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Tony Blair: Israeli officials were part of decision to invade Iraq

Saed Bannoura

IMEMC , February 20, 2010

In his recent testimony to the UK Committee investigating the Iraq war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that Israeli officials influenced and participated in the decision by the US and UK governments to attack Iraq in 2003.

During testimony regarding his meetings in Texas with then-US President George W. Bush in 2002, Blair stated, “As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

Professor Steven Walt, co-author of the book ‘The Israel Lobby’, wrote an op-ed following Blair’s admission describing how he and co-author John Mearsheimer were attacked by the US media and by right-wing lobbyists for Israel when they made that claim in 2003. Now, Walt says, he feels vindicated because Tony Blair himself has had to admit publicly the extent to which the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and other armies, was influenced by Israel’s strategic interests in the region, and Israeli officials themselves.

Walt stated, ” Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government….We also pointed out that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq. However, they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of ‘regional

transformation’ that would eventually include Iran.”

The two Harvard professors were vehemently attacked at the time by many prominent Jewish leaders in the US, who accused Mearsheimer and Walt of anti-Semitism for their ‘preposterous’ claim that Israeli officials had any impact at all on the US and UK governments’ decision to attack Iraq.

In his recent op-ed, Professor Walt also noted that the attacks against him and Professor Mearsheimer were made despite many articles and statements by prominent Jewish organizations and writers in the US. In one example, he referred to an editorial in the Jewish newspaper Forward, published in 2004, which stated, “As President Bush attempted to sell the war .. in Iraq, America’s most important

Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Some groups went even further, arguing that that the removal of the Iraqi leaders would represent a significant step toward bringing peace to the Middle East and winning America’s war on terrorism”.

The editorial also noted that “concern for Israel’s safety rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups.”

No apologies have been made to Professors Walt and Mearsheimer by any of the groups or individuals who attacked them, even after British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently admitted that Walt and Mearsheimer’s claims were true.


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