Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for March 16th, 2013

How Bush’s Promise of “Even-Handedness” Led Britain into War in Iraq

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 16 March 2013 0:32

The decision by President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was probably made a long time before the actual invasion on 20 March. However, a key role in building a degree of international acceptance for the war was played by the UK prime minister, Tony Blair. 10 years later, we often forget how silly Mr. Blair’s arguments in favour of the war were. For example, while it is true that some attention has been paid to the flawed intelligence with which Blair tried to persuade the House of Commons, most people seem to forget that the argument that seemed to tip the balance for Blair in favour of intervention in mid-March 2003 was the promise by Bush to be “even-handed” regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict in the future!

My angry newspaper letter to The Independent, comparing the stance of the UK on Iraq and Israel and warning about naïveté exactly 10 years ago:

Blair’s “even-handedness” is a farce

Sir, to present George Bush’s new “initiative” for the Middle East as a real step forward (leading article, 15 March) is merely to add to the hypocrisy which fuels anti-Western sentiment around the world. Of two Middle Eastern countries in non-compliance with UN resolutions, country A is starved almost to death and deprived of essential imports for the maintenance of its infrastructure, then threatened with some 200,000 soldiers, and at the precise moment when progress towards compliance is greater than ever before, looks set to become the victim of a devastating military campaign. Country B is treated essentially as any other state for more than thirty-five years, then, in an attempt by world leaders at establishing perfect even-handedness in their approach to all countries in the region, is issued with a warning of a most threatening nature, namely, a statement of intent to publish, at an early date, a three-year road map which might possibly, in the future, bring about a result vaguely resembling compliance with the original resolution. Would not a policy somewhere in between towards both these countries yield better results for the Middle East as a whole?

Needless to say, the letter wasn’t even published by the newspaper.

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