January 21, 2011

OF COURSE, MR. BLAIR'S ONE MOMENT OF PANIC...:

Tony Blair's promise to George Bush: count on us on Iraq war (Richard Norton-Taylor, 1/21/11, guardian.co.uk)

Tony Blair today admitted to brushing aside warnings that invading Iraq would be unlawful and made clear his overriding priority, even at the expense of opposition and secrecy at home, was to maintain a close relationship with the US president. [...]

Asked about letters he wrote to Bush, which the inquiry has seen but is prevented by Whitehall from disclosing, Blair said: "What I was saying to President Bush was very clear and simple: 'You can count on us. We are going to be with you in tackling this but here are the difficulties.' As you see, the rest of the note is actually about all the issues and difficulties."

The difficulties were spelt out in a memo, declassified today, sent by Blair to Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, shortly before he met George Bush at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. "I do not have a proper worked-out strategy on how we would do it," Blair told Powell. After referring to the need for a "game plan", he added: "I will need a meeting on this with military folk."

Blair added: "The persuasion job on this seems very tough. My own side are worried. Public opinion is fragile ... Yet from a centre-left perspective, the case should be obvious. Saddam's regime is a brutal, oppressive military dictatorship."

He went on: "A political philosophy that does care about other nations – eg Kosovo, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and is proud to change regimes on the merits, should be gung-ho on Saddam. So why isn't it? Because people believe we are only doing it to support the US, and they are only doing it to settle an old score. And the immediate WMD problems don't seem obviously worse than three years ago. So we have to reorder our story and message".


...came when W told him not to worry about it if the parliament didn't vote for wa because we'd gladly do it ourselves and not blame him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2011 4:16 PM
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