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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 26, 2009 5:15pm-6:00pm EST

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there was constant reference to the fact that muhammed, one of the guys responsible for 9/11 had meant iraq -- met iraqi agents in prague. apparently, it is rubbish. but you could not dig it out of the blood veins -- out of the veins of the american administration. somewhere in northern iraq, on the border with iran, there was then al qaeda camp that saddam was allowing to happen. apparently, that was not true either. they were not an al qaeda operation.
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in the end, as you probably know, the defense department became so irritated with the perceived bias of the cia against the intelligence which the department of defense wanted to believe, they created their own in-house intelligence operation that ran as a rival to and replacement of the cia. the background to all of this -- god knows what was going on in london. there is not simply: paul -- colin powell. you had the vice president's office that did not believe the cia. the cia on these matters appeared to be very much in the camp of the state department. >> my next question is about
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november, 2001. related the conversations we had with the ministry of defence on tuesday. bush had a press conference in late november 20001 where he was asked about -- 2201 -- 2001. there was discussion with the american media about interviews with crumbs fell to -- rums feld. did you report this as the first signs of iraq coming into view? >> i don't have the reporting telegram in front of me, but we were watching this stuff like cox we almost got too close.
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there was no doubting the for an office with this kind of reporting. i remember the press conference pretty well. of course we did. without having it in front of me, i can't believe -- i don't think the foreign office can claim ignorance the way the wind was blowing. they made it extremely plane. -- plain. on the fifth of november, i could not find in the archives, they lay all this out. -- laid all this out. we were may be overly deciduous -- assiduous.
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>> this is the moment to take a break. we will come back in 10 minutes. if members of the public need to leave the room, that is fine. please come back in 10 minutes, or the doors will be shut and that will be had for the morning. thank you very much. we will begin again in 10 minutes. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> let us resumed, if we may. >> sir christopher, we talked about the conditions that the united kingdom was attempting to join the americans in their policy. and towards military action. what were these conditions? >> i only found out about these conditions -- let me start again. there are two separate things here.
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the conditions were -- the violence between the palestinians and israel were winding down in some way. that is something which tony blair and the british government repeated very frequently. it was a necessary precondition of taking any action against saddam hussein. the construction of a coalition, and the reentry of weapons inspectors -- i only saw all these conditions formally listed as a result of the crawford meeting through elite when a cabinet officer -- a leak when a cabinet notice paper. there were part of the diplomacy
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we were pursuing. the coalition, the un, doing something about the terrible bloodshed between the israelis and palestinians. it was not clear that these were things that we would like to have, or the actual conditions of going further on iraq. as time went by, they did not look much like conditions, and the buds were a bit feeble -- but's were a bit feeble. the "yes, but" approach from crawford. the yes was tehre,b -- there, but the "but's" were fading away? >> [unintelligible] >> they were not formulated like that.
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if you're going to go through the un in the hope of getting an agree un position, by definition, the issue of legality would fall away. >> and that is what we did? >> if you look at conditions now, so called conditions, we failed miserably on one, trying to track down the arab-israel dispute. things almost wanted to reverse rather than going forward. -- went into reverse rather than going forward. do you want me to take each condition one by one? >> did they agree to publish the root? -- roughte -- route? >> let's be frank about it.
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the american statement of the fourth of april in which, at the time when the israeli defense force was in towns creating damage and casualties, the americans called for israel's early withdrawal. that made life infinitely easier for tony blair when he came to crawford and had to do a joint press conference with the president. i think it could have revealed a rather large split between blair and bush. that was the high point of british influence. no sooner had the statement, demanding the early withdrawal of idea forces from west bank, that a major political operation was launched to reverse the nature of the call.
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colin powell had been sent to the region. when he came back, he was of the view that he had been consistently undermined by his enemies while he was away in the administration, and the u.s. congress, and by someone who is now the israeli prime minister, coming to washington and working against -- >> we got some progress on the middle east, but not nearly enough. >> the definitive american statement was one made in june, which rode back a long way and effectively said that we will leave the middle east, and we will not do anything until the palestinians get rid of yessir arafat. they didn't do that until he died.
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>> going through the un was another condition, going 48 resolution, -- for a security council resolution, during the british policy towards britishsaddam hussein rather than regime change? was that the second bundle of conditions? >> it is evident that the devil was in the detail. exhausting you and processes that included the introduction and read production -- of weapons that iraq, it went as far as it went. as i said earlier, the definition of exhausting un processes was far from -- i was concerned with what the americans thought that meant and what we thought that meant. it could be very different.
