London -- Wednesday December 6, 2006
Iraq: One by one, they tell the truth
As Tony Blair flies out to meet George Bush, the latest admission of failure in Iraq has made the two leaders appear even more isolated
[Scroll down to read: Last men standing: Blair heads to US to word-up Bush Jnr]Colin Powell
After telling the UN assembly in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the former Secretary of State admitted in May 2004 the claims were "inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading".
Colonel Tim Collins
The Army colonel made a famous rousing speech to troops on the eve of battle. But in September 2005, he declared:
"History might notice the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al-Qa'ida ever."
The former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq admitted in January 2006:
"It [the invasion] was a much tougher job than I think I expected it to be... we really didn't see the insurgency coming."
Contradicting the usually upbeat rhetoric, the US ambassador in Iraq said in March: "We have opened a Pandora's box". And unless the violence abated, Iraq would "make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play".
The former foreign secretary, one of the cheerleaders for the war, said in September: "The current situation is dire. I think many mistakes were made after the military action - there is no question about it - by the United States administration."
Gen Sir Richard Dannatt
The British General admitted in an interview in October: "I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates [them]."
Regarded as one of the intellectual godfathers of the war, Perle changed his tack in November, admitting that "huge mistakes were made" in the invasion of Iraq. "The levels of brutality we've seen are truly horrifying," he added.
Last month, the noted neoconservative said: "The national security team... turned out to be among the most incompetent in the post-war era. Not only did each of them have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly."
A memo from the hardline former defence secretary revealed this week that he had been looking for a change of tactics. "In my view, it is time for a major adjustment... what US forces are doing in Iraq is not working well enough..."
Yesterday, Mr Rumsfeld's proposed successor was asked at a Senate hearing whether the US was winning the war in Iraq. "No, sir," he replied. And he warned that the situation could lead to a "regional conflagration".
Tony Blair ...
George Bush ...
London -- Wednesday December 6, 2006
Last men standing: Blair heads to US for crucial talks with Bush
By Colin Brown Tony Blair will be over the Atlantic today on his way to Washington as the Iraq review group chaired by the former US Secretary of State James Baker delivers its long-awaited report.
The Prime Minister is travelling in hope of reinforcing the central message by the Baker Commission that a radical change of strategy is needed on Iraq when he meets the US President George Bush tomorrow.
But some officials travelling with Mr Blair are privately doubtful about his chances of convincing Mr Bush to abandon the conviction of the neo-cons that Iran is part of an axis of evil that should be isolated.
Last night, the Prime Minister's grasp on his party was slipping as one of his staunchest supporters on the Iraq war, Ann Clwyd, was ousted as chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party and replaced in a ballot of Labour MPs by Tony Lloyd, a Labour dissident on Iraq.
The timing of Mr Blair's visit to Washington is said by Downing Street to be coincidental but his arrival at the White House within 24 hours of the Baker report may provide Mr Blair the leverage to try to rescue something from the chaos of Iraq before he leaves office. Mr Blair will also discuss the need for more troops in Afghanistan to continue the war on the Taliban. It is unlikely that any early withdrawal plans will come out of the meeting with Mr Bush.
Mr Blair's main hope is that he will be able to gain the support of the White House for a fresh attempt to revive the Middle East peace road-map.
Mr Blair, in his evidence to the Baker Commission, stressed the importance of treating Iraq as part of the wider Middle East problem, involvingIran and Syria. However, cabinet ministers do not share Mr Blair's continued faith in the "special relationship" with Mr Bush to deliver change in US strategy. "We think Bush will have problems in drawing Iran into the talks," said one cabinet source. "But we think this is the only way this is going to be sorted out."
Number 10 officials are making a distinction between Syria and Iran, which is privately accused by ministers for sponsoring insurgents in Basra who are mounting attacks on UK forces there. "They are Iran's stooges," said one minister.
Number 10 officials tried to play down pessimism from the assessment by the new US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, that the coalition is not winning the war in Iraq. "We need to support the democratically elected government of Iraq and the wishes of millions of Iraqis who voted for a multi-ethnic unitary government for Iraq," said Mr Blair's spokesman.
Today, Mr Blair will meet senators to discuss tougher measures on climate change. After seeing Mr Bush tomorrow, he will meet congress leaders and the senate armed services and foreign relations committee.