Thursday, September 27, 2007

SADDAM WAS WILLING TO GO AWAY BUT BUSH WANTED A NICE LITTLE WAR

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I doubt if Bush is penny wise, but he is certainly pound foolish-- or maybe just pure evil. Or are Karen DeYoung and Michael Abramowitz making this stuff up? I mean did Saddam Hussein really say he would go into exile a month before Bush attacked Iraq for a paltry billion dollars (and not even our billion)? Sometimes it sounds like that's what we spend in Iraq every week or two-- not even putting a price on the blood, familial and societal collapse, devastation, and misery Bush has authored in the process.

It all comes from a report in Spain's equivalent of the NY Times, El Pais and it lead to a Washington Post story called "Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion." Bush was asked about it yesterday and refused to confirm or deny. It's based on a transcript of a meeting between Bush and then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar (soon after defeated because of his perceived closeness to the distrusted Bush) at Bush's Crawford Texas pig farm. The transcript makes Bush sound like a school yard bully whose got a big brother with a gun standing behind him.
In the transcript, translated from Spanish by The Washington Post, Bush said that Europeans were insensitive to "the suffering that Saddam Hussein has inflicted on the Iraqis" and added: "Maybe it's because he's dark-skinned, far away and Muslim-- a lot of Europeans think he's okay." But Bush was happy to play the "bad cop," he said. "The more the Europeans attack me, the stronger I am in the United States."

Aznar stressed the importance of U.N. authorization, saying "it was not the same" to act without it. Bush agreed to continue trying to persuade Security Council members, saying that "countries like Mexico, Chile, Angola and Cameroon ought to know that the security of the United States is at stake. [Chilean President Ricardo] Lagos ought to know that the Free Trade Agreement with Chile is waiting for Senate confirmation and that a negative attitude on this could endanger ratification.

"Angola is getting money from the Millennium Account, and those agreements could also be in danger if they don't show themselves to be favorable. And [Russian President Vladimir] Putin ought to know that his attitude is endangering relations" with Washington.

Aznar and the other leading Bush ally on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were under intense antiwar pressure at home. Bush needed to appear serious about diplomacy to "help us with our public opinion," Aznar said.

"I'm not asking for infinite patience," Aznar said, but "simply that you do what's possible to get everyone to agree." He asked Bush to expand on reports that Hussein might be persuaded to go into exile.

"The Egyptians are talking to Saddam Hussein," Bush said. "He seems to have indicated he would be open to exile if they would let him take one billion dollars and all the information he wants on weapons of mass destruction."
Later in the conversation, Aznar returned to the subject. "Is it true there's a possibility Saddam Hussein might go into exile?"

"Yes, it's possible," Bush responded. "It's also possible he could be assassinated." In any case, Bush said, there would be "no guarantee" for Hussein. "He's a thief, a terrorist and a war criminal. Compared to Saddam, [former Yugoslav president Slobodan] Milosevic would be a Mother Teresa."

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