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you could say that we overcame -- the british overcame a series of major obstacles to get what we wanted from the u.n. just to explain what i mean by getting rid of obstacles, first of all, the u.s. administration had to be persuaded -- in their principal, the u.n. had a role. they had to be persuaded that if the u.n. were to have a role, there will need to be a security council resolution to reflect this. there was a massive battle inside the u.s. administration before president bush gave his speech at the un general assembly in 2002. we did not know until last minute whether he would even refer to resolution.
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in the end, he referred to resolutions. to this day, we do not know if i was deliberate or if he meant as a resolution similar -- singular. his teleprompter broke down. the detail is important. there is a huge battle over what would go into the resolution. one needs to know these things. that is why 1441 was fatally undermined by the ambiguities necessary to get the consensus. >> let's turn to the third one you mentioned. how did we do on that one? the answer is fairly self- evident. >> if you add up all the people that went to iraq, it comes up to quite a respectable number.
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30 or 40 mentions were there. who is absent, of course, both politically and militarily were a majority of its members. >> why were we not able to exercise more traction. the u.k. became the indespensible ally. if we work, couldn't we have had more traction? with the americans to get a better overall result of these conditions? >> my view, and i think i have said this in the book, given the nature of the relationship between george w. bush and tony blair, we could have achieved more by playing a tou
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gher role. for example, and this is not the first time i had said it, if we had made it a condition of our participation that india inde -- indeed, we should have been detailed planning for what would happen if we were to remove saddam hussein, it could be a very different outcome. >> in the end, we were left with the choice to be able to ongoing with the state's, taking us into some uncomfortable areas, or should we part company with the united states with all the downside is that that would entail. -- all the down sides that that would entail?
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>> it would depend on when it was done. it did not necessarily mean parting company. if, for example, and i wasn't fair, but i am pretty sure it happened. if crawford had said, i want to help george on this, but we will not be allowed to take in any individual operations. we have absolute clarity about what happens in iraq if it comes to that, removing saddam hussein, it would have changed the nature -- it would not have led to a rupture, but it would have changed the nature. it could set it at camp david the september meeting, and it would of had an impact.
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things had been decided. let's not forget that in january or february of 2003, before the government in london had the house of commons, george bush picked up the phone and said it would be politically different -- it difficult for you, you can set up a war -- sit out a war. rumsfeld said, if push comes to shove, we don't need teh brits. >> [unintelligible] >> impossible to say. we had a very high reputation at the time in the united states. there was no popular stance in favor of going to war. it was not particularly
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encouraging of the administration. i did not come across anybody except for an oil man in houston. i doubti t would have done a loto f damage. -- a lot of damage. >> in order to be seen as a good ally and reap the benefits that would produce, was it necessary for us to go in with the strength that we did? could we have made a smaller contribution to the operation? >> i'm sure we could've made a smaller contribution to the operation. it was not in the heart of a military plan, along the spectrum of military persistence, what made us fix on the large land force. i remember being told by a member of the administration quite early in 2002, we were apparently planning to send more or less what we did send.
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i'll always have to say, if it came the war. -- if it came to war. in addition to political support, it would've been greatly received and had done no damage to our reputation inside the administration or the american people at large. >> what benefits to british interests did we gain, did we advance by the role that we took? >> that is a great question. it is one that much preoccupied me. as the months went by in 2002, every now and again i got in
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touch with the foreign office and said -- i think i said this in my annual view in 2001. it is wonderful stuff being applauded where every ago, having lights up on the scoreboard at the big baseball match in new york. welcome to the british ambassador. i almost felt like i needed somebody sitting behind me whispering, i remember you a mortal. the key thing right now, translating this popularity in a real achievements which benefit the national interest. and we failed. i will tell you why we failed. we failed on persuading the united states administration to liberalize air services across
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the atlantic. such that british airways and other airlines could enter the country on agreements with their numbers in the united states. that been trying to fly and carry passengers to u.s. -- to the u.s. since the beginning of time. let's try and use this capital to get that. the other thing, which was profoundly irritating, almost on the day that the 45 commandos arrived in afghanistan to help with the war, the americans slapped tariffs on exports from the u.k., what they called specialty steel. i asked karl rove, what in christ's name do you think you're doing on something like this?
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the basic answer was, the steel industry is in terrible trouble. it is important for the president's reelection effort in 2004. it is just politics, but we will try to pass this tariff in the medical aid the consequences -- and tried to mitigate the consequences. the british government could have and should have made a bigger effort to get what we wanted on those points in return for the assistance we were giving them. >> to make sure that i properly understand this, to summarize what you just said, it was not essential for the defense of british interests that we actually played the part that we did choose to play in iraq. it was not essential for reasons of british-american relations.
