A memo leaked to the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail on Sunday shows that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair supported military action in Iraq as early as 2002, a year before the British Parliament approved it.
The memo, which surfaced as a result of the Clinton email inquiry, was written to President Bush in advance of a 2002 meeting between Blair and Bush in Crawford, Texas, by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Powell stated that “Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary.”
In 2009, a British public investigation, referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman Sir John Chilcot, was launched to examine Britain’s decision to become involved in Iraq, after family members of those killed in the conflict expressed concern that the British people had been lied to about the threat posed by Iraq. In testimony before the Inquiry, Blair denied giving any private assurances to President Bush that he would unequivocally support military action in Iraq. Many believe this memo contradicts those denials.
At the time of the Crawford meeting, Blair publicly stated that he was still “considering all the options.” In 2010, Blair reiterated his purported hesitancy to engage in military action, stating that “[t]he only commitment I gave, and gave openly, was a commitment to deal with Saddam . . . There was a general discussion of the possibility of going down the military route, but obviously we were arguing very much for that to be if the U.N. route failed.”
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