Yet another document has been published by the Sunday Times.
This time, it is the Cabinet Office paper produced on July 21, 2002 to be supplied to the attendees of the meeting of July 24, 2002 to which we have the Downing Street Memo. It was published by the Sunday Times on June 12.
As I have read more and more of these memos and internal documents (see my previous posts), it becomes more and more clear to me that the UK, and Tony Blair, have been played like a fiddle by the United States.
One can assume that this applies to other Coalition members as well, but it seems Tony Blair has really become the biggest patsy of the new milleniums first major war.
The Cabinet Paper outlines, in great detail, the UKs’ position going into its’ decision on supporting the Iraq war. It seems clear, by this memo, that at that point no political or military decision had been made to join the US in an invasion of Iraq. However, the tenor of the memos all suggest that the invasion was seen as inevitable and the only question was whether Blair would go along for the ride… and this particular memo indicates that
US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia thus implicating the British no matter what the legal realities of the war and their participation in it.
The UK had a number of concerns… why don’t we look at those concerns, point by point…
the UK would support military action… provided that certain conditions were met:
- efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion,
- the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and
- the options for action to eliminate Iraq’s WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.
and said another way further into the document,
Aside from the existance of a viable military plan we consider the following conditions necessary for military action and UK participation:
- justification/legal base;
- an international coalition;
- a quiescent Israel/Palestine;
- a positive risk/benefit assessment; and
- the preparation of domestic opinion.
On the “positive risk/benefit assessment” ie, the end state of Iraq and whether it would be better than the current situation… and the political effect at home. the Paper had this to say…
… The US Government’s military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.
Now there’s a ringing endorsement of the US Administration’s military planning if I had ever seen one. And to continue…
Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq…. US military plans include no specifics on the strategic context either before or after the campaign.
Some may say that “hey, this was almost a year before the war started… it was still early for planning that stuff out!”. To that I say… what planet are you from? Do you not think that it would behoove whoever the invader, nee.. “liberator”, is, to have a plan on how to sell the “liberation” both to the domestic political masses, and to the “liberatees”.
In my view, this memo shows extreme naivetee by the US Administration… but also extreme manipulation of their British allies.
The UK, it seems, was in a bind. It desperately wanted to show to the US that it was it’s greatest and most reliable ally. But at the same time realised that it would be stuck paying at least part of the bill, politically, militarily, and financially thanks to basing agreements at Cyprus and Diego Garcia.
the use of bases in Turkey would also be necessary Turkey refused
US military planning assumes that the US would be allowed to use bases… in Jordan Also refused… not even airspace flyover was granted.
France might be prepared to take part if she saw military action as inevitable. She refused [It appears, that the big worry was Russia and China, far more than France and Germany)
Real progress towards a viable Palestinian state is the best way to undercut Palestinian extremists and reduce Arab antipathy to military action against Saddam Hussein.
That didn’t start happening until after Arafat died (after the war of course).
A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point.
We judge that for climactic reasons, military action would need to start by January 2003, unless action were deferred until the following autumn
In other words… avoid fighting in the heat of the Arabian summer. Ooops.
So the British didn’t get their wish on:
- a legal basis for war
- military basing in Turkey or Jordan
- effort on the MEPP
- a coalition including either NATO or the UN
- a post-war strategy
- a quick war with definite outcomes
- not getting stuck with the tab of rebuilding Iraq
One wonders how Blair sleeps at night knowing he sold out his nation.. for that.
And to add… now the Sunday Times is reporting that the British Foreign Office indicated to the Blair government in July 2002 that the subsequent “spikes of activity” in the no fly zones…that is, air raids designed to “soften up” Iraqs air defenses before the war, were, in the Foreign Offices legal opinion… ILLEGAL UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW.
These air strikes happened 6 months before resolution 1441, which the Coalition claims authorized the invasion.
He said UN Resolution 688, used by the allies to justify allied patrols over the no-fly zones, was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which deals with all matters authorising military force.
The Foreign Office advice noted that the Americans had “on occasion” claimed that the allied aircraft were there to enforce compliance with resolutions 688 and 687, which ordered Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction.
This view is not consistent with resolution 687, which does not deal with the repression of the Iraqi civilian population, or with resolution 688, which was not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and does not contain any provision for enforcement,” it said.