Morning Report 6/13/05Pre-War Plot: ‘Time Will Be Required to Prepare Public Opinion’


New docs from Brit paper flesh out Bush-Blair plans to lie, say ‘regime change per se’ is ‘not proper basis’

Foreign Office


Downing Street memo men: Cheney and Blair posing in March 2002 at Tony’s place

OK, so the Bush and Blair regimes cooked up a plot in 2002 to make an illegal invasion of Iraq look legal. We get it.

But this goes beyond the finally notorious Downing Street Memo. New documents revealed June 12 by DSM-scoop reporter Michael Smith in The Sunday Times (U.K.) indicate that if Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz had listened to the Blair regime’s cautions during the secret planning in July 2002, the U.S. wouldn’t have screwed up the war.

Unfortunately, the key new British document, a Cabinet Office paper from July 2002, was classified as “U.K. Eyes Only.” Here’s the document’s crucial paragraph No. 8:

The Viability of the Plans

8. The [British] Chiefs of Staff have discussed the viability of US military plans. Their initial view is that there are a number of questions which would have to be answered before they could assess whether the plans are sound. Notably these include the realism of the ‘Running Start’, the extent to which the plans are proof against Iraqi counter-attack using chemical or biological weapons and the robustness of US assumptions about the bases and about Iraqi (un)willingness to fight.

Note that last phrase: “the robustness of US assumptions about the bases and about Iraqi (un)willingness to fight.”

We haven’t yet seen the corresponding Pentagon/White House documents containing those “US assumptions”—let’s get Alberto Gonzales to send those right over—but clearly the neocon hawks had told the Brits that Iraq would be a pushover. And clearly, the Brits were skeptical.

Oh, brother.

Smith’s latest story is of course focused toward a British audience, so he starts it this way:

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

But three years later, the damage has long been done, the invasion happened, and Iraq is melting down. That’s what makes Paragraph No. 8 key to understanding the civil war that is now enveloping Iraq.

And on that developing chaos, Tom Lasseter of Knight-Ridder shrewdly wrote on June 12 from Baghdad:

A growing number of senior American military officers in Iraq have concluded that there is no long-term military solution to an insurgency that has killed thousands of Iraqis and more than 1,300 U.S. troops during the past two years.

Instead, officers say, the only way to end the guerilla war is through Iraqi politics—an arena that so far has been crippled by divisions between Shiite Muslims, whose coalition dominated the January elections, and Sunni Muslims, who are a minority in Iraq but form the base of support for the insurgency.

Gee, a political solution. Lasseter provided the perspective:

The message is markedly different from previous statements by U.S. officials who spoke of quashing the insurgency by rounding up or killing “dead enders” loyal to former dictator Saddam Hussein. As recently as two weeks ago, in a Memorial Day interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Vice President Dick Cheney said he believed the insurgency was in its “last throes.”

Delving even deeper into the current horror show is Gwynne Dyer in today’s edition of the Beirut weekly Monday Morning. In “Iraq: The Long War,” Dyer points out several grim factoids that get drowned out by the propaganda of the Bush regime and the self-censorship of most of the U.S. media—and that never get a hearing on Americans’ prime news source, Larry King Live. Here’s a sample:

All recent opinion polls show that a clear majority of Iraqis want American forces to leave at once or very soon—two-thirds of Shia Arabs (60 percent of the population) and practically all Sunnite Arabs (20 percent)—with only the Kurdish minority (15 percent) wanting them to stay. But this doesn’t have much to do with how long they actually remain. That depends on two things: Washington’s assessment of the likely final outcome, and the Iraqi government’s judgement about whether or not it can survive without American troops.

The present government of Iraq, finally installed last month after three months of haggling over cabinet posts between the United Iraqi Alliance (i.e., the Shia religious parties) and the Kurds, is not just an appointed puppet government like its predecessor. However, the whole US-supervised political exercise is so suspect that only 185 of the 275 National Assembly members bothered to show up to ratify Ibrahim Jaafari as prime minister on May 3, and the Kurdish-Shiite Arab coalition is a shotgun marriage that hides deep and fundamental disagreements about the future of the Iraqi state. Moreover, the Sunnite Arabs are still frozen out.

Dyer’s sober analysis—probably more reliable than anything U.S. officials said during the pre-war plotting or since—ends this way:

So the violence will probably continue at around the current level for the next six to nine months at least, and beyond that the future is simply unforeseeable. Whether you choose to call this a civil war or not, the fact is that almost all of the insurgents are Sunni Arabs, while the new Iraqi army and police forces are overwhelmingly Shiites and Kurds. So long as the insurgency continues, the Shia leadership is unlikely to demand the immediate departure of American troops—and so far, the US still seems determined to stay.

It’s a long time since the early days of the occupation, when US officials spoke airily about a prolonged occupation of Iraq and only very gradual moves towards putting power back into Iraqi hands, but they have (deliberately or accidentally) created a situation in which key Iraqi players depend on their continued presence. Nor is there any sign that Washington has yet given up its plans for “enduring bases” in Iraq as the strategic center from which it can perpetuate its military domination of the oil-rich Gulf region. This is going to be a long war.

If you’re of cannon-fodder age, keep this in mind while you’re blitzed this summer by the Pentagon’s recruiting campaign. Cheney and Rumsfeld dragged the British into it. You don’t have to follow them. Even flipping burgers beats dead-checking.