'With you, whatever': Tony Blair's letters to George W Bush | UK news | The Guardian
Over the years British prime ministers have enjoyed warm relationships with US presidents, which have helped to shape world history and brought varying. This dissertation argues that the 'special' relationship shared between Tony Blair and George W Bush while they presided over their respective. Tony Blair wrote to George W Bush eight months before the Iraq invasion to the two leaders had an intimate working relationship, the letters show. “real Iraqis, not Saddam's special guard, decide to offer resistance” or if.
The second chapter will discuss the Blair and Bush doctrines respectively and the impact they both had on one another. The Blair Doctrine came first emphasising the need for the global powers to step up and take some responsibility for humanitarian issues around the world.
He felt that preventative action may be needed when diplomatic or even sanctions failed; the term preventative action refers to action that may be used to change a regime when there are problems in a state.
Bush, Blair and the Special Relationship
It is fundamentally different from pre-emptive action as this is taken when it is felt an attack is imminent. Preventative action on the other hand does not mean an attack is imminent but it is felt action needs to be taken. This can be more common when dealing with interventions on humanitarian grounds. The Blair doctrine was given during a speech in Chicago in April where by he suggested that the international community could embark upon a war in another country without their own national interests being a factor.
This came in the midst of the Kosovo conflict which was fought on humanitarian grounds. In the immediate period after the attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Bush administration embarked upon a system of pre-emptive foreign policy. Both doctrines emphasised the need to deal with rogue states was great, however the methods and rationale the two used to come to the conclusion that preventative or pre-emptive action was the adequate response was very different.
The effectiveness of the Doctrines and the responsibility the US and UK took on and the effectiveness to which they dealt with the issues will be explored. Next we will explore the ways in which Bush along with Blair dealt with foreign policy in the wake of September Domestically both tightened their belts and internationally this date changed everything.
As previously stated, Bush was reluctant to engage in minatory combat, perhaps in part because of the embarrassment suffered by US troops in Somalia some years before. Blair however had less trouble gaining a mandate as he had already intervened in both Sierra Leone and Kosovo to relative success in his short time in office. It was later that Blair came up against serious resistance.
The two men during this period openly supported each other in the media as they embarked upon their first pre-emptive military intervention together, Afghanistan.
The Americans believed it was for a just cause but the British were becoming disillusioned by Blair and the pre-emptive tactics being used. These differed from preventative measure Blair initially discussed in his Chicago address as a pre-emptive strike is one in which it is felt that invasion is unavoidable. It was felt in these instances that if action was not taken then they themselves are at risk. Up to an estimated two million people marched in protest of the Iraq war in showing their unwillingness to be involved.
The media meanwhile were giving Blair a hard time in the press. Blair at this time was busy trying to persuade the Bush administration to seek another UN resolution before invading Iraq and trying to displace Saddam Hussein.
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- Bush, Blair and the Special Relationship
Comparisons will also be drawn on contemporary issues within the area selected for discussion previously. Has the two man crusade to rid the world of rogue states been successful? Has the use of Preventative and Pre-Emptive military tactics been beneficial to the circumstance or merely hindered any progress in the fight on terror?
Or have they just scratched the surface? Or was it purely a product of September the 11th. Where is the credibility of the two now? Is this the same as the relationship between the two?
Is their reputation forever going to be known for the invasion of Iraq with little or no mandate to do so despite everything else they achieved?
This will be discussed in depth in the final chapter.
Prior to this meeting however there was much speculation about the extent to which the two would connect and find common ground. Other obstacles were there for all to see before the pair had even met. The way in which Bush eventually came to power after a Supreme Court ruling gave Bush little credibility in Britain as many on the ideological left felt because of this he had little legitimacy to be President.
Having said this, the Blair camp was careful not to show too much favour to one candidate or the other in the run-up before the election for fear of repeating the follies of the Major government in when they openly backed the campaign of republican George H W Bush. When the Democrat nomination Bill Clinton won the election it made it more difficult to create a lasting relationship . To say he was inexperienced in global foreign policy was an understatement.
It appeared that Bush was after all going to take a more hands on approach in foreign policy than many had expected. This in part paved the way for a strong relationship with an already active Tony Blair on an international scale. George W Bush was not the first US President to have a very limited experience in foreign policy however.
Instead Bush placed great trust and belief in his cabinet. This was to be one such feature found in both the Blair and Bush doctrines years later, but the exact relevance of this will be covered in the coming chapters as we explore the Blair and Bush doctrines.
Tony Blair similarly had limited experience in foreign affairs when he was elected British Prime Minister. Blair can be said to have little experience in this field but had a determination to find new and practical solutions to old problems. Before Blair even met Bush he was involved in several military interventions, some with US support from then president; Bill Clinton. Conflicts in places like Sierra Leone and Kosovo gave Blair the opportunity to intervene in these states affairs on humanitarian grounds.
