A Memo from Across the Pond

The following memo by Matthew Rycroft, a Downing Street foreign policy aide, should put to rest, once and for all, the question of whether the country (U.S.), and the world, was lied to by the Bush Administration regarding the Iraq war.

A good exercise to perform as one reads the memo is to divide the number of words into the billions spent on the Iraq "Adventure" and/or the number of lives lost per word. The truly industrious could do a calculation of the budgetary costs to the nation as programs are cut back or cut out altogether to pay for this highly questionable "adventure".

It has been said that Colin Powell once had to remind Madeleine Albright (Clinton Administration) that the soldiers she wanted to use on what he thought of as her whims were not "toy soldiers", they were real, (real families, real blood). It's too bad he, or someone else, couldn't have done the same in this instance.

With the word "hero" being bandied about so freely these days, so much so that it's lost all meaning, an act such as that would have solidified the person who blew this whistle prior to the first bloodied body as a true hero, an American Patriot recognized as such for deeds rather than how many flags are placed behind them in a carnival show of patriotism and heroism.

As we witness the daily carnage in Iraq post-invasion, attention should be paid to the fact that the memo says, "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action". Also of particular note is the section that reads, "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran".

Please note the difficulties posed by the rationales being dreamed up in "undisclosed locations" in Washington that the memo deals with, most particularly, "The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult."

And lastly, note that the thin reed of WMD (which we now know to be non-existent) was stretched to its limits from the beginning as a justification by the observation that, "Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD."

To send the memo to anyone interested simply direct them to the The Sunday Times so they could look it up themselves or forward a copy of this Post as it contains the memo, the link, and further links to accompanying documents.

Furthermore, any number of British and international publications,as well as websites, have written on it and referred to it in whole or in part.

As an aside, it has become painfully clear that American media is now officially simply a mouthpiece, bought and paid for, by special interests. A document of this importance could not be overlooked were that not the case. Both the Big 3 stations and their cable counterparts have shown no interest in it whatsoever. Then again, why should anyone be surprised since the networks' damning admission to self-censorship of critical pieces on the Administration in the weeks leading up to our elections.

Even after the release and the commentary on this memo by the British press, the American press has had little to say and has posed no real questions to the Administration regarding the contents of the memo.

To that one can only say that, "the terrorists may have already won". Or more precisely, "Those who are taking advatage of the terrorists' actions have already won." The result is that the once vaunted American "spirit" has been replaced with an automaton-like reflex response to adolescent stimuli so eagerly and ably provided by this Administration.

While it's unfortunate that the media in the U.S. does not seem overly concerned about its role as a public watchdog over the government, it is fortunate for Americans that we have access to other countries' mainstream media (who still do an admirable job of reporting) and fine online writers and researchers who also show a great deal of skill and care in their product as well as an allegiance to truth.

In recognition of them, the following is the memo from The Sunday Times, a link to the Global Policy Forum for further elaboration and a copy of the memo, a link to The Hutton Inquiry which contains related documents in a well-laid out form and provides the option of both PDF and HTML conversion for easy downloading and/or reading, and a link to the JNV website which contains many features worth reviewing but for the purposes of this Post, contains the British Attorney General's Memorandum to Tony Blair on the legality of the war in both its Summary form and the Full 9 page legal opinion.

While reviewing the British Attorney General's Memorandum/Opinion please note:

27. "In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force."; and further, in the conclusion

"...regime change cannot be the objective of military action. This should be borne in mind in considering the list of military targets and in making public statements about any campaign."

The following is the memo by Matthew Rycroft as reported by the Sunday Times. It should be seared into every thinking American's soul. Above all, it should be remembered that all that is being done by the Administration is being done in each of our names.
_________

SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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