The question of whether Tony Blair committed the UK to supporting the invasion in order to maintain the UK’s relations and influence with the US has two facets. There is evidence to suggest that Blair was concerned to maintain both Britain’s long-term relationship with the US and its influence over its approach to Iraq as well as potentially obtaining other policy concessions.
Maintaining long term relations
It is often seen as a given in British foreign policy that the UK must maintain its position as a close ally of the US for a variety of security and economic reasons and this view was expressed by Blair on many occasions in public and private in the run up to the war.
Maintaining influence over the US approach to Iraq
There is also a great deal of evidence that UK government officials sought to offer support for the US plan to invade Iraq in order to influence and shape the policy. The July 2002 briefing paper records that Blair made clear to George Bush in April of that year that Britain’s support was subject to a number of conditions. The Inquiry will need to consider how successful Britain was in influencing US policy. In particular, it will need to consider whether Blair’s statements of unconditional support undermined the policy of offering conditional support. Read more
Preventing US isolation
One issue that links the attempts to maintain influence with the US is the fear that the US would otherwise become isolated if it acted unilaterally over Iraq and would in future act in a more isolationist way. For Britain to support the US would necessarily reduce US isolation but it appears that the government also sought to shape US policy in such a way as would allow or encourage other allies, particularly other European states to join the invasion. The Inquiry will need to consider to what extent this policy was correct and how successful it was.
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