I was wondering why he and Cherie had bought all those houses! Looks like he's going to need a safe haven! Former British Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer drops Tony Blair right in it and from a great height too.
Courtesy of The Times
Blair 'signed in blood' support for Iraq war at Bush's Texas ranch, ex-envoy saysWhat with the Iraq enquiry, the MPs expenses scandal and now the climate-gate fiasco bringing some much needed truth to the political arena, one begins to wonder whether there is a general politicial cleansing movement gathering speed...
Tony Blair's meeting with President Bush at his Texas ranch in 2002 was probably the turning point when the Prime Minister 'signed in blood' Britain's support for the Iraq war, it was claimed today. Sir Christopher Meyer, then British Ambassador to the US, told the Iraq Inquiry that Mr Blair would have been more influential if he had attached pre-conditions to British support at the Crawford ranch meeting - which was six months before Hans Blix began looking for weapons in Iraq.
“I think that would have changed the nature of American planning,” he said. “By the time you get to the end of the year it’s too late. . . I did say to London that we’re being taken for granted. To this day I am not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at the Crawford ranch,” Sir Christopher said. “[But] they weren’t there to talk about containment or strengthening sanctions."
The high point of Britain’s influence on Washington amounted to “bugger all” and a stronger Prime Minister like Margaret Thatcher could have done more, he told the inquiry. Sir Christopher, who was the ambassador in Washington between 1997 and 2003, said he often thinks: "What would Margaret Thatcher have done? I think she would have insisted on a coherent diplomatic and political strategy."
He denied, though that Britain’s foreign policy was dictated by Washington. “I wouldn’t say that it was as extreme poodle-ish as that,” he said. “I don’t think that is a fair comment.” Sir Christopher told Sir John Chilcot and his five fellow panellists that the high point of Britain’s influence on the Bush Administration was encouraging President Bush to publish a road map on the Middle East but that “led to bugger all, let’s be frank”.
He said that after the September 11 attacks, the atmosphere changed in Washington. Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser at the time, was the first person he heard mention Iraq on September 11. He said that “by the following weekend that turned into a major debate at Camp David” – it developed into a bit of a “ding-dong”.
Over the next two months, Sir Christopher said the Bush Administration had decided on a new course over Iraq. “What was inevitable, [after 9/11] I think, was that the Americans were going to bust a gut on the mandate of regime change.” He said that up until that moment there was a lack of real impetus over Iraq, which he said was more of “a grumbling appendix”.
The only pressing concern for the US was what would happen if an American plane was shot down policing the “no-fly zones” over Iraq. He summarised their view as: “If they shot down one of our planes, we’ll kick the s**t out of them for doing it.” After September 11, Mr Bush became convinced that more direct action was required. “In his heart he just wanted to get over there and kick Saddam out.”
Sir Christopher said he had informed London in the subsequent months that the Bush Administration was heading for enforced regime change. “We were watching this stuff like hawks,” he said. “The Foreign Office, I don’t think they can claim they were ignorant of the way things were going.” He said the only discussion now was on defining the route to war, with Britain pushing for a multilateral – UN led approach. “You didn’t have to argue that with the State Department but you sure as hell had to argue it with Cheney and Rumsfeld and to a lesser extent Condoleezza Rice.”
Once the US had agreed to wait for the UN to pass resolution 1441 on weapons in Iraq and sent Mr Blix over to inspect, there was no time to come up with the evidence required before the scheduled start of the invasion. “The real problem, which I did draw several times to the attention of London, was that the contingency military timetable had been decided before the UN inspectors went in under Hans Blix. So you found yourself in a situation in the autumn of 2002 where you could not synchronise the military timetable with the inspection timetable. We found ourselves scrabbling around for the smoking gun,” he said. “And we - the Americans, the British - have never really recovered from that because of course there was no smoking gun.”