Saddam Hussein offered to step down and go into exile one month before the invasion of Iraq, it was claimed last night. Fearing defeat, Saddam was prepared to go peacefully in return for £500million ($1billion). The extraordinary offer was revealed yesterday in a transcript of talks in February 2003 between George Bush and the then Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the President’s Texas ranch….
“The Eqyptians are speaking to Saddam Hussein,” said Mr Bush. It seems he’s indicated he would be prepared to go into exile if he’s allowed to take $1billion and all the information he wants about weapons of mass destruction.”
Asked by the Spanish premier whether Saddam – who was executed in December last year – could really leave, the President replied: “Yes, that possibility exists. Or he might even be assassinated.”
But he added that whatever happened: “We’ll be in Baghdad by the end of March.”
I imagine Hussein would have settled for the money, since we now know that he was bluffing about having any nuclear weapons. (If chemical weapons are WMDs, you probably have the necessary ingredients in your house.) Of course, taking him out the cheap and easy way wouldn’t have allowed the neocons to thump their chests and play Masters of the Universe, so it was never an option that the world democratic revolutionaries were likely to choose.
After all, it’s no fun to occupy a country if you don’t get to blow things up first.
UPDATE: Contrary to what some Bush defenders are claiming, the full transcript clearly shows that Bush had no interest in negotiating with Hussein:
Bush: Saddam won’t change and will keep playing games. The moment of getting rid of him has arrived. That’s it….
Aznar: An exile with some kind of guarantees?
Bush: No guarantees. He’s a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal.