ACTOR steps forward.
AN ACTOR: Stuff Happens. The response of Donald Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense, when asked to comment on the widespread looting and pillaging that followed the American conquest of Baghdad - Friday April 11th, 2003:
JOURNALIST: What's your response, sir? Mr. Secretary, how do you respond to the news of looting and pillaging in Baghdad?
RUMSFELD: I've seen the pictures. I've seen those pictures. I could take pictures in any city in America. Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over and over and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, "Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan." That's nonsense. They know what they're doing, and they're doing a terrific job. And it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here.
Another ACTOR steps forward.
AN ACTOR: So where to begin? To take the story back - April 25th, 1975, the unforgettable event: the Fall of Saigon. For the first time there are limits to American power.
(COLIN POWELL steps forward.)
POWELL: In Vietnam I learned a certain attitude, a certain distrust ...
AN ACTOR: Major Colin Powell is pulled out of Vietnam six years earlier. By his own description, a serving soldier, schooled in obedience ...
POWELL: The army is the most democratic institution in America.
AN ACTOR: November 1968: Powell is in a helicopter which falls to the ground, in his words, "like an elevator with a snapped cable."
POWELL: After Vietnam, many in my generation vowed when our turn came to call the shorts, we could not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons. Politicians start wars; soldiers fight and die in them.
AN ACTOR: He is awarded the Legion of Merit and evolves what becomes known as the Powell doctrine:
POWELL: War should be the politics of last resort.
(DONALD RUMSFELD, peppy, in trifocals, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: Also in the 70s, Donald Rumsfeld, one-time champion wrestler, Princeton University, is an assistant to Richard Nixon.
RUMSFELD: I'd always worried about politicians who spent most of their time getting ready to be something as opposed to doing something. And I questioned whether that was a great way to live a life, getting ready as opposed to doing.
AN ACTOR: One friend says of Rumsfeld:
R'S lst FRIEND: When you play squash with him, you are lucky not have your head taken off with his raquet. The court is a finite place. If you are between him and the wall, Rumsfeld always fires away.
AN ACTOR: A second friend says:
R's 2nd FRIEND: In locker-room terms, Don is a towel-snapper.
(DICK CHENEY, rock-hard, bland, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: In the same White House, jostling for position, is the young Dick Cheney, who has achieved a total of five student deferments in order to avoid being draft to Vietnam.
CHENEY: I had other priorities in the '60s than military service.
AN ACTOR: Cheney proves himself willing to take on responsibilities others shirk.
CHENEY: Memo from Dick Cheney, Feb. 19, 1975: It seems that there are salt shakers in the Residence, which are used for the Congressional meals (little dishes of salt with funny little spoons). Is there some reason that regular salt shakers are not used for small breakfasts and small stag dinners?
AN ACTOR: When Cheney moves into elected politics, he is already uncompromising.
CHENEY: I never met a weapons system I didn't vote for.
(CONDOLEEZZA RICE, splendid, always alone, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: At the same time at Stanford Universities, a minister's daughter from Birmingham, Alabama, Condoleezza Rice, is choosing between a professional music career or a life in academia studying the Soviet bloc.
RICE: Like most Americans I listened with some scepticism to the Cold War claim that America was a "beacon of democracy." My ancestors were property - a fraction of a man. Women were not included in those immortal constitutional phrases concerning the right of the people "in the course of human events" to choose who would rule.
AN ACTOR: When asked by Yo-Yo Ma:
YO-YO MA: Who is your favourite composer?
YO-YO MA: Why Brahms?
RICE: He's passionate without being sentimental.
AN ACTOR: In her office Rice keeps two mirrors, so she can see her back as well as her front.
(PAUL WOLFOWITZ, suited, intent, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: At another university, a Yale professor, Paul Wolfowitz, spends the 1970s chewing over the implications of the involvement in Vietnam which he describes as:
WOLFOWITZ: An over-expenditure of American power.
AN ACTOR: An ex-math whiz, Wolfowitz is in love with the idea of national greatness.
WOLFOWITZ: I focus on geo-strategic issues. I consider myself conceptual. I am willing to re-examine entire precepts of U.S. foreign policy.
AN ACTOR: One colleague remarks:
COLLEAGUE: The word "hawk" doesn't do Wolfowitz justice. What about velociraptor?
(TONY BLAIR, direct, vigorous, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: At the same time, in England, a fledgling lawyer at Oxford University has founded a rockband called Ugly Rumours.
BLAIR: It was late before I had any politics at all.
AN ACTOR: Tony Blair will go on to become the most successful Labour leader of all time, leading his party to three unparalleled election victories.
BLAIR: I did not join the Labour Party to join a party of protest. I joined it as a part of government and I will make sure that it is a party of government.
AN ACTOR: From the start, he is fired up by an entirely original mix of theology and social duty:
BLAIR: Today humankind has the science and technology to destroy itself or to provide prosperity for all. Yet science can't make that choice for us. Only the moral power of a world acting as a community can.
(HANS BLIX, with an air of mild amusement, steps forward)
AN ACTOR: And finally in Sweden a graduate of Upsala university, Hans Blix, is finding his way in Liberal party politics.
BLIX: I was an amateur actor when I was a student. Theatre teaches you the value of collaboration, of getting on with other people. As well, of course, as being damned enjoyable.
AN ACTOR: Blix is already developing an attitude to life which Colin Powell will one day find praiseworthy.
BLIX: Being aware that one of Powell's favourite hobbies is working on Volvo engines, I took this as praise.
(The seven central characters step forward)
AN ACTOR: These are the actors, these are the men and women who will play parts in the opening drama of the new century. And at their head is a snappish young man, seeking his fortune in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas, who will, one day, like 38% of his fellow Americans, say he has been born again.
(BUSH steps among them)
BUSH: My faith frees me. Frees me to put the problem of the moment in proper perspective. Frees me to make decisions which others might not like. Frees me to enjoy life and not worry about what comes next. You know I had a drinking problem. Right now I should be in a bar in Texas, not in the Oval Office, and not a bar. I found God. I am here because of the power of prayer.
AN ACTOR: The elder son of a Kennebunkport dynasty, George W. Bush is considered the joke of the family, beside his more favoured brother Jeb. He only enters politics at the age of 47.
BUSH: I could not be governor if I did not believe in a divine plan which supersedes all human plans.
AN ACTOR: When he runs for President, he observes:
BUSH: I feel like God wants me to run for president. I can't explain it but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen and at that time my country is going to need me. I know it won't be easy, on me or on my family, but God wants me to do it.
AN ACTOR: His Deputy Under-Secretary for Defense will observe:
LT GENERAL: Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he here? And I tell you that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.
AN ACTOR: Bush will lose the popular vote by a margin of 539, 898. Upon his taking up office, he will observe:
BUSH: I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain. I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something. But I don't fee like I owe anybody an explanation.
BUSH, fastidiously punctual, is already in place, sitting alone at the head of a torpedo-shaped table.
AN ACTOR: The new administration hits the ground running. Ten days after his inauguration, on January 30th 2001, President Bush presides for the first time at a meeting of the National Security Council.
(BUSH is joined by a group including POWELL, CHENEY, RUMSFELD, TENET, RICE, and a rank of GENERALS. Behind, everyone has DEPUTIES)
BUSH: I believe we all have a piece of paper. The first meeting, we take the Middle East. Condi?
RICE: If I can express what the president is feeling, we wish to start by sharply differentiating ourselves from the previous administration. President Clinton's attempts to broker a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians not only took up a huge amount of time. They also left this country looking weak. The President's view is that the time has come to tilt back towards Israel. You'll say, sir, if I misrepresent you?
(BUSH says nothing)
CHENEY: Please continue.
RICE: The President feels that the fortunes of the region need to be decided by the players themselves. This administration isn't going to take on problems it knows it can't solve.
BUSH: Anybody here met Sharon?
(COLIN POWELL lifts a hand)
POWELL: I've met him. I know him.
BUSH: I want to take the guy at face value. When he's elected, we have this policy: we don't go by past reputation.
RICE: The President feels very strongly that we're a new administration. The relationship should be judged not by how it's been in the past but by how it proceeds.
BUSH: Sharon flew me in a helicopter over the Palestinian camps. Looked real bad down there.
(There is a short silence)
BUSH: I think this is one we want to get out of.
(There is another short silence)
RICE: Any comments?
POWELL: If I may, sir.
(They all look at POWELL)
POWELL: I don't need to give a lecture about the intensity of feelings in the Middle East. This is a problem with deep historical roots. We're not prisoners of history, but on the other hand, we can't pretend history never happened.
RUMSFELD: What's your point?
POWELL: On the ground there's a conflict. Left to himself, Sharon's instincts are always to rachet up the conflict - and always by military means. If we disengage, the risk is, we unleash Sharon. The consequences of that will be dire for the Palestinians.
BUSH: Well, maybe that's what's needed. Maybe that's the best way to get things back in balance.
(There's a silence)
BUSH: You know, sometimes in my experience, a real show of strength by just one side can clarify things. It can make things really clear.
(POWELL looks at him a moment)
BUSH: Now let's move on. Iraq.
RICE: Yeah, that's right, we're going to have a briefing.
RICE: The CIA director's going to brief us, get us up to speed on the latest intelligence.
(TENET is already unfurling a large aerial photograph onto the table)
AN ACTOR: George Tenet, Director, CIA.
TENET: I'm going to ask you all to take a look at this photograph.
RICE: The real danger to the region ...
TENET: If we can all study this photograph ...
RICE: Correctly analysed, when you correctly analyse the region, the real threat is de-stabilisation.
TENET: Here's the photograph.
RICE: And where's that going to come from? It's going to come from Saddam Hussein.
TENET: I hope everyone can see the photograph.
RICE: I think we ought to keep our eye on that.
TENET: There's the railroad, there are the tracks ... look over here and you'll see the trucks coming in ...
RUMSFELD: There're the trucks ...
TENET: There's the water-cooler. This was taken by surveillance planes, so the quality is kind of grainy ...
(CHENEY signals to military DEPUTIES sitting behind)
CHENEY: Everyone come see this. You don't want to miss this.
RUMSFELD: It's grainy but you can see ...
TENET: This looks to us ...
RUMSFELD: You can see clearly ...
TENET: I think the CIA believes ...
RUMSFELD: Even I can see, and I'm nearly seventy ...
TENET: This might well be a plant which produces either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.
(Everyone is crowded around the photograph)
BUSH: Yeah. Yeah.
RICE: Everyone see?
POWELL: I can see. But, to be frank, with you, I've seen an awful lot of factories around the world that look an awful lot like this. What's the evidence, what's the evidence of what this factory's producing?
TENET: Well it's rhythm.
TENET: Rhythm of shipment. Round the clock. In and out of the plant. Trucks coming and going all night. The rhythm is consistent. Look, let's be clear: I'm not saying it is, I'm not saying they are ...
RUMSFELD: You're not saying it's not.
TENET: I'm not.
RUMSFELD: He's not saying anything.
TENET: Not quite.
RUMSFELD: He's from the CIA.
(They all laugh)
TENET: There is no confirming intelligence, no, that they are definitely producing chemical or biological weapons. I am not claiming that. I'm saying "Look at the photo - look at it - and what you will see is a factory clearly consistent." And if they were producing such weapons - if - if they were, if such weapons were being produced, then this - seen here - would be the kind of factory, this looks just like the factory from which such weapons would come.
(There is a silence)
BUSH: We need to know more about hits. We need to know more about the weapons.
An ANGRY JOURNALIST appears.
JOURNALIST: The absurdity of it. The absurdity and the irrelevance. The idea of discussing even ... a historical event, an invasion already more than three years old. A country groaning under a dictator, its people oppressed, liberated at last from a twenty-five year tyranny - and freed. Free on the streets, and already - in spite of the setbacks, in spite of the insurgency - painfully transforming itself into one of the few potential democracies in the Middle East.
Like many, many professional journalists, for the last three years I've been expected to write about nothing else. Why? How obscene it is, how decadent, continually to give our attention not to the liberation, not to the people freed, but to the relentless archaic discussion of the manner of the liberation. Was it lawful? Was it not? How was it done? What were the details of its doing? Whose views were over-ridden? Whose views condoned?
Do I like the people who did it? Are they my kind of people? Hey - are they stupider than me?
How spoiled, how indulged we are to discuss the manner - oh yes, we discuss the manner, late into the night, candles guttering, our faces swearing, reddening with wine and hatred - but the act itself - the thing done - the splendid thing done - freedom given to people who were not free - this thing is ignored, preferring as we do to fight among ourselves - our own disputes, our own resentment of each other elevated way above the needs of the victims. "I trust Blair/I don't." "I like Bush/I don't." "Bush is stupid/Bush is clever." This obsession with ourselves! How Western we are. From what height of luxury and excess, we look down to condemn the exact style in which even a little was given to those who had nothing.
Saddam Hussein attached every one of his neighbours except Jordan. Imagine, if you will, if you are able, a dictator in Europe, murdering his own people, attaching his neighbours, killing half a million people for no other offence but proximity. Do you really then imagine, hand on heart, that the finer feelings of the international community, the exact procedures of the United Nations would need to be tested, would the finer points of sovereignty detain us before we rose, as a single force, to overthrow the offender? Would we ask, faced with the bodies, faced with the gas, faced with the ditches and the murders, would we really stop to say "Can we do this?" What is the word, then for those of us in the West who apply one standard to ourselves, and another to others? What is the word for those who claim to love democracy and yet who will not fight to extend democracy to Arabs as well? A people hitherto oppressed are now free. This is the story. No other story obtains.
BUSH sits on a low chair reading to children in a kindergarten.
AN ACTOR: September 11th, 2001. At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston, hi-jacked by suicide bombers, crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175, also from Boston, crashes into the South.
(AN AIDE leans in to BUSH'S ear)
AN ACTOR: In Sarasota, Florida, the President makes a brief statement.
BUSH: The full resources of the federal government will be employed to investigate and find those folks who committed this act. Terrorism against our nation will not stand.
AN ACTOR: At 9:39 a.m., a third plan, American Airlines Flight 77, smashes into the Pentagon. A fourth, United Airlines Flight 93, aimed at the White House, is diverted by the bravery of its passengers and crashes in Pennsylvania. President Bush is flown to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where he records a statement to be broadcast only when he is once again airborne.
BUSH: Make no mistake. The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts. Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.
AN ACTOR: The president is moved to an underground bunker at Strategic Command, Offutt Air Base, Nebraska. At his own insistence, he is flown back to the White House, whence he broadcasts live to the nation at 8:30 p.m.
BUSH: We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them. None of us will forget this day. Yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.
(Exhausted STAFF gather in shirtsleeves to hear the president)
AN ACTOR: He then addresses his team in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center:
BUSH: I want you all to understand that we are at war, and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matter. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they're gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda.
(The STAFF dissolve)
AN ACTOR: On Iraqi television a spokesman for Saddam Hussein declares:
IRAQI S'MAN: The massive explosions in the centres of power are a painful slap in the face of US politicians to stop their illegitimate hegemony and attempts to impose custodianship on peoples. The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of his crimes against humanity
BLAIR: This is not a battle between the United States of America and terrorism, but between the free and democratic world and terrorism. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends. We will not rest until this evil is driven from the world.
LE MONDE: We are all Americans now.
AN ACTOR: By nightfall, 2,948 people of 91 different nationalities are dead. Four days later, on September 15th, the president assembles his war cabinet for a weekend at Camp David.
The WAR CABINET - including BUSH, RICE, WOLFOWITZ, POWELL, TENET, CHENEY, and RUMSFELD, now in casual clothes - assembles at Camp David.
BUSH: We'll begin this meeting as we always do.
(Everyone closes their eyes)
BUSH: Oh God, this is a dark time, a time of evil, hold us in Your hand, make us wise, give us wisdom, that we may surely do good. In thy name.
BUSH: I'm going to be asking everyone to make reports, I'm going to be asking everyone to talk informally, so we can look at options, different ways of going ...
RICE: I'm proud to be able to say: Paul O'Neill will have the New York stock exchange open on Monday.
BUSH: I've said that's important.
RICE: It's sending out a signal, and the signal is: business as usual.
AN ACTOR: As the day went on, the war cabinet began to hear of a global network of terror in over fifty countries of which Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were only one part ...
(TENET gets up and hands out identical intelligence dossiers to everyone)
TENET: Within this dossier you'll find up-to-date information on terror organizations. The plan inside focuses on expanded powers for the CIA. We're asking for a kind of global charge - the right to attack any aspect of a terrorist network without specific case-by-case clearance from the president.
BUSH: This is a war. This is a war on terror.
TENET: The most important objective for us is to concentrate our efforts providing money and resources for the Northern Alliance within Afghanistan, to make sure that if we do in, we can energize support, we can make sure there are people ready to take over the running of the country when the Taliban fails.
BUSH: I tell you how I see Afghanistan. I see it as a "demonstration model."
RICE: Speaking with the president: What the president's been saying to me is that Afghanistan can be used as a kind of example ...
BUSH: That's what it is
RICE: That's right.
BUSH: An example.
RICE: That's right.
BUSH: A model, it's a kind of model ...
RICE: Afghanistan is a kind of demonstration model, so that other countries can look and say "Oh I see. That's what happens ..."
BUSH: "I see ..."
RICE: "That's what happens."
POWELL: What other countries do you have in mind>
BUSH: For example.
(There's a silence)
RICE: We want to send a message to countries which are considering actions hostile to the United States.
BUSH: Wolfie ...
WOLFOWITZ: Well, I want to talk about another country, it's another country in the Middle East, let's talk about that category of countries which is considering actions hostile to the United States. And if you take a good look at that category then I think there's one egregious member. It's been in violation of United Nations resolutions for years.
RUMSFELD: I sent a memo, if you remember, Mr President, in January, before this happened, I sent a memo with a list of countries who I considered were eager to exploit any lapses in US capability. China, North Korea, Russia, Iran. My conclusion was we should take any actions necessary to dissuade nations from challenging American interests. Top of that list was Iraq.
WOLFOWITZ: We're talking a corrupt dictatorship, run by a man who oppresses his own people and thumbs his nose at American power. We're talking about going in and establishing democracy. This is a country which is now very brittle. It will break very easily. It's sitting there, waiting to fall. This is something we can do with very little effort. For a minimum expenditure of effort, we can get maximum result. Take out Saddam and we blow fresh air into the Middle East.
RUMSFELD: I mean, jumping jiminy, look at it strategically ...
WOLFOWITZ: That's it ...
RUMSFELD: Look at it: Afghanistan's a big country, but what are we going to bomb? Tommy Franks says there are only three dozen targets. Three dozen! Have you looked at Afghanistan? Terracotta pots and straw roofs! It isn't easy. You can do it ...
WOLFOWITZ: Oh sure, you can do it ...
RUMSFELD: We'll do it. Anything we're asked to do, we'll do. But it's hard. The only thing you can say for it, at least it isn't the Balkans. We're not like Clinton ...
CHENEY: We're not ...
BUSH: Hell, we're not ...
RUMSFELD: It's not the Balkans ...
CHENEY: If there's one thing we can agree on ...
RUMSFELD: Wasting time in a place full of ethnic hatreds. Pounding sand. But that doesn't mean it's easy. It isn't easy.
WOLFOWITZ: Attacking Afghanistan will be uncertain. I'm not saying we won't succeed ...
RUMSFELD: We'll succeed.
WOLFOWITZ: Yeah. But what I'm concerned about is, OK, there we are in maybe six months' time with 100,000 American soldiers ...
RUMSFELD: Don't say "bogged down" ...
WOLFOWITZ: All right, let's say "snarled up" - 100,000 American soldiers snarled up! OK? in mountain fighting. What message does that send? What example? Whereas, look .. Iraq's a country we know. We've been there. In and out. In and out. And more important - talking about sending messages - I'd say there's a good percentage chance Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
BUSH: Reckon that, Paul. What percentage?
WOLFOWITZ: Ten to fifty. That's where I'd put it. A ten to fifty percent chance.
(Everyone is thoughtful)
RICE: Mr President, Afghanistan is a country - this is a place with a history. It was nemesis for the British in the 19th century. It was nemesis for Russian in the 20th. I don't want it to be our turn in the 21st.
(Nobody says anything)
WOLFOWITZ: That's what's good about Iraq. It's doable.
(The cabinet breaks up and goes for soup and sandwiches)
AN ACTOR: The stopped for lunch.
BUSH: There's chicken noodle soup. Home-made.
WOLFOWITZ: Wonderful ...
POWELL: Smells good.
RUMSFELD: I could eat a baby through the bars of a crib.
BUSH: We bake our own bread here. They bake the bread.
POWELL: Kind of thing your mother served you.
BUSH: Not my mother. Not my mother at all. She never cooked. That woman had frostbite on her fingers. Everything out of the freezer.
BUSH: It's good to be eating this kind of food. It's comfort food. It's good to be eating it now.
AN ACTOR: Then in the afternoon they went back to it.
(The meeting resumes)
RUMSFELD: I'd like to move on to a subject I think important. It's not a subject. It's an approach. There's a mistake they made during the first Gulf War. They were too specific. Remember? They talked all the time about Saddam Hussein. That had an effect. It elevated the guy. Now he's still there and everyone says "Hey - they screwed up." We want to avoid that mistake.
RUMSFELD: Look, sir, understand - not to pre-empt any decision ...
(BUSH raises a hand in permission)
RUMSFELD: But I think we're all beginning to feel a consensus. OK, we accept what we have to do first. We have to go after Al Qaeda and get its leader. We want to take out Osama bin Laden, we want to take out Musharraf.
BUSH: Is he ready to take that risk?
POWELL: I believe he is, sir. The guy is genuine. He wants a secular, westernised country. That's what Musharraf wants, and he's willing to risk a lot to get it. But there are also dangers for us. Afghanistan is already a mess. Pakistan sides with us and the danger is that country's destabilised as well. Suddenly the whole region's on fire. The point I'm making: this exercise is going to need patience. How we do things is going to be just as important as what we do. My job will be to assemble an international coalition. A coalition of countries who want to show their support for us and for the values we share in common. Here, today, we can talk among ourselves, we can say "Oh let's go do Iraq, or hey, it's time to fix Iran ..." But. Since Tuesday we have the support of the whole world. People don't want to go for one thing, and then find they've signed up for another. Nobody likes bait and switch. Who we go against is going to decide who goes with us.
BUSH: Sure. (BUSH nods) You know, Colin, finally this is a war on terror. And at some point we may be the only ones left. That's fine with me.
(There's a silence. Then they break up)
AN ACTOR: The meeting broke up.
BUSH: Here they come ...
RUMSFELD: Good evening, ladies.
BUSH: Ladies. Ladies.
(In come the WIVES - LAURA BUSH, JOYCE RUMSFELD etc)
AN ACTOR: Their wives joined them and they all had supper.
TENET: What have we got tonight?
LAURA: Fried chicken, corn-break, mashed potatoes and gravy.
RUMSFELD: Hey, OK. I'll have the fried chicken, the corn-bread, the mashed potatoes and the gravy.
AN ACTOR: An artist had made a jig-saw of the White House with the Bushes standing in front of it. So, after dinner, the president sat with his wife and they worked quietly, putting the little bits of their family and their house together.
(BUSH sits with LAURA assembling the jigsaw)
BUSH: That looks like you, Laura. That looks like a bit of you, sweetheart.
LAURA: I'll work on the columns, you work on the people.
AN ACTOR: Nobody knew what to do, but nobody wanted to leave.
(Everyone is now sitting around, relaxed)
RICE: Anyone want to go bowling?
BUSH: I'm not bowling tonight, no way. Oh no.
LAURA: Anyone know any hymns?
(The room falls silent. RICE begins to sing)
RICE: Amazing grace! How sweet the sound/The saved a wretch like me!/ I once was lost, but now am found;/ Was blind, but now I see./ (Everyone joins in) Through many dangers, toils and snares/ I have already come;/ 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,/ And grace will lead me home.
Congress. Legislators greet the arrival of BUSH, accompanied by TONY BLAIR.
AN ACTOR: On September 17th the president signs an executive order authorizing attacks on Afghanistan. Three days later he addresses Congress:
BUSH: Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
AN ACTOR: In the balcony above him is the British Prime Minister. At one point Bush looks up:
BUSH: Thank you for coming, friend.
(BLAIR receives a standing ovation in Congress, than moves to a lectern in Brighton)
AN ACTOR: Soon after, back in England, Blair address the Labour Party conference:
BLAIR: The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world as a community focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don't, it will become deeper and angrier. This is the moment to tackle the problems from the slums of Gaza to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan. This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they, let us reorder this world around us.
AN ACTOR: On October 7th the US and Britain begin air and missile strikes against thirty one Al Qaeda and Taliban targets.
( RUMSFELD appears for a press conference, flanked by GENERALS)
RUMSFELD: The campaign's going well, couldn't be going better. After two days we are now able to carry out strikes more or less round the clock and we've been hitting 85% of our targets. Some of the targets we hit need to be re-hit.
JOURNALIST: What are you saying, Mr Secretary? Are you saying you're running out of targets?
RUMSFELD: We're not running out of targets. Afghanistan is.
(The press conference becomes a swanky Washington dinner)
AN ACTOR: One month later, Rumsfeld is thunderously received when he addresses a black-tie dinner of defence contractors.
RUMSFELD: We will not stop for Ramadan. We will not stop for winter. And after the Taliban and al Qaeda we'll get after the rest. The coalition will not determine the mission. The mission will determine the coalition.
(JACK STRAW steps forward)
AN ACTOR: In Europe, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, is regularly put forward to control the impact of statements from Rumsfeld and the Pentagon:
STRAW: There are always statements coming out of Washington. Washington is a very large place. But this military coalition is about terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
AN ACTOR: On November 13th, after five years under an extreme religious regime, the Northern Alliance enter and liberate the capital Kabul.
(BUSH is in the Oval Office, CHENEY and RICE with him, listening to the call on speaker-phone. BLAIR, DAVID MANNER, JONATHAN POWEL, and ALASTAIR CAMPBELL are in Blair's den in Downing Street)
BUSH: Tony. Hi. Good to hear you.
BUSH: You've heard the good news. You've been hearing the good news.
BLAIR: Yes. It's all very good, I agree. It's mostly good. But there's one issue I need to raise.
(There's a silence. BUSH looks straight ahead)
BUSH: Raise your issue.
BLAIR: It's this. As you know, British special forces have been working on the Pakistani border, around Tora Bora ...
BUSH: I know that.
BLAIR: Seeking out Bin Laden. I'm sure you've also been told that just a few days ago, we found him. We tracked him.
BUSH: I got those reports.
BLAIR: The point is this: When we found him, our special forces received a request from the US special forces. We were ordered to pull out.
(There's another silence. RICE looks to CHENEY)
BLAIR: Now I don't know where that particular order came from ...
BUSH: It's an operational decision ...
BLAIR: Of course ...
BUSH: It's not made at this level.
BLAIR: No. I accept that. But I also have great respect for my military.
BUSH: I respect my military.
BLAIR: That's the reason I'm calling. As of now, I've got some angry generals. A decision was made - George, I'm not saying you made it, I'm sure it wasn't you - whoever -
(BLAIR is offering BUSH the chance to speak, but he says nothing)
BLAIR: In fact, I don't know if you even know who took it - who took that decision -
(BLAIR waits again. BUSH looks to CHENEY who shakes his head very slightly)
BUSH: Go on.
BLAIR: We're both - you and I - look, it's clear - capturing Bin Laden has tremendous significance ...
BUSH: That could be.
BLAIR: Tremendous impact. And in the world as it is, the British army capturing him would not ring the same bells as if you had caught him. I accept that.
(There is another silence. Both GROUPS on either side of the Atlantic are still)
BLAIR: I don't want to labour this.
BUSH: You're not labouring it, Tony. You're making a point. We don't ever not hear you.
(BLAIR looks to MANNING, who rolls his eyes)
BLAIR: As of December 11th, Bin Laden has gone off the map. Intelligence has lost him. In the time between when we were ordered to withdraw and you going in, Bin Laden escaped.
(There is silence. BUSH nods slightly)
BUSH: Thank you for raising that, Tony. What other matters are you thinking to raise?
(The two camps dissolve)
AN ACTOR: Not long after the president remarks:
BUSH: Our objective is more than Bin Laden. I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest. Focusing on one person indicates to me that people don't understand the scope of this mission. Terror is bigger than one man.
(BUSH takes RUMSFELD'S arm and leads him from a corridor into a small office)
AN ACTOR: On November 21st 2001, George Bush leads Donald Rumsfeld into an empty office next to the Situation Room.
BUSH: Donald, I know you're doing a worldwide review. I've been thinking: it could provide a very good cover.
RUMSFELD: What sort of cover?
BUSH: What kind of war plans do you have for Iraq? How do you feel about the war plan for Iraq? Let's get started on this. Get Tommy Franks looking at it.
AN ACTOR: It is 72 days after September 11th.
BUSH: And Donald - don't tell anyone else.
A NEW LABOUR POLITICIAN appears. She is direct, to the point.
POLITICIAN: We know the world. We know how the world is. Something is decided. Something has to be done. If we all waited for the perfect circumstances, nothing would ever be achieved.
At a certain moment, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz prompt the president. "Do it now. If it is not done now, it will never be done." They saw an opening, and in they went.
The action was controversial. To this day, people debate its legality. For the British Labour Party, in which I have spent my whole life, this has been the most divisive issue since its foundation over a hundred years ago. Colleague no longer speaks to colleague. Lifelong friendships have been tested, tested again, and finally destroyed.
I can't put my hand on my heart and say things are going to work out in Iraq. A dictator was removed. Reasons were offered for that removal which have proved, with hindsight, not to be justified. Weapons believed to exist turned out not to exist. A flawless military victory was compromised by sloppy Pentagon planning for peace. Practices evolved on the ground of which all decent people are bitterly ashamed.
But people of good will also agree: The question of why we went in is no longer relevant. Is there a person - is there one serious person in this room - who proposes that having gone in to liberate our friends, we should now abandon them to the violence and uncertainty unleashed by that very liberation? What sort of friendship is that? Would we ever be taken seriously again?
We took this course. I respect the views of those who disagreed. But now everyone knows: For Iraq's sake, for our sake, surely, we have to finish the job.
A team of sweating SPEECHWRITERS circle, reading out explosive rhetorical sections of the forthcoming speech. MICHAEL GERSON is in charge.
AN ACTOR: January 29th, 2002: George Bush uses his State of the Union address to ramp up the rhetoric. The president's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, calls this:
GERSON: A plastic, teachable moment.