This would prove to be the key difference between Bush and Blair, as they both believed in intervention, primarily preventative intervention but the rational for doing so was slightly different. Using this we can see that Blair was prepared to try new and innovative ways to deal with global problems despite his relative inexperience in the field. This contrasts with Bush however as he initially adopted a more isolationist position and felt it was only acceptable to intervene when the US interests were high.
When both were elected into office, they had similarities in their limited knowledge and experience of foreign affairs so would this mean they would hit it off when they had their first meeting in FebruaryBlair was notably much more experienced by the time the pair met for the first time, however he had been in a similar position to Bush years earlier.
Despite this being dubbed as an informal meeting between the two, there were many pressing issues that were said to be on the agenda. This was to be far more than just an informal meeting for the two to get better acquainted, with such important global issues being discussed at just their first meeting .
Ideological labels were not relevant to Blair when it came to forming relationships with other heads of state. Blair himself was very difficult to give an ideological label, as was Bush it turns out when dealing with foreign affairs.
During the two day visit to Camp David, many things were discussed in an informal way, Weapons of Mass Destruction were discussed, the problem of rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea among other pressing issues of international interest.
The Bush administration gave off a very clear message to Blair and his cabinet, all but Bush himself and Colin Powell.
This was that they would have no easy ride out of them like the Prime Minister had while Clinton was President in the past. It seemed that the Bush administration initially took great delight in ignoring the views and ideas of not just Blair who represented one of their closest allies, but others as well . It appeared that Blair would have a difficult job in continuing the international community building he had been partly responsible for in the years previous.
Despite this, Blair thought he would be able to work with Bush in the long term and the informal meeting was dubbed a success as Blair and Bush both got on well. There was much speculation as to how the pair would fare before and after their first meeting in February of But for all the differences between the two camps, the two men in the middle had similarities to draw upon.
We will now compare and contrast the respective doctrines of both Tony Blair and George W Bush and what they represented. Furthermore, we will explore how it set out to deal with the growing problems faced by states like the United Kingdom and United States of America in the modern era.
In April during his now infamous speech to the Chicago council, Tony Blair outlined what was called a doctrine of international community. In which he stated: Blair by his own admission said that many felt this speech was incredibly idealistic maybe even dangerous to be openly supporting military action against states who had not opposed those who were going to be intervening. Kosovo was the topic of the day, where Muslims were being ethnically cleansed by the Milosevic regime in Serbia.
Tony Blair holds hero-like status in Sierra Leone to this day. This fundamentally differs from the neo-conservative model of which the Bush administration were said to be a part of. Blair plays on the humanitarian issue in this speech as the conflict in Kosovo was going on at the time where Blair had said on several occasions that the international community must be prepared to intervene militarily if the situation escalated to such a point where diplomacy and sanctions failed, which it ultimately did.
Blair had a problem however; The United Nations felt this was a dangerous way to act. They felt that the UN security council should be the body responsible for identifying threats or breaches of peace around the world, and through deliberation amongst the members of the security council — of which the UK and US are a part of, determine what the adequate response was.
If either the UK or US were to take the law into their own hands, an intervention may be seen as unlawful. In the early Bush years legality over intervention was not an issue as they had little intention of following the Blair doctrine and getting involved in matters that did not have ramifications for their national interest.
For almost half a century before George W Bush took office, the United States had operated on a foreign policy of containment and deterrence; this had been true of all presidents from Eisenhower up to and including Bill Clinton.
George W also set out to operate this way.
'With you, whatever': Tony Blair's letters to George W Bush
Allowing institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, United Nations and Organisation of American States delegate amongst themselves with US input how to deal with any international situation that might arise .
George W Bush openly condemned the theory of containment and deterrence that the US had followed for decades previous in his west point speech on the first of June This was made just months after the pair had invaded Afghanistan, he said: In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action.
This speech in particular shows a fundamental difference between Blair and Bush however. As explored previously, Blair was in favour of preventative action to change a regime for matters like humanitarian threats to the population like in Kosovo. Bush on the other hand talks as if something must be done before these forces attack America — Pre-emptive action. The policy of the Bush doctrine was somewhat divided however, as unlike Blair who very much had his own desires and visions for foreign policy by now, Bush was heavily reliant upon his advisors.
There were said to be two camps over which direction the Bush doctrine should take and the issue of the Middle East.
The first of these groups was the Neo-conservatives. In particular, states throughout the Middle East. This side is made up of hard line politicians who believe that America should use its power to intimidate rival nations and crush potential threats to American security before they surface . From this it is clear there was division among the elites in the US but inevitably the nationalists would prevail as they were lead by the people who were in the positions of power.
