The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.(Including the 427 members of the Big Brass Alliance.)
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.
The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.
“It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject,” the document says. But if he accepted it and did not attack the allies, they would be “most unlikely” to obtain the legal justification they needed.
The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war. The attack on Iraq finally began in March 2003.
There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month’s publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to “the DSM” on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media.
Who, I wonder, is our friendly British Deep Throat? Whoever it is, I’m fucking glad they care more about holding our president accountable for his actions more than most of the members of our own government.
More information on this as it becomes available.
In other news, the AP has done a fine piece on the Downing Street Memo, and the Washington Post has gotten in on the action, too.