The British government memo on Iraq, reported in today’s New York Times, is perhaps even more important than the Downing Street memo. The five-page memo–of a January 31, 2003 Oval Office meeting between Bush, Blair and six of their top advisers–reveals the Bush Administration’s fierce determination to invade Iraq even without a second UN resolution, and even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons. Indeed, confronted with the possibility of not finding any weapons before the planned invasion, Bush talks of ways to provoke a confrontation with Iraq, including, the Times reports, "a proposal to paint a US surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein."
Reminiscent of the Downing Street Memo’s famous line, David Manning, British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser at the time, writes, "Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,"
Bush’s mendacity in taking America into this illegal, unprovoked catastrophe is already well known. But it’s still horrifying–especially on a day when the US Ambassador to Iraq states that "More Iraqis are dying from the militia violence than from the terrorists"–to read Bush’s arrogantly ignorant prediction that it is "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." (For the record, the British memo shows Blair agreed with Bush’s assessment.)
Today, American troops are an occupying force, inside a civil war, inside a militia struggle.
It is time to get US forces out of this untenable position.
Fortunately, with virtually no political leadership, there is, as today’s New York Times article reports a "deepening and hardening opposition to the war."
Effective, smart pressure–in the streets, at the ballot box this November, and beyond–must be brought to bear so that our ‘leaders" in Washington listen to this growing, broad-based opposition.