Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hussein's Exile/An Impatient President

This Washington Post piece details an article in the Spanish newspaper El Pais (original here) about a supposed offer from Saddam Hussein to go into exile prior to the invasion of Iraq, so long as he could take $1 billion and "information" on Iraq's WMDs with him. But what I found most interesting about the article is the picture it paints of a President who simply couldn't wait to start getting people killed in Iraq:

The account offered a rare glimpse of how Bush interacted with a trusted foreign leader, offering blunt assessments and showing a determination that led even Aznar, a close ally on Iraq, to ask that Bush show "a little more patience" in the march toward war. Bush expressed anger and irritation at those governments that disagreed with him, warning that they would pay a price. He directed particular scorn toward then-French President Jacques Chirac, one of the most public opponents of invasion, saying Chirac "sees himself as Mr. Arab."

Although Bush's public position at the time of the meeting was that the door remained open for a diplomatic solution, hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops had already been deployed to Iraq's border, and the White House had made its impatience clear. "Time is short," Bush said in a news conference with [Spanish PM Jose Maria] Aznar the same day.

[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."

"It's like Chinese water torture," he said of the U.N. negotiations. "We've got to put an end to it."

Bush noted that he had gone to the United Nations "despite differences in my own administration" and said it would be "great" if the proposed resolution was successful.

"The only thing that worries me is your optimism," Aznar said.

"I'm optimistic because I believe I'm right," Bush replied. "I'm at peace with myself."

That apparently hasn't changed, at least if the amount of sleep Bush is getting is any measure. However, some of us Americans spend our time at night wondering how a man so intellectually incurious and inflexible could possibly have persuaded fellow Americans to vote for him.

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