White House officials told the American people up until March that the president had not decided to use military force against Iraq and would only consider it as a last resort.
In the buildup to the US led invasion of Iraq, White House officials told the American people up until March that that the president had not decided to use military force and would only consider it as a last resort.
The Financial Times reported yesterday that the decision to invade Iraq came much earlier.
A senior aide to President Bush said 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. The president was told that the Iraqi regime appeared to have made a decision not to co-operate with the UN process.
One person who worked closely with the National Security Council during the time said, "A tinpot dictator was mocking the president. It provoked a sense of anger in the White House. After that point, there was no prospect of a diplomatic solution."
France concluded in early January that the US had abandoned the diplomatic path and was already determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein using military force.
Bush administration officials indicated that the French assessment was justified.
The Financial Times report is the first in a three-part series.
- James Harding, reporter for the Financial Times