Much has been made of this president's evangelical fervor. Last month, transcripts of a meeting with then-Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar were released, during which Aznar, on the eve of war with Iraq, told Bush, "The only thing that worries me is your optimism."
Bush replied, "I'm optimistic because I believe I'm right."
Here, then, is the crux of how Bush has governed. There is, noted the writer Andrew Sullivan, "no concept that even if he's right, bad things could ensue. There is no cost-benefit analysis here, no weighing of options, no thinking through of unintended consequences."
Gil Smart, Associate Idiot of the Lancaster Newspapers
The Bush Anzar Memo
Please note that, according to Wikipedia.org, El País "politically and ideologically is connected with the left and Social democrats."
El País's transcript of the meeting
A rough translation courtesy of FreeTranslation.com:
TEXT OF REFERENCE: MINUTES OF THE CONVERSATION AMONG GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR - CRAWFORD, TEXAS, February 22, 2003
President Bush. We are in favor of obtaining a second resolution in the Security Council and we would want to do it quickly. We would want to announce it Monday or Tuesday [24 or February 25, 2003].
President Aznar. Better Tuesday, after the meeting of the Counsel of General Matters of the European Union. It is important to maintain the momentum [impulse] obtained by the resolution of the summit of the European Union [in Brussels, Monday 17 of February]. We would prefer to expect until Tuesday.
PB. Could be Monday afternoon, keeping in mind the hourly difference. In any case the next week. We see the resolution edited so that contain not obligatory elements, that do not mention the use of the force, and that you be evident that Saddam Hussein has been incapable to comply its obligations. That type of resolution can be voted for many people. It would be something seemed to which was obtained when it of Kosovo [June 10, 1999].
PA. It would be presented before the Security Council before and independently of a parallel statement?
Condoleezza Curl. In reality do not there would be parallel statement. Ourselves are thinking about a resolution as simple as be possible without many details of compliance that could serve so that Saddam Hussein utilized them as phases and consequently to break them. We are speaking with Blix [chief of the inspectors of the UN] and other of its team to obtain ideas that can serve for introduce the resolution.
PB. Saddam Hussein will not change and he will continue playing. The moment to be get rid of has arrived him. Is thus. I, by my part, I will try from now on to utilize a rhetoric it more subtle possible, while we seek the approval of the resolution. If someone vetoes [Russia, Chinese and France they possess next to the United States and right United Kingdom to veto in the Security Council in their quality of permanent members], we will go. Saddam Hussein is not being disarmed. We have to catch him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience up to now. They remain two weeks. In two weeks we will be militarily ready. I believe that we will obtain the second resolution. In the Security Council we have to the three Africans [Cameroon, Angola and Guinea], to the Chileans, to the Mexicans. I will speak with all they, also with Putin, naturally. We will be in Baghdad to the end of March. A 15% of possibilities exists that just then Saddam Hussein be dead or have itself gone. But those possibilities do not exist before we have shown our resolution. The Egyptians are speaking with Saddam Hussein. It seems that has indicated that would be willing to be exiled if they left him to be carried 1.000 million dollars and all the information that wanted on weapons of massive destruction. [Muammar The] Gaddafi has said to Berlusconi that Saddam Hussein wants to be gone. Mubarak says us that in those circumstances many possibilities exist that be murdered.
We would like to act with the mandate of the United Nations. If we act militarily we will do it with a great precision and getting into a lot of focus ours objective. We will decimate to the loyal troops and the army to regulate quickly will know about what treats. We have done to arrive a very clear message to the generals of Saddam Hussein: we will treat them as war criminals. We know that they have accumulated an enormous quantity of dynamite to cause to fly the bridges and other infrastructures and to cause to explode the oil wells. We anticipate to occupy those very quick wells. Also the Saudis would help us to put in the market the petroleum that were necessary. We are developing a package of very strong humane aid. We can win without destruction. We are presenting already the Iraq post Saddam, and I believe that there is good bases for a better future. Iraq has a good bureaucracy and a relatively strong civil company. It would be able to organize in a confederacy. In the meantime we are doing everything possible to attend the political needs of our friends and allies.
PA. Is very important to include a resolution. It is not the same thing to act with her that without her. It would be very convenient to count in the Security Council with a majority that supported that resolution. In fact, is more important to include majority that that someone emit a veto. We believe that the content of the resolution he would owe among others things to verify that Saddam Hussein has lost its opportunity.
PB. Yes, of course. It would be better that that to do a reference to "the necessary media" [refers to the resolution type of the UN that authorizes to utilize "all the necessary media"].
PA. Saddam Hussein has not cooperated, he has not been disarmed, we should do a summary of his breaches and to launch a more elaborate message. That would permit for example that Mexico itself to move [in reference to change its contrary position to the second resolution, that Aznar could know of lips of the president Vicente Fox Friday 21 of February in a scale carried out in Mexico City].
PB. The resolution will be done custom-made of what can help you. A little the same thing gives me the content.
PA. We will cause we will arrive you some texts.
PB. We have no text. Only a criterion: that Saddam Hussein itself disarmament. We cannot permit that Saddam Hussein extend the time to the summer. Al end and al tip already has had four months in this last phase and that is more than sufficient time to be disarmed.
PA. That text would help us to be capable of sponsor it and to be its coauthors and to obtain that many people sponsor it.
PA. Next Wednesday [26 of February] I see me with Chirac. The resolution already there will be begun to circulate.