AN ACTOR: Gerson instructs his team:
GERSON: Make the best case for war in Iraq. But leave exit ramps.
(BUSH enters a cheering Congress and shakes eager hands)
AN ACTOR: Dick Cheney sits directly behind as the president reads the result:
BUSH: Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. All nations should know: America will do whatever is necessary to ensure our nation's security. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. History has called America and our allies to action. Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom's price. We have shown freedom's power. And in this great conflict, my fellow American's, we will see freedom's victory.
AN ACTOR: Paul Wolfowitz recalls:
WOLFOWITZ: It was when I heard that speech I thought: the president really gets it.
AN ACTOR: The president himself says of the phrase "axis of evil":
BUSH: It just kind of resonates.
AN ACTOR: At once, alarm bells start to go off in European capitals. The French foreign minister calls the speech:
FRENCH FM: Simplistic.
AN ACTOR: The German foreign minister warns:
GERMAN FM: Alliance partners are not satellites.
AN ACTOR: A British Foreign Office official observes:
F.O. OFFICIAL: We all smiled at the jejune language. It sounded straight out of Lord of the Rings.
AN ACTOR: The Iraqi Vice-President comments:
IRAQI V-P: The state of President Bush is stupid.
AN ACTOR: The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, adds:
JACK STRAW: The president's speech can be best understood by the fact there are mid-term Congressional elections coming up in November.
AN ACTOR: Condoleezza Rice is outraged:
RICE: This is not about American politics, and I assume that when the British government speaks about foreign policy, it's not about British politics.
AN ACTOR: Blair instructs his personal foreign policy adviser David Manning to make a conciliatory call.
(MANNING and RICE are on mobile phones)
MANNING: Condi, the Prime Minister has asked me to apologize for his Foreign Secretary. I mean, for what his Foreign Secretary said.
RICE: The president understands. This is a war, David. We know better than anyone: nobody gets it right all the time.
(They laugh. At once a helicopter arrives to deposit BLAIR, CHERIE BLAIR, CHERIE BLAIR'S MOTHER, BABY LEO, DAVID MANNING, JONATHAN POWELL, and ALASTAIR CAMPELL at Crawford, Texas. The Englishmen are all in dark suits with black ties. BUSH, RICE and their TEAM are all in jeans and T-shirts)
BUSH: Hi, Tony.
BLAIR: George. You know David Manning? My foreign policy adviser.
BUSH: Sure do.
BLAIR: Condoleezza. Alastair Campbell? My press secretary?
CAMPBELL: Of course.
RICE: Hello, Alastair.
J POWELL: Jonathan Powell. Tony's chief of staff.
(They turn to a barrage of cameras)
BUSH: Interesting style for Texas.
BLAIR: The Queen Mother.
BUSH: Ah yes. Sorry to hear about that. The Queen Mother. They say she was a beautiful woman.
BLAIR: Well. Yes. In her way.
(They smile. BUSH gestures BLAIR into the informal surroundings of his ranch)
AN ACTOR: In Crawford, Texas, a town which is little more than a crossroads in a scorpion-infested wilderness, the president meets Tony Blair to take him to Prairie Chapel Ranch, his family retreat - 1600 acres of oak-groves, cattle, creeks and freshly stocked ponds ...
(BUSH and BLAIR, along, walk together in the grounds)
BUSH: Nobody's looking. You can undo your tie. And it's an open agenda.
(BLAIR smiles and loosens his tie.)
BLAIR: In that case: urgently, I'd like to thank you, George, for some of the forthright things you've been saying about Israeli incursions into the Palestinian territory.
BUSH: Go on.
BLAIR: I think it's important. The more even-handed America can be between Israel and the Palestinians - the fairer you can be seen to be ...
BUSH: I've condemned the incursions.
BLAIR: You have.
BUSH: I've told them to stop. I've told them to withdraw.
BLAIR: You have.
BLAIR: They haven't actually stopped. They haven't withdrawn.
BUSH: No. They haven't.
(BLAIR waits again. BUSH shrugs.)
BUSH: Israel's an independent nation. Sharon's a tough guy.
BLAIR: Anyway I think you know what I'm saying. You and I both have some sort of vision, I think ...
BUSH: That's right ...
BLAIR: About how things might be re-shaped in the Middle East ...
BUSH: That's the very thing I want to talk to you about. That very thing.
BLAIR: Well. The only way we're going to make progress is not just by being fair, but by being seen to be fair. We bring serious pressure on the Palestinians, yes. Of course. But this time - crucially - we also have to put the same pressure on Israel as well.
(BUSH looks at him a moment)
BUSH: My concern is this, Tony. At this moment, just at this very moment, I'm finding the subject of Iraq seems to be moving up the agenda.
BLAIR: That's clear.
BUSH: It's moving up all the time. I'm sitting here and since 9/11 I've been getting very strong feelings that this is something we can't leave alone. Saddam has to be dealt with. My view is, we're moving into the second phase. We did Afghanistan. Now we move on. The second phase. What do you feel, Tony? What do you feel, Tony? What do you feel about a second phase?
BLAIR: In theory, I agree with the idea.
BUSH: Good. Good.
BLAIR: There is no question of leaving him alone. He's been left alone for far too long.
BUSH: This is a guy who gassed his own people.
BLAIR: Quite. Quite.
(There is a short silence)
BLAIR: You and I want the same things.
BUSH: I'm sure we do.
BLAIR: The only discussion is going to be about method. Because ... well, back at home, you probably know, you've probably heard ... you've been taking soundings of your own ...
BUSH: Matter of fact, yes.
BLAIR: It's true, I'm going through one of those periods - you haven't had one yet - when political problems come together. I'm in rough water, there's an accumulation - foreign and domestic. A first term is easy, George. 146 MPs have already signed what we call an early day motion. It's a kind of warning. And 130 of them are in my own party. They're expressing their opposition to British support for a US-led war on Iraq. The phrase they're using is "deep unease."
(BUSH thinks a moment)
BUSH: Deep unease? Huh.
BLAIR: Now you and I know we're way ahead of ourselves.
BUSH: Way ahead.
BLAIR: Any war, any conceivable war is a long way off. It isn't going to happen tomorrow.
BUSH: Not tomorrow, now.
BLAIR: It's an option.
BUSH: That's what it is. It's an option.
BLAIR: But I have to give you my judgement.
BUSH: Please. I welcome your judgement.
BLAIR: In the event of your considering armed action against Iraq, the British Parliament - and I'd say still more the British people - won't go along without UN support.
(There is a silence)
BUSH: Say more.
BLAIR: I have an attorney-general who is advising me that any invasion of Iraq without UN support is going to be in breach of international law.
BUSH: Is that what he says?
BLAIR: That's it. That's what he says. In fact, he says more than that.
BUSH: Do I know this guy?
BLAIR: You don't.
BUSH: Tell me what he says.
BLAIR: What he says is this: Even with UN support, any invasion will still be illegal unless we can demonstrate that the threat to British national security from Iraq is what he calls "real and imminent."
(BUSH is impassive)
BLAIR: Real and imminent, George. If Britain is involved, we will need evidence that Iraq can and will launch a nuclear, biological or chemical attack on a Western country. We can't go to war because of what we fear. Only because of what we know.
BUSH: I see.
(BUSH thinks a moment)
BUSH: I see. That's putting the bar quite high.
BLAIR: Yes. It's high.
(They both think)
BLAIR: Now plainly if you so choose, you can set out on your own. You can do it all on your own. That's your choice. But, frankly, I wouldn't advise it.
BUSH: I understand.
BLAIR: And selfishly I don't want it because I think the whole undertaking is far too important. If we do reach the point where we one day have to contemplate military action, then I would want that action to be unarguably legitimate. I want it to have authority.
BLAIR: And in Britain - in other parts of the world - that means the UN.
(There is a silence)
BLAIR: Now I don't know what you feel about that. To be honest ... if I'm honest we're getting contradictory impressions from different parts of your administration.
BUSH: I can believe that.
BLAIR: That's right. It's not unknown ...
BUSH: It isn't unknown ...
BLAIR: We both know: a little confusion can sometimes be creative in government.
BUSH: It can be useful, yeah.
BLAIR: Some of your people genuinely respect the UN. Whereas, with others, let's say, there's a sort of contempt, an almost obsessive hatred ...
BUSH: It's me that'll make the decision. I'll make the decision. I'm the president.
BLAIR: Yeah. To me, it's an opportunity. The UN is an American-built institution. America built it.
(BUSH doesn't reply)
BLAIR: Internationally - well, in Europe, in Russia, I can help. I think I can chip in with a good deal of personal persuasion - with Chirac, with Putin. My relationships are excellent. One of the advantages of being a bit longer in office ...
BLAIR: Knowing the people. Knowing the personalities. I have a history, remember? Sierra Leone ...
BLAIR: Kosovo was a tough sell. People didn't believe in it. Believe me, I'm not scared of being unpopular ...
BUSH: I know that.
BLAIR: Going out on a limb. Military intervention for humane purposes, it's something I've believed in for a long time. I find it abhorrent, the idea the West stands by and just watches as less fortunate people suffer.
(Again, BUSH doesn't answer)
BLAIR: There's a speech of mine, in fact, I made in Congo ...
BUSH: I know that speech ...
BLAIR: Way before 9/11 even ...
BUSH: I've read the digest.
BLAIR: It's something I've argued. A moral duty. And I believe in it. The West has the right - no more than a right, a responsibility - to intervene against regimes which are committing offences against their own citizens. It's simple humanity. At some point we're all going to have to articulate a new code. In my view, there's such a thing as progressive war. But when it comes to Iraq, it's difficult. Because people are asking: why Iraq? Why now? To the British, a unilateral attack is going to seem like an act of unprovoked aggression against a sovereign power. But a multilateral force, sanctioned by the UN, well, that's a different thing. That's a force for something more important than nation. That's a force for justice.
(BUSH nods slightly, non-commital)
BUSH: I'm going to think about this.
BUSH: I'm going to talk to my people.
BUSH: You're always eloquent, Tony.
(BLAIR is tense now)
BLAIR: I have one other request.
BUSH: Of course.
BLAIR: There's one other thing I have to ask.
BLAIR: We're at the beginning of a process. I've told you: I'm going to try and persuade you to go through the UN.
BUSH: I accept that.
BLAIR: That means new resolutions. That means honest diplomacy. So. Nothing could be more disastrous to me - to my position - than any suggestion - any possible suggestion - from any single member of your administration - that a decision to resort to military means has already been made. If my enemies can say "This is a war which was cooked up a long time ago by a group in Washington who are just going through the motions ..." If they can say "America decided this, they decided it, it's fixed, and nothing you do, Tony, will have any effect ..."
BLAIR: If people can say that, then my position becomes untenable.
BUSH: You need to be in good faith.
BLAIR: It's important to me.
(BUSH nods slightly)
BUSH: I've been clear with you. We're just discussing the options.
BUSH: I can say that: We're looking at the options.
BUSH: No war plan's on the table. It's not on the table.
BLAIR: I think that's important. I don't just mean it's important it's true. I know it's true. It's also important you say it.
(There is a silence)
BUSH: It's what I'm saying.
(BUSH and BLAIR walk out to face a press conference)
BUSH: Good morning. Laura and I are very honoured to have our friends, Tony and Cherie Blair and their family, visit us here at Crawford. We appreciate the rain that the Prime Minister brought with him. And so do the other farmers and ranchers in the area. Mr. Prime Minister, thanks for bringing it.
BLAIR: My pleasure, George.
JOURNALIST: Mr. President, you have yet to build an international coalition for military action against Iraq. Has the violence in the Middle East thwarted your efforts? And Prime Minister Blair, has Bush convinced you on the need for a military action against Iraq?
BUSH: Adam, the Prime Minister and I, of course, talk about Iraq. We both recognize the danger of a man who's willing to kill his own people harbouring and developing weapons of mass destruction. This guy, Saddam Hussein, is a leader who gasses his own people.
2ND JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, we've heard the president. Can I ask you now what the policy is of the British government?
BLAIR: Well, John ... you know it has always been our policy that Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. But how we now proceed in this situation, that is a matter that is open.
BUSH: The policy of my government is the removal of Saddam.
(BLAIR looks horrified. The press catch on at once. BUSH grins)
BUSH: Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced, and say we support regime change.
2ND JOURNALIST: That's a change though, isn't it, a change in policy?
BUSH: No, it's really not. Regime change was the policy of my predecessor, as well.
2ND JOURNALIST: And your father?
BUSH: You know, I can't remember that far back.
BUSH: I think regime change sounds a lot more civil, doesn't it? The world would be better off without him. Let me put it that way, though. And so will the future.
(They shake hands, wave and part)
AN ACTOR: On his return to England, Blair is restless, unsure of what's been agreed:
(BLAIR is back in his den with MANNING, J POWELL and CAMPBELL)
BLAIR: He's tricky, isn't he?
MANNING: Oh yes. He's tricky.
BLAIR: You don't know exactly what's been agreed. You don't know where you are.
MANNING: Cheney'll get to him. You wait.
CAMPBELL: You wait.
MANNING: Cheney. Rummy. Wolfie. It always happens. You agree something and then they get to him.
MANNING: It's a question of access.
MANNING: Shame we don't live there, really.
(MANNING stares ahead, thoughtful. BLAIR sips his mug of tea, seemingly casual)
AN ACTOR: Worried, uncertain, Blair issues a fateful order:
BLAIR: I've been thinking. I've had this idea. I need - I don't know - tell me if you think this is crazy, David - I think it might help if we had some kind of dossier. A kind of dossier.
MANNING: What kind of dossier?
BLAIR: I'd have though, I don't know, surely the intelligence services can put something together?
MANNING: You mean, from sources?
BLAIR: Just the facts. Spelt out - very simply, very clearly, about the dangers of Iraq developing and using their weapons of mass destruction.
MANNING: You mean we publish intelligence? The services don't like that. They don't like doing that.
BLAIR: Yes. But this is important. This is unusual. We know the dangers. The public doesn't. The facts have never been marshalled, they've never been put together ...
BLAIR: In one document. I'm just thinking: I'm going to need to be armed ...
MANNING: I see that.
BLAIR: With something you can actually look at ...
CAMPBELL: It's a good idea.
BLAIR: An actual piece of paper. Photos, facts. Something you can read, something you can actually look at. Hold. "Oh, I see, there it is. That's now it is."
(There is a silence)
BLAIR: That's what we need. If we had that .
(MANNING says nothing)
BLAIR: Could you? Would you?
BUSH attends the graduating class of 2002 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Martial music.
AN ACTOR: In June 2002, President Bush reviews the graduating class at West Point. In his address, he repudiates one of the core ideas of the United Nations Charter which forbids the use of force not undertaken in self-defence. He introduces a concept new in international law: the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike.
(BUSH addresses the seated graduates)
BUSH: For much of the last century, America's defense relied on Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. But new threats require new thinking. Deterrence - the promise of massive retaliation against nations - means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies. We cannot defend America by hoping for the best. If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it.
AN ACTOR: By August, Colin Powell has become nervous of the direction his government is taking. On a plane back from a tour of the Far East, he makes four pages of notes, next day he asks to see the President. They have dinner in the President's quarters, then afterwards:
BUSH: Happy to see you, Colin. Always happy to take time.
POWELL: This was good of you, sir.
(They all settle into armchairs, relaxed)
BUSH: You've been where?
