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Monday, October 19, 2015

Blair made deal with Bush over Iraq a year before the war

Just when you thought that Tony Blair's culpability in the illegal war against Iraq could not get any worse, the Independent reveals that as early as March 2002, the former Prime Minister had let it be known to the US Administration that he would support military action against Saddam Hussein if necessary.

The paper says that a dossier, written on 28 March 2002 by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell to President George W Bush, said: "On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary.

"He is convinced on two points: the threat is real; and success against Saddam will yield more regional success."

The document was obtained by The Mail on Sunday as part of a batch of emails on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, which US courts forced her to reveal. It was written a week before Mr Blair's meeting with Mr Bush at his Crawford ranch in Texas.

The Independent says that a spokesperson for Mr Blair told the Mail on Sunday that the memo's content was consistent with what he had previously said publicly and yet Blair has repeatedly denied rushing to war in Iraq:

During his appearance before the Chilcot inquiry in January 2010, he denied he had struck a secret deal with Mr Bush at Crawford to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Mr Blair said the two men had agreed on the need to confront the Iraqi dictator, but insisted they did not get into "specifics".

"The position was not a covert position, it was an open position," he said.

"This isn’t about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception. It’s a decision.

"What I was saying... was 'We are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat'."

When pressed on what he thought Mr Bush took from the meeting, he said the President had realised Britain would support military action if the diplomatic route had been exhausted.

At the inquiry, Mr Blair said he "regretted deeply and profoundly the loss of life" during and after the 2003 conflict.

If only we had the Chilcot report so as to put this memo into context and be able to make a proper judgement on what Blair agreed and when.
But surely this is nothing new? We all knew in 2002 that Blair would be supporting an invasion of Iraq, should it every be proposed; he made no secret of the fact, indeed spoke about it quite openly and at length.
I agree with Anon. Indeed, it was clear from his Chicago speech in 1999 that Blair already had Saddam in his sights as the next target after Milosevic was defeated by NATO.

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