“During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.
“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides. “The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”
Stamped “extremely sensitive,” the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Mr. Blair’s most senior aides, had not been made public. Several highlights were first published in January in the book “Lawless World,” which was written by a British lawyer and international law professor, Philippe Sands. In early February, Channel 4 in London first broadcast several excerpts from the memo.
The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.”
What is the importance of this memo? More than likely, Bush assumed that Iraq would not disarm. Bush most likely assumed this considering that Hussein disregarded U.N. resolutions time and again.
So, some of the importance of this memo is to confirm that Bush did not believe a diplomatic solution was possible. However, the main question is; if Bush assumed that Hussein would never disarm, why would he not wait until he could build a stronger multi-national coalition? The strongest countries he had as of March were Britain, Spain, Portugal, and Poland. Not having France or Germany with him definitely made things more difficult. Could there have been a way to persuade the other countries to join in a military solution? Perhaps had the U.S. the expertise of other countries who were more familiar with the Middle East and its politics, we wouldn’t have a repeat of the aftermath of World War I like we have now.
We’ll never know, as Bush was dead-set on going to war in March 2003, no matter what.