BUSH: That's right.
POWELL: The Philippines. I'm looking for a post with less foreign travel.
(They all smile)
RICE: Colin was saying earlier he's not sure he'd have taken the job if he'd know what it was.
BUSH: Why's that? Why d'you say that?
POWELL: Oh, simple. Aren't I always the guy who brings the bad news?
(BUSH looks at him a moment)
POWELL: Funny, I was laughing about it with Jack Straw.
BUSH: That's the -
POWELL: Yeah. Nice man.
POWELL: My opposite number.
BUSH: Why were you laughing?
POWELL: Jack was asking "Don't you get tired?" Because it's always our job to go to the leader and say "The French don't like it," or "The Russians won't wear it ..." The boss never wants to see you. Why should he see you when you're always the person telling him what he doesn't want to hear?
POWELL: The opinion of foreigners.
POWELL: That's what you do.
POWELL: You tell him what foreigners are thinking. You explain the French position. After a while, you've explained the French position so often it begins to feel like you are French. And you can see everyone in the room thinking: "OK. Then why didn't you tell the French to fuck off?"
(They all laugh)
POWELL: "Well, why didn't you?" And it's worse in this country - it's worse for me than it is for Jack, because here everyone's also thinking: "Hey - this is the most powerful country in the world, we're the world's only superpower, and we're wasting time while this guy tells us some hippy Euro-peacenik foreign minister wants - why do we have to listen to him?"
(POWELL looks amused)
POWELL: You can't win. In this job. You always seem weak.
BUSH: Not you, Colin. You don't seem weak.
(The two men look at each other, level)
BUSH: Tell me what's bothering you.
POWELL: Forgive me, sir, you'll understand, but I think I know a little about the military ...
BUSH: Why, sure.
POWELL: One thing I know: armies make plans. That's what they do. Constantly. When you're back in the barracks, you plan. Mostly for situations which will never arise. I met an Israeli general once who told me he had a plan for the Israeli Army to capture the North Pole. He thought it would work too. It was a good plan. But that's all it was. A plan.
BUSH: What are you saying?
POWELL: I'm saying nowadays we seem to be full of plans.
(There's a silence)
BUSH: I'm a war president. We're at war.
POWELL: Maybe because my whole life has been in the army I'm less impressed than some people by the use of force. I see it for what it is.
BUSH: What is it?
BUSH: I'm going to take some persuading.
POWELL: That's why I wanted to see you. Privately.
(The two men look at each other. BUSH gestures at RICE)
BUSH: Just Condi.
POWELL: All right, then I'll tell you: I'm getting frustrated by all these military plans. I can't help noticing the most enthusiastic advocates of these plans seem to be men who - strangely - weren't around last time. These men weren't on duty when their country asked them to fight.
BUSH: That gives you credentials. Of course it does.
POWELL: Armchair generals. Intellectuals. Sometimes I think all the trouble in the world is caused by intellectuals who have an "idea." They have some idea of action with no possible regard for its consequences.
(POWELL sits forward, specific)
POWELL: We need to get a balance here.
BUSH: What sort of balance?
POWELL: Between the military and the diplomatic. Because at this moment, far too little attention is being paid to the latter.
BUSH: Go on.
POWELL: If we go into Iraq without a coalition and without the UN, then we're going to find ourselves in trouble. The whole region is a tinderbox. And the current level of thinking from some people in this administration seems to be "OK, so let's throw in a match and see what happens ..." It's at that level. Truly. It's nihilistic.
(POWELL is angry BUSH shifts)
BUSH: We need to make an example.
POWELL: I know. I know that argument.
BUSH: We need to do that.
BUSH: We need to show these people that we mean business.
POWELL: The Roman Empire. I'm familiar with the analogy. The Romans would always go out of their way to make an announcement: "You are now dealing with the Roman Empire." Yeah. So if you pricked a senator in Rome, if you just pricked him through his toga with a pin, then Roman soldiers would seek out the village you came from - wherever it was - anywhere in the empire - however far-flung - and they would kill all your family and burn down your house, they'd slaughter everyone in sight and rape all your daughters, just to make the point, just to put a message across: Don't prick senators. But, sir, we're not Romans. And last time I looked at the constitution, we were still a republic, not an empire.
(BUSH looks chastened, as if POWELL has finally reached him)
POWELL: These are issues. These are large issues. And I'm the one who's going to have to pick up the pieces.
(POWELL shakes his head)
POWELL: You sent me out to the Middle East to see Sharon and Arafat, I was meant to be setting out a road map ...
POWELL: The president's much-touted new initiative for peace ... this big road-map ...
BUSH: This was unfortunate ...
POWELL: And while I'm in the region, while I'm actually in the area, back home the Secretary of Defense ...
BUSH: All right ...
POWELL: ... is briefing against me, he's speaking openly, saying Arafat's a busted flush and I shouldn't even be meeting him.
BUSH: All right, I've spoken with Donald ...
POWELL: He says Colin Powell is soft on Arafat. Well as a matter of fact Colin Powell isn't soft on Arafat - I don't have any attitude to Arafat except he's the elected leader of 3.3 million Palestinians, and my president has personally asked me to negotiate with him.
RICE: It was a bad episode.
POWELL: You could say!
RICE: None of us come well out of it.
POWELL: We looked like some tenth-rate African dictatorship.
BUSH: I spoke strongly to Donald. It's not going to happen again.
POWELL: It should never have happened at all! Rumsfeld cut my legs off.
(There is an angry silence. BUSH shifts again, uncomfortable)
POWELL: OK, so I've had this experience and now I'm looking at the current planning - planning for Iraq - and all I can see is a group of people getting a hard-on about the idea of war, and no-one giving a damn about the reality. Ten times more excitement about going in than there is about how the hell we get out!
(POWELL is firm now, clear)
POWELL: We invade Iraq, the whole region can be destabilized. Friends of ours like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan - all going to be put in danger. The oxygen's going to be sucked out of everything the United States is trying to do - not just the war on terror - every other diplomatic, defence and intelligence arrangement we have. And the economic implications are staggering - not least on the price of oil. In fact, there's a thousand questions nobody wants to consider, let alone answer. How will we be received? By the Iraqis themselves? And once we go, how long will we stay? Rumsfeld wants the State Department to toy with some dicked-up plan for post-war reconstruction. Has anyone put a figure on it? And most of all, has anyone stopped for moment to consider the implications? If you go into Iraq, you're going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. Their lives. All their hopes and aspirations. All their problems. Has anyone begun to think about that?
(POWELL shakes his head in disbelief)
RICE: I don't understand. What do you want? You want us to do nothing?
POWELL: No. I want my country to be less arrogant.
POWELL: I want us to go about this in a different way.
(BUSH and RICE wait for POWELL to calm)
POWELL: Three thousand of our citizens died. They died in an unforgivable attack. But that doesn't licence us to behave like idiots. If we reach the point where everyone is secretly hoping that America gets a bloody nose, then we're going to find it very hard indeed to call on friends when we need them.
(The other two are silenced by the depth of POWELL'S feelings. Then BUSH speaks)
BUSH: I've said it before: this isn't a popularity contest, Colin. It isn't about being popular.
POWELL: No, it isn't. You're right.
POWELL: It's about being effective. And the present policy of being as high-handed as possible with as many countries as possible is profoundly counter-productive. It won't work.
(BUSH is silent)
POWELL: There's an element of hypocrisy, George. We were trading with the guy! Not long ago. People keep asking, how do we know he's got weapons of mass destruction? How do we know? Because we've still got the receipts.
(POWELL shakes his head)
POWELL: It'd be nice to pretend we even have a choice. It would be great to say we can invade Iraq unilaterally. Except we can't. We need access to bases, facilities. Overflight rights. For that you need allies. Not allies you buy, not allies you bribe: allies you can actually trust, because they believe in what you're doing and they're signed up to it. We need a coalition. And if that takes time, amen. And the only place to do it is at the UN. With the help of a new UN resolution.
(BUSH gets up. The other two follow)
BUSH: I'm not going to decide on this. I'm not going to decide on this tonight.
POWELL: I'm going to remind you, sir. 64% of the American public favour this. So long as it's with the support of the international community. Without that support, the figure drops to 33.
BUSH: I've seen the figures. They showed me the polls.
POWELL: OK, I'm arguing it as principle. But whatever - even as politics - go to the UN and you take the American people with you. You might even avoid war. You say I'm always looking for a downside, but I can't see the downside of that.
(POWELL turns to RICE)
POWELL: You going my way?
RICE: I am.
POWELL: I'll run you home.
(POWELL turns back to BUSH)
BUSH: Sounded like you'd been waiting a long time.
POWELL: I'm sorry?
BUSH: To say what you said.
POWELL: Probably thirty years.
(They both smile)
POWELL: Goodnight, sir.
(BUSH goes. POWELL and RICE walk together down deserted White House corridors)
RICE: That was good stuff.
POWELL: Thank you.
RICE: We need a few more evenings like that.
(POWELL looks at her sideways. He can't tell if she supports him)
POWELL: It's past his bed-time, isn't it?
RICE: Yes. Yes. He likes to be in bed by ten.
(They walk on. Silence. Then)
RICE: Listen, if you don't mind, I'm going to take a rain-check. I'm going to work a little longer.
POWELL: Sure. You do that.
POWELL: Goodnight, then.
(RICE disappears down the corridor and into the distance. POWELL stands, now alone. The stage darkens. The White House glows in the night, creamy, surreal. An August evening in a Southern town)
END OF ACT ONE
A PALESTINIAN ACADEMIC waits for the audience to return. She speaks when they are ready.
PALESTINIAN A: For the Palestinian, there is no other context. We see everything in the context of Palestine.
Why Iraq? The question has been asked a thousand times. And a thousand answers have been given. Why was the only war in history every to be based purely on intelligence - and doubtful intelligence at that - launched against a man who was ten years past his peak of belligerance?
Why Iraq? Why now? Here comes the familiar list of explanations. Because an Arab democracy would serve as a model. Because it was unfinished business - "He tried to kill my Dad." Because Osama bin Laden had served notice on the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, and now America needed a new military base. Because Cheney worked for Halliburton. "It was all about oil!"
For us, no. For Palestinians, it's about one thing: defending the interests of America's three-billion-dollar-a-year colony in the Middle East.
This is a president whose knowledge of Palestine is confined to one helicopter flight in the company of Sharon, from which he looked down on the suffering of the refugees. This is a double standard: a UN resolution which legitimises war on Iraq has to be enforced. A resolution which demands Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders has to be ignored. Justice and freedom are the cause of the West - but never extended to a people expelled from their land and forbidden any right to return. Terror is condemned, but state-sanctioned murder is green-lit.
The Jewish poet, Chaim Nahman Bialik, dreamt of a state where there would be Zionist murderers, Zionist prostitutes, Zionist crooks. Israel, he said, would only be normal when it was as corrupt and human as any other state in the world. Well, it's human now.
The victims of the conflict have become the problem. We are the Jews of the Jews.
AN ACTOR appears.
AN ACTOR: So it was. In August 2002, Powell won his battle. The United States would go *to the United Nations to demand a new resolution setting out guidelines for fresh weapons inspections and promising harsh penalties if Baghdad failed to cooperate.
(Quietly, the NSC begins to reassemble - BUSH, POWELL, RICE, TENET etc. RUMSFELD comes in with CHENEY)
BUSH: Good morning, gentlemen. I've had a special request. The Vice-President has asked if he can speak first. Kind of a special occasion. We don't often hear from Dick, do we?
RUMSFELD: Not at length.
BUSH: Pretty special when he speaks, never mind first.
BUSH: Fire away, Dick.
CHENEY: Well ... the president's made a decision. I'm going to stand by that decision, even though I've argued against it.
BUSH: You certainly have.
CHENEY: I don't think anyone in this room begins to understand what we've let ourselves in for. But. The decisions been made and I'm going to offer a notion of how it should be presented. I mean, to the world.
BUSH: Go on.
CHENEY: The way we do this is: Crisis at the UN.
BUSH: Say it again.
CHENEY: Crisis at the UN.
CHENEY: We turn it round, see? That's my notion. Nothing to do with American intentions. No longer a question of American foreign policy - its wisdom, its legality. No. Saddam Hussein has violation 17 UN agreements. The UN has 173 pages of concerns about weapons of mass destruction. Therefore. The only question is: "Does the UN still have a role?" That's the question. Is the UN an East River chattering factory? Is it an expensive irrelevance. Is this or is this not an organization which still has the authority to enforce its own resolutions? Does it have the chops?
POWELL: Oh come on, Dick ...
CHENEY: Yes, we'll go through the UN. We go to the UN. We walk right in that glass door. Yes, we're supporting the UN. "What, us? Sure, we support the UN." But all the time we're asking the question: "Can the UN deliver?"
(There is a silence)
BUSH: I think it's good. This way it's not about us. It's about them. That's good. We put the monkey on Kofi Annan's back.
AN ACTOR: In the dog days of August, members of the Bush administration set off on a linguistic offensive. To Powell's dismay the airwaves are suddenly full of colleagues aiming to discredit the principle of a return to inspections:
POWELL: We had an agreement! I thought we had an agreement!
(CHENEY moves into a TV studio)
CHENEY: A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of Saddam's compliance with UN resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow "back in the box."
AN ACTOR: Cheney goes on to make a direct connection between the attack on the Twin Towers and Saddam Hussein.
CHENEY: Success in Iraq means we will have struck a blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.
AN ACTOR: Even Condoleezza Rice seems to side with Cheney.
RICE: There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
(BLAIR paces, sheaves of paper in hand)
AN ACTOR: On the other side of the Atlantic, Tony Blair *finally receives a draft of his proposed dossier which seems to him seriously disappointing in its lack of conclusive evidence.
BLAIR: Really! I mean, really! I mean, come on!
(MANNING, CAMPBELL and JONATHAN POWELL all pace, the same sheaves in hand)
BLAIR: How many times do I have to say it? Legally the Americans can go to war to effective regime change. Or so they tell me. Legally we can't. My attorney general tells me I have to prove there is an immediate threat to our security.
(They all wait. There is nothing to say)
BLAIR: I have to demonstrate that threat or I can't go to war.
AN ACTOR: On September 11th an anonymous e-mail goes round the intelligence community:
(AN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF reads the e-mail on a note of rising urgency)
CHIEF: The Prime Minister's office, through the Chairman of the Join Intelligence Committee, wants the document to be as strong as possible within the bounds of available intelligence. This is therefore a last call for any items of intelligence agencies think can and should be included! Responses needed by 12.00 tomorrow!
(The door of 10 Downing Street is opened at night to admit SIR RICHARD DEARLOVE)
DEARLOVE: I do ... I do have one new source you might be interested in.
BLAIR: That's why we asked you.
DEARLOVE: It isn't corroborated.
DEARLOVE: This is highly unusual. As you know, I don't usually like to depend on a single supplier. There are procedures ...
DEARLOVE: The protocol of intelligence ...
DEARLOVE: We don't like to offer information from just one line of reporting.
(BLAIR waits again)
DEARLOVE: We have a source who is saying that the Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 20 to 45 minutes of an order to do so.
(There is a moment's silence)
BLAIR: This is a source of your own?
DEARLOVE: Not exactly.
BLAIR: We'll need to know more.
DEARLOVE: It's come to us through an Iraqi organization.
MANNING: An exiles' organization?
