May 03, 2007

Iraq Is Cheney's War

The guardian has an astonishing interview with the former UK Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, who was one of the warmongers in the room with Bush, Blair and others when the Downing Street Memos were being written:
"Sometimes ... Tony had made his point with the president, and I'd made my point with Don [Rumsfeld] and Jack [Straw] had made his point with Colin [Powell] and the decision actually came out of a completely different place. And you think: what did we miss? I think we missed Cheney."
So Cheney was over-ruling Rumsfeld, no big surprise there. But it leaves the question open: did Cheney over-rule Bush, or did Bush leave it to Cheney to decide whether or not the USA went to war? This is from the Guardian editorial today:
Time has not dulled the urge of any present member of his government to slither around with words which disguise the truth about the unfolding catastrophe. Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary during the invasion, makes a series of candid admissions to the Guardian today. He admits that the decision to disband Iraq's army and to de-Ba'athify its civil service two months after the invasion unleashed a host of highly trained and angry people into the hands of the insurgency. It allowed Saddam Hussein's people to link up with al-Qaida and ultimately with Sunni insurgents. He says that attempts by members of the government to lobby their counterparts in Washington somehow missed the fact that it was the neoconservative vice-president, Dick Cheney, who pulled the strings (as if we did not know that at the time). And he concludes: "Maybe we were too optimistic about the idea of the streets being lined with cheering people."

Is this honesty, or yet another political counter-measure? Mr Hoon admits that the tactics were wrong, but continues to defend the strategy. He still feels that the decision to go to war was right, even though it was based on the wrong evidence, and challenged anyone "to go through what they went through" and come to a different conclusion. This is all of a piece with the non-apology Mr Blair gave in an exchange in October 2004, apologising for faulty pre-war intelligence - which he was careful not to take responsibility for - but sticking by every decision he had taken.


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