Report Says Hussein Was Open To Exile Before 2003 Invasion
He Is Said to Have Sought $1 Billion and Information on Arms
By Karen DeYoung and Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 27, 2007; A17
Less than a month before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein signaled that he was willing to go into exile as long as he could take with him $1 billion and information on weapons of mass destruction, according to a report of a Feb. 22, 2003, meeting between President Bush and his Spanish counterpart published by a Spanish newspaper yesterday.
The meeting at Bush’s Texas ranch was a planning session for a final diplomatic push at the United Nations. The White House was preparing to introduce a tough new Security Council resolution to pressure Hussein, but most council members saw it as a ploy to gain their authorization for war.
Spain‘s prime minister at the time, Jose Maria Aznar, expressed hope that war might be avoided — or at least supported by a U.N. majority — and Bush said that outcome would be “the best solution for us” and “would also save us $50 billion,” referring to the initial U.S. estimate of what the Iraq war would cost. But Bush made it clear in the meeting that he expected to “be in Baghdad at the end of March.”
What’s overwhelmingly evident from this report is that ‘the best solution for us’ didn’t stand up to the test of phony Texas macho. Exile was, as Nancy Pelosi would put it, ‘never on the table.’
Bush delivers a whole laundry-list of threats to nations that will not follow his intrigues. The sorry fact is that Spain and England could be bought–only the ‘freedom fries’ French had balls enough to tell it like it was–and is.
Aznar ends the meeting with that comment about optimism–but bull-headedness and an aversion to opinions in opposition is closer to a definition of hubris than optimism.
What Anzar could not have known, is that the world’s greatest military power could be so incredibly incompetent in the planning for war and its aftermath.