View Full Version : Blair Beefed Up His Iran Speech To Please Bush

05-27-2006, 09:35 PM
Blair beefed up his Iran speech to please Bush


(Gold9472: "Lap Dog Tony Blair" - Michael Parenti)

By Toby Harnden in Washington and Patrick Hennessy
(Filed: 28/05/2006)

Tony Blair made significant changes to one of his most important foreign policy speeches after bowing to American objections, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

The Prime Minister changed key passages on possible action against Iran, climate change, and a proposed shake-up of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Objections by President George W Bush's inner circle played a key role in the alterations, which were made just before Mr Blair delivered his landmark address at Georgetown University in Washington, on Friday, British sources have revealed.

Only three hours before the speech was delivered, Downing Street officials were briefing journalists that the Prime Minister would stress that "change should not be imposed" on Iran, reflecting the British view that bombing or invading Iran is not a realistic option.

American officials had insisted, however, that the possibility of military action remained "on the table", arguing that this helped to exert maximum pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

By the time he made his speech, Mr Blair had significantly bowed to the American position, claiming "I am not saying we should impose change" and leaving the door open for a military attack.

He also backed away from a planned demand for a change in the running of the world's biggest financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Prime Minister originally intended to spell out a plan for Europe and the United States to give up their exclusive rights to install their own nationals as heads of the bank and the IMF respectively.

This would help to persuade smaller nations to give up their effective right to choose the United Nations secretary general, in favour of a move to install a leading international figure. Instead, Mr Blair's speech glossed over the issues, merely citing a "powerful case for reform".

Another planned section was intended to take a tough line on global warming and the Kyoto Treaty, which Washington still has not signed.

In the event, Mr Blair merely claimed: "We must act on climate change", but did not go into detail. At this point, as a mobile telephone rang in the audience, he even made a joke about American interference. "I hope that isn't the White House telling me they don't agree with that," he said. "They act very quickly, these guys."

On Iran, most US officials privately support the British position and aides to both leaders concede that with their personal poll ratings plummeting neither has the political capital to attack Teheran. There are signs that President Bush also recognises this. In response to a question from this newspaper during the joint press conference on Thursday night, Mr Bush struck an almost mournful tone and acknowledged for the first time that he had made "mistakes" over Iraq.

He regretted "saying 'bring it on', kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learnt some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner.

"You know, 'Wanted dead or alive', that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learnt from that." Officials involved in discussions between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, who had dinner without aides present in the president's White House quarters on Thursday, indicated that the American position on Iran had softened.

Mr Blair told him that Russia and China were close to agreeing the need for a tough UN resolution combining both incentives and deterrents for Iran on the nuclear issue. "The Russians are moving towards agreeing the sticks and the Americans are moving towards agreeing the carrots," said a Western diplomat.

Mr Blair will fly from America this week to join his family on holiday in the Italian villa of Prince Girolamo Strozzi. This will be the fifth time they have stayed at Cusona, near San Gimigniano, in Tuscany.

Good Doctor HST
05-28-2006, 11:33 AM

05-28-2006, 11:35 AM