Desperation… that’s all it could be. British media is reporting that a Brit professor, Phillipe Sands, has written a book in which he claims that he saw a ‘Downing St. memo’ (dramatic music here) wherein President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair considered “flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours” in hopes they’d be shot down and thus precipitate a war with Iraq. Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat acting leader, said last night: “The fact that consideration was apparently given to using American military aircraft in UN colours in the hope of provoking Saddam Hussein is a graphic illustration of the rush to war.“
Being somewhat of an aviation buff, I have to question the accuracy of these supposed memos (not to mention the intelligence of said “professor”) on the basis of the stupidity of the claim of Bush wanting to paint a U2 in “UN Colors” just to goad the world to attack Iraq. Several things to consider:
1) Though the U-2 has become less useful in this age of satellites and cell phones, to suggest that a US president would sacrifice one (not to mention its pilot) is simply stupid. As of 2005 there were only 29 active Air Force aircraft and 5 two-seaters. The two civilian ER-2’s are based at the Dryden Flight Research Center. (See photo.)
2) Any “UN” patrol aircraft over the Iraq no-fly zone carry the markings of the nation from which they come (US or UK). Thus American planes enforcing the no-fly zone had… American markings not some “neutral” UN markings, yet they were still designated UN flights.
3) The U-2 is an American-made plane and there are no U2 aircraft in operation for other nations. Every media outlet and reader of Tom Clancy knows this, no “UN colors” would fool anyone.
2) Iraq was already locking-onto and shooting surface to air missles at UN patrols (US and British aircraft.) Iraq was in constant violation of UN resolutions since the end of the first Gulf War. Far from a “rush to war”, Iraq’s non-compliance and constant defiance of UN resolutions and international law was renowned. There was no need to create a situation.
4) The U-2’s operational flight level is 70k ft. Nothing in the Iraqi arsenal, except for other aircraft, can hit something at this flight level. Note also the claim made by the Guardian paper is that the U2 would have fighter escort… at 70,00 ft no fighter could obtain operational flight level to maintain escort.
5) Finally… what are “UN colors”? Since aircraft flying for the UN still maintain their country of origin’s markings as well as a UN monogram on the tail. One wonders then how a U-2 spy plane carring US as well as UN markings spur a war with Iraq any more than the constant attacks already occuring?
It seems desperation is the order of the day for the liberal mindset. It is evident that they cannot make up their minds whether President Bush is a imbecile or a genius and here is yet one more example. Maybe the fictional pres wanted to fly a U-2 with the cute powder blue helmet over iraq with a the French flag (isn’t that a blank white one?) on it!?