Sunday, April 04, 2004
Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
More corroboration of Richard Clarke's testimony. Bring up the role of a foreign leader can be a little tricky but it will be interesting to see how Condi deals with this curve ball
President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.
According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.
It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.
It would seem that war did not find the arsenal after all.
As late as 9 September, Short's diary records, when Blair went to a summit with Bush and Cheney at Camp David in order to discuss final details, 'T[ony] B[lair] gave me assurances when I asked for Iraq to be discussed at Cabinet that no decision [had been] made and [was] not imminent.' Later that day she learnt from the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, that Blair had asked to make 20,000 British troops available in the Gulf. She still believed her Prime Minister's assurances, but wrote that, if had she not done so, she would 'almost certainly' have resigned from the Government. At that juncture her resignation would have dealt Blair a very damaging blow.
But if Blair was misleading his own Government and party, he appears to have done the same thing to Bush and Cheney. At the Camp David meeting, Cheney was still resisting taking the case against Saddam and his alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN.
According to both Meyer and the senior Cheney official, Blair helped win his argument by saying that he could be toppled from power at the Labour Party conference later that month if Bush did not take his advice. The party constitution makes clear that this would have been impossible and senior party figures agree that, at that juncture, it was not a politically realistic statement.
posted by RogueTrooper |