Tony Blair, Iraq and the Special Relationship: Poodle or Partner?

By Sharp, Jane Mo | International Journal, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Tony Blair, Iraq and the Special Relationship: Poodle or Partner?


Sharp, Jane Mo, International Journal


SINCE 1945, IN A VAIN ATTEMPT to retain great power status, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London has encouraged British prime ministers, of whatever party, to nurture a "special relationship" with the United States. Some, like Tony Blair, also claim to serve as a bridge between the United States and Europe.(1) An effective bridging policy implies that Britain should never have to choose between the United States and Europe. In 2002-2003, however, by supporting George Bush's campaign against Iraq, Tony Blair chose allegiance to Washington at the expense of relations with Britain's major European allies, a decision that was deeply unpopular in Britain as Blair made the case for war and became more so as conditions in Iraq deteriorated throughout 2003.(2)

Part 1 of this article traces Blair's relations with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush since he became prime minister in May 1997, with a particular focus on policy toward Iraq and the decision to go to war in March 2003. Part 2 examines Blair's case for war--the imminent threat to Britain from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction--which most Britons, including several members of Blair's own Cabinet, found unconvincing. Part 3 assesses the costs to Britain of participating in Bush's war, not so much the obvious costs with respect to loss of life but the opportunities lost to participate fully in the multilateral campaign against terrorism and to contribute to a settlement in the Middle East, as well as the costs of complicity in the bumbling incompetence of post-war planning in Iraq.

1: BLAIR'S "SPECIAL RELATIONS" WITH CLINTON AND BUSH

From 1997 to 2000 Tony Blair forged a close working relationship with President Clinton but was also proactive in European affairs, even to the point of proposing a defence identity for the EU in 1998. Indeed, in this period, despite Blair's decision in June 1997 not to join the euro immediately, other European leaders found francophone Blair the most articulate and pro-EU British prime minister they had ever known, although some did resent his arrogance.(3) Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were soulmates of the centre-left with respect to market economic and social welfare reform. They also held similar views on the Balkans, an issue on which the Clinton and Major governments had been at odds. Nevertheless Blair and Robin Cook, Blair's first foreign secretary, were more proactive on intervening to curb the excesses of Slobodan Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed] and in co-operating with the International Criminal Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia than the Clinton administration. Blair was more inclined than Clinton to use force if he felt there was an ethical justification to do so.(4) In 1999 Blair was impatient with Clinton's dithering over when and how to deal with human rights abuses in Kosovo. Once NATO had decided to use force against Serbia, Blair pressed Clinton for a commitment to put US troops on the ground, but failed.(5) Perhaps the only American who appreciated Blair's enthusiasm for ground troops was General Wesley Clark, supreme allied commander in Europe, who told Blair in April 1999 that he could not guarantee a NATO victory over Milo[Symbol Not Transcribed]sevi[Symbol Not Transcribed] with air power alone.(6) In his second term (1997-2001), President Clinton, much weakened, had to deal not only with a Republican-controlled House and Senate but also with a new right-wing pressure group, the Project for the New American Century, under the chairmanship of William Kristol. This group included several neo-conservatives (including Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton) who would later serve in the administration of George W. Bush. Out of office they lobbied effectively for regime change in Iraq and a permanent US military presence in the Gulf region. One result was the Iraq Liberation Act, passed in 1998, which committed the United States to regime change in Iraq and also required the Clinton administration to finance several Iraqi opposition groups. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tony Blair, Iraq and the Special Relationship: Poodle or Partner?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.