Saturday, February 22, 2003

The Story of José María Aznar

Crawford Ranch, Texas, United States. President Bush hosts Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar. They have an informal dinner on Friday evening, and hold working sessions on Saturday morning. Spain is a staunch ally in the so-called 'war on terrorism'.

President Bush: We are in favor of obtaining a second Resolution in the Security Council and would like to do it quickly. We would like to announce it on Monday or Tuesday.

Prime Minister Aznar: Better to do it Tuesday, after the EU Council on General Affairs meeting. It is important to keep the momentum of the EU summit resolution. We would prefer to wait until Tuesday.

President Bush: It could take place on Monday evening, considering the hour difference. In any case, next week. As we see the Resolution, it does not contain obligatory elements, it does not mention the use of force, and it states that Saddam Hussein has been incapable of fulfilling his obligations. That type of resolution can be voted in favor of by many people. It would be something similar as to what was obtained with the one on Kosovo.

Prime Minister Aznar: This would appear before the Security Council before, and independently of, a parallel declaration?

Condoleezza Rice: In fact, there would not be any parallel declaration. We are thinking of a Resolution as simple as possible, without too many details on fulfillment of obligations which Saddam has used as stages and has consistently failed to fulfill. We are talking with Blix and others about in search of ideas that can serve as an introduction to the Resolution.

President Bush: Saddam Hussein will not change, he will continue playing. The moment has come to get rid of him. That’s the way it is. I, as regards myself, will from now on try to use the most subtle rhetoric possible, while we look towards approval of the Resolution. If someone vetoes, we will do it ourselves. Saddam Hussein is not being disarmed. We must get to him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience until now. There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be ready militarily. I believe we will obtain the second Resolution. In the Security Council we have talked to the three African countries, to the Chileans, the Mexicans. I will talk with all of them, also with Putin, of course. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March. There is a 15 percent chance that Saddam will then be dead or has left the country. But those possibilities do not exist before we have shown our Resolution. The Egyptians are talking to Saddam Hussein. It seems that he indicated that he would like to arrange his own exile if he could take one billion dollars and all the information he wants on weapons of mass destruction. Khadaffi has told Berlusconi that Saddam wants to leave the country. Mubarak tells us that in those circumstances there are many possibilities Saddam will be assassinated.

We would like to act with the mandate of the United Nations. If we opt for military action we will do so with high accuracy and with a strong focus on our objectives. We will decimate the loyal troops and the regular army will quickly know how things stand. We have sent a very clear message to the generals of Saddam Hussein: we will treat them as war criminals. We know that they have accumulated an enormous amount of dynamite to blow up the bridges and other infrastructure and to explode petroleum wells. We have planned to occupy those wells immediately. Also, the Saudis will help us to put out the petroleum necessary. We are working hard to get together a humanitarian aid package. We can win without destruction. We are already building a post-Saddam Iraq, and I believe that will be a good basis for the future. Iraq already has quite a firm bureaucracy and civil society. It would be possible to construct this into a federation. Meanwhile we are doing all we can to take care of the political necessities of our friends and allies.

Prime Minister Aznar: It is very important for us to have a Resolution. It would not be the same if we would act without one. It is very advisable to have a majority in the Security Council to support such a Resolution. In fact, it is more important to have a majority than to have someone veto the Resolution. Let us say that in the Resolution it is stated, among other things, that Saddam Hussein has lost his opportunity.

President Bush: Yes, by all means. That would be better than to have a reference to “by all means necessary”.

Prime Minister Aznar: Saddam Hussein has not cooperated, has not been disarmed, we will have to make a summing up of all of the failures to comply and to send a clearer message. That would allow, for example, Mexico to change position.

President Bush: The Resolution will be tailor-made to our needs. It will have such a content.

Prime Minister Aznar: We will help you arrive at a text.

President Bush: We do not have any text. Just a criterion: that Saddam Hussein disarms. We cannot allow that Saddam Hussein continues until summer. After all, it has already been four days since this last stage and that is more than enough time to disarm.

Prime Minister Aznar: A text would help us to be able to support it and to be its coauthor and to get many people to support it.

President Bush: Perfect.

Prime Minister Aznar: Next Wednesday I will be with Chirac. The Resolution will be circulating by then already.

President Bush: That sounds very good to me. Chirac knows the reality perfectly. Their intelligence services have explained it. The Arabs are sending Chirac a very clear message: Saddam Hussein must go. The problem is that Chirac thinks he is Mr Arab and that makes life truly impossible. But I do not want to have a rivalry with Chirac. We have different points of view, but I want to leave all that outside. I have only good memories on my part. Really! Any rivalry that exists between us will be better for all.

Prime Minister Aznar: How is the Resolution linked to the report by the inspectors?

