December 1

President’s memoirs: Prince Andrew was right


Two years ago Prince Andrew argued much of the post-invasion chaos in Iraq could have been avoided if President George W. Bush's administration had listened more to the British.

Now it seems the 43rd President agrees. In his memoirs, Decision Points, he concedes that while the invasion was well handed, significant errors were made in the occupation.  

"If you are looking at colonialism,” Prince Andrew told Stephen Castle of The New York Times ( 4 February, 2008) “if you are looking at operations on an international scale, if you are looking at understanding each other's culture, understanding how to operate in a military insurgency campaign – we have been through them all," he said. "We've won some, lost some, drawn some.

The fallout from Iraq had fuelled, the Prince argued, "healthy scepticism" toward what is said in Washington, and a feeling of "why didn't anyone listen to what was said and the advice that was given.

"After all, he told The New York Times, British views had been sought – "it's not as if we had been forcing that across the Atlantic."

Stephen Castles reported that the Prince’s view that is there is quite a lot of British experience which is valid and should be listened to is widely shared in Britain.  

Geoff Hoon, the former British defence secretary, has said that British views on Iraq were ignored in the decisions to outlaw the Baath Party and dissolve the Iraqi military.

…the occupation…

People will remain divided about whether the invasion was lawful or appropriate. As to the invasion itself, George W. Bush argues  many of the dire contingencies did not take place.

“There was no Fortress Baghdad, no massive oil field fires, no widespread starvation, no civilian massacre by Saddam, no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) attack on our troops and no terrorist attack on America or our allies.”

He had reservations not only about the banner “Mission Accomplished” but more importantly the orders issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

One was the extent of the de-baathification decree which removed members of the ruling party from positions of influence.

It seems Ambassador Bremmer did not fully appreciate that in dictatorships people are obliged to belong to the ruling party or its fronts, or are enrolled there against their will. How often do we read The Pope was as a school child a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, without the note that so were all children.

The other was the decree to dissolve the Iraqi Army.

These two orders effectively took out the organs of government, including instruments of public order and in the schools. The British experience was as far as possible to leave such structures in place, and to work through them.

Prince Andrew was right.


…43rd President's memoirs…

The memoirs of President George W. Bush  memoirs can be purchased at a special price (post and handling free)  here ( the recommended retail price in Australia, according to The Australian, is $59.95)

"Decision Points" are the extraordinary memoirs of America's 43rd president.

Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life. The publisher's fuller description follows.



"Decision Points" is the extraordinary memoir of America's 43rd president. Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life.

In gripping, never-before-heard detail, President Bush brings readers inside the Texas Governor's Mansion on the night of the hotly contested 2000 election; aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America's most devastating attack since Pearl Harbour; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq; and, behind the Oval Office desk for his historic and controversial decisions on the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, Iran, and other issues that have shaped the first decade of the 21st century. President Bush writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his accomplishments reforming education, treating HIV/AIDS in Africa, and safeguarding the country amid chilling warnings of additional terrorist attacks.

He also offers intimate new details on his decision to quit drinking, discovery of faith, and relationship with his family. A groundbreaking new brand of memoir, "Decision Points" will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on one of the most consequential eras in American history – and the man at the centre of events.


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