Saturday, February 11, 2006

More Evidence that Bush Planned to Invade Iraq All Along

A new edition of a book published in October -- Lawless World, by Philippe Sands -- contains more damning evidence of how Bush and Blair conspired to launch an illegal war against Iraq:

It was the end of January 2003. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was five days away from giving a critical speech at the U.N. Security Council, laying out the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction and posed a danger to world peace.

But huddled with aides at the White House, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were not sure there was enough evidence to convince the Security Council. Without the council's explicit authorization, their plans for an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein could be difficult to defend under international law.

Bush proposed an alternative: paint a U.S. spy plane in United Nations colors and see if that didn't tempt Hussein's forces to shoot at it. In any case, he said, the war was "penciled in" for March 10 and the United States would go ahead with or without a second U.N. resolution.

Blair replied that he was "solidly with" the president.

That is the gist of an account of the Jan. 31, 2003, meeting contained in the new edition of "Lawless World," a book by British author Philippe Sands. He has not identified the writer of the memorandum on which the account is based, but British media reports say it was one of the aides in attendance: Sir David Manning, then security advisor to Blair and now the British ambassador in Washington.

The U.S. and British attempt to manufacture consent for an illegal war is part of what Sands describes as a dismantling of the infrastructure of laws, rules, treaties, and conventions governing international relations which was put together after World War II -- largely by the very two countries that are now working to tear it down.

"The documents ... indicate very clearly that neither man considered that the British or American governments had enough evidence," Sands said. "Why would the U.S. president and the British prime minister spend any time concocting ways of provoking a material breach if they knew they could prove Saddam had weapons of mass destruction?"

Sands contends that U.S. and British actions have eroded pillars of international relations such as the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention, and that has made international action in Iraq more difficult.

"By ripping up the rule book, they undermined their ability to forge a consensus," he said.

Sands saw a "setting aside of the classical rules of international law, which basically say you can only use force in two circumstances: in self-defense or where the Security Council has authorized the use of force. ... They never argued self-defense," he said. "So they argued that the Security Council had agreed to the use of force. I don't think there are many people who accept that argument."

None of this surprises or shocks me at all, given all the other Downing Street revelations, and everything that is known about the Bush administration's obsessively ideological way of operating. It is very distressing, though -- not least because I don't believe for one moment that anything will change. Pres. Bush could announce to the nation on prime time that he and Blair knew Iraq had WMDs even if they couldn't prove it; that they had made a firm decision to invade Iraq with or without a second UN resolution; that they did discuss provoking an incident because Iraq was going to attack the U.S. anyway; and that the U.S. broke international law in order to enforce international law -- and the right-wing bloggers would still defend it; Bush would continue to get his highest approval ratings for his fight against terror; and the vast majority of Americans who disapprove of Bush's policies would still shrug their shoulders and say, "It's depressing, but what can you do?"

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