John Harris on the US-UK relationship | US news | The Guardian
Together again: Tony Blair and George W. Bush are reunited at the opening of . came as Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, spoke to the crowd and then rose out . Cheney and Bush had a strained relationship, as Bush was. When George Bush and Tony Blair meet this weekend in Texas, the two The unexpectedly close relationship between the two men raises a raft of questions. After Gammell's father, Jimmy, backed George Bush Sr's oil. USA: Unlike George Bush, Tony Blair is an intelligent, articulate, . Tony's "father issues" which may affect their relationship with each other?.
Now, how we approach this, this is a matter for discussion. This is a matter for considering all the options. But a situation where he continues to be in breach of all the United Nations resolutions, refusing to allow us to assess, as the international community have demanded, whether and how he is developing these weapons of mass destruction. Doing nothing in those circumstances is not an option, so we consider all the options available.
But the President is right to draw attention to the threat of weapons of mass destruction. That threat is real. How we deal with it, that's a matter we discuss. But that the threat exists and we have to deal with it, that seems to me a matter of plain common sense.
Q Prime Minister, we've heard the President say what his policy is directly about Saddam Hussein, which is to remove him. That is the policy of the American administration.
Can I ask you whether that is now the policy of the British government? And can I ask you both if it is now your policy to target Saddam Hussein, what has happened to the doctrine of not targeting heads of states and leaving countries to decide who their leaders should be, which is one of the principles which applied during the Gulf War?
Well, John, you know it has always been our policy that Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. I don't think anyone can be in any doubt about that, for all the reasons I gave earlier. And you know reasons to do with weapons of mass destruction also deal with the appalling brutality and repression of his own people. But how we now proceed in this situation, how we make sure that this threat that is posed by weapons of mass destruction is dealt with, that is a matter that is open.
Best of buddies
And when the time comes for taking those decisions, we will tell people about those decisions. But you cannot have a situation in which he carries on being in breach of the U.
Now, as I say, how we then proceed from there, that is a matter that is open for us.
Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced, and say we support regime change. Q That's a change though, isn't it, a change in policy? No, it's really not. Regime change was the policy of my predecessor, as well.
Q And your father? You know, I can't remember that far back. It's certainly the policy of my administration. I think regime change sounds a lot more civil, doesn't it? The world would be better off without him. Let me put it that way, though. And so will the future. See, the worst thing that can happen is to allow this man to abrogate his promise, and hook up with a terrorist network. And then all of a sudden you've got one of these shadowy terrorist networks that have got an arsenal at their disposal, which could create a situation in which nations down the road get blackmailed.
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We can't let it happen, we just can't let it happen. And, obviously, the Prime Minister is somebody who understands this clearly. And that's why I appreciate dealing with him on the issue.
And we've got close consultations going on, and we talk about it all the time. And he's got very good advice on the subject, and I appreciate that. Q Thank you, Mr. You say that in the war against terrorism people are either with us or against us.
Whose side is Chairman Arafat on, and do you think the world would be a better place without him? And I said, well, he never earned my trust, because he hasn't preformed. Somebody told me there's a story floating around that somehow I am blaming the Clinton administration for what's going on in the Middle East right now. Let's make this very clear, that in my speech I said that Mr.
Arafat has not lived up to the promises he made at Oslo and elsewhere to fight off terror. I appreciate what President Clinton tried to do. He tried to bring peace to the Middle East.
I am going to try to bring peace to the Middle East. But in order to earn my trust, somebody must keep their word.
And Chairman Arafat has not kept his word. He said he would fight off terror. He needs to speak clearly, in Arabic, to the people of that region and condemn terrorist activities. At the very minimum, he ought to at least say something.
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And, you know, there's all kinds of excuses. But in order to achieve lasting peace, both sides must make constructive steps, and we're prepared to help and will help. That's why the Secretary of State is going to the region. But Chairman Arafat has failed in his leadership and he has let the people down.
He had opportunity after opportunity to be a leader and he hasn't led. Q Present company doubtless excepted, one could think of quite a lot of world leaders the world might be better off without. Thank you for the exception. But can I ask you, I think what Europeans have a problem with about expanding any war on terror to Iraq is linkage.
They can see a linkage between al Qaeda and Afghanistan. They can't see a direct linkage to Saddam Hussein. First of all, I wouldn't accept that. But can't they see linkage between somebody who's willing to murder his own people and the danger of him possessing weapons of mass destruction, which he said he would not develop? I see the linkage between somebody who is willing to go into his own neighborhood and use chemical weapons in order to keep himself in power, and at the same time develop a weapon that could be aimed at Europe, aimed at Israel, aimed anywhere, in order to affect foreign policy through his -- you know, I can't imagine people not seeing the threat and not holding Saddam Hussein accountable for what he said he would do, and we're going to do that.
History has called us into action. The thing I admire about this Prime Minister is he doesn't need a poll or a focus group to convince him the difference between right and wrong. And it's refreshing to see leaders speak with moral clarity when it comes to the defense of freedom.
I intend to speak with clarity when it comes to freedom, and I know Prime Minister Tony Blair does, as well. And we will hold Saddam Hussein accountable for broken promises. And that's what a lot of our discussion over there on Prairie Chapel Ranch has been about.
And, other than eating lunch, which we're fixing to go do, we're going to continue our discussions. You talked about no linkage there.
George W. Bush writes book about father
There is a reason why United Nations resolutions were passed, nine of them, calling upon him to stop developing weapons of mass destruction. I mean, there is a reason why weapons inspectors went in there, and that is because we know he has been developing these weapons. We know that those weapons constitute a threat.
Three days after the 11th of September when I made my first statement to the House of Commons in Britain, I specifically said then this issue of weapons of mass destruction has got to be dealt with. And the reason for that is that what happened on the 11th of September was a call to us to make sure that we didn't repeat the mistake of allowing groups to develop destructive capability and hope that, at some point in time, they weren't going to use it. They develop that destructive capability for a reason.
Now, we've made it very clear to you how we then proceed and how we deal with this. All the options are open. And I think after the 11th of September, this President showed that he proceeds in a calm and a measured and a sensible, but in a firm way.
Now, that is precisely what we need in this situation, too. And, as I say to you, never forget he knows perfectly well what the international community has demanded of him over these past years, and he's never done it.
One of the few people in a position to answer that question from personal knowledge was staying mum in response to inquiries this week. Bill Gammell was happy enough to talk about his Edinburgh-based oil and gas business, Cairn Energy. But when it comes to his political connections, all he would say was: By a fluke of political history, the Scottish oilman knew both leaders early on in their lives, and friends say that he has been instrumental in easing his high-powered acquaintances into a closer personal bond than might otherwise have seemed possible, given their different political backgrounds.
He has seen both Blair and Bush in recent months. Gammell's connections with both men go back a long way: After Gammell's father, Jimmy, backed George Bush Sr's oil business in the 50s, the budding US politician sent his year-old son to spend a summer at the Gammell family farm in Glen Isla in Perthshire. Bill was six, and the two boys rode the country lanes on their bikes and struck up a friendship that has lasted to this day. The two men were in the oil business together in the 80s, by which time Bush Sr was vice-president.
Bush was a guest at Gammell's wedding in We did the sort of things kids do," Gammell told an interviewer back in the days when he was less cautious about talking to the media about Bush.
Now he says only: Gammell is five months older than Blair. The two were in the same house, Arniston, and played in the basketball team that won the inter-house competition. While their paths diverged later Blair preferring the stage and music to the rugby field on which Gammell later excelled, collecting five Scottish rugby caps as a wingerthe connection revived as Bush's career path took him ever closer to the White House.
Gammell has been even more coy about his contacts with Blair than about those with Bush, but an oilman's recommendation scores high in the president's world, and Gammell is known to have spoken to Blair before the Camp David meeting.
The two men are believed to have met again recently as the Crawford summit neared. If Gammell is a key private link between Blair and Bush, the key public figure smoothing the path between the two men has been Britain's ambassador in Washington through most of the Blair years, Sir Christopher Meyer. It is part of Meyer's job to keep good links with all sides of the American political divide, and from onwards Meyer was assiduous in preparing for the possibility that the next president would be Bush, rather than Al Gore, with whom Labour's connections were nearly as close as they had been with Clinton.
Meyer travelled at least twice to Austin for long meetings with the Texas governor in earlyeven before Bush announced his candidacy. He got close to Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz, who were already shaping the Bush foreign policy strategy. Above all, through his good connections in Downing Street, Meyer gradually forced Blair to take Bush seriously. For Blair, this was not a fundamental problem. New Labour could not have succeeded if a Democrat had not been in the White House to give it international credibility, he believes.
But by Blair had judged that forging a close bond with Bush would be essential in order to see off the challenge of William Hague in the general election. That continues to be his approach in the face of Iain Duncan Smith's close conservative Republican connections.
Blair has no hesitation in turning on the Anglo-American rhetoric. Giving the toast at a White House dinner inhe quoted the biblical remarks of Harry Hopkins, Franklin Roosevelt's emissary to Churchill, at a wartime dinner.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. It was one of the high points in a friendship that went far beyond realpolitik and statesmanship, and which endures in private to this day. But when Bush came to Washington in January last year, it seemed as though the post-Clinton transatlantic relationship had cooled from an affair of the heart to the cool formality of an arranged marriage. Bush had built his short but successful political career on sneering at the urbane, cosmopolitan liberalism that Blair and Clinton represented.
The encounter at Camp David had been widely predicted to be as frosty an exercise inside the log cabins of the presidential retreat as the winter weather outside. But politics triumphed over the event's huge potential for mutual incomprehension. Walking away from the famous toothpaste press conference, one British official at the talks scored the event "a 10 out of 10". Today, that same official says that the two men discovered at Camp David that they are both pragmatists.