One of PM Tony Blair’s advisers has revealed that in January, 2003 President Bush told Blair in a telephone call that he “wanted to go beyond Iraq” in dealing with the spread of illicit weapons, and mentioned Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in a list of countries posing particular problems” according to this article in the International Herald Tribune by Douglas Jehl of the NYT.

Bush’s comment, in a private telephone conversation on Jan. 30, 2003, could be significant because it appeared to add Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to a list that previously had included public mentions only of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which the president had dubbed an “axis of evil.”

This might shake up those allies a bit…
The comment appears in the new American edition of the book Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules from FDR’s Atlantic Charter to George W. Bush’s Illegal War by Phillipe Sands.

According to the article, the secret notes were taken by Matthew Rycroft who was Blair’s private secretary at the time and the author of the now infamous Downing Street Memo.

Although the exact meaning of the comment is vague, it appears in the context of a two page document that says “Bush wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan”.

Remember the A Q Khan fiasco? And what of Saudi Arabia? What does Bush know that he’s not telling us? According to, the Saudis don’t have any WMD but newspapers in 2003 were buzzing with Saudi Arabia’s plans to acquire a nuclear bomb – long after Bush’s January, 2003 comments to Blair.

As for the move towards the war in Iraq:

The document shows that they discussed whether or not to seek a second United Nations resolution imposing an ultimatum on Iraq before launching any military action.  Bush was reported to have agreed with Blair that “it made sense to try for a second resolution, which he would love to have.”

But Bush was also said to be “worried about Saddam playing tricks” and the possibility that Hans Blix, the top United Nations weapons inspector, would report “that Saddam was beginning to cooperate.”

“His biggest concern was looking weak,” the British document said, describing Bush.

It said that the two leaders had agreed that United Nations inspectors in Iraq should be given “weeks not months,” to complete their work.

The fix was indeed in. If Bush’s biggest concern at the time was not looking weak and that was one of his justifications for the illegal war in Iraq, I’d say he has a helluva lot of explaining to do the the families and friends of the now almost 2,000 US soldiers who have died and all of the coalition members – not to mention the thousands wounded and the uncounted Iraq casualties.

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