Condoleezza Rice: In fact, it will be announced on 28 February that the inspectors will present a written report on the 1st of March, and it will not appear before the Security Council until 6 or 7 March. We don’t expect much of that report. Like in the previous ones, it will consist of lime and sand. I have the impression that Blix will be more negative this time than before on Iraq’s willingness. After the inspectors have appeared in the Council we must consequently expect the vote on the Resolution one week later. The Iraqis, meanwhile, will try to explain that they are complying with their obligations. We can neither be sure of that nor will it be sufficient, although they have announced the destruction of some missiles.

President Bush: This is like Chinese water torture. We must end it.

Prime Minister Aznar: I agree, but it would be good to be able to count on the maximum amount of possible supporters. With a little patience.

President Bush: My patience has run out. I do not think to go on with this beyond mid-March.

Prime Minister Aznar: I do not ask you to have infinite patience. Just that you do what is possible so that everything is in line.

President Bush: Countries like Mexico, Chile, Angola and Cameroon must know that what is stake here is the security of the United States and should act with a sense of friendship towards us.

Lakes must know that the free trade agreement with Chile is pending confirmation in the Senate and that any negative attitude on this subject could put that ratification at risk. Angola is receiving funding from the Millennium Account and that might be jeopardized if they do not have a positive attitude. And Putin must know that his attitude is endangering the relations between Russia and the United States.

Prime Minister Aznar: Tony wants to get there around the 14th of March.

President Bush: I prefer the 10th. This is like the game of good cop bad cop. I do not care if I am the bad cop and that Blair is the good cop.

Prime Minister Aznar: Is it certain that there is a possibility that Saddam Hussein wants to go into exile?

President Bush: Yes, that possibility exists. Even if he will be assassinated.

Prime Minister Aznar: Exile with some guarantee?

President Bush: No guarantee. He is a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal. Compared with Saddam, Milosevic is a Mother Theresa. When we enter we will discover many more crimes and we will take them to the International Court of Justice. Saddam Hussein thinks he already escaped. Thinks that France and Germany have stopped the process of their responsibilities. Also thinks that the protests over the last week protect him. And he thinks that I am very debilitated. But people around him know that things are of a different nature. They know that his future is in exile or in a coffin. For that reason it is so important to maintain the pressure on him. Khadaffi indirectly tells us that this is the only way to get rid of him. The only strategy that Saddam Hussein has, is to delay, to delay and to delay.

Prime Minister Aznar: In fact, a greater success would be to take hold of the situation without shooting a single shot and enter Baghdad.

President Bush: For me it would be the perfect solution. I do not want this war. I know what they are like, wars. I know the death and destruction that comes with it. I am the one who will have to comfort the mothers and the widows of the dead. For sure, for us that would be the best solution. In addition, it would save us 50 billion dollars.

Prime Minister Aznar: We need you to help us with our public opinion.

President Bush: We will do everything as planned. On Wednesday I will speak on the situation in the Middle East, proposing a new peace plan that you know off and on weapons of mass destruction, on the benefits of a free society, and I will set out the history of Iraq in a wider context. Maybe that will help you.

Prime Minister Aznar: What we are doing means a very deep change for Spain and the Spaniards. We are changing the policy that the country has followed for the last two hundred years.

President Bush: It has the same historical meaning of responsibility to me as it has to you. When history judges us I do not want people to ask themselves why Bush, or Aznar, or Blair did not face up to their responsibilities. In the end, what people want is to enjoy freedom. Recently, in Romania, they reminded me of the example of Caeusescu: it was enough for a woman to call him crazy for the whole repressive structure to come down. It is the uncontrollable power of freedom. I am convinced that I will obtain the Resolution.

Prime Minister Aznar: Wonderful.

President Bush: I made the decision to go to the Security Council. In spite of the differences of opinion within my Administration, I told my people we had to work with our friends. It will be wonderful to have a second Resolution.

Prime Minister Aznar: The only thing that is worrying to me is your optimism.

President Bush: I am optimistic because I believe that I am right. I am at peace with myself. The situation is one of a serious threat against the peace. It irritates me to think of the insensible attitude of the Europeans about the suffering that Saddam Hussein inflicts on the Iraqis. Perhaps because he is brown, far away and Muslim, many Europeans think everything is fine about him. I will not forget what Solana once said to me: that the Americans thought that the Europeans are anti-semitic and incapable of facing their responsibilities. That defensive attitude is terrible. I must recognize that with Kofi Annan I have magnificent relations.

Prime Minister Aznar: He shares your ethical concerns.

President Bush: The more the Europeans attack me, the stronger the support I get in the United States.

Prime Minister Aznar: We must make that strength of support appear in Europe.


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