“The case was thin…”

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Kevin Drum notes that the American media (in this case Knight-Ridder) has finally decided to report on the July 2002 British memo that emerged just in time for British elections. The memo offers concrete evidence that Bush had been shopping around for an excuse to invade Iraq far before he ever started discussing democracy-building. Note:

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…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 neighbors, 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-defense, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorization…Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.

So there was no confusion on WMDs—this makes it obvious that WMDs were a total excuse—and the memo actually notes other countries that we should be worried about. Not only does the memo acknowledge that there are no legal grounds for invading Iraq, but it makes clear that Bush and Blair had every intent of stretching, no, fabricating, a reason to invade. I’m a big fan of this memo: it does a beautiful job of revealing the devious nature of the fabrication of a justification, while at the same time exposing the underlying stupidity. It’s like Pinky and the Brain. Only it’s Blair and Bush. Regime change is not a sufficient legal base for military action? No kidding. And then, my favorite: “Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate