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Email to James Naughtie

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Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 50
Location: Newcastle, UK

Post Post subject: Email to James Naughtie Reply with quote

I emailed Naughtie concerning an extract from his new book published in the Indy.....

Dear Mr. Naughtie,

I read the extract of your new book in the Independant on Sunday, today.

It seems to contain an extraordinary assertion (well several, actually) that Blair knew that the US government was hell bent on war in Iraq immediately after 9/11+. Blair, in your version of events, saw himself as mollifying influence on the people that Colin Powell referred to as the "f*****g crazies" (the same sentiment expressed by Bush senior when these same people were in the Reagan administration, although I think he left off the profanity.)

What I find extraordinary is the way you present this as a fact, as though with the inside information that you have (which I'm sure is legion) it is incontravertibly true that Blair tried his hardest to delay as long as possible what he realised would be a damaging war (politically that is, what is surprising about your account is that it contains no reference to the people in Iraq who died as a resulty of Blair's failure to indefinitely delay this illegal war.)

But this, surely, flies in the face of the official record, which is that the idea of another war in Iraq didn't come up until much later, and was not planned in advance, it was a reaction to a perceived growing threat of international terror. Because of course, if it was planned in advance it had nothing whatever to do with the War on Terror. Is that what you mean? Are you trying to tell us in a coded way that you think, on this point at least, that the anti-war camp is right?

Oh, a minor point this. You say that in the aftermath of the war the military threat which "was the justification for war" seemed to have melted away. You probably meant to say that the military threat +which was given as the justification for war+ melted away. Because there never was a military threat, so it could never have been the justification for war. But it was used as a justification.

kind regards
Matthew Cummins

His reply.....

Thanks for this. At the risk of sounding like a self-publicist, I think you should read the whole book....! Blair certainly did try to delay war - and I think believed until christmas 2002 that it was possible to avoid it, though by then I think part of his mind was reconciled to the near-inevitability. There were people in Washington who wanted an Iraq war on day 1 after 9/11 (not because they thought Saddam was directly implicated but because they wanted a war on terror that encompassed every anti-american regime), but Bush/Powell and (perhaps surprisingly) Cheney didn't go along with that, accepting that Afghanistan was the priority. The planning for Iraq, however, began in earnest about three months later. As you will realise, this was a process that crept along rather than a decision that was made on one particular day. Blair's critics would say that he was drawn into it without realising where the road led; he would say (and does) that he did everything to avoid war but having made the threat against Saddam(whom he still believes to have been a threat....) it was important to carry it through when he defied the UN. It's on that argument that he should be judged. I've tried to lay out the pros and cons as fairly as I can.
yrs sincerely
Tue Sep 14, 2004 3:58 pm
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