This transcript is absolutely fascinating. JMG at Barcepundit points out all the reasons it does not say what the anti-war Bush haters say it does, but beyond that, it is just an incredibly interesting insight into the thought processes of leaders. The transcript is of the memo of a conversation between President Bush and Spain's former PM Aznar in Crawford in March 2003 as the Iraq war was about to start.
If anything, the transcript proves precisely the opposing point that critics want to make. The conversation shows both Bush and Aznar trying to avoid war; that they were concerned of its human toll, and that Saddam wanted to flee with money... and WMD information. I guess all the people who are trumpeting this will stop saying now that Bush lied and mislead us on the WMD issue. Won't hold my breath, though. At one point Bush explicitely says: "Yo no quiero la guerra. Sé lo que son las guerras. Sé la destrucción y la muerte que traen consigo. Yo soy el que tiene que consolar a las madres y a las viudas de los muertos. Por supuesto, para nosotros esa sería la mejor solución. Además, nos ahorraría 50.000 millones de dólares" ["I don't want war. I know what war is like. I know the death and destruction they bring. I am the one who has to comfort the mothers and wives of the dead. Of course, for us [a diplomatic solution] would be the best one. Also, it would save 50 billion dollars" -- again, my emphasis and translation] Bush even wanted to soften the rivalry with Chirac, and thought he was being ill-advised. He even asked Aznar to send the French president his best wishes, since Aznar was going to meet him in the next days.
Read the entire post. Barcepundit goes into the various places and ways the memo is mischaracterized. I am used to that, unfortunately, but what I am not used to is being "in on" such an important conversation. It puts you right back into the mindset leading up to the war. We believed (by "we" I include Bill Clinton, John Kerry, the UN, the French, etc.) that Saddam possessed WMD and wanted to use it against the US. We had just experienced 9/11 and had vowed that never again would we allow a known threat to be ignored. It also shows the humanity and compassion of the President who is well aware of the consequences of war and not at all taking them lightly. I just wish he had been better able to convey that to the American public. I am convinced that history's view of the lead up to the war will be much different than what our 24/7 cable news cycle reporting has has been. Thanks to Barcepundit for the improved translation and for the excellent post. Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.