27 Sep 2007

Traduttore, Traditore!

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The Spanish newspaper El Pais yesterday published a leaked transcript of a conversation between George W. Bush and Spanish President José María Aznar in February of 2003 which the left blogosphere gleefully reported as having revealed that Bush intended to go to war whether or not Saddam complied with UN Resolutions.

Examples:

Americablog.com:

So, the war didn’t happen because Saddam wouldn’t comply. It happened because Bush and the Republicans wanted it to happen no matter what, whether or not it was necessary.

TalkingPointsMemo:

My ability to bring you the full details on this are, to put it charitably, limited by my inability to accurately translate Spanish. But it seems someone in the Spanish government has leaked to El Pais transcripts of conversations between President Bush and then Spanish Prime Minister Aznar just before the outbreak of the Iraq War. The gist seems to be that Bush was rather candid about the fact that the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis were a sham and that the war was a done deal.

Not a surprise certainly, but interesting to see it revealed as it was discussed by the actors at the time.

Alternate Brain:

As I’ve said before, the war in Iraq was a done deal in the neocon playbook since 1999. They just had to find the right excuse. (And the right idiot in the Oval Office.)

Libby Spencer:

My Spanish translation skills are also too rusty to come up with an accurate translation but surely it’s only a matter of time before someone of greater skill can tell us exactly what transpired in that conversation. As the White House once again tries to sell a case for another disastrous confrontation in the Middle East, it would be good to review the historical record on how this mess started before we allow our government to compound it.

But, whoops, here comes José Guardia today, demolishing the whole story.

But what the transcript doesn’t say, no matter the headlines, is that Bush was going to invade even if Saddam complied. What it says is that the US would be in Iraq in mid-March whether there was a second UN resolution or not, one that Bush said he would try to get by all means, which is an entirely different matter. As everybody knows, there’s certainly a debate on whether the first resolution was enough or not -many reputable experts think it was, though there’s not unanimity on this, certainly. But the issue is different. …

Clearly this is not an equivalent to the Downing Street memo, but a leak from a Zapatero administration official to an anti-Bush, anti-Aznar newspaper in the hope of embarrassing the two, and atrociously translated to make it all look worse. But I’m sorry to say they only embarrassed themselves. No matter how much you spin it, the memorandum shows exactly the opposite to what they say it shows. In layman terms, they got hoist by their own petard.

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