Monday, May 29, 2006
Blair Caved To U.S. Pressure To Change Speech
The London Sunday Telegraph is reporting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair yielded to White House pressure to harden his stance against Iran in a speech delivered on Friday at Georgetown University.
Blair was also compelled to modify his words on global warming and on whether an American should continue to permanently hold the position of head of the World Bank.
Tony Blair made significant changes to one of his most important foreign policy speeches after bowing to American objections, The Sunday Telegraph has learned...
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."
The White House interfering with an address by the British Prime Minister is the final proof that the "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain under Bush has a quite different meaning than previously understood by defense (Br. defence) and security cognoscenti since WWII.