British Memo: War of choice
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
In the first months of 2003, we joined much of the rest of the world in hopes that war with Iraq could be avoided, that a diplomatic breakthrough or confirmation of reports that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction might render the military option unnecessary.
How silly of us.
A confidential memo recording a Jan. 31, 2003, Oval Office meeting between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair makes it clear that the two men were going to war in Iraq in any event.
The memo first appeared in a book, "Lawless World," by British lawyer Philippe Sands. The New York Times reported extensively on the memo in Monday's paper. Neither the authenticity of the memo nor its contents have been challenged by U.S. or British officials.
According to the memo, written by Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, David Manning, Bush was determined to invade Iraq without explicit U.N. sanction and even if arms inspectors failed to find WMD in Iraq. The two met just five days before then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to convince the United Nations that Iraq posed a threat to global security by hiding WMD.
Bush was so committed to going to war that he discussed painting a U.S. surveillance plane in U.N. colors in hopes of drawing Iraqi fire. "If Saddam fired on them," Bush said, "he would be in breach."
Manning noted, "The start of the military campaign was penciled in for 10 March," U.S.- and British-led forced invaded Iraq March 19, 2003.
The memo is stark evidence that it was a war of choice -- a choice that had been made early on.