Sunday, June 12, 2005

Thanks For The Memos!

I suspect that everyone knows this already, and the Big Brass Alliance will be all over it, but I can't help mentioning it.  Another memo has come to light, reinforcing the message of the now-infamous Downing Street Memo.  Reported in today's Sunday Times in London, there were different memos that apprised ministers of the need to find an excuse for the upcoming Iraq war, and cast doubt on the adequacy of planning of the post-war aftermath.  The Times link is here, but you need a paid subscription to enter (They do provide open access to their two earlier articles 1 2 ).  Fortunately, the Editor & Publisher has read the current article, as has the Washington Post, and apparently they have access to additional information.  

The WaPo is particularly scathing, pointing out a section that reads:
"A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."
The reason this is so damaging is that, even for those who supported the war, there is no excuse for the poor planning for the aftermath.  One of the memos was prepared for Blair, prior to a meeting with Bush in Crawford.
About 10 days later, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote a memo to prepare Blair for a meeting in Crawford, Tex., on April 8. Straw said "the big question" about military action against Hussein was, "how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be any better," as "Iraq has no history of democracy."
The British know more about this than anyone; they got out of the imperialism business decades ago.  Now it is clear that they should have stayed out.

The Editor and Publisher commentary on the subject includes this:
By one count, only two questions about the memo had been raised at White House briefings (out of about 940 questions) since it first surfaced in the British press on May 1.
Why can't we see, just once, a reporter hand Mr. Bush a Bible, ask him to hold it is his hand, and swear to us that he was not already planning for the war before the election in 2000?

UPDATE: Via a post on the Huffington Post, there is a link that goes directly to the Sunday Times article that I had said requires a paid subscription.  It includes the following:
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

“US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia,” the briefing paper warned. This meant that issues of legality “would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation”.