Saturday, June 18, 2005

Memo Proves Bush Was Right

The tin foil hat types are baying over the Downing Street memo that, they insist, proves "Bush Lied." Not so.

For the still open minded, the crucial text reads:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
The left argues the phrase "facts were being fixed" shows Bush always intended to invade Iraq and invented the WMD threat to gain public support. (The letter "C" is code for Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service.)

Let me make this perfectly clear: I voted for Bush in 2000 in part because I knew he intended to topple Saddam. That was the point! What's wrong about that? Even the Washington Post agrees:
The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.
Moreover, the notion that America invented the WMD threat is disproved later in the same memo:
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
Plainly, the Brits thought Iraq had in WMDs, as John Hawkins observes:
Yes, the same memo that the left is using in an attempt to claim that Bush tried to mislead the American people about Saddam's WMDs, confirms that the Coalition believed the Iraqis had them. You just can't make this stuff up.
Finally, for all their word games, the anti-war left didn't account for differences between American and British English, says Tod Lindberg in the Weekly Standard:
"Fix" here is clearly meant in its traditional sense, in the sort of English spoken by Oxbridge dons and MI6 directors--to make fast, to set in order, to arrange.

The context of the C comment leaves little room for any other interpretation. John Scarlett, then the head of the Cabinet Office Joint Intelligence Committee (later himself head of MI6, the first to serve openly), has just remarked that "Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. . . . Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based." . . .

The point is that the Bush administration seems bent on going to war based on the terrorism/WMD case without going to the U.N. (thus obtaining a legal justification in the Security Council--a point on which C turned out to be wrong) and without "publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record" (thus making a humanitarian case--which Blair would subsequently emphasize). The "policy" decision was that the case was going to be made on the basis of terrorism/WMD, with the evidence "fixed"--made fast, set in order, arranged--to buttress that case, notwithstanding that, in the view of some present, other cases might be stronger.
I'd long suspected the "Bush=Hitler" crowd can't read. But, at last, they got something right: thanks for confirming America's choice in November 2000.

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