DEARLOVE: The original source is in the Iraqi army.
(There is another brief silence)
BLAIR: Richard, it's not in anyone's interests that this information should be wrong.
BLAIR: If the weapons inspectors go back in, and - God forbid - any of these weapons are found not to exist, then my life as Prime Minister will become very difficult indeed.
BLAIR: Can you - what I'm asking - can you promise this information is sound.
DEARLOVE: No. No, I can't promise. It's a judgement.
BLAIR: And what is your own judgement?
(DEARLOVE hesitates to phrase with care)
DEARLOVE: My judgment is that this is a significant piece of raw intelligence.
(BLAIR nods, pleased)
BLAIR: We'll talk more. You'll give David here the details.
DEARLOVE: I will. Goodnight, Prime Minister.
(Everyone says "Goodnight." DEARLOVE goes. BLAIR paces a few moments, thinking)
BLAIR: There it is.
BLAIR: David? Well?
MANNING: You asked for something. He brought it. That's service, I suppose.
(BLAIR considers the implications of this remark)
BLAIR: It's an instinct, isn't it? It's a feeling.
(Everyone waits for the decision)
BLAIR: What did he say? "Twenty to forty-five"?
BLAIR: Use forty-five.
(Downing Street dissolves)
AN ACTOR: As the dossier is prepared, the 45 minute claim gains a life of its own, gathering moment with each new draft. It is mentioned four times in the published dossier and emphasised by Blair in his own introduction.
BLAIR: This document discloses that Saddam's military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them.
AN ACTOR: In private, George Tenet, Head of the CIA, refers to the claim as:
TENET: The "They-can-attack-in-45-minutes" shit.
(The General Assembly arrives. POWELL taking his place among them)
AN ACTOR: *September 12th 2002. Gridlock on the streets of New York. A motorcade glides towards the UN headquarters on First Avenue. In his hand, George Bush has the bitterly contested text of what some say will be the most important speech of his life.
BUSH: You know, you've got to remember, every speech is now "the speech of my life." I've had about six of those from my trusted advisers. So I'm immune to the "speech of my life" stuff.
AN ACTOR: *Bush prepares to address the General Assembly, in the presence of his Secretary of State.
(POWELL puts on his headphones)
AN ACTOR: ... who uses headphones even though they speak a common language.
(BUSH steps up to the podium)
AN ACTOR: Bush makes an early claim:
BUSH: Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year.
AN ACTOR: Then goes on to insist:
BUSH: The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. The first time we may be completely certain he has a nuclear weapon is when, God forbids, he uses one.
AN ACTOR: As the speech goes on ...
BUSH: My nation will work with the UN Security Council ...
AN ACTOR: Powell becomes restless, waiting for the president's promise to work through a new UN resolution. Powell check's Bush's delivery against Draft 34 of the speech, agreed on the previous night.
(POWELL whispers to JOHN NEGROPONTE, US Ambassador to the UN)
POWELL: What's going on?
AN ACTOR: In his panic, Powell believes that Dick Cheney has deliberately removed the vital pledge.
POWELL: He didn't say it!
AN ACTOR: But Bush himself realizes that the most important words have not appeared on the teleprompter. Two lines late he inserts the undertaking from memory.
BUSH: We will work with the UN Security Council for the necessary resolutions.
AN ACTOR: The unscripted use of the plural ...
BUSH: "Necessary resolutions."
AN ACTOR: Will unleash a process of diplomacy which will last six months.
At the Hotel Pierre, POWELL is sitting at an elegant dining table with JOHN NEGROPONTE, JACK STRAW, JEREMY GREENSTOCK, IGOR IVANOV and SERGEI LAVROV. They sit in silence for a moment, white-jacketed WAITERS attendant. And then comes in DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, accompanied by JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE. Everyone stands, and shakes hands.
DE VILLEPIN: Good morning, gentlemen ...
AN ACTOR: Enter the French.
POWELL: Everyone here knows Dominique de Villepin ...
STRAW: Of course ...
DE VILLEPIN: Jean-David Levitte, our Ambassador to the UN ...
AN ACTOR: The Hotel Pierre, New York, September 13th 2002 ...
POWELL: John Negroponte, our Ambassador ...
DE VILLEPIN: John ...
POWELL: Igor, Sergei ...
IVANOV: Dominique ...
LAVROV: Jean-David ...
DE VILLEPIN: Jack ...
STRAW: Dominique ...
POWELL: I thought it would be useful to have some kind of meeting in advance ...
DE VILLEPIN: I think it's an excellent idea ...
POWELL: ... while we're all in New York, so we can just gently find our way to each others' positions.
STRAW: Everyone knows Jeremy Greenstock?
DE VILLEPIN: It's always a pleasure to be with Jeremy.
GREENSTOCK: Dominique, Jean-David.
DE VILLEPIN: What a charming hotel. This is a charming place to meet.
(POWELL opens his arms to say "Let's sit")
DE VILLEPIN: Are we going to eat first?
POWELL: I thought not. I thought talk first, then enjoy lunch.
DE VILLEPIN: Why not?
(They all sit. WAITERS retire)
POWELL: To be clear: the president obviously sees yesterday's address as an act of faith in the United Nations.
DE VILLEPIN: Good.
POWELL: But it's also a test. A test of resolve. I'm reluctant to say that at this table we hold the future of the UN in our hands. Should the Security Council fail to get compliance from Saddam Hussein, it's going to be very bad news for the prestige and standing of the organization. We see this process as clearly asking the question: how effective can the UN be?
(DE VILLEPIN smiles)
DE VILLEPIN: Shall I speak?
IVANOV: You go ahead.
DE VILLEPIN: Yes, I can see this is what you've been saying in public ...
POWELL: I'm saying it at the Hotel Pierre ...
DE VILLEPIN: Of course you are.
POWELL: In private.
DE VILLEPIN: Yes. But I notice you use the word "compliance" ...
DE VILLEPIN: "The purpose of any resolution being to enforce compliance ...
POWELL: That's right ...
DE VILLEPIN: "To work towards the disarmament of Iraq ...
DE VILLEPIN: Forgive me, but there's a confusion here, isn't there? I listened attentively to your president's speech yesterday and I found this same confusion.
POWELL: What confusion is that?
DE VILLEPIN: It's as if, yes, you've decided to go through a process, but you haven't quite decided what the purpose of the process is.
(POWELL looks at him a moment)
POWELL: I thought we had. I thought we'd decided.
DE VILLEPIN: Have you? Look, believe me, I think I speak for all of us when I say we're delighted you're here.
IVANOV: We couldn't be happier.
(DE VILLEPIN smiles)
DE VILLEPIN: You see in the last two years, since Mr. Bush came to power, there have been - what would you call them? - Signs - indicators -
POWELL: Yes, I know.
DE VILLEPIN: What are they? Straws in the wind? Gestures - like the repudiation of the Kyoto protocol on the environment, withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, rejection of the comprehensive Test Ban treaty, repudiation of the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, refusal to recognize or take part in the International Criminal Court - presumably so that your Mr Kissinger can continue climbing onto aeroplanes without fear of arrest ...
POWELL: Very funny ...
DE VILLEPIN: Call us over-sensitive, but some of us find it hard to believe you're now getting wholeheartedly behind the idea of international law.
(POWELL looks at him mistrustfully)
DE VILLEPIN: Speaking for myself - I think the world outside America has felt a little like a rejected lover these past two years. Now it's one o'clock in the morning and you're coming to our door with a bunch of flowers and whisky on your breath. You can see why some of us are feeling just a little bit cautious.
POWELL: We wouldn't have come if we didn't believe in it.
DE VILLEPIN: No.
(DE VILLEPIN looks at POWELL, a moment, almost challenging him)
DE VILLEPIN: However. We can't ignore the facts. Even as we sit in this room, as we start to enjoy our lunch, your Defense Secretary is already embarking on a substantial military build-up. Am I wrong?
(POWELL doesn't answer)
DE VILLEPIN: By our reckoning, by the time we get to the pastry you'll be on your way to putting some 60,000 military personnel into the region.
DE VILLEPIN: So?
POWELL: Dominique, even Kofi welcomes our presence. He has no problem with it. Why should he? He sees it as a way of exerting pressure to enforce the will of the UN.
DE VILLEPIN: Pressure. Of course.
POWELL: It's coercive diplomacy.
DE VILLEPINL If that's what it is - coercive - then of course it's welcome.
POWELL: Force isn't force unless you threaten to use it.
(There is a chilly silence. DE VILLEPIN shifts)
DE VILLEPIN: Yes. You're on what I think you call a twin-track, aren't you? The military and the diplomatic.
POWELL: Yes. Yes we are.
DE VILLEPIN: Clearly it's going to need an extraordinary balance of skill to keep those two tracks running. Rather than crashing into each other.
POWELL: That's what I'm here for.
DE VILLEPIN: And believe me - I wanted to say this - we're most of all pleased it's you. That means a great deal to us.
POWELL: Thank you.
(POWELL is watchful, mistrusting DE VILLEPIN'S flattery)
DE VILLEPIN: The most popular man in America.
POWELL: I'm sorry.
DE VILLEPIN: According to the polls.
(POWELL is icy)
DE VILLEPIN: More popular even than the president.
POWELL: They're just polls.
DE VILLEPIN: All the same. All the same. It's not a bad thing to be, is it? More popular than your own president? Virtually the only uncontested hero in America. It's a shame, isn't it, when you're that popular not to use your popularity? Put it to good purpose? Put it to purposes for the benefit of all.
(There is a silence. DE VILLEPIN drums his fingers on the table)
STRAW: Dominique, I'm an averagely intelligent person and I'm not sure where you're heading.
DE VILLEPIN: No? It must be my English.
STRAW: Must be.
DE VILLEPIN: I'll make myself clear.
(DE VILLEPIN turns to POWELL, now focussed)
DE VILLEPIN: There's all the difference in the world between coming to the UN with the aim of getting Saddam to disarm through peaceful means, and coming to the UN in order simply to get a stamp of approval for an invasion.
POWELL: That's not what we're asking for.
DE VILLEPIN: Isn't it?
POWELL: No. No, I don't think it is. I mean, we haven't yet specified the working of the resolution ...
DE VILLEPIN: Exactly ...
POWELL: That lies ahead.
DE VILLEPIN: Exactly.
POWELL: The framing of the resolution, that's the very subject of this lunch ...
(DE VILLEPIN smiles again)
DE VILLEPIN: All it is: I'm looking at this contradiction and trying to make some sense of it. My point is this: You can't come to the UN, then announce that the UN has failed if it gives you any result but the one you want. You can't do that. Put it another way: You can't play football and be the referee as well. That isn't - I'm using the English expression - "playing fair."
POWELL: That's not what we're doing. We're not doing that. This is a negotiation. Genuine. With equal partners. There are fifteen countries on the Security Council. We want fifteen votes. Freely given. We're in good faith.
DE VILLEPIN: I would hope.
POWELL: Do you think I'd be here if we weren't?
(DE VILLEPIN opens his hands, as if to say he doesn't know the answer)
DE VILLEPIN: I'm going to make a suggestion in the hope of diffusing any possible tension.
POWELL: Go ahead.
DE VILLEPIN: Though I'm becoming embarrassed at being the only person who speaks.
STRAW: Believe me, we're enjoying listening.
POWELL: What's your suggestion?
(DE VILLEPIN smiles)
DE VILLEPIN: I suggest two resolutions.
DE VILLEPIN: Yes. One to effect disarmament. And the second ... the second to trigger war if, after a reasonable time, disarmament is not proved to have taken place. It seems the easiest way of disentangling your two different aims.
POWELL: I see.
(POWELL looks at him a moment)
POWELL: I see. You want me to get a resolution, then come back and get another?
DE VILLEPIN: That's it exactly.
POWELL: Do you ... do you have any idea how hard it was to get here in the first place?
DE VILLEPIN: I have some idea, yes.
POWELL: And now you want me to come back?
(But DE VILLEPIN is not fazed)
DE VILLEPIN: France won't consider a first resolution which contains any kind of hidden trigger, any mechanism which might trigger war. The French are genuinely delighted to help the United States if your purpose is, indeed, disarmament. Nothing would make us happier. If you have a second purpose - to licence an attack - to seek international cover for an American invasion - then no. We deal with a new situation only when and as disarmament is shown not to occur.
(POWELL is looking at him in dismay)
DE VILLEPIN: Please. What I'm suggesting is not unreasonable. It can hardly come as a surprise. If you remember, your own president referred to "resolutions" in the plural.
NEGROPONTE: That was a glitch!
DE VILLEPIN: He used the plural.
NEGROPONTE: It was a technical glitch!
DE VILLEPIN: Whatever.
NEGROPONTE: You know perfectly well: When the president said he was going to "bring forward resolutions" what he meant was "resolution." Single.
LEVITTE: It's a pity that's not what he said.
NEGROPONTE: He was improvising. He had to improvise. The machine went down and he did very well to say anything at all!
(LEVITTE is taking out a transcript)
LEVITTE: If there's a problem, I have a transcript here. I can check.
POWELL: There's no need to check!
(POWELL has spoken with unexpected sharpness. Now he turns to DE VILLEPIN, measured, cool)
POWELL: Good. Very well. We've laid out preliminary positions, and now we're all going to eat our lunch. Afterwards I'm going to think things over.
DE VILLEPIN: Thank you.
POWELL: Because there's some kind of contract here, I think.
DE VILLEPIN: Contract?
POWELL: Yes. Between us.
(POWELL stops, deliberate)
POWELL: Think. Consider. The questions you might have asked me: "Do I personally want to see the inspectors back in?" "Yes." "Do I genuinely want the inspections to succeed?" "Yes." "Do I want war?" "Emphatically, no." Now if these are the outcomes we all desire, it's up to you to make my life liveable. You have to give me something I can take back to the president.
DE VILLEPIN: I accept that.
POWELL: Push me too hard and you'll end up with an outcome the opposite of what you want. Remember that. This is a two-way street.
(POWELL smiles, still chilly)
POWELL: If anyone's stupid enough to think this is payback time for whatever grudge they happen to be nursing against the US - be it Kyoto or the criminal court or - I don't know - how they hate McDonalds - then what they'll be doing in effect is condemning Iraqi women and children to the sort of bombardment which is going to make them wish they'd never been born. And possibly civil chaos after. That's what I'm trying to avoid.
(POWELL waits for this to sink in)
POWELL: As to two resolutions, well it's a technical question, because although we're going to fight about words, it won't ultimately be about words. It'll be a fight about attitude: wanting to help or not.
(The table is silenced)
POWELL: Yes, America's a great power. In France, I don't know, you may wish for the day when it's no longer so. But with the best will in the world, I don't see that day arriving in the next few months.
(POWELL reaches across and touches DE VILLEPIN'S wrist)
POWELL: We have to work together.
DE VILLEPIN: We'll work together.
POWELL: Good. I'm going to hold you to that.
(POWELL gets up to get the WAITERS back. POWELL goes to the door, then turns)
POWELL: Oh and by the way - About working together. If we do go for two resolutions - if - one for proof of disarmament, the other for war - I warn you now, don't vote for the first unless one day you're going to be ready to vote for a second. We'd take that very badly.
(POWELL looks a moment)
(POWELL opens the door and the WAITERS in white coats pour in, bearing food and drink)
Groups of SENATORS and CONGRESSMEN arrive to be brief by BUSH.
