BATTLE OF THE PREWAR MEMOS

Another prewar memo, written July 21, 2002, two days before the famous Downing Street memo,
has come to light. href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1648758,00.html" target='new"'> color=#003399>Here it is, as posted by The Sunday Times of London. Now
compare href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/11/AR2005061100723.ht
ml" target='new"'>Walter Pincus’s report
on it
in Sunday’s Washington Post with href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/13/politics/13downing.html?pagewanted=all"
target='new"'>David Sanger’s
in this morning’s
New York Times. The difference is night vs. day.


Pincus begins by saying the memo concluded that “the US military was not preparing
adequately for what the memo predicted would be a ‘protracted and costly’ postwar occupation”
and follows up by saying that it “provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a
Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable and realized more clearly than their US
counterparts the potential for the postinvasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.” He adds
further that the introduction to the 8-page memo says U.S. “military planning for action against
Iraq is proceeding apace” and emphasizes that “little thought” has been given to “the aftermath
and how to shape it.”


Sanger begins by saying the memo “explicity states the Bush administration had made ‘no
political decisions’ to invade Iraq, but that American military planning for the possibility was
advanced.” He adds further that the memo also said “American planning in, the eyes of [British
Prime Minister] Blair’s aides, was ‘virtually silent’ on problems of a postwar occupation.”


Apart from the general tenor of Sanger’s article, the prominence he gives to the statement that
“no political decisions” were taken creates an odd disconnect. If there were no “political”
decisions by then, how come military decisions had already been made for the invasion? Does
anyone really believe advanced military planning for action is not a euphemism for military
decisions taken on the basis of the administration’s orders, which were inherently political in this
case?

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