How much BS wankery can one fit into a glowing retrospective on Bush?

I’m not because I have my limits on reading this garbage.  For this Telegraph op/ed piece titled “History will show that George W Bush was right“, my limit was paragraph #8:

Similarly, the cold light of history will absolve Bush of the worst conspiracy-theory accusation: that he knew there were no WMDs in Iraq. History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British Government, Saddam’s own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course SIS and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Hooo boy…

History is a funny thing.  The author of this op/ed piece, Andrew Roberts, should know this because he’s purportedly a historian.  I say “purportedly” because he writes history books, but I’ve never read his work — nor will I ever if his books are as ignorant as this op/ed piece of his.

For history to reflect, it needs primary sources to divulge and interpret.  Many primary sources from the Bush administration — documents which detail the thoughts of and debates among members of the administration — won’t be declassified for years, and a proper history of his administration cannot be written until then.  But some documents do get leaked.

Stop me if you’ve heard about this primary source document before: the Downing Street Memo.  If you need a reminder, it’s the minutes of a July 23, 2002 British Prime Minister’s cabinet meeting leaked to the Times of London in 2005.  At this meeting, Sir Richard Dearlove (known as “C” in the meeting’s minutes), the head of British foreign intelligence (MI6), told the highest officials of the British government gathered at this meeting…

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.

Just in case there’s any question of what “fixed” here means, after Dearlove’s report the British ministers discussed how to set up a legal case to invade Iraq even though the notion that it had WMDs was weak.  This comes from the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who postulated:

Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.

And it comes from the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, who added:

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.

So hear we see that the British government does not think Saddam can threaten the world with WMDs, and Sir Dearlove shows that Washington probably knows Saddam isn’t a threat, either, since to make their case for war they are fixing “intelligence and facts around the policy”.

That’s quite an explosive, already existing primary source which Roberts ignores — while claiming that British intelligence (SIS) believed that Saddam had WMDs in the same breath.  In light of Iraq’s lack of threatening weapons being discussed in the presence and apparent agreement of the head of British intelligence that this document shows, one might say that Roberts is a bloody liar.  But who knows his intentions; maybe he’s innocent but incredibly daft.

Regardless, if this one small document is any indication, future historians are going to see a lot of evidence that the Bush administration knew it faced no immediate threat from Saddam that could be — nay, was — used as justification for our massive invasion of the country.  Only time will tell if the Downing Street Memo is the tip of the iceberg.  But for a historian to claim that history will vindicate Bush while ignoring primary sources, already available, that claim the contrary is pretty unbelievable.  Andrew Roberts may be many things, but what he shouldn’t be is someone allowed to lecture us on history with any air of authority if he either cannot find, or chooses to ignore, basic historical documents like the Downing Street Memo.

(edited by DrGail)

One Response to “How much BS wankery can one fit into a glowing retrospective on Bush?”

  1. I chanced upon your site via a comment from another blog and am happy I did. Great stuff you’ve got here…not sure if it’s a bug or not but the sidebar seems a little out of sync in Chrome. Bah – I should use IE and stop complaining. Cheers!

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