by Chris Ames
A letter in July 2002 from the UK’s then ambassdor to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, to Tony Blair’s chief foreign affairs adviser, Sir David Manning, is perhaps as revealing as any of the previously leaked Downing Street documents, including an earlier very candid note from Meyer to Manning. But, although the Inquiry both published the letter and included it in its narrative, it did not allow itself to be deflected from its false narrative, that Blair was seeking to use ‘the UN route’ as a peaceful means to disarmament, rather than regime change.
The letter describes a meeting between Meyer and Richard Armitage, US Deputy Secretary of State, on 24 July 2002. This was a day after the Downing Street meeting on Iraq and four days before Blair’s “I will be with you, whatever” letter to Bush.
A handwritten annotation, which appears to be from Manning, says: “Christopher and I discussed the issues before he saw Armitage.” This provides evidence that Meyer was passing on Manning’s line, and therefore Blair’s.
As the Inquiry report notes, Meyer told Armitage that the US could
“rest assured that if and when the US decided to move against Saddam Hussein, the UK would be with them.”
That’s about as blank a cheque as you can get and perhaps even more explicit and specific than Blair’s note. As the Inquiry also notes, Meyer told Armitage that it was
“very important to be able to build a public case for attacking Saddam;exhausting UN processes on inspections; and unwinding violence between the Israelis and Palestinians were part of this strategy”.
the UK to reconcile its objective of disarming Iraq, if possible by peaceful means, with the US goal of regime change.