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"Ahead of the G8 summit in France this weekend, a five-part FT investigation reveals the inside story of the diplomatic meltdown that led to war in Iraq." (1) See footnote 1 for the main investigation url and subsequent footnotes for some stories to date. For the Financial Times' main Iraq page, go to www.ft.com/iraq The investigation suggests the US Administration seemed to decide to invade Iraq several months before the mid-March invasion, and regardless of the on-the-ground presence and work of UNMOVIC/IAEA. Some key excerpts (especially note the quote from a "senior aide to President George W. Bush", a "person who worked closely with the National Security Council during those days after [Iraq's proscribed weapons'] declaration was delivered on December 8", referring to the declaration: "A tinpot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger inside the White House. After that point, there was no prospect of a diplomatic solution"): [begin] France concluded in early January that the US had abandoned the diplomatic path to disarm Iraq via the United Nations and was already determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The conclusion, confirmed to the FT by French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin, lay at the heart of the confrontation between the US-led coalition and the anti-war camp championed by France, Germany and Russia. "I realised then that those who wanted to make war had a free hand," Mr de Villepin said. The clash, which shook transatlantic relations and caused a major split within Europe over allegiance to Washington, is examined in depth in an FT report beginning on Tuesday. Bush administration officials indicate that the French assessment was justified. A senior aide to President George W. Bush says the critical "internal moment" in the White House came in the second week of December, when the president was briefed on Iraq's weapons declaration. "It was not even a credible document," the White House official said. The president was told that the Iraqi regime appeared to have made a decision not to cooperate with the UN process of disarmament. "This was more of the same. It was checkmate." "A tinpot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger inside the White House. After that point, there was no prospect of a diplomatic solution," said one person who worked closely with the National Security Council during the days after the declaration was delivered on December 8. [end] (2) [begin] President Jacques Chirac ordered Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, his personal diplomatic adviser, to fly to Washington to see Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's national security adviser, to find out what was up in the US capital. Their meeting took place on January 13, over lunch on the mahogany table in Ms Rice's neat, net-curtained office at the front of the West Wing of the White House. Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador, and Steve Hadley, Ms Rice's number two, were present. Mr Gourdault-Montagne - known by his Hollywood-style initials MGM in the corridors of the French bureaucracy - had come with three arguments cautioning against any rush to war. Courteous but firm, he warned that such action might, in the view of his president, destabilise other Arab governments in the region. War would spur recruitment to al-Qaeda. And there was still no evidence to link al-Qaeda to Baghdad. His concerns were bluntly dismissed. "They got the reply: boom, boom, boom," a senior French diplomat recalls. "Everything was impossible. The preparations for war must proceed. "The message from Condi Rice was absolutely clear. The US had decided that military action was necessary to resolve the Iraqi crisis and the only thing that would stop it was the fall, or departure, of Saddam Hussein." Mr Gourdault-Montagne also met Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary at the Pentagon and the leading advocate of military intervention to overthrow Mr Hussein. He learnt that the "window of opportunity" for invasion was open until mid-March, when summer temperatures would make desert warfare well-nigh impossible. The message went straight back to Paris and galvanised French government thinking. [end] (3) 1. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1051390321240&p=1051390283578 2. Robert Graham and James Harding, "US accused of deserting diplomatic path in Iraq", Financial Times, 26 May 2003, http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1051390328640&p=1031119383196 and Quentin Peel, Robert Graham, James Harding and Judy Dempsey, "How the US set a course for war with Iraq", Financial Times, 26 May 2003, http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1051390328587&p=1051390283578 3. Quentin Peel, Robert Graham, James Harding and Judy Dempsey, "How the US set a course for war with Iraq", Financial Times, 26 May 2003, http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1051390328587&p=1051390283578 Nathaniel Hurd Consultant on United Nations Iraq policy Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389 Fax: 718-504-4224 E-mail: email@example.com 777 United Nations Plaza Suite 7A New York, NY 10017 _________________________________________________________________ Protect your PC - get McAfee.com VirusScan Online http://clinic.mcafee.com/clinic/ibuy/campaign.asp?cid=3963 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk