As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Washington Post covered the Downing Street documents on its front page today. The article reveals a bit more than we had known previously about the motivations of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the run-up to war.
It was clear from the getgo that Bush was risking everything on the Iraq war gambit so that he could be a “war president” when the 2004 presidential elections rolled around. (As an added bonus, there’d be all those Iraqi oil millions wating for him when he left office in 2008.) But I’ve never really understood what would lead Blair to risk his historical legacy by going to war for reasons he knew to be bogus and in a manner that was illegal in Britain. The Post article offers this explanation:
The first major British cabinet discussion on Iraq took place March 7, 2002, according to the memoirs of Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary who quotes several senior cabinet secretaries as raising questions about the war. “What has changed that suddenly gives us the legal right to take military action that we didn’t have a few months ago?” demanded David Blunkett, one of Blair’s closest political allies.
Blair defended his approach, Cook reported, by saying Britain’s national interest lay in staying closely allied with the United States. “I tell you that we must steer close to America,” Blair said, according to Cook. “If we don’t, we lose our influence to shape what they do.”
Yeah? And how’s that working out for you now, Tony?