Sunday, December 04, 2005

More on Meyer

More on Meyer's revelations - review of his book by Ed Owen, special adviser to Jack Straw at the Foreign Office from 2001 to 2005:
The truth, however, is that Meyer was rarely bigger than a marginal figure on the issue. Most of the "heavy lifting" was done by direct communication between the two governments through Rice and David Manning (then the Prime Minister's foreign policy adviser, now Meyer's successor in Washington), Straw and Powell, and - of course - Bush and Blair.

This may explain why much of Meyer's detail of the run-up to war is confused and incomplete. Documenting events in the summer of 2002, he complains that Blair is making no headway in persuading Bush to go to the United Nations to seek a further Security Council resolution on Iraq. Then, only a few lines later, he blithely tells us: "I was pretty clear that Powell and Blair were going to get what they wanted."

I can only assume that Meyer is ignorant of much of the intensive work that went on during this period, including a secret mission by Straw to visit Powell at his home in the US in August, with the intention of making clear that a UN process was essential. [...]

Meyer makes the further, fanciful suggestion that military action could have been delayed for roughly six months so that the allies could create a greater international consensus. It was patently clear that Saddam Hussein was flouting Security Council Resolution 1441 - painstakingly agreed over two months of intensive negotiations between Straw, Powell, Dominique de Villepin and the others. Yet the French, for their own reasons, refused to issue an ultimatum in a second resolution in March 2003 (by which time Meyer had left Washington). All the evidence suggests that, far from supporting military action at a later date, Paris would have sought to use such a delay to dilute any international pressure on Iraq further still.
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