It is now up to the American people to prove to the world that democracy works in the country, that a President and his coterie cannot hold the country’s will and intelligence for granted.
But first the background:
Deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had offered to go into exile, ahead of the US invasion of Iraq, according to a transcript of talks from a meeting between US President George Bush and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in February, 2003 at Bush’s Texas ranch.
Saddam Hussein was prepared to take US$1 billion and go into exile before the Iraq war, said this report in the Washington Post.
“The Egyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1 billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction,” Bush was quoted as saying at the meeting one month before the US-led invasion, according to the Washington Post.
The transcript was published this week by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. White House spokesperson Dana Perino said at a press briefing, when asked about the report in El Pais, “Well, without commenting on the details or talking about a private conversation between two world leaders and whether or not that happened, if you think back to that time, there were a lot of rumors”.
Saddam Hussein’s attempt to flee the country, ahead of an invasion by the US and its allies, puts on display once again the basic cowardice of despots when they find that the chips are down.
But that Bush did not pursue this offer further is evidence that he wanted to invade Iraq at whatever costs. If Saddam Hussein had to go into exile, he would be hard put to justify the war and the loss of lives.
So intent was Bush on war that, according to the transcript, he told the Spanish Prime Minister that whatever happens, the allies would be in Baghdad by the end of March.
Let’s work out the alternate scenario had Bush and his allies pursued the proposal for Saddam Hussein’s exile. The butcher of Baghdad would have gone into exile, probably naming a successor, or a transitional government in Iraq. Most logically in this situation, the transition would be supervised by the UN, and would not require a US invasion force.
Yes, it would take time, and patience, but the Iraq war and a lot of loss of life would have been avoided. US troops would have been home, and Americans wouldn’t have to bear the pain of the continuous loss of American lives in Iraq.
A lot of Americans and many more Iraqi lives would have been saved if Bush had not decided to play cowboy.
If the transcript is found to be accurate, and it is found that Bush did not pursue the exile option, preferring instead to rush into Iraq with guns blazing, there may be a case for impeaching the US President.
It is now up to the American people to prove to the world that democracy works in the country.