Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Iraq inquiry: Blair told Bush he was willing to join, 11 months before war.

I can't even pretend that I am remotely surprised:

Tony Blair made it clear to George Bush at a meeting in Texas 11 months before the Iraq invasion that he would be prepared to join the US in toppling Saddam Hussein, the inquiry into the war was told today.

The prime minister repeatedly told the US president that British policy was to back United Nations attempts to seek Iraq's disarmament, Sir David Manning, his foreign policy adviser, told the inquiry.

However, Blair was "absolutely prepared to say he was willing to contemplate regime change if [UN-backed measures] did not work", Manning said. If it proved impossible to pursue the UN route, then Blair would be "willing to use force", Manning emphasised.

Manning recalled the meeting between the two leaders at Crawford, Bush's Texas ranch, in April 2002. "I look back at Crawford as the moment that he [Blair] was saying, yes, there is a route through this that is an international, peaceful one and it is through the UN, but if it doesn't work, we will be willing to undertake regime change," Manning said.

Regime change is, of course, illegal under international law as Lord Goldsmith, the British Attorney General, repeatedly made clear to Blair. This is why false dossiers were compiled and so much emphasis was placed on the non-existent WMD, as they were to supply the reason for the regime change.

Of course, that option still required a second UN resolution in order to be legal, something which Bush and Blair did not achieve, as they did not manage to convince the rest of the world that Saddam did, indeed, possess such weaponry.

As we all now know, the rest of the world proved to be right in their cynicism and Bush and Blair were shown to be utterly wrong with their overblown claims.

But, if the reasons for invading were regime change, and it is now being claimed that this is what Blair wanted, then it is possible to see Blair's claims regarding WMD as merely a means to an end.

The same was true of the UN weapons inspections. Blair and Bush didn't act as if they were seriously wanting to know if Iraq had WMD.They acted as if they wanted to invade and, if the inspectors couldn't assure them that Iraq did have WMD then they wanted the inspectors to get out of the way so that the invasion could begin; a point that Manning was critical of:
"I personally believed [UN weapons] inspectors should have been given more time to work." They left Iraq when it was clear that the US, with British backing, was about to invade Iraq even though there was no hard evidence, despite intelligence claims, that the Iraqi leader had pursued a banned weapons programme.
We all know that the inspectors should have been given more time, but that would only have been useful if the inspections were to find out the truth.

Neither Bush nor Blair wanted the truth, unless it was a truth that they had already decided upon.

They wanted regime change, and it's hard not to see the dance at the UN as merely a way of getting to the point of invasion.

Click here for full article.

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