AN ACTOR: Soon after his address to the UN the president goes to Congress. First, he embarks on a lobbying campaign, inviting 195 congressmen and all 100 senators to the White House for personal briefings:
BUSH: You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.
AN ACTOR: After two days of debate in the House, the president has a vote of 296 to 133 to allow him carte-blanche to deploy the US armed forces "as he deems to be necessary and appropriate."
(The Senate assembles)
AN ACTOR: In the Senate, John McCain captures the mood:
MCCAIN: There is no greater responsibility we face than voting to place this country on a course that could send young Americans to war in her defense. All of us must weigh our consciences carefully. The very fact that we are holding this free debate serves as a reminder that we are a great nation, united in freedom's defense, and called once again to make the world safe for freedom's blessings to flourish. The quality of our greatness will determine the character of our response.
AN ACTOR: In Britain, Parliament is recalled to debate the growing crisis.53 Labour MPs rebel. One says:
SIMPSON: Bush will hit Iraq much the same way that a drunk will hit a bottle - to satisfy his thirst for power and oil. I must tell the Prime Minister that the role of a friend in such circumstances is not to pass the drunk the bottle!
(BLIX and MOHAMED ELBARADEI arrive smiling at a piece of paper they both hold)
AN ACTOR: Meanwhile, America draws up the first draft of a startlingly tough resolution which insists on the right to send US troops into Iraq to guard inspectors as they go about their work. Hans Blix comments:
BLIX: It was so remote from reality. It was written by someone who doesn't understand how inspections function.
POWELL: Hans. It's Colin Powell. The president and I were thinking it would be nice if you dropped by to see him.
BLIX: I'd be delighted.
POWELL: We'll send a van to your hotel at 8 a.m. That way we can get you right in and avoid security.
(BLIX and ELBARADEI walk with POWELL down White House corridors. CHENEY gets up and shakes their hands. They all sit down)
AN ACTOR: Hans Blix and his colleague Mohamed Elbaradei are invited to the White House. First, they are taken to the Vice-President's office for what turns out to be a brief meeting.
CHENEY: You know, we're sure there are weapons there. I don't think you're going to have any trouble finding them. And if you do have any trouble, understand, we're ready to discredit you.
(Everyone gets up)
AN ACTOR: Moments later, they are ushered into the Oval Office.
(BUSH gets up from behind the desk to shake hands. POWELL hovers)
BUSH: It's a great honour to meet you both. I'm honoured to meet you, sir.
BLIX: No, the honour is mine.
ELBARADEI: Good morning, Mr President.
(BUSH gestures them to sit down)
BUSH: I'm haring you're thinking you can start in two months.
BLIX: Two months, yes. We've known for some time we might go back in. So it's a practical question. Reassembling the team.
(BUSH sits back behind his desk)
BUSH: A lot of things get said, there's a lot of noise in the air, hyperventilation, this is - you know - stuff that goes on. I tune it out. I don't listen. They say I'm a mad Texan bent on war. That's not so. That's what I wanted to say to you. I want to go through the UN and I want him disarmed.
BLIX: I'm happy to hear that.
BUSH: We have confidence in you.
BLIX: Thank you, Mr President. That means a great deal to us.
(BUSH nods and looks at him a moment)
BUSH: You can be assured, Mr Blix, you've got the force of the United States behind you.
BUSH: The only mistake you could make is to imagine that when you come to report, it's you that's making the decision. About whether to take further action.
BLIX: Of course not. I agree with you. That's not my role.
BUSH: No. It isn't you that makes that decision. It's me.
(They all get up)
AN ACTOR: Blix and Elbaradei are no ushered into a third and final meeting, this time with Condoleezza Rice.
(They all sit down)
RICE: What I want to put to you is: it's understood, you work for the UN, they're your masters, we accept that. But we feel there can also be input from individual members of the Security Council.
BLIX: Which members do you have in mind?
RICE: Naturally, the United States.
(BLIX nods, as if thinking seriously)
BLIX: What sort of input? I mean, intelligence, yes, the more the better. Material. We're grateful. But beyond that?
RICE: This is a very big job, it's an important job ...
BLIX: Believe me, I don't need persuading ...
RICE: And we have a lot of ideas on how you can be helped.
RICE: Yes. We're proposing some sort of philosophical agreement. On paper. A signed agreement. About what you're going to do. And the way you're going to do it.
(BLIX nods again, considering)
BLIX: I don't think I can do that, Dr Rice. I work for the UN.
(BLIX stares at her. WOLFOWITZ comes in)
AN ACTOR: Later, in the meeting, Paul Wolfowitz arrives.
RICE: You don't know Paul Wolfowitz?
BLIX: I haven't had the pleasure. How do you do?
(ELBARADEI, BLIX and WOLFOWITZ stand around shaking hands)
AN ACTOR: Nine months earlier Wolfowitz has ordered a secret CIA investigation to discredit Hans Blix.
(WOLFOWITZ has sat down and is looking hard at BLIX)
WOLFOWITZ: You do know they have the weapons, don't you? I mean, you are starting from that position, I hope?
BLIX: I do in with a great deal of knowledge.
WOLFOWITZ: It's not your knowledge, it's your position I'm interested in.
BLIX: My position?
WOLFOWITZ: Yes. What's your position? What is it?
BLIX: Well, I have experience, I hope I have judgement, but professionally, I see it as a matter of principle: I have no position.
(WOLFOWITZ just stares at him)
WOLFOWITZ: You remember, the problems we had last time ...
BLIX: I DO.
WOLFOWITZ: Last time we couldn't get scientists to travel abroad.
BLIX: It's true. It's always a problem.
WOLFOWITZ: Everyone's terrified. If you leave the country to talk to you guys, then Saddam will kill you when you get back. He'll kill your family. It's a dictatorship.
BLIX: I agree.
WOLFOWITZ: So I've been thinking about it. I've got a solution.
BLIX: We'd like to hear it.
WOLFOWITZ: It'll work like a subpoena. A sort of international subpoena. We have the right to slap an injunction on a scientist, we take him out of Iraq, we talk to him abroad and this time we get what we need.
(BLIX says nothing)
WOLFOWITZ: What do you think?
BLIX: Forgive me but somehow I've never seen the UN as being in the kidnapping business.
(They all shake hands, making polite goodbyes)
RICE: It's been a great privilege to meet you.
BLIX: It's certainly been a very useful meeting.
AN ACTOR: Meanwhile at the UN, Colin Powell is in negotiation after the first draft of the US resolution is rejected by all fourteen other members of the Security Council. After seven weeks, arguments about wording have reached a bitter stand-off. The French insist that there will be serious consequences should Iraq be in material breach of the resolution as evidenced by:
LEVITTE: A false declaration "and" a general failure to cooperate.
AN ACTOR: The Americans prefer:
NEGROPONTE: A false declaration "or" a general failure to cooperate.
AN ACTOR: The dispute over this single word lasts five days.
(RICE is in her office at night. POWELL appears)
POWELL: Condi ... You busy?
RICE: I'm busy. Busy enough. Come in.
(They both smile. POWELL sits)
RICE: How you getting on? You close?
POWELL: Still that word.
RICE: The president's very firm about this. If we go for "or" there's two criteria for war. If we go for "and," there's only one. Two's better than one. "Or"'s better than "and."
POWELL: Condi, the French aren't stupid. They know we'll go to war if we have to.
POWELL: I'm trying to avoid war.
RICE: We're all trying to avoid war.
POWELL: Are we?
(RICE looks up)
POWELL: We go back a long way, remember?
POWELL: So I don't for a moment think you're holding out on me.
(She is cool, not dropping her gaze)
POWELL: This job you have - I'd be interested: How would you define it? When I did it, I noticed everyone defines it differently.
RICE: I work best as a filter, I think.
RICE: I distil and represent points of view to the president. And I support the president when he makes his wise decision. That's where my first loyalty lies.
POWELL: And you don't have other loyalties?
RICE: That's why I said "first."
(The two of them look, unforgiving)
POWELL: Condi, I'm not asking for special favours. I'm simply asking for equal treatment.
RICE: You get equal treatment.
POWELL: It's hard to negotiate the importance of the course of action if another course of action has already been decided. The person who does that looks like a fool.
(RICE'S gaze is steady, not giving away a thing. POWELL could wait an hour and she still wouldn't speak)
POWELL: All right. Look - the French are offering a formula. It's one word. "And." It satisfies their honour and it satisfies us. They're going to say we need a second resolution, we're going to say we don't. You can read it either way. All we want is a headline "US achieves Iraq resolution."
RICE: Do you trust this guy? De Villepin?
POWELL: Condi, I'm telling you: he gave me his word.
(They stare at one another a moment)
POWELL: You need to speak to the president.
RICE: Why don't you speak to the president?
POWELL: Condi, you're his trusted adviser. Give him some trusted advice.
(POWELL goes. RICE sits alone)
AN ACTOR: On November 8th, the American government gives in to the French and the Security Council adopts Resolution 1441. Everyone accepts the word "and." Immediately afterwards, the American and French brief the press, giving contradictory readings of the same document.
(Diplomats at the UN brief separate pools of JOURNALISTS)
NEGROPONTE: Resolution 1441 does not constrain any member state from taking any action to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq.
LEVITTE: By insisting on two stages, the resolution makes it clear that it is only the Security Council which can handle this matter.
AN ACTOR: Dominique de Villepin adds:
DE VILLEPIN: I have signed nothing which locks us into war.
GENERAL HASSAM HUMMAD AMIN sets out a table with twelve thousand pages of documents for the world's press to photograph.
AN ACTOR: Within the required week, Iraq re-admits inspectors and commits to producing a full description of their chemical facilities within thirty days. On December 7th, General Hassam Muhammad Amin has a photo-call.
(A media scrum, flash photos and a proud GENERAL)
AN ACTOR: Piled on a table are 43 spiral-bound volumes of documents, containing 12,159 pages, 6 folders, 12 CD-roms.
AMIN: We are a country devoid of weapons of mass destruction.
AN ACTOR: Saddam Hussein makes a statement on Iraqi television:
(SADDAM speaks in Arabic, a translator renders it in English)
SADDAM H: We apologize to God about any act which has angered him in the past, and that was held against us and we apologize to the Kuwaitis on the same basis.
AN ACTOR: The US insists that the documentation will be a cookbook for lethal chemical weapons and rules that not all members of the Security Council can be trusted to read the whole thing.
BLIX: To be honest, I was happy for the document to go first to Washington. They have the logistical capacity to make 15 copies of 12,000 pages. We don't.
AN ACTOR: While the document is in Washington the names of the two companies which secretly supplied Iraq with seventeen types of biological agents are removed. One company is American. The other French.
(In BLAIR'S den, J POWELL and MANNING sit reading a resume. BLAIR paces moodily, the same resume in hand. CAMPBELL sitting at a desk, quietly working)
BLAIR: What can you say? What can you say? He's blown it, hasn't he? He's really blown it.
MANNING: Yes. He's blown it. Twelve thousand pages. And it's just a pointless re-hash.
BLAIR: The Americans are going to go crazy.
J POWELL: They're going crazy already.
MANNING: Cheney, Rummy, Wolfie ...
BLAIR: Exactly. They're all going to say "Oh great - look - this is great, he's pretending to have no weapons. So now we've a perfect excuse to go to war without the UN"!
BLAIR: How can I work through the UN if Saddam won't admit he's got anything? I mean, really! This was Saddam's chance. Why didn't he take it?
CAMPBELL: Because he's got the IQ of parsley.
(But BLAIR ignores this, pacing)
BLAIR: And now where are we? Blix is running around Mesopotamia like Hercule Poirot. The whole world is watching and everyone seems to think it's some kind of game. Everyone thinks: "If Blix doesn't find the weapons, then Saddam wins." The man is a murderous dictator, and we've turned the whole thing into a game of Clue. Tell me I'm wrong.
MANNING: You're not wrong.
(BLAIR shakes his head)
BLAIR: Why can't people understand? It isn't Blix's job to find the weapons - it's Saddam's job to prove they've been destroyed.
MANNING: Of course.
BLAIR: It's perfectly simple. Why don't people get it? I've explained it. God knows I've explained it.
CAMPBELL. You have. Often.
BLAIR: It's not up to us to prove they exist! It's up to them to prove they don't!
(MANNING looks at his fingernails, the diplomat)
MANNING: There was always a danger. We knew that. We went in knowing that inspections could be misconstrued.
BLAIR: David, I promised the British people: no war without the UN.
MANNING: Well then.
(There is a sudden silence. BLAIR looks at him)
BLAIR: Well then what?
MANNING: Just to say the unsayable: do we have to go?
MANNING: Do we? Can't the Americans do it by themselves?
(BLAIR is looking at him like thunder)
MANNING: All right, just a suggestion ...
BLAIR: There's one rule. With the Americans there's one rule. You get in early. And you stay loyal. The one thing we've learnt: if for a moment, if even for a moment, we come adrift from Washington, our influence is gone. It's gone!
(MANNING looks across to CAMPBELL, knowing it's a lost cause)
BLAIR: I've got my military saying to me "Are we in or are we out?" They're saying "We need time to prepare." And I've got the British public saying "You promised you'd wait." I've got the British public saying "Well you haven't found the weapons, so you can't be going to war." How many times can I lift the phone? How many times can I say "George, hold on, just hold on ..."
(BLAIR bursts out again at the injustice)
BLAIR: Saddam was meant to help! He was meant to take part in the process!
MANNING: Yes. Yes. It's tricky.
BLAIR: I can't believe where we are. Every bad thing that could have happened has happened.
(The advisers are looking one to another, lost for advice)
BLAIR: I'm not asking Saddam to be clever. I'm just asking him to have some elementary cunning. Some vestigial instinct for survival. At least have that! Every politician has that!
(BLAIR looks away, lost)
BLAIR: What am I meant to do?
MANNING: You have to do what you're going. You have to keep calling George Bush.
(BLAIR shakes his head)
BLAIR: It's wrong. It's so wrong.
(Downing Street disappears)
AN ACTOR: In the second week of the new year, Rice flags an issue which has been disturbing her.
(The Oval office, BUSH alone at his desk. RICE comes in)
RICE: There's something I need to mention to you, sir.
RICE: An imbalance.
BUSH: Tell me.
RICE: As of this moment, the Secretary of Defense knows your plans, sir. Donald's been party to them. You could say, some time back.
(RICE waits a moment)
RICE: The Secretary of State doesn't know your plans. He's not been party to them.
BUSH: I understand.
RICE: As of this moment, sir, I think you owe him.
(BUSH looks at her, thoughtful)
BUSH: I owe him?
RICE: I'm not sure this situation can go on as it is.
(BUSH stares, at his most enigmatic. RICE goes)
AN ACTOR: On January 13th, Powell is summoned to the Oval Office.
(BUSH gets up as POWELL arrives)
BUSH: Welcome, Colin.
POWELL: Mr President.
BUSH: Come in. Make yourself comfortable.
POWELL: No Condi?
BUSH: No. No Condi.
(POWELL has said it lightly, but BUSH'S tone alerts him. Tense, he sits)
BUSH: Colin, I think we've reached a fork in the road. We're at that fork. I don't think there's a way around this. These inspections are a distraction. They weaken us. They weaken our purpose.
(POWELL looks at him a moment)
POWELL: In what way?
BUSH: We've got ourselves into a situation where we're insisting he's guilty until he proves he's innocent. That's not good. That's not good for us. He's making a monkey of us.
