The scoop is the transcript of a memo [link in Spanish] of a private conversation between President Bush and Prime Minister Aznar in 2003. Though the text is in Spanish, not a particularly little known language, the only translation there was for a while was a machine made one, published by Editor and Publisher. Jose Guardia of Pajamas Media says it is atrocious and I can well believe it, having seen machine translations before.
Nevertheless, it does seem to be the one used by those who reported the story.
There is now no need to read the machine translation as Mr Guardia has provided an accurate one of his own. And a very interesting document it is, too, providing a good deal of enlightenment about the discussions before the second UN resolution.
The most interesting, almost throw-away line in it is a reference to Egyptian attempts to intervene. Bush told Aznar among other matters:
The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It seems he has hinted he’d be willing to leave if he’s allowed to take 1 billion dollars and all the information on WMDs.How’s that again? Information on WMDs? That is what he hinted to the Egyptians, specifically to Hosni Mubarak, who passed it on to the Americans? Errrm, you mean there were WMDs or plans for them? Surely not. We know that Bush lied and people died. (Oh, and while we are on the subject, what did the Israelis bomb in Syria?)
There is a great deal of discussion between Bush, Aznar and Condoleezza Rice about the best way of getting the second resolution through and how to approach various countries to get their vote, with Bush somewhat understandably pawing the ground and Aznar asking him to be patient.
Bush also shows himself anxious to avoid war (well, they all do because contrary to the BDS sufferers no sane human being actually likes war) but says that Saddam can have no guarantees if he goes into exile:
Bush: No guarantees. He’s a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal. Compared to Saddam, Milosevic would be a Mother Teresa. When we go in, we are going to discover many more crimes, and we’ll take him to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Saddam Hussein believes he has escaped. He thinks that France and Germany have stopped the process of his prosecution. He also thinks that last week’s anti-war demonstrations [Saturday, February 15] protect him. And he believes I’m weakened. But people around him know that things are totally different. They know their future is in exile or in a coffin. This is why it’s so important to keep the pressure up. Ghaddafi is indirectly telling us that this is the only thing that can finish him. Saddam’s only strategy is delay, delay, delay.Not an inaccurate analysis. It would appear that President Bush is not the idiot he is made out by the sophisticated Europeans (though not Aznar) who, with their convoluted dealings merely encouraged Saddam to hold out for far too long.
Read the whole piece. It is worth it.