Saddam Hussein allowed UN inspectors into the country, thus ruining the hoped for legal justification, and three months after that the inspectors still had uncovered no serious violations. Nonetheless, war commenced in March 2003.

Was the Iraq war a foregone conclusion by early 2002? Of course it was. These new memos provide further evidence of that, but I'm not sure there's anyone who really doubted it in the first place.
If you go to the Drum item he links to all the evidence.

Note: "Saddam Hussein allowed UN inspectors into the country, thus ruining the hoped for legal justification, and three months after that the inspectors still had uncovered no serious violations. Nonetheless, war commenced in March 2003."

It was all pretty obvious. And it doesn't matter.

Atrios disagrees -
Look, this is just bullshit. There are two sets of people here. One consists of inside the beltways types and assorted news junkies and the other consists of The Amerkin Public. The former knew the Iraq war was a foregone conclusion by early 2002, but didn't bother to tell the Amerkin Public. They still haven't. I knew the dance with the UN was bullshit and I tried to point it out, but my blog is not all-powerful. The American press did not bother to tell people. And, now, they still don't want to bother to tell people.

This isn't about attacking Drum, I've fallen into this trap before myself. Everyone should've known this in 2002. But, they didn't.

It's just like Russert calling the Downing Street Memo the "famous" Downing Street Memo? Famous to whom? To all the fuckers who didn't give a shit enough in 2002 to tell us what was obvious to anyone who was paying attention.
Maybe. But perhaps everyone, paying attention or not, knew we were going to take out Iraq and its leader, and just liked the idea – thinking knocking a few heads and killing a few foreigners would fell pretty good just about then.

How about this from "Adventus"?
… it isn't that people "didn't know." Frankly, they didn't care. They were all too willing to buy the line that Iraq was a threat, and behind 9/11, because it gave them something to use the military against. Armies are tools, at least in America. In Switzerland the army is a purely defensive proposition, but in America, we have to trot it out once in a while to be sure we can still scare people. Or just to throw our weight around.

It's not that people didn't "know." They didn't care. A military excursion, in the words of one Vietnam era general, presents the opportunity for a "pleasant outing for the troops." Americans like that idea.

When it turns into a bloody bog and men are dying by the hundreds, then we don't like it anymore. Twain wrote about it. The Civil War was all about that. Korea and Vietnam were more of the same. Why should the invasion of Iraq be any different?

The frightening truth is, Bush is the nation's Id. This is why the people continually respond to him, rather than get disgusted with him. But the Id can only sustain a response for so long, before the ego, and finally the superego, are disgusted and reassert control. In the Roman Empire, they called Bush's position that of "dictator." It was a special office created solely to consolidate all Roman military power under one person, who could rule without check and act for the defense of the Empire. But once the threat had receded, the dictator's office was dissolved, and power returned to the Senate. The concept is simple: when there is a serious threat, you need decisive action. Once the threat is gone, the need for action returns to more consultative hands. We may be heading in that direction again, but make no mistake: the American people will always appoint a "dictator" when they feel threatened, or just feel the need to be "dictator" to the world, themselves.
Oh, that's way too deep.

I'll not think about it. I need to grab the Nikon and walk four blocks down the street and check out this -

Hilton Grand Marshal in Gay Pride Parade
WEST HOLLYWOOD (CNS) — Paris Hilton will be the grand marshal in today's gay pride parade in West Hollywood, where about 300,000 are expected to line Santa Monica Boulevard as 35th annual event steps off.

Though some questioned the selection of Hilton, known for her heterosexual exploits, to represent gays, the 24 year-old model and reality TV star appeared enthusiastic last night when she made a brief appearance at the two- day Los Angeles Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual & Transgender Pride Festival.

"I love the gay community, I love you guys, I love your style," she gushed to the gregarious crowd. "You're hot, you're sexy."

… "I just don't know what anybody was thinking of. My jaw dropped when I heard it," Dan Berkowitz, a member of the West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, told the West Hollywood Independent. "I'm sure she is a very nice girl and her mother is a very nice woman, but what they have to do with gay pride in West Hollywood or anywhere else is utterly beyond me."

Rodney Scott, board president of Christopher Street West, a Los Angeles- based volunteer group which organizes the festival, told the Independent that Paris Hilton would soon show her support and help raise awareness on gay and lesbian issues, such as same-sex marriage and adoptions.

"Paris has the opportunity to touch and communicate to a generation of people that I, as a 40 year-old man, won't be able to talk to," Scott told the Independent. "She has a fan base and audience base. When she talks about issues pertaining to our community, I believe it will have significant impact."

"If she was a lesbian, I think a lot of people would be happy," a woman at the festival yesterday said. Today's parade is expected to draw about 300,000 people. It begins on Santa Monica Boulevard at Crescent Heights Boulevard and goes to La Peer Drive.
Santa Monica Boulevard at Crescent Heights Boulevard down the hill three blocks, and right one block. I can do that.

As for the war and how we got there? What is there to do now?

I'll go for a walk.

Posted by Alan at 10:00 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 12 June 2005 10:16 PDT home

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