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Monday, June 13, 2005

be a patriot

i was going to post some op-ed articles about this Downing Street Memo revelation, but i think this kind of situation calls for personal assessment. so, i ask you each to read this memo and think about what should be done. i'm doing the same.



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


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.


(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.)

for what i think is a fairly comprehensive breakdown of all the characters and events surrounding this release, go here.
i'm feeling drenched with alternating waves of anger and sadness. i feel helpless and i'm not sure what to do. printing letters and signing petitions seems utterly pathetic and juvenille.
he is such a dark man, and i am confused and disheartened that more people are not as despondent as i am.


At 6/13/2005 07:31:00 PM, Anonymous bent said...

is that for real? i dont watch any news really so im not hip to this, but if thats an actual memo, there is some fucked up stuff in the world and those in power can no longer pretend (and i can no longer believe) that they genuinely believe in what they are doing as something that is a moral/just action. it is stated that this war was one of illegality multiple times in the memo, so it must have been mentioned to bush at some point. arent these people IN government? isnt the LAW what they are trained to follow? how does this line ("We must not ignore the legal issues") make it into a fuckin document about people enforcing the LAW?

and if we want to abandon all this legal mumbo-jumbo, lets look at this from a human decency point of view. to sit around and know there is attempted use of force in order to further someone's own agenda, and not do something about it from a position of such great power is ridiculous. but i think it is more indicative of ho regular and systematic bullshit wars are for higher leaders.

At 6/13/2005 07:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is all too real, I am afraid...

Thanks to this blog for the link to our site, We are just a group of regular citizens that were so angry about what this document (and the others leaking out that relate to it) say about our government that we had to do something... some of us for the first time. This website is the result.

Please take some time and read, learn, and hopefully take action afterwards. I know that writing letters and emails seem like futile activities, but that is what is getting the media to start covering this finally. And we have to keep on them to get the whole story told. Then call for investigations.

the team
(prowling the referrer logs :-)

At 6/15/2005 04:19:00 PM, Blogger Bilvox said...

Hola, I agree completely reading this is like a complete map to the pieces on a chess board and saddening, but these pieces are much bigger thank a rook, or knight... its political stability in a area still so unstable after years of the imperialism of last century.. and most important peoples lives... people that want a better life than any regime...


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