Tony Blair, who is about to step down as Prime Minister of Britain, has been called the "Prime Minister of the United States" for his unblinking support of Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, in fact, no friendly foreign leader has done more harm to this country than Mr. Blair. If Blair had spoken out against it, the Iraq war would not have happened — so many of us believe. In the run-up to Iraq one heard, "If Tony Blair is for it…" more often even than "If Tom Friedman is for it…" Blair lent his fatal glibness to the case for war, as well as reassuring solidarity ("If the Brits are with us…").
"Suez in Retrospect" (April 1960)
Chalmers Roberts reviewed Anthony Edens memoirs and speculated on Eden's true motives at the time of the Suez crisis.
Blair’s best chance to stop the war came in the summer of 2002, when he received the "Downing Street memo." Reporting on secret talks in Washington, security advisor Matthew Rycroft wrote: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." Moreover, "there was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." The memo was leaked in May 2005. What if it had leaked in 2002? What if Blair had declared that Britain wanted no part of a preventive war based on deceit and planned without thought? The "special relationship" between Britain and the United States survived President Eisenhower’s ultimatum to Prime Minister Anthony Eden to end the Anglo-French intervention in Suez in 1956. If Britain persisted in forcibly trying to achieve regime change in Egypt, Ike warned, "all of Asia and Africa would be consolidated against the West to a degree which, I fear, could not be overcome in a generation." Blair could have spoken Ike’s lines to Bush. Instead, Blair’s PR man, the sinister Alastair Campbell, took twelve-year-old information on Iraq’s WMD off the Internet, combined it with "sexed up" British intelligence, and issued this farrago in a "dossier" marred by typos (the bloggers had nodded). Among other sensational claims, it asserted that Saddam could deploy his WMD in forty-five minutes. You’d think so brazen a deception would have won the respect of Donald Rumsfeld, but you would be wrong. Rumsfeld showed his contempt for the country formerly known as "Great" when he let drop that British troops were not needed for the invasion of Iraq.
Blair favors the cliché "the hand of history." History fairly smote him with it in 2002. Why did he ignore it? Why did he imbibe the folly of the witless pol who greeted him at the 2006 St. Petersburg G-8 summit with "Yo, Blair!"? To one journalist Blair confided that he did it to "keep the U.S. in the international system." He later amplified the point: "It would be more damaging to long-term peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support." An outlaw U.S.—"outside the international system"—was unthinkable. "Tony Blair has taken a brave decision, that the only hope of influencing American behavior is to share in American actions," Max Hastings wrote in the Daily Mail. That does sound like a brave decision. But was it in Britain’s national interest? In his biting, mordantly witty book, Yo, Blair! (Politico’s, London), Geoffrey Wheatcroft plunges a forensic knife into Blair’s logic: "You don’t say, ‘My big brother is a crazy kind of guy. On Saturday night he likes to get blind drunk and ride through town at ninety. It would be bad for peace and security if he acted alone, so I’ll go along with him for the ride.’" Operating on the disloyal maxim, "Their country, right or wrong," Blair took his country into our war, a step that achieved the opposite of Blair’s intent—that of "binding the Bush administration into the international order."