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Nov 27th, 2009


U.S. Was ‘Hell Bent’ on Iraq War, U.K. Envoy Says

Bush administration didn’t care about getting U.N. support, he tells inquiry

Image: Jeremy Greenstock
Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, arrives at the Iraq inquiry in London on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. (Photo credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP)


Nov. 27, 2009

LONDON – The United States was “hell bent” on a 2003 military invasion of Iraq and actively undermined efforts by Britain to win international authorization for the war, a former British diplomat told an inquiry Friday.

Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, said that President George W. Bush had no real interest in attempts to agree on a U.N. resolution to provide explicit backing for the conflict.

The ex-diplomat, who served as Britain’s envoy in Iraq after the invasion, said serious preparations for the war had begun in early 2002 and took on an unstoppable momentum.

As diplomats frantically attempted in early 2003 to agree upon a U.N. resolution approving a military offensive, Bush’s key aides grew impatient — criticizing the process as an unnecessary distraction, he said.

Grumbling from Washington “included noises about ‘this is a waste of time, what we need is regime change, why are we bothering with this, we must sweep this aside and do what’s going to have to be done anyway — and deal with this with the use of force,’” Greenstock testified before the inquiry into the Iraq war.

Several nations had hoped to stall the invasion of Iraq to allow U.N. weapons inspectors more time to search for evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — the key justification for the war. No such weapons were ever found.

Yet Bush’s inner circle cared little about what international allies thought and refused to halt plans to invade in March 2003, Greenstock said. He said even [Prime Minister] Blair was unable to persuade Bush, winning only a brief hiatus of two weeks.

Britain’s inquiry is the most exhaustive study yet into the war and will seek evidence from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, military officials and spy agency chiefs. It won’t apportion blame or establish criminal or civil liability. But it will offer recommendations by late 2010 on how to prevent mistakes from being repeated in the future. …

In London, an anti-war rally in 2003 drew an estimated 2 million demonstrators — the largest street protest in a generation.

Greenstock told the panel he had his own doubts, and had threatened to resign if no international backing was agreed upon. His threat came before a Nov. 2002 resolution that offered Iraq a final opportunity to disarm and demanded access for weapons inspectors. …

Christopher Meyer, Britain’s former ambassador to the U.S., told the inquiry Thursday that he believed Bush and Blair had used a meeting at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, to “sign in blood” an agreement to take military action on Iraq. That was a year before Parliament approved Britain’s involvement. …

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Related report on this site

Iraq War Plan Soon After 9/11 (Nov. 22, 2009)


Anti-war protesters from the Stop the War group wear masks depicting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, right, former U.S. President George W. Bush, center, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, left. They posed for photographers Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 outside the conference center where the Iraq war inquiry is taking place in central London. (Photo credit: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Image: Afghan firefighters wash the road
Afghan firefighters wash the road at the site of a suicide attack outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. A car bomber targeting an American convoy exploded about 200 yards outside the embassy killing at least four Afghan bystanders as people entered the compound for a Thanksgiving Day race. (Photo credit: Shah Marai / AFP — Getty Images)

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that a suicide car bomber targeting an American convoy exploded about 200 yards outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing at least four Afghan bystanders, while in Iraq, the country’s parliament approved a security pact with the United States that allowed American troops to stay in the country for three more years.

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9 Responses to “Bush-Cheney ‘Hell Bent’ on War”
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