Tony Blair told George Bush 'I will be with you, whatever' months before joining Iraq War, Chilcot report reveals

Those were the opening words of Mr Blair's 'Note on Iraq' to the White House in July 2002

Andy McSmith
Sunday 05 November 2017 09:56
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Tony Blair told George Bush 'I will be with you, whatever' months before joining Iraq War

Almost like a lover promising to be faithful 'till death us do part', Tony Blair promised George Bush: “I will be with you, whatever.”

It has long been rumoured the Prime Minister had promised something of the sort during his private dealings with the US President , though not everyone believed it.

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But those were the opening words of Mr Blair’s ‘Note on Iraq’ that he sent to the White House on 28 July 2002 – long before the British public was told that the Prime Minister had set out on a path that led inevitably British involvement in the Iraq conflict, eight months later.

In the same note, Mr Blair made it quite clear that he wanted to see President Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime overthrown, although for public consumption he persistently maintained that the US and UK were not after “regime change” but that their purpose was to compel the Iraqi dictator to comply with United Nations resolutions.

Mr Blair said of Saddam Hussein: “His departure would free up the region.”

Sir John Chilcot delivers report

Sir John Chilcot’s report acknowledges that in the run up to the Iraq war, Tony Blair’s desire to preserve the UK’s special relationship with the US was a “determining factor” in the decision to go to war. His inquiry team agree that it was a worthwhile aim, but stressed that having a special relationship does not mean that the UK has to support everything US foreign policy initiative.

The US government had decided in 2001 to make the overthrow of Saddam Hussein its “second priority” – but that was not initially British government policy.

Sir John’s report concludes: “The government was right to weigh the possible consequences for the wider alliance with the US very carefully. A policy of direct opposition to the US would have done serious short-term damage to the relationship.

“However, a decision not to oppose does not have to be translated into unqualified support. Had the UK stood by its differing position on Iraq … the Inquiry does not consider that this would have led to a fundamental or lasting change in the UK’s relationship with the US

“It is a matter of judgement, and one on which Mr Blair, bearing the responsibility of leadership, took a different view.”

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