"So let's do a little round-up of first anniversary developments. It looks like the Spanish vote and the decision of the new Spanish prime minister to follow his party's long-term position on the Iraqi war and occupation by withdrawing his country's troops at the end of June (barring a major UN takeover) were a bit like yelling 'Fire!' in your classic crowded theater. Fastest to the exit were the Hondurans with 370 troops. ('The decision was announced by Defense Secretary Federico Breve only one day after Honduran President Ricardo Maduro said the troops would stay. Breve said the Honduran decision "coincides with the decision of the prime minister elect of the Spanish government.'') It is rumored that El Salvador and Guatemala may soon follow suit.
Next came the Dutch. The opposition Labor Party called last Tuesday for a July withdrawal of their contingent of troops (while a Dutch civilian died in ambush in Baghdad this week). When Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende met with President Bush later in the week, he refused in person to commit his country's troops beyond July.
Almost immediately, the South Koreans rushed for the doors, announcing that they would not, as had been planned, send several thousand troops to the northern city of Kirkuk, a flashpoint of Kurdish desire. They are, claimed the government, looking for a new, safer place to put their troops. (Is there an offshore island around?) The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, the staunchest of staunch 'coalition' allies, promptly claimed his country had been hoodwinked -- the actual word he used was 'misled' -- on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (What his government was really hoodwinked on was its share of the spoils of Iraq's 'reconstruction' and this may be but a warning shot across the bow of the all-American reconstuction effort.)
"Another major Bush-Blair statement -- that they had exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution of the crisis before declaring war on Baghdad -- has now turned out to be a lie. On November 7, 2003 the New York Times and the Guardian reported that Saddam Hussein had offered a deal in February 2003 meant to satisfy Bush and Blair on all the important aspects of the crisis: weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Middle East peace process, access of American oil companies to Iraqi petroleum, and the democratization of Iraq.
According to these reports (confirmed by all the parties involved), Saddam proposed that up to 2,000 FBI and CIA agents be dispatched to Iraq to look for its WMD anywhere in the country. He pledged that he would go along with any deal to which Israel and the mainstream Palestinian leadership agreed. He promised to give US oil corporations a share in the exploration and extraction of oil in Iraq. And he promised free and fair multiparty elections in Iraq under international supervision in two years.
Imad Hage, acting on behalf of Saddam, met Richard Perle, then chairman of the US Defense Policy Advisory Committee Board, in the lobby of the Marlborough Hotel in central London on March 7, and then they went to an office nearby and there for two hours Hage outlined the Iraqi offer to Perle. But so determined was Bush to invade Iraq that he refused point blank to consider Saddam's offer and resolve the crisis peacefully."