When, How And Why Did
Blair Decide Iraq Was A 'Threat'?
By David Edwards
Media Lens

Below we present an analysis detailing the development of Tony Blair's stance on Iraq. It shows quite clearly that Blair's conversion to fearing Iraq as an alleged terrible threat to UK security occurred dramatically about twelve months ago after many years of failing to mention any such threat, and at around the same time that the US decided to go to war.
On Thursday night, Tony Blair will be interviewed by the BBC's Jeremy Paxman: Blair On Iraq - A Newsnight Special (BBC2, 9:00pm, February 6, 2003). At the end of the Alert below, we have provided Paxman's email address and we have suggested possible questions for Blair that you might wish to send to Paxman.
Please take this chance to challenge both Blair and the BBC.
Evolution Of Deceit
In September of last year, Blair was in no doubt whatever about the threat posed by Iraq:
"Iraq poses a real and unique threat to the security of the region and the rest o were deemed sufficient to degrade those weapons and so to keep Saddam 'in his box'.
Throughout 1999, Blair had similarly little to say about Iraq.
In 2000, the Guardian/Observer record next to no fears of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, or of its supposed links to terrorism. Iraq was merely one of several "rogue states", not yet "a real and unique threat".
Likewise, in February 2001, the UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, and then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, justified a further series of bombing raids against Baghdad. Hoon and Cook made no mention of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, the Observer reported, "the strikes were necessary to eliminate a threat to the planes patrolling the 'no-fly zones' in the north and south of Iraq." ('Bush signals a deadly intent, Jason Burke and Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, February 18, 2001)
Blair described the raids against air defence systems as a "limited operation with the sole purpose of defending... pilots". They would stop, he said, "if Sadd Iraq after the attack on Afghanistan, Blair answered that this would depend on proof of Iraqi complicity in the September 11 attacks:
"I think what people need before we take action against anyone is evidence." ('Blair on the war: the Observer interview in full', The Observer, October 14, 2001)
That same month Blair talked of the need for "absolute evidence" of Iraqi complicity. (Michael White, 'Blair goes public to quell Arab fears of wider war', The Guardian, October 11, 2001)
One month later, the Guardian reported how Tony Blair was literally standing shoulder to shoulder with President Jacques Chirac of France - now the bete noire of UK warmongers - as they spoke to the press and "reaffirmed their demand for 'incontrovertible evidence' of Iraqi complicity in the attacks on America before they could endorse US threats to extend the anti-terrorist campaign to Baghdad." ('Blair and Chirac cool on taking war to Iraq,' Hugo Young and Michael White, The Guardian, November 30, 2001)
Can it be possibo anything at the moment and there is bloody nothing Tony [Blair] can do about it."
This was December 2. By February 28, referring to rogue states in general, Blair said it was "important that we act against them". Then Blair turned to Iraq:
"We do constantly look at Iraq ... Saddam Hussein's regime is a regime that is deeply repressive to its people and is a real danger to the region.
"Heavens above, he used chemical weapons against his own people, so it is an issue and we have got to look at it, but we will look at it in a rational and calm way, as we have for the other issues."
"The accumulation of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq poses a threat, a threat not just to the region but to the wider world, and I think George Bush was absolutely right to raise it. Now what action we take in respect of that, that is an open matter for discussion..." ('Blair edges closer to Iraqi strike', Matthew Tempest, The Guardian, February 28, 2002)
Blair said:
"It is an issue that those who are engaged i and I've raised this issue of weapons of mass destruction for ages. And so it's not a question of George Bush wanting to do this or anyone else wanting to do it; I believe it is necessary in the interests of this country, and it is only when we deal with these threats that we will usher in a greater sense of order and stability in the world." (ITN News at 6:30, January 31, 2003)
Blair, in fact, has been raising this issue for about 12 months. The Guardian/Observer - faithful scribes of Blair's views - record (as of February 3, 2003) the following mentions of the words 'Blair and Iraq and weapons of mass destruction' for the following years:
1999: 7 mentions 2000: 7 2001: 29 2002: 379 2003: 109
Finally, since 2001, Blair has changed his stated justification for waging war on Iraq at least five times:
1. Proven Iraqi complicity in the September 11 attacks.
2. Iraqi refusal to readmit UN weapons inspectors.
3. Discovery of undeclared Iraqi WMD by weapons inspectors.
4. Proven Iraqi links wil: <>
Possible questions for Tony Blair:
1. On November 30, 2001, the Guardian reported that, together with Jacques Chirac of France, you had "reaffirmed" your "demand for 'incontrovertible evidence' of Iraqi complicity in the attacks on America" before you "could endorse US threats to extend the anti-terrorist campaign to Baghdad". And yet less than three months later you endorsed George Bush's call to disarm Iraq by force, saying:
"The accumulation of weapons of mass destruction [WMD] by Iraq poses a threat, a threat not just to the region but to the wider world..." You insisted, "those who are engaged in spreading weapons of mass destruction are engaged in an evil trade and it is important that we make sure that we take action in respect of it."
Why did your justification for war change so fundamentally from complicity in 9-11, in November 2001, to possession of WMD, in February 2002? Is it coincidence that, according to the Obsmber 11 attacks, with no mention of Iraqi WMD as a justification for war? Before that, you had never called for an invasion of Iraq, either to deal with alleged WMD, or alleged links with terrorists. What changed in Iraq, or the world, to make Iraq a "unique threat" after February 2002 but not before? The answer cannot be 'September 11' because in late November 2001 you still did not identify Iraq as a "unique threat".
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