The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] AFP: British FM urged Blair not to go to war on Iraq, claims new book



Sunday September 14, 10:29 AM
British FM urged Blair not to go to war on Iraq, claims new book


British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made a last-minute plea to Prime
Minister Tony Blair not to go to war on Iraq, but the plea was rejected,
a new book serialised in a newspaper claims.

According to the book, Straw sent a memo to the prime minister days
before the conflict broke out in March, urging him to tell US President
George W. Bush that Britain would offer moral and political support, but
no combat troops.

But Blair rejected the advice, and demanded an assurance that Straw
would support the war despite his reservations, says the book by
political journalist John Kampfner, entitled "Blair's Wars", to be
published on September 22.

Neither the Foreign Office nor Blair's office would make any comment on
the claim, saying only: "We have nothing to say about that."

Straw is one of Blair's most loyal allies and was one of the staunchest
supporters of the Iraq war in public, regularly appearing before the
cameras to argue that it was the right course to take.

According to excerpts in the right-wing Mail on Sunday, Kampfner's book
also alleges that Blair had secretly agreed to go to war as early as
April 2002, when he had a summit with Bush at the president's ranch in
Crawford, Texas.

And it claims that Blair himself had doubts about intelligence on Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction which formed the basis of his justification
for war, and had received evidence that Saddam Hussein's chemical and
biological weapons capability was actually diminishing.

According to Kampfner, Straw confronted the prime minister on his return
from an eve-of-war summit with Bush in the Azores on March 16.

He sent Blair a personal memo warning that going to war without an
explicit United Nations resolution would be damaging for Britain, the
book says.

Instead, Straw suggested Blair could offer to deploy British troops for
peacekeeping and reconstruction work after the end of the conflict. But
he was told his intervention had come too late and war was now certain.

Kampfner, who is political editor of the New Statesman magazine, wrote
that Blair asked Straw "to clarify whether or not he would support the
war, now that it was definitely going to happen.

"Straw said he would. They agreed to put the issue behind them. Having
expressed his reservations and seen them rejected, Straw fell firmly
into line, arguing the case for war with as much vigour as anyone else."

The allegations in the book follow the revelation in a parliamentary
report last week that Blair overruled advice from intelligence chiefs
that war on Iraq could increase the likelihood of weapons of mass
destruction falling into the hands of terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Observer newspaper reported Sunday that new evidence from
the intelligence services had cast fresh doubts over Blair's claim that
Iraq continued to produce chemical and biological weapons until the
outbreak of war.

The paper said that newly disclosed government documents showed that the
prime minister's assertion was based only on a single source, and had
been attacked as "too strong" by an unnamed senior intelligence
official.

The production claim remained in the government's controversial
September 2002 dossier on Iraqi weapons, despite warnings from experts,
the Observer said.

The paper also reported that a second internal memo from a Defence
Intelligence official, four days before the September dossier's
publication, said the file "still includes a number of statements not
supported by the evidence available to me".

The memo continued that it had not been established "beyond doubt that
Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons".

Allegations that Blair's government "sexed up" intelligence in the
run-up to the war on Iraq, together with the suicide of British weapons
scientist David Kelly, have hurled Blair into his worst crisis in six
years in power.

A judicial inquiry into Kelly's death resumes Monday.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright  2002 AFP. All rights reserved.

_______________________________________________
Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss
To contact the list manager, email casi-discuss-admin@lists.casi.org.uk
All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk


[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]