PB. Seems me very well. Chirac knows perfectly the reality. Its intelligence services have been explained it. The Arabs are transmitting to Chirac a very clear message: Saddam Hussein should be gone. The problem is that Chirac is believed Mister Arab
And in reality the impossible life is doing them. But I do not want to have any rivalry with Chirac. We have different points of view, but I wanted that that was all. You give him the better memories of my part. Truly! As much as less rivalry sits down he that exists among us will be better for all.
PA. How does he combine the resolution and the report of the inspectors?
Condoleezza Curl. In reality there will not be report February 28 but the inspectors will present a report written March 1, and its court appearance before the Security Council will not be produced to the 6 or March 7, 2003. We do not expect much of that report. As in the previous, they will put one of lime and another of sand. I have the impression that Blix will be now more negative than what before was on the will of the Iraqis. After the court appearance of the inspectors in the Counsel we should predict the vote on the resolution a week later. The Iraqis, in the meantime, they will try to explain that they go complying their obligations. Neither it is certain neither will be sufficient, although they announce the destruction of some missiles.
PB. This is like the Chinese torture of the water. We have to put an end to it.
PA. I agree, but would be good to include the maximum number of possible people. Have a little patience.
PB. My patience is exhausted. I do not think to go beyond the half of March.
PA. You do not I ask that have an infinite patience. Simply that do the possible thing so that all square.
PB. Countries as Mexico, Chile, Angola and Cameroon they should know that what is in play is the security of the the United States and to act with a sense of friendship toward us.
[the president Ricardo] Lakes should know that the Agreement of Free Commerce with Chile is alert of confirmation in the Senate and that a negative attitude in this theme would be able to endanger that ratification. Angola is receiving funds of the Millenium Account and also they would be able to remain compromised if themselves they are not shown positive. And Putin should know that with its attitude is endangering the relations of Russia with the United States.
PA. Tony would want to arrive to March 14.
PB. I prefer the 10. This is like the play of bad police and good police. It does not matter to me me to to be the bad police and that Blair be the good one.
PA. Is certain that some possibility exists that Saddam Hussein exile itself?
PB. Yes, that possibility exists. Even that be murdered.
PA. I exile with some guarantee?
PB. Any guarantee. Is a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal. It compared with Saddam, Milosevic would be a Mother Teresa. When we enter we are going to discover many more crimes and we will carry him al World Court of It Have. Saddam Hussein believes that already has escaped. It believes that France and Germany there are person under arrest the process of their responsibilities. It believes also that the demonstrations of last week
[Saturday 15 of February] They protect him. And it believes that I am very weakened. But the people of his environment knows that the things are otherwise. They know that its future is in the exile or in a coffin. Therefore it is so important to maintain the pressure on him. Gaddafi says us indirectly that that is the unique thing that to can put an end to him. The only strategy of Saddam Hussein is that of delaying, to delay and to delay.
PA. In reality the major success would be to win the departure without shooting a single shot and entering Baghdad.
PB. For me would be the perfect solution. I do not want the war. I know what are the wars. I know the destruction and the death that they bring with himself. I am the one that has to console the mothers and to the widows of the dead persons. Of course, for us that would be the best solution. Besides, it would save us 50.000 million dollars.
PA. We need that help us with our public opinion.
PB. We will do everything that we be able. Wednesday I am going to speak on the situation in the Middle East, proposing a new plan of peace that you know and on the weapons of massive destruction, of the benefits of a company free, and I will situate the history of Iraq in a more extensive context. Perhaps he serve you.
PA. What we are causing is a very deep change for Spain and for the Spaniards. We are changing the politics that the country had followed in the last 200 years.
PB. To me me guide a historic sense of the responsibility the same as to you. When inside some years the History judge us do not I want that the people be asked why Bush, or Aznar, or Blair did not face its responsibilities. Al final, what the people wants is to enjoy liberty. It does little, in Rumania they recalled me the example of Ceausescu: sufficed with which a woman called him liar so that all the repressive building went downhill. Is the uncontrollable power of the liberty. MYSELF am convinced that I will obtain the resolution.
PA. Better than better.
PB. I decided to go al Security Council. In spite of the divergences in my Administration, I told them my people that we had to work with our friends. Will be stupendous to include a second resolution.
PA. The unique thing that worries me of you is your optimism.
PB. MYSELF am optimist because I believe that I am in the certain thing. I am in with me same peace. Has corresponded us to face a serious threat against the peace. It irritates me a lot to contemplate the insensitivity of the Europeans on the sufferings that Saddam Hussein inflicts to the Iraqis. Perhaps because is dark, distant and Moslem, many Europeans think that all is on good terms with he. I will not forget what told me once sunny Spot: that why the Americans we think that the Europeans are antisemites and incapable to face their responsibilities. That defensive attitude is terrible. I have to recognize that with Kofi Annan I have some magnificent relations.
PA. It shares your worries ethics.
PB. The more me they attack the Europeans the more strong I am in the United States.
PA. We would have that to do compatible your fortress with the appreciation of the Europeans.
First of all, this was not on the eve before the war with Iraq. This was February 22, 2003, about a month prior.
Secondly, when Aznar said "The only thing that worries me is your optimism," and Bush replied, "I'm optimistic because I believe I'm [in the certain thing]," they were talking about getting a second UN resolution - not optimism about the war itself.
It is apparent from the transcript that the Andrew Sullivan assessment is flat wrong. While Gil and Andrew are entitled to their opinions, to reprint such nonsense without providing an opposing viewpoint is misleading and socially irresponsible.