POWELL: What you're saying: you've made up your mind.
BUSH: I'm saying that.
POWELL: You've thought this through?
BUSH: I've made a decision. If you have a problem with that decision, best thing is you should speak. You should say something now. I've invited you in. I'm giving you the chance to say something now.
(They look at each other. There is a long silence.)
BUSH: It would be a big thing. It would be a big thing if you disagreed. Well?
POWELL: I don't disagree.
(BUSH nods, satisfied. POWELL gets up)
POWELL: Thank you, sir. Thank you for telling me.
(POWELL goes out)
AN ACTOR: Later, Bush recalls:
BUSH: It was a very cordial conversation. I would describe it as cordial. I think the log will show that it was relatively short.
AN ACTOR: White House records show that the encounter lasted twelve minutes.
(BUSH, alone, looks at us a moment)
BUSH: I didn't need his permission.
A BRIT IN NEW YORK appears.
BRIT IN NY: "America changed." That's what we're told. "On September 11th everything changed." "If you're not American, you can't understand."
The infantile psycho-babble of popular culture is grafted opportunistically onto America's politics. The language of childish entitlement becomes the lethal rhetoric of global wealth and privilege.
Asked how you are as president, on the first day of a far which will kill [more than] a hundred thousand people: "I feel good."
I was in Saks Fifth Avenue the morning they bombed Baghdad. "Isn't it wonderful?" says the saleswoman. "At last we're hitting back." "Yes," I reply, "At the wrong people. Somebody steals your handbag, so you kill their second cousin, on the grounds they live close. Explain to me," I say, "Saudi Arabia is financing Al Qaeda. Iran, Lebanon and Syria are known to shelter terrorists. North Korea is developing a nuclear weapons programme. All these you leave alone. No, you go to war with the one place in the region admitted to have no connection with terrorism." "You're not American," says the saleswoman. "You don't understand."
Oh, a question, then. If "You're not American. You don't understand" is the new dispensation, then why not "You're not Chechen?" Are the Chechens now also licensed? Are Basques? Theatres, restaurants, public squares? Do Israeli milk-bars filled with women and children become fair game on the grounds that "You don't understand. We're Palestinian, we're Chechen, we're Irish, we're Basque?" If the principle of international conduct is now to be that you may go against anybody you like on the grounds that you've been hurt by somebody else, does that apply to everyone? Or just to America?
On September 11th, America changed. Yes. It got much stupider.
RICE welcomes MAURICE GOURDAULT-MONTAGNE to her office.
AN ACTOR: On the same day that Powell is informed of his president's intentions, Condoleezza Rice entertains Chirac's personal envoy.
Over lunch, the French make a secret offer. If no more resolutions are brought forward at the UN, the French will quietly drop their public opposition to the war.
Rice later goes to see Powell.
(POWELL is working. RICE comes into his office)
RICE: Are you all right?
POWELL: Of course I'm all right. Why would I not be? Give me a reason.
RICE: I don't know. I've been concerned about you.
POWELL: Have you?
(The two of them look at each other, neither yielding)
RICE: I was wondering if you'd seen the French offer.
POWELL: Yeah I've seen it.
RICE: Well? What do you think? It seems like a way out, doesn't it?
POWELL: I don't think so. Matter of fact, I don't even understand what they're saying.
RICE: Why not?
POWELL: Tell me if I'm wrong: it was the French who demanded two resolutions in the first place.
RICE: Yes, they did.
POWELL: And now they're saying they're happy for the second resolution to be dropped?
RICE: Yeah. Yeah. That's what they're saying.
POWELL: So? Explain it to me.
RICE: Look, it's perfectly simple: They came to see me, they said "We've made our point, you've made yours. You're in favour of military action, we're against it." So. Why force an issue which doesn't need to be forced? Abandon any attempt at a second resolution and that way we can all avoid a showdown, which actually isn't going to benefit anyone.
(But POWELL is shaking his head)
POWELL: We can't do it. We made a commitment to Blair. He's our principle ally. Blair promised his people a second resolution. We have to go get it for him. Blair's swimming upstream, Condi. We can't let him drown.
(They look at each other a moment)
AN ACTOR: The news of the rejection of their offer is conveyed to the French. One week later:
(DE VILLEPIN on the phone with POWELL)
DE VILLEPIN: Colin, we were wondering if you were going to come to New York. We're calling a special meeting ...
POWELL: I know ...
DE VILLEPIN: ... of foreign ministers in the Security Council. To discuss global terrorism. I think it's going to look odd if you're not there.
POWELL: Dominique, the meeting's on January 20th.
DE VILLEPINL Yes, I'm sorry about that.
POWELL: It's not ... I have a number of speaking engagements. Because, well ...
DE VILLEPIN: Yes?
(POWELL is reluctant to speak)
POWELL: It's Martin Luther King day.
(Silence. Neither man moves)
AN ACTOR: On January 20th Powell travels to New York. The session passes unremarkably but afterwards, in front of the world's press and without prior warning, France publicly hardens its position.
(Press mob. DE VILLEPIN holds up his hands)
DE VILLEPIN: Gentlemen, gentlemen ...
AN ACTOR: The incident is known in diplomatic circles as "the ambush."
(DE VILLEPIN raises his voice)
DE VILLEPIN: We believe today that nothing justifies military interventions. Military action is a dead end. Nothing justifies an American adventure. Nothing! Nothing!
JOURNALIST: Will France use its veto in the case of any new resolution?
DE VILLEPIN: France is a permanent member of the Security Council. It will shoulder all of its responsibilities faithful to all the principles it has.
AN ACTOR: In response, the American people go into a frenzy of French-bashing. French tourism, French wine, French fries.
(POWELL is raging around his office)
POWELL: What is this? What the hell is this? I've got a bunch of right-wing nutcases in the White House, I've got the treacherous French in the Security Council. I'm standing in the fucking road! And the shit is all flowing one way!
(POWELL turns incensed)
POWELL: We had an agreement! I thought we had an agreement!
(DONALD RUMSFELD is surrounded by the press mob)
AN ACTOR: Happy to see the row escalate, Donald Rumsfeld fans the flames when asked about European dissent:
RUMSFELD: You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. That's old Europe. If you look to the east, Germany has been a problem, France has been a problem. But you look at the vast numbers of other countries in Europe. They're not with France and Germany on this, they're with the United States.
AN ACTOR: As a deliberate provocation, a few days later he proclaims:
RUMSFELD: There are four countries that will never support us. Never. Cuba, Libya and Germany.
AN ACTOR: Asked to name the fourth:
RUMSFELD: I forgot the fourth.
(The press mob go)
The Oval Office. BUSH is already there, as RICE, POWELL, RUMSFELD and CHENEY assemble quickly and sit down.
RICE: Gentlemen, good morning. The president's called this meeting - informal meeting - because we have a problem to discuss. Prime Minister Blair's going to be here in 24 hours. And he's going to be making a request.
CHENEY: Yeah, I think we know what that request is going to be.
RICE: And we have to take it seriously because - clearly - he's our principal ally. He's committee. He's committed to the cause.
(BUSH turns to POWELL)
POWELL: Well, I think as everyone's guessed ...
RUMSFELD: Yeah, we've guessed ...
POWELL: Blair is going to be asking us to help him secure a second resolution. Which he needs for domestic political reasons.
BUSH: How you feeling about that, Colin?
POWELL: I'll tell you frankly, sir, I don't relish the prospect. But on the other hand ... I want to see diplomacy exhausted. I don't want to see it terminated.
(BUSH turns to CHENEY)
CHENEY: I don't know. I don't understand what we're doing. We've got a resolution, haven't we?
POWELL: Yeah. 1441.
CHENEY: If you remember, I didn't want to go get that one ...
RICE: We remember ...
CHENEY: But at least we got it, and now - I'm trying to make sense of this - don't we look stupid if we go back for another?
POWELL: Well ...
CHENEY: In fact, go back for a second, the only thing we're doing is admitting that the first one didn't give us authorization in the first place.
POWELL: That's not so. We're not admitting that. I'm making that plain.
(CHENEY ignores him, gathering force)
CHENEY: In fact, can I ask something here? Exactly what craziness are we getting ourselves into? I see no logic. If the first one was good enough - which we always said it was - what the fuck is the point of the second?
POWELL: It's not us that needs it.
CHENEY: Exactly. So OK, so we go back, do we? We put ourselves back in the diplomatic mudpit, is that right? And we say "The first is fine, the first is just beautiful, but now we've decided we'd like a second, just like the cream and nuts on top of the sundae - so the dish looks better." I mean, are we serious?
RUMSFELD: We're not serious.
CHENEY: We're going to war! The whole country's furious with the French. They're furious with the Germans. We've got the resolution. We've got the troops. Let's go!
(CHENEY has sounded final and now is emotion is infectious)
RUMSFELD: Can I say something? With respect, sir. Isn't this moment now for a little reality? Before we commit? Before we commit young Americans to give their lives? Isn't this the moment just to do the obvious thing and maybe stop listening to Europe? Because we can see - we're getting used to this - Europeans are always more worried about how exactly American reacts to the threat of Saddam than they are about Saddam himself. Man's coming at you with a knife. All they're worrying about is which hand we use to take it away.
POWELL: But is he coming at us? We believe he is. But we've got to persuade everyone else. By facts. It's not such a terrible instinct, Donald. People want things to be legitimate.
RUMSFELD: I'll tell you what's legitimate. What we do is legitimate. Read the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Thomas Jefferson and he said - and I'll remind you of his words - that what makes governments legitimate is the consent of the people.
CHENEY: That's right.
RUMSFELD: The authority to act comes from the will of the people.
CHENEY: The American people.
RUMSFELD: That's right.
(RUMSFELD speaks from deep, suppressed emotion)
RUMSFELD: Power in this country doesn't come from its institutions, and it sure as hell doesn't come from abroad. There's a lot of talk going on about "The UN wants this" and "The UN wants that." Well no, actually. And once we start thinking like that, we're dead.
POWELL: I'm not thinking like that.
RUMSFELD: The United Nations has no power, nor is it meant to.
POWELL: Of course not.
RUMSFELD: It's a facility. That's all it is. It's a setting, it's a context. The United Nations never achieved anything, not in and of itself. Something isn't right because the UN says it is.
(RUMSFELD is quiet, persuasive)
RUMSFELD: I know why we're going to war. And so do you, Colin. Because the man is a lunatic and we can't afford the risk that one day he might team up with terrorists.
BUSH: That's what it is.
BUSH: It's about risk.
RUMSFELD: That's what it's about. In this new world, in this new post-9/11 world.
(RUMSFELD shakes his head)
RUMSFELD: And that is something which all grown-up people understand.
CHENEY: Everyone understands.
RUMSELD: Yeah. Which is why the dishonesty gets to me.
RUMSFELD: It gets to me.
CHENEY: It gets to me as well.
RUMSFELD: Because what can you say about these people in Europe except that they live their lives under the American umbrella? Every time it rains they come running for shelter. And yet they still think that they're entitled to say "Hey you're not holding that umbrella right." Or more often: "I want a share of that umbrella." Or even: "You're not allowed an umbrella because not everybody's got one." And that's the dishonesty, that's the rank dishonesty.
CHENEY: It's such dishonesty.
RUMSFELD: They talk about the American empire! How can we be an empire? Who ever heard of an empire that spends day after day discussing exit strategies?
(RUMSFELD shakes his head)
RUMSFELD: We don't need lectures from Europe on how to hold our knives and forks.
(RUMSFELD turns back to POWELL)
RUMSFELD: They pretend all the time that they're upset because we're not consulting. "They're not consulting," they say! Are you fooled by that? I'm not. Because what they really hate, what's really bugging them is not the way we do things. It's that we're the only people in the world that can do them. It's not our manner, it's our power. And all they want, all anyone wants, is to put a brake on that power. And that is the purpose of this exercise. That is the purpose of getting us snared up in yet another fucking resolution.
(POWELL is not buying it)
POWELL: This is different.
RUMSFELD: Why? Why's it different?
POWELL: Because you can't put Blair in with the French.
RUMSFELD: Can't I?
POWELL: You can't put him in with the German's.
RUMSFELD: You going to give me a reason?
(This is all joshing but now POWELL raises his voice)
POWELL: Blair's been with us! He's been with us all along!
(CHENEY is grinning. Now BUSH joins in)
BUSH: Dick doesn't like him.
CHENEY: I don't trust him. New Labour. What the hell does that mean? We don't call ourselves New Republicans.
RUMSFELD: We're not a friggin' girl band.
POWELL: All right, come on, this is ridiculous. This isn't worthy of you, Dick.
CHENEY: Not worthy? You want me to be serious?
POWELL: I do.
CHENEY: You want me to tell you what I really think?
CHENEY: All right. I'll tell you.
(CHENEY pauses a moment before taking aim)
CHENEY: Tony Blair? I've read his stuff. I've heard him talk. This is a man on a mission. This is a man with a history.
CHENEY: He knows what he wants: he wants to build some new world order out of the ruins of the World Trade Center. He wants the right to go into any country anywhere and bring relief from suffering and pain wherever he finds it. And I don't. What I want is to follow this country's legitimate security concerns. And, for me, those come above everything.
RUMSFELD: Me, too.
CHENEY: Now: if those interests happen to coincide with an Englishman's fantasy of how he's one day going to introduce some universal penalty system - three strikes and the UN says you can overthrow any regime you like - then that's fine. If not, not, and we won't miss him.
POWELL: That isn't fair.
(POWELL shakes his head)
POWELL: Blair's loyal. He's been loyal from the start.
CHENEY: OK, I admit, if we want him, Blair's good at the high moral tone. If you want to go into battle with a preacher sitting on top of a tank, that's fine by me. But bear in mind, preacher's one more to carry. Needs rations, needs a latrine, just like everyone else.
POWELL: I like Blair.
CHENEY: Maybe you do. But we don't need him. And as of this moment he's bringing us nothing but trouble.
(CHENEY smiles, definitive)
CHENEY: It's a good rule. When the cat shit gets bigger than the cat, get rid of the cat.
CHENEY: The guy is putting himself half-way between American power and international diplomacy. And sorry - but that's a place where people get mashed.
POWELL: That's where I am, Dick. In that same place.
CHENEY: No. No, Colin. It's different for you.
POWELL: Why? Why is it different for me?
(POWELL waits. A real nastiness has come into the room)
CHENEY: Because you like it both ways, don't you, Colin? Being one of us and one of the good guys as well. Don't you think one day you're going to have to make a choice?
(There's a deadly silence. Nobody says anything. RICE shifts, tactfully)
RICE: OK. OK, we're going to wrap this up soon. Sir? Do you want to conclude?
(BUSH is thoughtful, seemingly immune to the atmosphere between his colleagues)
BUSH: Colin, I'd be grateful if you'd stay on a moment. The rest of you, excellent contributions. Thank you.
(There is slight puzzlement at the abrupt ending. But everyone else trails out silently BUSH, RICE and POWELL alone)
BUSH: Blair's got a real problem. His government can fall. It may really fall. New government in London. That's in nobody's interest. Not his. Not ours.
BUSH: Lot of people, not just in this country, abroad as well, think very highly of you, Colin. I know that. They admire you.
(POWELL frowns, with no clue of where BUSH is heading)
BUSH: Maybe the best way to help Blair would be with a presentation. That's what we need. There's a powerful case for war. We need to put that case. In one place. At one time. At the UN. We've all been looking at the intelligence, we've all been assessing it.
