Mudcat Café message #1661341 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1661341
Posted By: Amos
03-Feb-06 - 10:45 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Full story at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1701214,00.html


Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo


PM promised to be 'solidly behind' US invasion with or without UN backing

Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday February 3, 2006

Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was
"solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before
he sought advice about the invasion's legality
and despite the absence of a second UN
resolution, according to a new account of the
build-up to the war published today.

A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two
leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 -
nearly two months before the invasion - reveals
that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to
invade whether or not there was a second UN
resolution and even if UN inspectors found no
evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

"The diplomatic strategy had to be arranged
around the military planning", the president told
Mr Blair. The prime minister is said to have
raised no objection. He is quoted as saying he
was "solidly with the president and ready to do
whatever it took to disarm Saddam".

The disclosures come in a new edition of Lawless
World, by Phillipe Sands, a QC and professor of
international law at University College, London.
Professor Sands last year exposed the doubts
shared by Foreign Office lawyers about the
legality of the invasion in disclosures which
eventually forced the prime minister to publish
the full legal advice given to him by the
attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

The memo seen by Prof Sands reveals:

Mr Bush told Mr Blair that the US was so
worried about the failure to find hard evidence
against Saddam that it thought of "flying U2
reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover
over Iraq, painted in UN colours". Mr Bush added:
"If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach
[of UN resolutions]".

Mr Bush even expressed the hope that a defector
would be extracted from Iraq and give a "public
presentation about Saddam's WMD". He is also said
to have referred Mr Blair to a "small
possibility" that Saddam would be "assassinated".

Mr Blair told the US president that a second UN
resolution would be an "insurance policy",
providing "international cover, including with
the Arabs" if anything went wrong with the
military campaign, or if Saddam increased the
stakes by burning oil wells, killing children, or
fomenting internal divisions within Iraq.

Mr Bush told the prime minister that he
"thought it unlikely that there would be
internecine warfare between the different
religious and ethnic groups". Mr Blair did not
demur, according to the book.

The revelation that Mr Blair had supported the US
president's plans to go to war with Iraq even in
the absence of a second UN resolution contrasts
with the assurances the prime minister gave
parliament shortly after. On February 25 2003 -
three weeks after his trip to Washington - Mr
Blair told the Commons that the government was
giving "Saddam one further, final chance to
disarm voluntarily".
. . .
Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat acting
leader, said last night: "The fact that
consideration was apparently given to using
American military aircraft in UN colours in the
hope of provoking Saddam Hussein is a graphic
illustration of the rush to war. It would also
appear to be the case that the diplomatic efforts
in New York after the meeting of January 31 were
simply going through the motions.

"The prime minister's offer of February 25 to
Saddam Hussein was about as empty as it could
get. He has a lot of explaining to do."
. . .