Abramoff Knew US Would Invade Iraq in March, 2002
Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 09:18:04 PM PDT
Newly-disclosed e-mails from the Minority Chair of the House Government Reform Committee Henry Waxman provide new areas of insight into Jack Abramoff's closeness to the Bush administration. Most shocking of all (at least of those I've been able to read so far) is that Abramoff off-handedly mentions "the upcoming war in Iraq." The date--March, 2002.
The following is available in doc dump two, page 26:
From: Jack Abramoff
Monday, March 18, 2002 8:31 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday
I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq. That did not seem to work anyway. Bush seems to love Sharon and Israel, and thinks Arabfat [sic], is nothing but a liar. I thought I'd pass that on.
Here's what the president said
just days earlier regarding Israel's heavy-handed military response:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, it is important to create conditions for peace in the Middle East. It's important for both sides to work hard to create the conditions of a potential settlement. Now, our government has provided a security plan that has been agreed to by both the Israelis and the Palestinians called the Tenet plan. And George Mitchell did good work providing a pathway for a political settlement, once conditions warranted. To provide some context to the date March 18, 2002:
Frankly, it's not helpful what the Israelis have recently done in order to create conditions for peace. I understand someone trying to defend themselves and to fight terror. But the recent actions aren't helpful. And so Zinni's job is to go over there and work to get conditions such that we can get into Tenet. And he's got a lot of work to do. But I didn't think he could make progress, I wouldn't have asked him to go.
During the announcement of the Zinni mission, I said there was -- we had a lot of phone conversations with people in the Middle East which led us to believe that there is a chance to create -- to get into Tenet, or at least create the conditions to get into Tenet. And I've taken that chance, and it's the right course of action at this point, Steve.
Most importantly, this is seven months before
Congress authorized the president to go war. I give you this internal background of what the administation was up to with the unstated immensity that the Bush administration was at the time publically denying any resolved intention of invading Iraq. Indeed, it remained quite vocally non-committed for many months after the Abramoff e-mail and the Downing Street Memos had been written.
Just four days earlier, David Manning penned what came to be known as the third of the Downing Street Memos. Manning, then-foreign policy chief to prime minister Tony Blair, recounts a meeting between Blair and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
"Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks.... From what she said, Bush has yet to find 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 the morning after?"
...questions which, to this day, remain unanswered.
The fourth of the Downing Street Memos was penned the very same day as Abramoff's e-mail, the 18th of March, 2002. This time, UK Ambassador to the US Christopher Meyer writes to David Manning retelling his meeting with US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
4. Wolfowitz said that he fully agreed. He took a slightly different position from others in the Administration, who were forcussed [sic] on Saddam's capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction. The WMD danger was of course crucial to the public case against Saddam, particularly the potential linkage to terrorism. But Wolfowitz thought it indispensable to spell out in detail Saddam's barbarism. This was well documented from what he had done during the occupation of Kuwait, the incursion into Kurdish territory, the assault on the Marsh Arabs, and to hiw [sic] own people. A lot of work had been done on this towards the end of the first Bush administration. Wolfowitz thought that this would go a long way to destroying any notion of moral equivalence between Iraq and Israel. I said that I had been forcefully struck, when addressing university audiences in the US, how ready students were to gloss over Saddam's crimes and to blame the US and the UK for the suffering of the Iraqi people....
7. Wolfowitz was pretty dismissive of the desirability of a military coup and of the defector generals in the wings. The latter had blood on their hands. The important thing was to try to have Saddam replaced by something like a functioning democracy. Though imperfect, the Kurdish model was not bad. How to achieve this, I asked? Only through a coalition of all the parties was the answer (we did not get into military planning).
Conclusion--this is yet another piece of evidence that the invasion of Iraq was long-before conceived as absolutely inevitable and necessary by the Bush administration. Why? That confounds the smartest of minds...
That Abramoff said this in such an off-hand manner suggests that this was an open secret among administration insiders. As is evident in the Downing Street Memo, the question the administration seriously bothered itself with wasn't the question of how to reluctantly run a necessary war. No, the question was how to sell the war. Everything else would seemingly answer itself if the large task of selling a war was pulled off.
It's a pity that all of us, as a nation, largely wander between a state of deception and a state of denial, led by men and women who neither have a clue what they're doing nor are humble enough to own up to the fact that they've undoubtedly wrecked American foreign policy and our image abroad. They exist as though on another planet--waging a war with no clear objective while doing so with no short- or long-term strategy. The problems we face in Iraq cannot be painted over by tired rhetoric and naive platitudes, it must be faced with strength, intelligence and strategic vision. That is the strength which will make our nation truly stronger, not the distorted hall of mirrors which the Bush administration and their Republican allies continue to paint for the public--a nation of avarice, drunk on its own fantasies.