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From Our Archives (Feb. 2005): When Blair Followed the US into Iraq War 

In February 2005, I decided to try my hand at a blog, Rebel Yell: "Better to offer alternative perspectives, not with the certainty of being right but with the hope of unsettling and challenging those who claim a universal perspective and an eternal “right” in the advance of their causes."

Two weeks later, on 28 February 2005, I wrote about the US, Tony Blair, and Iraq. Almost five years later, and a day after Blair's testimony to an enquiry into the 2003 Iraq, I stand by every word:

The Independent on Sunday reveals that Comrade Tony and Her Majesty’s Government decided in April 2002 to follow the Bush Administration’s lead for War in Iraq, almost a year before the formal opening of hostilities.

Credit to the Indy for publishing but this isn’t really news to Rebel Yell. The line here has long been that Dick Cheney came to London in March 2002 to tell Comrade Tony that Afghanistan was now out of fashion and today’s look was regime change in Baghdad. Never mind that Osama might still be skipping around the mountains of eastern Afghanistan --- in early March, eight American troops (then considered, before 1500 US deaths in Iraq, a massive toll) were killed by an ambush in the botched Operation Anaconda. With the face that democracy had been brought to Kabul, Al Qa’eda was now little more than a diversion from the Bush Administration’s priority since January 2001: Saddam Must Go.

Officially the position was “the US does not target states on a day-to-day basis” but the tip-off was in the British announcement that a dossier on Iraq’s WMDs would be published by the end of March. Ah yes, that dossier. It didn’t beat the March deadline because the intelligence on Saddam’s arsenals of death wasn’t there. Indeed, it would take six more months --- after Cheney had proclaimed that Iraq was about to unveil nuclear weapons --- for MI6/Alistair Campbell [Blair's influential press advisor]/Comrade Tony to provide the fig leaf of “Saddam Able to Strike in 45 Minutes”.

So while we’re waiting for the unabridged version of the March 2003 legal opinion, which may or may not have been written by the British Attorney General, that told Parliament that the bombing of Baghdad was legit, how about adding a second request: what was the document in March 2002 that persuaded Comrade Tony that Saddam was an “imminent threat” who must be overthrown? Or was it simply Dick Cheney’s charm and winning smile?

Reader Comments (1)

My $.02, for what it's worth -- I thought it had a lot to do with internal EU politics, especially in the run-up to the war. The actions of the French-German axis had solidified Britain's position, pushing it into a gung-ho mode for war in late 2002 and 2003. For Britain, Iraq was a Middle Eastern problem turned European problem, and Blair responded by embracing Washington. Other European powers (mostly in the East) followed suit.

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

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