However, if you grant the premise that, despite its non-Americanness the memo is indeed still real, it contains some pretty eye-popping stuff. Even if it does cover some ground we're already been over a few times.
[B]behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.So... the diplomacy was being fixed around the policy?
"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
I see Bush is every bit the deep thinker and perceptive student of history and foreign cultures that I thought he was...
"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."(snip)
The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.
At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable....This is the part that floors me every time. It sounds like a couple of not-very-bright high school kids trying to figure out an loophole that lets them do something illegal, not a serious strategy discussion between two world leaders. On the other hand, the first two ideas also sound like a lot like the kind of tricks Karl Rove would play on the campaign trail...
Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.
"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."
It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.
A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.
Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, "We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders."Well, it's not an ongoing investigation yet...
Regrettably, of course. Because no president wants war, as Bush explained to Helen Thomas. In fairness to the President, he did tell Blair that "he was not itching to go to war," and that he was aware "there were uncertainties and risks" (i.e., what will happen to our, er, Iraq's precious oil wells?). His actions make that awfully to believe, however.
Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another [UN] resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.
The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."
So yes, to sum up, President Bush was not itching for war, but was prepared to fabricate a bogus provocation, and completely ignore the UN Security Council in order to start one. I suppose we should all be grateful to have a president so willing to put the good of the country ahead of his own personal feelings...