Friday, July 01, 2005

What does the DSM tell us

This was part of the post on Bush's speech, polling, and the support for impeachment, but there were issues with the formatting. To increase readability, my comments are in italics.

The DSM haven't gotten a lot of attention after the Conyers letter was delivered to the White House with over 540,000 signitures. I have been waiting for a comment from the White House, but that was nuts for me to expect something.

What is the big fuss over the DSM?

The first memo has these revelations. (and it really is the minutes of a meeting, not simply a memo)
  • "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable." This was when BushCo was saying that war was the last resort, and that no decision had been made to invade.
  • "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." Intel and facts were being fixed around the policy. Wonderful. If you don't have solid evidence, fix it.
  • "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." The aftermath of the war is proof of this.
  • "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime." So we were trying to provoke Saddam into responding to force with force. Isn't that entrapment? Or at the least, course and childish abuse of human life and suffering?
  • "No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections." Planning an invasion around an election for political purposes is truely disgusting.
  • "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided." And he told us that he hadn't made any decision yet.
  • "But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." Isn't a major republican talking point that everyone thought Saddam had WMD, too? Hmmmmm.
  • "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." A few sentences later, "The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors." They needed an excuse. Remember this one, it comes up in another memo.
Now the Straw Memo, "Text of the Jack Straw Memo - March 25, 2002 memo from Jack Straw (UK Foreign Secretary) to Tony Blair in preparation for Blair’s visit to Bush’s Crawford ranch, covering Iraq-al Qaida linkage, legality of invasion, weapons inspectors and post-war considerations."
  • "In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida. Objectively, the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September." No link to Qaida. No increase in threat. Never heard that from Bush before we invaded... He told us the opposite.
  • "Most of the assessments from the US have assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq's WMD threat. But none has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better." A threat that the UK was not very concerned about. Again, note the concern over the lack of post-war planning.
On to the Peter Rickets letter, "March 22, 2002 memo from Peter Ricketts (Political Director, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to Jack Straw (UK Foreign Secretary) providing Ricketts’ advice for the Prime Minister on issues of the threat posed by Iraq, connections to al Qaida, post-war considerations and working with the UN."
  • "By sharing Bush's broad objective" the Prime Minister can help shape how it is defined, and the approach to achieving it. In the process, he can bring home to Bush home of the realities which will be less evident from Washington. He can help Bush make good decisions by telling him things his own machine probably isn't." I guess Bush didn't listen...
  • "But even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years ont he nuclear, missile or CW/BW fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know", been stepped up." More proof that the UK wasn't worried about Iraq's WMD programs.
  • "US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al Aaida is so far frankly unconvincing. To get public and Parliamentary support for military operations, we have to be convincing that:
    • the threat is so serious/imminent that it is worth sending our troops to die for;
    • it is qualitatively different from the threat posed by other proliferators who are closer to achieving nuclear capability (including Iran)." No link with Qaida. Other countries were closer to nukes, but that would get in the way of selling the war...
  • "For Iraq, "regime change: does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam." Do you think so? Wow, the British didn't even buy Bush's reason...
Next, the Christopher Meyer Letter - "March 18, 2002 memo from Christopher Meyer (UK ambassador to the US) to David Manning (UK Foreign Policy Advisor) recounting Meyer’s meeting with Paul Wolfowitz (US Deputy Secretary of Defense)."
  • "I then went through the need to wrongnfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs and the critical importance of the MEPP as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skilfully [sic], we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board." Again, discussing an entrapment of Saddam with inspectors. The other countries didn't buy in, as you know.
  • "Wolfowitz said that it was absurd to deny the link between terrorism and Saddam. There might be doubt about the alleged meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11, and Iraqi intelligence (did we, he asked, know anything more about this meeting?). But there were other substantiated cases of Saddam giving comfort to terrorists, including someone involved in the first attack on the World Trade Center (the latest New Yorker apparently has a story about links between Saddam and Al Qaeda operating in Kurdistan)." Most, if not all of these links were determined to be false in the public sphere, and were likely known to the admin well before we knew.
  • The next section of the letter is a discussion of the value of Chalabi. The attitude presented is naive, to say the least. Their acceptance of this fraudster is disappointing.
On to the David Manning Memo - March 14, 2002 memo from David Manning (UK Foreign Policy Advisor) to Tony Blair recounting Manning’s meetings with his US counterpart Condoleeza Rice (National Security Advisor), and advising Blair for his upcoming visit to Bush’s Crawford ranch.
  • "From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions:
    • how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified;
    • what value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition;
    • how to coordinate a US/allied military campaign with internal opposition (assuming there is any);
    • what happens on the morning after?" Once again, no post-war planning.
Now the Iraq Options paper - March 8, 2002 memo from Overseas and Defence Secretariat Cabinet Office outlining military options for implementing regime change.
  • "Despite sanctions, Iraq continues to develop WMD,. although our intelligence is poor." No confidence in Intel. This was certainly not mentioned to us lowly citizens.
  • "A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers advice, non currently exists. This makes moving quickly to invade legally very difficult. We should therefore consider a staged approach, establishing international support, building up pressure on Saddam and developing military plans." They knew this wasn't legal, but would find a way to make it work...
  • "Since 1991, the policy of containment has been partially successful;
    • Sanctions have effectively frozen Iraq’s nuclear programme;
    • Iraq has been prevented from rebuilding its conventional arsenal to pre-Gulf War levels;
    • ballistic missile programmes have been severely restricted;
    • Biological weapons (BW) and Chemical Weapons (CW) programmes have been hindered;
    • No Fly Zones established over northern and southern Iraq have given some protection to the Kurds and the Shia. Although subject to continuing political pressure, the Kurds remain autonomous; and
    • Saddam has not succeeded in seriously threatening his neighbours." So the containment policy worked. Bush constantly claimed that it hadn't.
  • "Iraq continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, although our intelligence is poor." More discussion of poor intel.
  • "the return of UN weapons inspectors would allow greater scrutiny of Iraqi programmes and of Iraqi forces in general. If they found significant evidence of WMD, were expelled or, in face of an ultimatum, not re-admitted in the first place, then this could provide legal justification for large-scale military action (see below)." They were let in. They didn't find WMD, but they did find some possibly illegal missiles, which were destroyed. The lack of substantial interference from Saddam, and the lack of discovered WMD appears to have worn Bush's patience down, and he attacked without UN approval.
  • "Of itself, REGIME CHANGE has no basis in international law." Oops. So we can't just replace governments of other nations on a whim?
  • "In the judgement of the JIC there is no recent evidence of Iraq complicity with international terrorism. There is therefore no justification for action against Iraq based on action in self-defence (Article 51) to combat imminent threats of terrorism as in Afghanistan. However, Article 51 would come into play if Iraq were about to attack a neighbour." No terror links again. No just cause here.
  • "As the ceasefire was proclaimed by the Security Council in 687, it is for the Council to decide whether a breach of obligations has occurred." Thus it was illegal to invade without the UN's go ahead.
  • "For the P5 and the majority of the Council to take the view that Iraq was in breach of 687:
    • they would need to be convinced that Iraq was in breach of its obligations regarding WMD, and ballistic missiles. Such proof would need to be incontrovertible and of large-scale activity. Current intelligence is insufficiently robus [sic] to meet this criterion." No solid evidence. Did you get that from Powell's address to the UN?
This memo suggests that some post-war planning had been done by the UK and perhaps by the US. From the aftermath of the war, I'd say it wasn't enough, and likely focussed only on oil.

