BUSH. We are in favor of securing a second resolution in the Security Council and we want to do it fast. We want to announce it Monday or Tuesday (February 24 or 25, 2003)
AZNAR. Better Tuesday, after the meeting of the European Union Council of General Affairs (General Affairs and External Relations Council). It’s important to maintain the momentum from the European Union summit resolution (in Brussels, Monday, February 17). We prefer to wait until Tuesday.
BUSH. It could be Monday in the afternoon, given the difference in time zones. In whatever case the next week. We see a resolution written so that it does not contain obligatory elements, that does not mention the use of force, and that states that Saddam Hussein has been unable to fulfill his obligations. Many people can vote for this type of resolution. It would be something like that during the Kosovo situation (June 10, 1999).
AZNAR. Will this be presented to the Security Council before, or independently of, a parallel declaration?
Condoleezza Rice. Actually, there won’t be a parallel declaration. We are thinking of a resolution as simple as possible so that there are not many compliance details that Saddam Hussein could use as steps, which he would [simply] fail to complete. We are talking with Blix (Chief of the UN inspectors) and others from his team to obtain ideas that be used to introduce the resolution.
BUSH. Saddam Hussein won’t change and he’ll continue to play games. The time has come to get rid of him. It is so. I, for my part, will try to use the subletest rhetoric possible while we seek approval of the resolution. If someone vetoes [Russia, China, France along with the US and UK have veto power in the Security Council as permanent members], we will go on. Saddam Hussein is not disarming. We must take him now. We have shown an incredible amount of patience until now. Two weeks remain. In two weeks we will be ready militarily. I believe we will obtain the second resolution. In the Security Council we have the three Africans (Cameroon, Angola, and Guinea), the Chileans, and the Mexicans. I will speak with all of them, and also with Putin, naturally. We will be in Baghdad by the end of March. There is a 15% chance that by this time Saddam Hussein will be dead or will have left. But theses possibilities won’t exist before we show our resolution. The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It seems that he has indicated that he would be willing to exile himself if we let him take $1 billion and all the information he wants on weapons of mass destruction. [Muammar El] Gaddafi has said to Berlusconi that Saddam Hussein wants to flee. Mubarak has told us that under these circumstances there is a strong chance he will be assassinated.
We would like to act with United Nations’s mandate. If we move militarily we can do it with great precision and with a focus on our objectives. We will decimate the loyal troops, and the regular army will quickly learn what it’s all about. We have made a clear message to Saddam Hussein’s generals: we will treat them as war criminals. We know that they have accumulated an enormous amount of dynamite to blow up the bridges and other infrastructure, and they will blow the oil wells into the sky. We plan to take the oil wells very quickly. Also the Saudis will help us by putting as much oil on the market as necessary. We are preparing a strong humanitarian aid package. We can win without destruction. We are already planning for the post-Saddam Iraq, and I believe that there are good foundations for a better future. Iraq has a good bureaucracy and a relatively strong civil society. It would be possible to organize a federation. Meanwhile, we are doing all that is possible to attend to the political necessities of our friends and allies.
AZNAR. Its very important to count on a resolution. It’s not the same to act with or without it. It would be very advisable to have majority support in the Security Council for this resolution. In fact, it would be better to have a majority than to have a vote without a veto. We believe that the content of the resolution must, among other things, contend that Saddam Hussein has lost his chance.
BUSH. Yes, of course. That would be better than having a reference to “the necessary means” [referring to the resolution type of the UN that authorized the use of “all necessary means”]
AZNAR. Saddam Hussein has no cooperated, has not disarmed, we must make a summary of his non-compliances and launch a more elaborate message. This would permit, for example, Mexico to change its position.
BUSH. The resolution will be tailored so that it helps you. I care little about its content.
AZNAR. We’ll send you some text.
BUSH. We don’t have any text. Only a criterion: that Saddam Hussein is disarmed. We cannot allow Saddam Hussein to stretch his time out until summer. After all he had four months at the last stage and that is more than enough time to disarm.
AZNAR. This text helps us to be able to sponsor it, be its coauthors, and to obtain many other sponsors.
AZNAR. Next Wednesday [February 26] I will meet Chirac. The resolution will have already begun to circulate.
BUSH. This seems good to me. Chirac understands the truth perfectly. His intelligence services have explained it to him. The Arabs are sending Chirac a clear message: Saddam Hussein must go. The problem is that Chirac thinks of himself as “Mister Arab,” but he’s really making their lives impossible. But I don’t want to have a rivalry with Chirac. We have different points of views, but I would like it to be left at that. Give him my best. Really. The less rivalry he feels, the better for everyone.
