Bush Told Aznar That He Would Be In Baghdad In March With Or Without UN ResolutionNow, where was Howard at this time? President Bush met with Howard on February 10, 2003, TWO WEEKS BEFORE HIS CONVERSATION WITH AZNAR!!!
The Spanish government asked for help to overcome Spanish public opinion
Four weeks before the invasion of Iraq, which happened on the night of the 19th and 20th of March 2003, Bush publicly maintained his threat to Saddam in the following terms: disarm or face war. Behind closed doors, Bush recognized that war was inevitable. During a long private conversation with then Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar, on Saturday the 22nd of February at his Crawford ranch, Bush made it clear that the time had come to get rid of Saddam. "There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be militarily ready. We will be in Baghdad by the end of March," he told Aznar.
As part of this plan, Bush had agreed to accept on the 31st of January 2003 - after a talk with Tony Blair - the introduction of one last diplomatic strategy: the introduction of a second UN resolution in the Security Council. Its objective: to open the legal door to the unilateral war which the USA was about to unleash with more than 200,000 soldiers in the region ready to attack.
As I said before:
Howard has always insisted that a “final decision” to go to war was not made until Bush formally requested Australian support on March 17, 2003. No senior Australian whistle-blower has ever stepped forward to contradict him, and no documented evidence is available to conclusively disprove his claim. But the evidence available today reveals the charade.This is just one more reason why Howard is so desperate to stay as PM through the next election: a Rudd Labor government will surely reveal even more embarrassing facts about how we were misled into war, just as the new Spanish government is doing. Let the truth be told!
UPDATE: The leaked memo was written by the Spanish Ambassador, who acted as a translator at the meetings between Aznar and Bush. This is a direct quote from the transcript of the memo (translated by me):
BUSH: Saddam won't change, he will keep on playing games. The time has come to get rid of him. That's the way it is. For my part, I will work on using the most subtel rhetoric possible while we work for a resolution. If anyone vetoes, we will go in. SAddam is not disarming. We've gotta grab him now. We've shown an incredible amount of patience up till now. There are two weeks left. In two weeks our military will be ready. I think we will get the second resolution. In the Security Council we've got the three African countries, Chile, Mexico. I will talk to them all, and Putin of course. We'll be in Baghdad at the end of March. There is a 15% chance that Saddam will be dead by then, or will have fled. But those possibilities don't exist until we have put forward our resolution. The Egyptians are talking to Saddam. It seems that he has indicated that he will be ready to go into exile if they let him take 1,000 million dollars and all the information he wants about WMDs. Gaddafi told Berlusconi that Saddam wants to go. Mubarak told us that under the circumstances there is a good chance that he could be assassinated.Later Bush says "this is like the Chinese water torture. We've gotta put an end to it." And then, "My patience is at an end. I'm not thinking of going beyond the middle of March."
We would like to act with the UN mandate. If we act militarily we will do it with great precision and very focussed on our objectives. We will obliterate the loyal forces and the regular troops will know what's going on. We've sent a clear message to Saddam's generals: we will treat them as war criminals. We know they have accumulated large amounts of dynamite to blow up bridges and other infrastructure, and to set fire to oil wells. We are planning to occupy those oil wells rapidly. And the Saudis will help us get as much oil as necessary onto the market. We can win without destruction. We are already planning the post-Saddam Iraq, and I think there are grounds for a better future. Iraq will have a good bureaucracy and a relatively strong civil society. It could organize into a federation. Meanwhile we are doing everything possible to attend to the needs of our friends and allies.
Aznar says "Tony wanted to wait till March 14th" and Bush says he would prefer the 10th:
"This is like a game of good cop, bad cop. I don't care if I'm the bad cop and Blair is the good cop."And then:
"Compared to SAddam, Milosovic would be a Mother Theresa. When we enter we are going to discover much more crimes and then we'll take him to the International Tribunal of Justice at The Hague."Bush says Saddam thinks he is very weak, but "the people around him know that their future is either in exile or in a coffin".
Aznar: In fact the best thing would be to win the game without firing a single shot, and enter into Baghdad.And later:
Bush: For me that would be the perfect solution. I don't want war. I know what wars are like. I know the death and destruction they bring with them. I'm the one who has to console the mothers and the widows of the dead. Of course, for us that would be the best solution. What's more, it would save us 50,000 million dollars.
Aznar: What we are doing is a huge change for Spain and the Spanish people. We are changing the politics which the country has followed for the past 200 years.
Bush: I am guided by a sense of historical responsibility just like you...
Aznar: The only thing that worries me about you is your optimism.
Bush: I am optimistic because I believe I am right. I am at peace with myself. It's up to us to confront this serious threat to peace. I get really angry when I think about the insensitivity of the Europeans when it comes to the suffering Saddam inflicts on Iraqis. Maybe because he is brown, distant and Muslim, many Europeans think everything is OK with him. I'll never forget what Solana told me once: why do Americans think that Europeans are antisemitic and incapable of standing up to their responsibilities. That defensive attitude is terrible. I've gotta say, I've got a great relationship with Kofi Annan.
Aznar: He shares your ethical concerns.
Bush: The more the Europeans attack me, the stronger I am back in the USA.
Aznar: We will have to make Europeans learn to appreciate your strength.