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it would not have been necessarily massive damage if we had done so. and we failed to secure specific benefits, steel and air services, that we should have done other than to become popular by doing what we did. >> i don't want to -- it is sort of dropped logic -- chop logic. if you excepted -- and i was in favor of removing saddam hussein. i thought, so you can understand where i am coming from, you didn't even need weapons of mass destruction as a clear and present danger. there was a very strong argument for confronting saddam
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hussein because he had not lived up to the commitments of resolution 687 after the 1991 war. he had thrown around the inspectors effectively at the end of 1998. we still know that he had the means and the will to concoct weapons of mass destruction at a later date. there is a british interest, we should have done it in 1999. it would not allow the security council to do it. it would not have damaged the british in -- british interest if we had gone and your numbers. it would have damaged our
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relations in the united states if we actively opposed it. and we could have done more on issues which some may have regarded as minor, but were important to us. i'm not sure i said anything more than what i said the first time. >> i have one more question that i wanted asked, about the aftermath planning. do my colleagues want to comment on any of these points? >> just one question about whether we had the option to walk away. what would have happened, for instance? if in that speech at the united nations, with or without the help of the teleprompter, bush had not mention it -- mentioned
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iraq. >> it might have resulted in -- it was not only we that were pushing for the un. italians, australians, the likelihood of that happening -- it is a hypothesis that is worth considering. if bush had decided to repudiate the u.s. altogether -- the u.n. altogether, i suspect it would have procued a -- produced a crisis for us. >> it was a critical moment? >> it was a critical moment that bush should have agreed to refer to resolutions, and there was a
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period between 7th of september and the 14th where the needles swu -- needle swung back and forth in the administration. you did not know which draft of the speech was going to prevail. >> and try to influence for the deal stopped, was there warning -- where the needle stops, was there warning that the british enterprise would diminish? >> if we don't get the u.n. in this speech and we don't make a serious effort, the first instance of regime change -- >> that would be assuming that the prime minister continued to support for the policy.
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people often cite the analogy of vietnam'. he did not go to vietnam, but he supported the americans. >> if you forgive me, it is not a wholly -- it was a bad period for u.k. - u.s. relations. the fact that he smoked a pipe in the u.s. office was offensive to some. the thing about anglo-american relationships, it is not characterized by its stability. it is characterized by volatility, an extraordinary ups and downs. >>xdçó i was not talking to --
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>> it was interesting. >> it is an extremely interesting question. but i am interested in the a fallacy -- in the question of a policy. the prize and actually sending forces -- >> i could see the prime minister blair, given what he had seen in 1998, given where he was coming from, would have ever done a harold wilson if i can put it liket hat. -- like that. what level of military support might have been an alternative to sending the armored brigade. i cannot envisage, post 9/11, tony blair and the way the
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harold wilson did, put distance between himself and the white house. >> can you imagine him pursuing the military option for the united kingdom without reference to the united nations, without the un route? >> he had a president in kosovo that did not benefit from the security council resolution. it was subject to serve roderick's view of acquiescence of the russians. i think the short answer to the question is, sending 50,000 british troops to iraq. it all broke down on the second resolution.
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they had, at least, that an effort. thank you. >> christopher, was there a perception in the usa that participation would be inevitable? >> there was a stage -- and what i was told by a very regular contact, somebody senior in the state. from the national security council, i warned london about this in the middle of the summer, that we were, i thought, being taken for granted. it was assumed partly because we were engaged in the contingency planning on the military side.
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i assume that what tony blair had said it in private to bush would be public the next day. there was an assumption. the brits were going to be there. i would say that london had been taken for granted. by the way, what about air services and steel tariffs? >> your suggesting that we did not use the interest that we had as positive things we could have done? >> if i put it charitably, we underestimated the leverage at our disposal. >> you are traveling about the country a lot, and there is not a lot of support for the war? >> it is not that it was building opposition to the war, it was simply that -- i went to
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45, maybe more cities, and he did not get that patriotic surge of people punching the air, let's go get saddam. people were anxious and cautious about it. >> was that linked to the government here by yourself and others? what was the action? >> there was no reaction. telegrams and reports sent back to headquarters do not always illicit a response. >> i need did anybody change in practice? >> i don't think so. >> i want to get briefly in the aftermath. there are more questions that he wants to ask you before we finish. do we have a period in autumn 2002, you sit in your book that
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post war iraq was a blind spot in washington. they had bought fully and to neo-com idea that with the overthrow of saddam, all would be lights with automatic benefits in the middle east. was participation in planning for the aftermath in having a coherent plan, assessing what is likely to happen in the aftermath, one of the conditions that was trying to set -- that we had been trying to set? and what actually happened in the period up to the time they left washington? -- that you left washington? >> throughout 2002, it was not
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just my level, but other members of the staff, after saddam plannigng black spot, black hole, whatever you liket o say -- tliek toke tos say, it was possible for the american administration to say that they don't even agree on the concept of the aftermath. the most authoritative thing i can tell you is in the book. i found myself at a dinner in washington sitting next to vice- president cheney. and we hadn't had the crucial vote in the house of commons. he asked me what all this meant.
