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Kofi Annan says exPM Tony Blair could have stopped the Iraq war

Monday, October 1st 2012 - 06:47 UTC
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Blair was the only world leader to which former President George Bush listened to Blair was the only world leader to which former President George Bush listened to

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the only person capable of turning George Bush against the 2003 Iraq invasion, ex-United Nations chief Kofi Annan claimed in an interview published Saturday.

Annan argued in an interview published in The Times newspaper that Blair could have changed Bush's mind because of the special relationship between the two nations and the two leaders.

Annan said he often had contemplated what might have happened if “Blair had said 'George, this is where we part company. You're on your own',” following the failure to secure a second UN resolution.

“I really think it could have stopped the war,” added the Nobel peace laureate. Annan was UN secretary general at the time of the crisis.

A first Security Council resolution, which offered Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations passed unanimously in November 2002.

But a second resolution proposed by the US, Britain, and Spain in 2003 that called for action to be taken against Saddam Hussain's regime was withdrawn when it became clear it would be vetoed. The Latin American representatives as non permanent members of the Security Council at the time, Chile and Mexico, were intensely and personally lobbied but refused point blank their support.

The US decided that the resolution was not needed before military action could lawfully take place, and the invasion commenced on March 20. The invasion triggered eight years of sectarian conflict in Iraq, resulting in more than 100,000 civilian deaths.

Annan rejected suggestions that his resignation, or that of then US secretary of state Colin Powell, would have altered the course of history.

And he dismissed Archbishop Desmond Tutu's call for Bush and Blair to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court. Both had been democratically elected, he said, and were only acting in their national interests.

Annan was the UN Arab League envoy to Syria from February until August, but resigned after his peace plan failed to prevent further fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad.

The diplomat told the Times that Assad had to go, arguing that the leader had lost all legitimacy. Annan gave the interview to mark the launch of his memoirs: ”Interventions - a Life in War and Peace”.

Top Comments

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  • ElaineB

    I don't agree. The USA were geared up for war before the bombing of the twin towers and it was just a question of time. The terrorist attack gave them the excuse even though Iraq was not responsible for the bombing. This fact was fudged in the build up to war.

    Also, George Bush told TB that if it was causing too much domestic trouble that the US would go it alone. He gave TB every opportunity of not going ahead. TB thought it would give him his place in history - something he was obsessive about for his entire term in office - and it did! But for all the wrong reasons. JMO

    Oct 01st, 2012 - 07:24 am 0
  • British_Kirchnerist

    I don't see why Annan says Blair should not be tried at the Hague just because he was elected, especially after saying he could have stopped a disastrous war from starting and instead took part, and to say Blair was acting in Britain's legitimate interest is just weird. Also Elaine is right that Bush gave Blair chances not to get involved militarily which Blair turned down, although if Britain had actually opposed the invasion that could have left America isolated and contributed to a quicker end of the war, maybe even the defeat of Bush in 2004. Blair has blood on his hands

    Oct 01st, 2012 - 07:43 am 0
  • ElaineB

    I am no fan of TB whatsoever. Have you noticed that there have been a number of newspaper articles suggesting TB wants to return to politics and has an eye on the position of President of Europe? Testing a reaction from the public , I guess. I wonder if Annan has decided to scupper that ambition; I hope so. Other than Berlusconi, I can't think of a worse candidate for the job.

    Oct 01st, 2012 - 10:48 am 0
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