It can also be said that the growing relationship between Tony Blair and George W Bush may have swung it in the interventionist direction. When taking both doctrines into consideration it can be said they have many similarities. For example they both do set out to deal with problems that will at one stage or another, have to be dealt with in the modern era.
These problems are new and unique and cannot be dealt with by conventional means that have proved ineffective in the past. However by contrast, the Bush doctrine was not produced in the same period or under the same circumstances.
All for the sake of his principles and the relationship he now had with George W Bush. Not just in terms of foreign policy, but how they changed the way in which they conducted themselves domestically as well. Alastair Campbell, then director of communications to Tony Blair turned the television on and showed the Prime Minister. From that moment on it was almost as if Blair had nailed his colours to the mast: We had to stand together.
We had to understand the scale of the challenge and rise to meet it. It is clear that from this point onwards, Blair would grow closer and closer to the US and Bush as he saw a threat against them as a threat against the whole of the western world. This holds certain similarities to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which states an attack on one of their members is an attack on them all of which the United Kingdom and United States are both a part of.
He had appointed Vice President Cheney as head of a task force to ascertain how likely a terrorist attack on the US was and what their potential response to an attack would be. This project had not gotten off the ground by the time of the attacks however . The Bush administration however was made up of people like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz who were vastly experienced hard line politicians.
When the Bush administration came to power it was full of experienced individuals who had seen the US recover from things like the Vietnam War, presided over the demise of the Soviet Union and won the Gulf War.
Bush addressed the people of America on the 12th of September to try and reassure them and give assurances that those responsible will be caught and brought to justice.
He thanked congress for their support along with world leaders who had contacted him.
However there was one quote in particular that we should draw our attention to: As he talked about his friends and allies and moving for peace in the world — Tony Blair fits this description perfectly as he already advocated peace via intervention. The response that Bush spoke of was to be great, but not just militarily as many had anticipated.
Domestically the US changed policy to adequately deal with the modern day terrorist threat. The Patriot Act, which was passed through congress in Octoberjust a month after the attacks. The act gave the US sweeping new powers on all sorts of issues.
This act made changes to powers the authorities in the US had. The authorities could for example: It has often been asked since, why the Patriot Act ever came into existence with such wide spread changes to American freedoms.
The answer is fear. Fear of this happening again led the American people to place great trust into George W Bush and his judgment of what the best responses were, in exchange for some of their civil liberties.
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While not as controversial or as far reaching as the Patriot Act, some aspects of it were met with fierce opposition in the UK. Among the most contentious pieces of legislation that appeared in the act was the period of time suspects of international terrorism could be held by the police for.
This period was for questioning, no charge had to be brought against a suspect and minimal evidence to detain them in the first place.
Previously a non-UK citizen could be held for up to seven days for questioning but the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act doubled that to fourteen. Tony Blair and later Gordon Brown lobbied to try and get this period up to twenty eight days to detain a terror suspect without charge but the fourteen days had became problematic in itself for the British government as it was disputed by the European Convention of Human Rights.
Although both had committed to making the necessary domestic changes to safeguard their states from terrorist activity, it was clearly less problematic for Bush. The reaction that the world expected did come however. In any case, I wanted to give Blair support. He was about to try to persuade Bush to do the decent thing, and wait for a second UN resolution.
There was by now no doubt that Bush was going to war. All opponents — including me — were in despair. But if Blair could persuade Bush to delay the invasion until a second UN resolution had been agreed, something might yet be salvaged: For Blair, a second resolution was also crucially important if he was to win the support of the British parliament in a vote the following week.
The following is what I noted down, and which became one of the play scripts, The Brent Jumps. An American military voice: We have the president of the United States for you. Bush seems very far away. Almost in the bedroom. Hi, how are you? I watched you on TV. Real leadership will be remembered. Jacques Chirac, the French president, is causing trouble, opposing the second resolution, he says. Yeah, but what did the French ever do for anyone?
What wars did they win since the French revolution?
More bad jokes about the French. Then the prime minister tries again. So, er … where do we go from here? We need to move to closure … call in the chips with Chile, the Mexicans … close it down. Well, er, let me explain how we see it … I want to take the Europeans with me so Friday might be a little early … Long silence. Talking in the background of the Oval office. A moment later I overhear Bush take up the phone again and suddenly switch subject, talking of Vladimir Putin.
Both men then sneer at Hans Blixthe UN weapons inspector who had not found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. And you know what. We could put a bug in on this and make sure Chirac gets to hear it.
Back in the bedroom we are both silently willing Blair to try again.