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i said, the prime minister has significant political difficulties in london, and it will be difficult to get over them. his reaction was quite dismissive. once you get by your political problem, and we get to baghdad, we will be greeted with cheers and flowers by the population, all this will be past history. you and the president will get the credit they deserve. there was a significant chunk of the administration that was not particularly concerned about the aftermath because they thought it would come out all right overnight. connelly's a rice -- condoleeza rice said, as difficult as it would be emerging -- the trouble with the europeans is that we were to sniffy -- were too
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sniffy. what'st eh word -- what's the word? condescending of the iraq people, that they were unable to run a democratic system. and i was going to say something else. to answer your question, nothing really changed on that score. >> they remained very optimistic? we did not get into a lot of planning with them. >> we tried. >> did we succeed? >> we did not succeed because they did not have their house in order. >> it never really happened. >> let me finish this point. it sort of happened, but it wasn't enough.
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in the winter of 2002, interagency teams came to engage the americans after words. there is a fragmented interagency reaction. they had all kinds of terrific plans, good people who in the end runs fell -- rumsfeld wouldn't accept. the problem about engaging with the americans on aftermath was that they themselves did not create their own office of reconstruction until february 2003. it wasn't for lack of trying by british officials. i was not present in the meeting with tony blair and george bush
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on january 31, 2003 when we know from a weak record of that meeting -- a leaked record of that meeting that i believe to be authentic, the british team said, what about the aftermath? the response was, it is all in hand. and that was it. i am not giving any scoops here, but this is bad public domain for a least a couple of years. officials did try to engage, and the heart of the matter was that we did not insist enough. and on the american side, they did not get their act together. it turned out it was not good enough anyway. >> [inaudible] >> to go back to the question of british influence on the
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administration. do you feel that because of whatever commitment may have been made in the summer after crawford, that britain's ability to say -- to influence united states policy was -- or would you say that his security council speech was the maximum and central acceptance of the conditions? >> i thought the bush speech was a very good result for us in the united kingdom, as far as it went. it was positive on the u.n. as a whole. it had this blindsided reentry
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for the united states into unesco, which i thought staggering. i am in danger of repeating myself, but it was the result of a lot of influence playing on the white house, including colin powell even though he needed no convincing. and the number of others. it was kind of high tide. we managed to keep the tied pretty high until after the president's speech. resolution 1441 was a significant diplomatic achievement. it had the seeds of its own destruction in its ambiguity. its ambiguity was on a crucial point on what would be the trigger for war. americans interpreted it one way. everybody else interpreted the
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other way, and we were stuck in the middle. >> on the speech of the security council, was our position being accepted? >> it was, but i would not say that our lobbying was decisive. i think the meeting on august 5, that was decisive. i must say that one of the arguments that colin powell used, it was part of the baggage of our position presented to the president. he did not need a lot of convincing. >> anything else?
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lawrence. >> can i carry on a little bit with this question of influence? you set out the conditions that we sort of made at crawford. there were never sort of red lines in the sense that were announced to parliament as such. these were rather informal conditions. were these the best conditions that we could have sat under the circumstances? i think we have been rather difficult to lay down as a condition. [unintelligible] >> mr. branson would like -- >> i'm sure he would.
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the policy on iraq, was there a way to formulate a policy in a sense by putting ourselves -- it would've been understood that it was harder to move away from these conditions. >> i think the key condition, a key condition that should have been a red line but wasn't, was that the military presence should be subordinate to a coherent political and diplomatic strategy. part of the difficulties that emerged was that, as i said earlier on, a provisional timetable, a contingency timetable for possible military action was set for early 2003.
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in reality, if you're going to go to the un -- with the benefit of hindsight, and hides that has a big role in all of this -- and hindsight has a bigger role in all of this. we exhausted un processes, including the reintroduction -- and depending on whatsaddam hussein does, decide what we will do militarily. you have got to have some contingency planning. i go back to what i wrote at the time. it would not necessarily have been a panacea or solve all the problems, but if you plan for military action in the cool autumnal


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