Kevin Drum notes that the American media (in this case Knight-Ridder) has finally decided to report on the July 2002 British memo that emerged just in time for British elections. The memo offers concrete evidence that Bush had been shopping around for an excuse to invade Iraq far before he ever started discussing democracy-building. Note:
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…It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force. The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defense, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorization…Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.
So there was no confusion on WMDs—this makes it obvious that WMDs were a total excuse—and the memo actually notes other countries that we should be worried about. Not only does the memo acknowledge that there are no legal grounds for invading Iraq, but it makes clear that Bush and Blair had every intent of stretching, no, fabricating, a reason to invade. I’m a big fan of this memo: it does a beautiful job of revealing the devious nature of the fabrication of a justification, while at the same time exposing the underlying stupidity. It’s like Pinky and the Brain. Only it’s Blair and Bush. Regime change is not a sufficient legal base for military action? No kidding. And then, my favorite: “Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.”