POWELL: Yes we have.
BUSH: We know exactly how strong it is.
POWELL: Yes we do.
(There is a silence. BUSH does not seem to be going to speak)
POWELL: You want me to make this presentation?
BUSH: Sure. Sure I do, Colin. After all, remember? You told me you were on board.
The Security Council arrives. The FOREIGN MINISTERS and their AMBASSADORS.
AN ACTOR: On February 5th Colin Powell goes to the UN to demonstrate the US government's case for "imminent threat." He calls it his "Adlai Stevenson moment." The Head of the White House Communications team, Dan Bartlett, has a different name for the same occasion:
BARTLETT: We called it "the Powell buy-in."
(POWELL is at the UN, making his presentation)
POWELL: My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
AN ACTOR: In fact, Powell has spent the last four days angrily throwing out most of the 200 minute speech Cheney, the CIA and the Pentagon have given him to read.
(At once POWELL is back in his own office)
POWELL: This is garbage! What is this stuff? Who gave us this garbage? Does anybody believe this stuff? I'm not saying this shit!
(POWELL returns to the UN)
POWELL: Mr President, Mr Secretary General, distinguished colleagues, I cannot tell you everything that we know. But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling.
AN ACTOR: Among other charges, Powell raises the spectre of mobile laboratories to make biological agents:
POWELL: The source is an eye witness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities.
AN ACTOR: It turns out the supposed eye-witness is actually in Germany. The CIA has never spoken to him. Hans Blix comments:
BLIX: I knew they'd cut a lot of stuff they claimed to have, and that left me thinking: if this is the best they've got, what on earth was the rest like?
AN ACTOR: When his turn comes, Blix offers the Security Council a rather different assessment.
BLIX: Since we have arrived in Iraq we have conducted more than 400 inspections, covering more than 300 sites. The inspectors have not found any weapons of mass destruction.
(BLIX sits down. There is a flurry of excitement)
AN ACTOR: In the charged atmosphere Dominique de Villepin seizes his opportunity:
DE VILLEPIN: War is always the sanction of failure. France has never ceased to stand up right in the face of history and before mankind. In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an idea, the guardians of a conscience.
This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from a continent like mine, Europe, that has know wars, occupation and barbarity. Let us give the United Nations inspectors the time they need for their mission to succeed.
AN ACTOR: As de Villepin finishes, there is an unknown noise, starting in the galleries and rippling down, a stream becoming a flood.
(The sound of applause. People rise to their feet. POWELL pushes away his papers)
AN ACTOR: Buoyed up by Blix's report, next day, people all over the world take to the streets.
(The council disappears)
AN ACTOR: Saturday 15th February sees the largest anti-war demonstration of all time. 100 million protestors in 600 cities demand the right of the inspectors to complete their work.
(BLIX steps out for milk)
AN ACTOR: In New York, Hans Blix goes out to get milk and finds Second and Third Avenues jammed with 200,000 people.
BLIX: I was worried I might be recognized and risk being hoisted on some demonstrator's truck as a mascot. In fact the Swedish Ambassador gave me a poster he picked up after the demonstration.
(BLIX shows us the poster. It says BLIX NOT BOMBS)
BLIX: It hangs on my wall now.
AN ACTOR: On February 24th 2003, Britain, Spain and the US propose a long-awaited second resolution which will unambiguously authorize the use of force. They then embark on a desperate scramble for Security Council votes.
AN ACTOR: Meanwhile Tony Blair, fighting for the survival of his government, undertakes what he calls his masochism strategy, directly confronting critics of the war.
(A BEREAVED MOTHER is in the audience)
MOTHER: I lost my only child in the World Trade Center. I can't describe to you how I will feel for the rest of my life. They killed 3,000 innocent victims. How many innocent victims are you and Mr Bush going to kill when there's no justification? Mr Blair, don't do it. Don't do it!
(BLAIR leaves the studio)
AN ACTOR: During the credits Blair is slow hand-clapped by the audience. On his return to Downing Street, he asks his advisers:
BLAIR: Who the fuck fixed that up? Thanks very much, guys.
(There is bitter laughter in the den)
(CHIRAC goes into a TV studio)
AN ACTOR: But next day it is a speech of Jacques Chirac which finally gives Blair a chance to go back on his promise of a second resolution.
CHIRAC: My position is that whatever the circumstances France will vote "no," because she considers tonight that there are no grounds for waging war.
AN ACTOR: Chirac uses the word ...
CHIRAC: "Tonight" ...
AN ACTOR: ... to mean he is open to argument, should the situation change. But Downing Street senses an escape route at last.
(The Downing Street group - BLAIR, CAMPBELL, MANNING, J POWELL are all walking up and down, pacing the room in a state)
MANNING: This is fantastic! This is great!
J POWELL: This is exactly what we need.
CAMPBELL: Chirac's given us what we need.
BLAIR: Do you really think so? Do you really think we can use it?
CAMPBELL: Of course we can use it.
MANNING: You heard what he said.
CAMPBELL: France will vote no "whatever the circumstances."
J POWELL: It's perfect. Perfect for us. We put out a statement tomorrow ...
MANNING: Exactly ...
J POWELL: ... saying there's no point in further negotiation ...
MANNING: No point at all!
J POWELL: ... because, whatever happens, the French won't play.
CAMPBELL: The second resolution's dead! It's dead. And what's wonderful is, it isn't even our fault.
BLAIR: But he did say "tonight"! Of course he said "tonight"! But he also said "Whatever the circumstances."
CAMPBELL: Of course he said "tonight"! Of course he said "tonight"! But he also said "Whatever the circumstances."
(The room has reached shouting pitch. CAMPBELL is standing in disbelief)
CAMPBELL: What are you saying? Are you saying we have to play fair with the French? With the French? And when exactly did the fucking French play fair with us?
(BLAIR stands, still not convinced)
BLAIR: We can't do this. This isn't right. It's not what he meant.
CAMPBELL: Tony, I don't understand. I really don't understand. What is this thing you've got about loyalty? You've been loyal to the Americans. Now you want to be loyal to the French. This isn't about loyalty, it's about survival.
(CAMPBELL waits a moment)
CAMPBELL: We went into a coalition with the Americans, for influence. For influence, you said. What influence? We couldn't get them to change the colour of their fucking bathroom curtains! Bush has used you. Bush doesn't want your fucking views. He wants your name on the notepaper, that's all.
BLAIR: That isn't true. I made conditions. There were conditions for my support. I made that clear.
CAMPBELL: Oh yeah? What were the conditions, Tony?
BLAIR: Pressure on Israel. Pressure on the Palestinians. Progress toward peace in the Middle East. Those were the conditions. We made a deal. I know George Bush. I know this man. We walked in the woods and we made a deal.
(There is a silence. Finally MANNING speaks very quietly)
MANNING: Power doesn't make deals, Prime Minister. Power doesn't need to do deals. Power does what it wants.
(BLAIR turns and looks at him. Downing Street dissolves)
AN ACTOR: Next day, Blair announces that attempts to pass the resolution will have to be abandoned, not, he says, because he can't get the votes, but because Chirac has rendered further diplomacy pointless.
(BUSH and BLAIR on phones in their separate offices)
BLAIR: I have to explain to you, I'm facing the most difficult debate of my life.
BUSH: We're following it closely.
BLAIR: I'm facing a full-scale rebellion in Parliament. I have to be clear - my government can't survive, I have no chance of survival, I can't even go into that debate, unless you offer a cast-iron commitment to work for peace between Israel and Palestine.
(There is a charged silence)
BLAIR: George, I can't be clearer.
(There is a silence. BUSH and POWELL walk out together)
AN ACTOR: Next day Bush steps into the Rose Garden ...
BUSH: We have reached a hopeful moment for progress. I am committed and America is committed to implementing our road map towards peace.
(House of Commons. ROBIN COOK stands)
AN ACTOR: The following day the US and the US formally renege on their promise to seek a second resolution. The leader of the House of Commons, Robin Cook, stands up to resign.
COOK: I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support. On Iraq, I believe that the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded he is a clear and present danger to Britain. They want inspections to be given a chance, and they suspect they are being pushed too quickly into conflict by a US administration with an agenda of its own.
Only a year ago we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I could ever have imagined possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.
BLAIR: If this house now demands that at this moment, faced with this threat from this regime, that British troops are pulled back, that we turn away at the point of reckoning - what then? What will Saddam feel? What will the other states who tyrannise their people, the terrorists who threaten our existence, what will they take from that? Who will celebrate and who will weep?
(The House of Commons disappears)
AN ACTOR: On March 20th 2003 air raid sirens announce the beginning of war just before dawn in Baghdad.
(The sound of sirens, wailing in the distance)
The sirens fade.
AN ACTOR: The invasion begins. On March 27th just one week into the venture, Paul Wolfowitz is able to reassure Congress:
WOLFOWITZ: We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.
AN ACTOR: The military campaign is over in just 42 days. Donald Rumsfeld remarks:
RUMSFELD: There is, I am certain, among the Iraqi people a respect for the care and the precision that went into the bombing campaign.
AN ACTOR: Paul Wolfowitz adds:
WOLFOWITZ: Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator.
AN ACTOR: At the end of April, President Bush does an underwater survival training course in the White House swimming pool to prepare for his tailhook landing from an S-3B Viking jet onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, just thirty miles off the coast of San Diego.
(An aircraft carrier. A huge banner saying MISSION ACCOMPLISHED)
AN ACTOR: Thanks to an artful arrangement of jump-suit groin straps, George W. Bush 43rd president of the United States, shows his balls to the world.
(BUSH gets out of his plane and struts across the deck to inspect the troops. Military bands. Parade. Then BUSH speaks)
BUSH: We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain. No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from inside the Iraqi regime, because that regime is no more. In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offence.
All of you, all in this generation of our military, have taken up the highest calling of history. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope, a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, come out; and to those in darkness, be free."
(The group changes into a courtroom-like shape with the coalition leaders facing their accusers)
AN ACTOR: On September 7th 2003, the President admits that the reconstruction of Iraq, which Wolfowitz has said will be:
AN ACTOR: Will, in fact, cost at least 87 billion dollars.
AN ACTOR: The true figure is now likely to be nearer a trillion.
AN ACTOR: When asked about going to war on falsified intelligence, the President's spokesman replies:
FLEISCHER: The president has moved on. And I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on as well.
AN ACTOR: In 2005, Rumsfeld boasts:
RUMSFELD: Before the war started, I presented the president with a list of about fifteen things that would go terribly, terribly wrong. A great many of the bad things that could have happened did not happen.
AN ACTOR: A journalist then asks:
JOURNALIST: Was a robust insurgency on your list that you gave the President?
RUMSFELD: I don't remember whether that was on there.
AN ACTOR: Asked in the same year whether the Americans are winning the war in Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld replies:
RUMSFELD: Winning or losing is not the issue for "we," in my view, in the traditional, conventional context of using the words "winning" and "losing" in a war.
AN ACTOR: By September 2003, Dick Cheney is also willing to make an admission:
INTERVIEWER: Vice-President, this time last year, you claimed Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear capability.
CHENEY: Yes, I did misspeak. We never had any evidence that Hussein had acquired a nuclear weapon.
AN ACTOR: Asked in 2003 whether he still has a connection with the company Halliburton, Dick Cheney claims:
CHENEY: Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice-president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.
AN ACTOR: In fact, Cheney is still receiving deferred compensation and owns more than 433,000 stock options. Those options were worth $241,498. They are now worth $8 million. Halliburton has 10 billion dollars-worth of no-bid contracts in Iraq.
AN ACTOR: Colin Powell resigns from the administration at the next election. On January 16th 2006, he is interviewed on British television.
PAXMAN: General, I and many, many millions of people around the world listened to your presentation at the United Nations and we looked at you and we thought there's a man we respect, if he says that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction then he has. And he didn't.
POWELL: Well the intelligence community got it wrong, what I presented ... Look, I am not somebody who walked around Iraq looking for it.
PAXMAN: What you said, you said that these aren't assertions, what we're giving you is facts and conclusions.
POWELL: Yes. I know.
v PAXMAN: But they weren't facts and conclusions.
POWELL: They were facts and conclusions as they existed at that time, based on what the intelligence committee said to us. We subsequently discovered that was wrong. We were wrong.
PAXMAN: I put it to you that that the president and the cabal around him, who had decided to make war, were determined to do so, and that you willed yourself to believe the evidence to support that.
POWELL: You can anything you wish to me, sir, but I speak for myself, you do not speak for me.
PAXMAN: Would you like to apologize for misleading the world?
POWELL: I didn't mislead the world. You can't mislead somebody when you are presenting what you believe to be the facts.
AN ACTOR: At one point Condoleezza Rice is asked to define her attitude to events in the White House.
RICE: I am determined to leave this job without anyone figuring out where I stand on any major issue.
(And RICE leaves)
AN ACTOR: When asked where Osama bin Laden is, the President replies:
BUSH: I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care.
AN ACTOR: On June 4th 2003, George Bush, who by then, has used the word "evil" in 319 separate speeches since becoming President, reveals to the Palestinian Prime Minister:
BUSH: God told me to strike Al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.
AN ACTOR: On April 14th 2004, President Bush invites Ariel Sharon to the White House. He formally abandons the so-called road map and gives Israel permission to implement a plan of its own, with no representation or right of negotiation offered to Palestinians. Asked on March 29th 2006 for his response to the victory of Hamas at the recent Palestinian election, the President replies:
BUSH: We support the election process, we support democracy. But that doesn't mean we have to support governments that get elected as a result of democracy.
AN ACTOR: In November 2004, Tony Blair is asked by a dinner guest:
DINNER GUEST: How do you feel about the 100,000 innocent Iraqis who have died as a result of this invasion?
BLAIR: I don't accept that figure. I've seen that figure and it's wrong. I couldn't sleep at night if 100,000 people had died.
DINNER GUEST: But you can sleep if 50,000 have died?
(BLAIR looks at us a moment, then goes. Only AN ACTOR REMAINS)
AN ACTOR: To this day, 47% of the American electorate still believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks. 44% believe the hijackers were Iraqi.
AN ACTOR leaves. An IRAQI EXILE comes on, alone.
IRAQI EXILE: My family left Iraq 17 years ago. I longed for the fall of the dictator. In exile, I worked for it. Then Donald Rumsfeld said "Stuff happens." It seems to me the most racist remark I ever heard.
A vacuum was created. Was it created deliberately? I cannot comprehend. They came to save us, but they had no plans.
And now the American dead are counted, their numbers recorded, their coffins draped in flags. How many Iraqis have died? How many civilians? No figure is given. Our dead are uncounted.
We opposed Saddam Hussein, many of us, because he harmed people, and anybody who harms innocent Iraqis, I feel equally passionately and strongly about and I will oppose them. And I will.
I mean, if there is a word, Iraq has been crucified. By Saddam's sins, by ten years of sanctions, by the occupation and now by the insurgency. Basically it's a story of a nation that has failed in only one thing. But it's a big sin. It failed to take charge of itself. And that meant the worst person in the country took charge. A country's leader is the country's own fault.
I mean, people say to me "Look, tell America." I tell them: "You are putting your faith in the wrong person. Don't expect America or anybody will do it for you.
"If you don't do it yourself, this is what you get."