The last memo is Iraq: Legal Background-March 8, 2002 memo from UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (office of Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary) to Tony Blair advising him on the legality of the use of force against Iraq.
  • "I the UK’s view a violation of Iraq’s obligations which undermines the basis of the cease-fire in resolution 687 (1991) can revive the authorisation to use force in resolutions 678 (1990). As the cease-fire was proclaimed by the Council in resolution 687 (1991), it is for the Council to assess whether any such breach of those obligations has occurred. The US have a rather different view: they maintain that the assessment if breach is for individual member States. We are not aware of any other State which supports this view." All hat, no horse. This go it alone attitude has plagued our actions in Iraq from day one, and was seen as Bush decided to invade instead of go for another UN vote.
  • "for the exercise of the right of self-defence there must be more than “a threat”. There has to be an armed attack actual or imminent. The development of possession of nuclear weapons does not in itself amount to an armed attack; what would be needed would be clear evidence of an imminent attack." No threat, no cause. UK knew Iraq was an illegal war, even if the US preferred to remain ignorant of international law.
  • "In the UK view the use of force may be justified if the action is taken to prevent an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe. The limits to this highly contentious doctrine are not clearly defined, but we would maintain the the catastrophe must be clear and well documented, that there must be no other means short of the use of force which could prevent it, and that the measures taken must be proportionate. this doctrine partly underlies the very limited action taken by allied aircraft to patrol the No Fly Zones in Iraq (following action by Saddam to repress the Kurds and the Shia in the early 90s), which involved occasional and limited use of force by those aircraft in self-defence. The application os this doctrine depends on the circumstances at any given time, but it is clearly exceptional." Ongoing oppression of the Iraqi people did not rise to the level of response, and was viewed as "exceptional." Saddam being an evil bastard is not reason enough for the UK to invade. If it was, there are no shortage of nations requiring our attention, with Iraq not even close to the top.
Now do you see the importance of the memos? (I wonder if there are spellcheckers in the UK... They are worse than I am)

They are proof of
  • There was little evidence that connected Iraq and any terrorism, and little evidence of any WMD programs. The administration knew that there was little evidence of their two major reasons for war, but that did not stop them from claiming that we should fear Iraq. When the inspectors found nothing, Bush chose to invade rather than admit he could be wrong.
  • The Bush admin was fixing the facts around the policy. They were lying to us about what they knew, and it cost over 100,000 Iraqi lives, and 1700+ US soldier's lives. Not to mention the untold and uncounted number of "contract employees" who have died. All so Bush could settle a score.
  • Saddam being evil was not justification for invasion.
  • Regime change was not justification for invasion.
  • Little or no post-war planning at the writing of these memos, minutes, and letters. We saw little in the way of meaningful or thoughtful post-war actions from the US.
  • Apparent interest in using the inspectors to goad Saddam into a breach of the UN SCR.
  • Another memo not discussed in this post discusses the increased use of bombing to goad Saddam into reaction, thereby providing an excuse for war. The US goal was entrapment or goading Saddam into responding with force. Neither happened.

by Robster @ 7/01/2005 04:05:00 PM PERMALink