In his new book, the former British prime minister asks for a fair hearing on the Iraq war. But he ignores a key meeting where George Bush suggested they con their way to an invasion.
|Zuma – Guardian|
In his new (self-serving, of course) memoir, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair praises George W. Bush as a man of “genuine integrity and as much political courage as any leader I have ever met.” Yet Blair leaves out of the 700-page tome any mention of a meeting he had with Bush in which the US president proposed a plan to trigger the Iraq war through outright deceit.
The early media coverage of Blair’s book, A Journey: My Political Life, has zeroed in on his complex and dramatic relationship with Gordon Brown, his onetime political soulmate. (Blair writes about him as one would an ex-lover.) Yet Blair devotes a serious chunk to defending his decision to partner up with Bush for the Iraq war. “I can’t regret the decision to go to war,” he writes. “…I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded.” He adds, “I have often reflected as to whether I was wrong. I ask you to reflect as to whether I may have been right.”
Blair rehashes the familiar arguments—the years of Saddam Hussein’s recalcitrance and opposition to United Nations resolutions demanding he disarm, the so-called evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Blair writes of his first meeting with Bush—whom he describes as “very smart” but possessing “immense simplicity in how he saw the world”—in February 2001 at Camp David, when they discussed sanctions for Iraq (“there was no great sense of urgency”). Blair recalls in detail other visits and calls with the American president: his trip to Washington shortly after 9/11, a meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, where the two men discussed a possible attack on Iraq. Blair even recounts specific notes he sent Bush and telephone calls they held during the run-up to the invasion, as the pair sorted out military and diplomatic matters. And over several pages, he chronicles a September 2002 trip to Camp David to see Bush.