AZNAR. How will we combine the resolution and the information from the inspectors?
RICE. Actually there won’t be a report on February 28 however the inspectors will present a written report on the 1 of March, and they won’t appear before the Security Council until the 6 or 7 of March of 2003. We don’t expect much from this report. Like the others, they will present the bad and the good. I have the impression that Blix is more negative now regarding the Iraqis intentions. We must plan for a vote on the resolution one week after the appearance of the inspectors before the Council.
The Iraqis, meanwhile, will try to explain that they are complying. It is neither true nor sufficient, even though they will announce the destruction of the a few missiles.
BUSH. This is like Chinese water torture. We have to an end to it.
AZNAR. I am in agreement, but it would be good to have the backing of the maximum number of people possible. Have a little patience.
BUSH. My patience is drained. I won’t think of going past the middle of March.
AZNAR. I don’t ask for your infinite patience. Simply that you do as much as possible so that everything is squared.
BUSH. Countries like Mexico, Chile, Angola, and Cameroon must know that what’s in play is the security of the US and they must act as our friends.
[President Ricardo] Lagos must know that the free trade agreement with Chile is pending in the Senate and that a negative attitude in this matter could put its ratification in jeopardy. Angola is receiving funds from the Millennium Account and this aid could also be jeopardized if they do not show support. And Putin must know that with his attitude he is placing Russian-American relations in danger.
AZNAR. Tony wants to wait until March 14.
BUSH. I prefer the 10. This is like the game of bad cop and good cop. I don’t care if I’m the bad cop and if Blair is the good.
AZNAR. Its clear that there is some possibility that Saddam Hussein will go into exile.
BUSH. Yes, its possible. There's even a possibility that he will be assassinated.
AZNAR. Exiled with some sort of guarantee?
BUSH. No guarantee. He is a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal. Compared with Saddam, Milosevic was a Mother Theresa. When we enter we will discover many more crimes and take him to the International Tribunal of Justice in The Hague. Saddam Hussein believes that he has already escaped. He believes that France and Germany stopped pursuing their responsibilities. He also thinks that the protests of the past week (February 15) protect him. And he thinks that I am very weakened. But the people surrounding him know that things are different. They know that his future is in exile or in a coffin. Because of this it is very important to keep pressure on him. Gaddafi has told us indirectly that this is the only way to finish him. The only strategy Saddam Hussein has is to delay, delay, and delay.
AZNAR. Actually the best outcome would be to win without firing a single shot and entering Baghdad.
BUSH. For me this would be the perfect solution. I don’t want the war. I know what wars are. I know the destruction and the death that they bring with them. I am the one that has to console th mothers and the widows of the dead. Of course, for us this would be the best solution. Moreover, it would save $50 billion.
AZNAR. We need you to help with Spanish public opinion.
BUSH. We will do all we can. On Wednesday I will speak about the situation in the Middle East, proposing a new system of peace, of which you know, and about weapons of mass destruction, of the benefits of a free society, and I will put Iraq’s story in a higher context. That might help you.
AZNAR. What we are doing is a profound change for Spain and for the Spanish. We are changing the politics the country has followed for the past 200 years.
BUSH. I’m guided by a sense of history equal to yours. When after a few years history judges us, I don’t want the people to ask why Bush, or Aznar, or Blair did not confront face responsibilities. In the end, people want to enjoy liberty. Not so long ago, in Romania I remembered the example of Ceausescu: one woman calling him a liar brought the whole repressive regime down. It’s the uncontrollable power of freedom. I am convinced I will get the resolution.
AZNAR. Better than better.
BUSH. I made the decision to go to the Security Council. In spite disagreements in my administration, I told my people that we have to work with our friends. It will be spectacular to have a second resolution.
AZNAR. Only your optimism worries me.
BUSH. I am optimistic because I believe that I am in the right. I am at peace with myself. We have the job of confronting a serious threat to peace. I am very irritated by the insensitivity of the Europeans regarding the suffering Saddam Hussein has inflicted on the Iraqis. Perhaps its because he is dark, far away, and Muslim, many Europeans think that all is well with him. I will not forget what Solana asked me one time: Why is it that Americans think Europeans are anti-Semites and are incapable of facing their duties? This defensive attitude is terrible. I must admit I have a good relationship with Kofi Annan.
AZNAR. I share your ethical concerns.
BUSH. The more the Europeans attack me, the stronger I am in the United States.
AZNAR. We must make your strength compatible with the esteem of the Europeans.