Dateline New Delhi, Thursday, Jan 5, 2006


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How Blair joined Bush's Iraq 'crusade'

     London: A documentary drama produced by a British TV channel, to be screened on Monday, has revealed how British Prime Minister Tony Blair yielded to US President George Bush's wish that the UK should join its "war on terror" soon after the 9/11 air attacks on the US' twin towers of World Trade Centre. According to it, Bush told Blair that first he would invade Afghanistan (to catch al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden), then Iraq, and lastly North Korea or Iran, The Mirror reported.

    It projects how Blair gave a blind eye to the popular opinion in UK against joining US' war on terror, and decided to join hands with Bush. It provides the most in-depth and "accurate" account of the private conversations between President Bush and Blair, and features newsreel film of the 9/11 attacks and real footage of all the main speeches that followed the Twin Towers atrocity that killed more than 2,000. According to the paper, the 90-minute documentary "Why We Went To War", based on information collected from "impeccable sources", includes look-alike characters depicting Bush, Blair, ex-British secretaries Robin Cook and Clare Short, both of whom later resigned as a mark of protest against Blair joining the war, Blair's former Media Chief, and many more surrounding Blair in 10 Downing Street.

   The film has been produced at an estimated cost of three million pounds. The opening scene in the sensational docu-drama is 9/11 2001 when Tony Blair and his spin doctor Campbell are gazing at a TV newsflash in disbelief about the air attacks. As the second plane smashes into the Twin Towers, Campbell curses. "F***, I don't think there's any doubt now - clear the lines to America." The documentary shows Cook and Short telling Blair about their fears if he joined the US coalition. At one stage, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tells Blair in a memo: "There are not many in the Parliamentary Labour Party who are for military action. The big question I have to ask is, what will it achieve?" Citing European sceptics who had refused to join the coalition, Straw tells Blair that the problem with "regime change in Iraq is we will be swapping one dictator for another."

    In another scene, while referring to the fact he had already decided to invade Iraq, the actress-playing Short tells Blair: "I just have this constant nagging worry..." The film shows the splits tearing apart New Labour after Blair vows in New York to stand by America - whatever course of action Bush wants to take. At one stage, an embarrassed Cabinet and Campbell together watch one million anti-war marchers trail past Westminster. Campbell then turns to Blair and declares angrily: "Just look at what's going on out there for Christ's sake. It's getting bloody dangerous for you. There are a million people on the streets protesting. That means, what, there are 20 million people against you? There's hardly anyone left who believes you are doing the right thing. You are not winning any of the arguments in the right places."

   Blair looks down at the whistling and screaming throng of protesters and admits: "Yes, I know. A lot of our friends are out there. But I am not just doing this out of perversity. We must not be held to ransom. I cannot know what I know about Saddam and do nothing. That is just not an option." According to the report, Cook asks why UK had to do it now and points out: "There is no greater threat from Iraq now than there was 12 years ago. Sixty of our own MPs have signed a motion objecting to war in Iraq."

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