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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Will history vindicate Bush and Blair?
We discussed the UK - US special relationship in our global phone-in Talking Point. Our guests were Dr Jeane Kirkpatrick, former US ambassador to UN and Sir Crispin Tickell, former UK ambassador to UN.


The US and British leaders have defended the war against Iraq and insisted the decision to remove Saddam Hussein's regime was based on good intelligence.

Tony Blair made an historic address to the United States Congress saying that even if they had been wrong about weapons of mass destruction, history would forgive the removal of Saddam Hussein.

But relations between Washington and London have become strained in recent weeks in the dispute between the countries' intelligence services over Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons plans.

The question of the treatment of British prisoners in Guantanamo Bay also threatens to overshadow the visit.

Will the invasion of Iraq have been vindicated, even if no WMD are found? Can the US and UK's 'special relationship' survive the aftermath of the Iraq war? What is the likely impact on relations with the world and the UN?


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Whether history will justify the invasion of Iraq depends on why it really happened. If it was not, as we were told, because of the issue of WMD, why exactly did we go in? It could not have been just to depose a bad ruler, there are far too many of them still around in uninvaded countries. So what was the real reason? That is the question we all want answered! When that comes out, we will know better what history, might make of it.
T E Baker, UK

Until Europe is strong and united we would be mad to abandon our relationship with the US
Martin Flatters, London
The world is now policed by its most powerful nation and, as a result, is a safer place to live. We must remember before 9/11 when Bush came to power there was panic in European capitals that the USA would become isolationist. When the US isolated itself (before 1917 and between 1919 and 1941) the world was an appalling place to live. The UK is much stronger and more influential as the US's closest ally than as just another European country. Until Europe is strong and united we would be mad to abandon our relationship with the US.
Martin Flatters, London

Saddam Hussein was an evil man. This was a war to unseat a dictator that had been terrorizing his people. He was providing safe haven to the terrorists as well. He and Osama bin Laden coordinated the 9/11 attacks. Who knows what kind of damage he could have done were he still in power right now. History will not only vindicate Bush and Blair: it will thank them.
Budrick, USA

No the war would not be justified if no WMD aren't found. The Arab world will not forget, nor the rest of the unwilling coalition. I believe Bush and Blair just gave the international terrorists 50,000 new recruits and more to come as this illegal occupation continues. All while Liberia waits for America to regain it's military confidence.
Abbas, Kenya

As a student of history it disturbs me to think that those who think Bush and Blair will be vindicated years down the road are right, but they are. People will remember that the coalition removed a dangerous man from power not that they blatantly lied about their reasons and disregarded international diplomacy
Lisa, Toronto, Canada

Since the invasion of Iraq by the allied forces the world has become safer
Michael J Kennedy, South Burlington, USA
Since the invasion of Iraq by the allied forces the world has become safer. International communities has become more aware of troublesome individuals who may impose a threat. What we see now is a drop of active terror around the world as a result. Britain also will gain from the benefit the world security will eventually offer.
Michael J Kennedy, South Burlington, VT, USA

They Will Be vindicated. They were right. The world was wrong for not joining them.
William Hughes, USA

The US and Britain's pre-emptive attack on Iraq will never be vindicated. When one ignores world opinion, and the results of UN weapons inspections, and then uses pre-emptive force, one had better be sure beyond any possible doubt that the reasons for your attack are valid and beyond dispute. It is obvious now that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and company were nowhere that diligent. The US has made its bed, and now I hope the rest of the world tells them to lie in it - by themselves. It should not be surprising that when one acts unilaterally, "old" friends may not be around when one needs them.
Chris, Waterloo, Canada

No, history will not vindicate Bush or Blair. Bush will be known for his callous and simplistic view of the world, and his disregard for international law. He will also forever be associated with the needless deaths of many American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis. History will document the lies used to justify the war in Iraq and the abysmal post-war planning. Also history will note the overall incompetence of the Bush Administration pre 9/11. Blair will forever be known as the entirely reasonable politician and leader who inexplicably destroyed his own credibility and stature in the world following Bush's lead.
Rey, Spartanburg, SC USA

Right now it seems that it is the US and the UK versus the world
Charles, Mission Viejo, USA
Every day I read that one or more US soldiers are killed. With all the accumulative of body bags being sent home daily, I think it decreases the chance of Bush winning the election next year. It seems at least to me that the WMD being found is becoming less important than the chaos and loss of lives. The 'special relationship' between the US and UK depends on what parties are in power. Right now it seems that it is the US and the UK versus the world.
Charles, Mission Viejo USA

This war will go into history as a lesson to future World Leaders that it has become too difficult to control Public Opinion. The Internet has made this world a better informed place.
Frank, Cork Ireland

Arming Israel, supporting despot Arab regimes in places like Saudi-occupied Arabia, invading Iraq for it's oil. This is how history will regard Imperial America and it's British sidekick.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

Of course the special relationship will last. Besides the fact of shared common language and culture, British and US troops fought, bled and died side by side throughout history. After all, blood is the ultimate super glue. It is notable how many Americans showed up at the Queen Mother's funeral to show their respect. Mr Blair and Mr Bush, continue the good work, the world of oppressed people needs you!!!
Felix Tam, JHB South Africa/Hong Kong China

Blair and Bush will be vilified for creating another Afghanistan
Mike Stollov, Seattle, USA
Blair and Bush will be vilified for creating another Afghanistan. Sooner or later the Iraqi people will be in mass revolt because of the aggressive policies of the occupying military forces. Sooner or later the US will grow tired of the casualties and there will be a troop withdrawal. Then the country will be left wide open for the next breed of lunatic fundamentalists who will seek their revenge upon us, funded by massive oil profits.
Mike Stollov, Seattle, USA

Yes, fully vindicated. What historian is going to write in 50 years time that the timing was wrong for the removal of a mass murderer who had invaded another country 13 years before, gassed his own people and since then tried to hide evidence of developing dangerous weapons in an already unstable region?
Neil, SW London, UK

Anyone with a shred of critical thinking knew that the truth was being stretched by Bush and Blair to find an excuse to go to war. Now the main reason - WMD - is being dodged saying that getting rid of a tyrant is reason enough. I feel ashamed as an American that we believe we, or any nation, can pre-emptively go to war against anyone simply because.... [ fill in the excuse]. This makes the world a far more dangerous place since one can find many ills around us, but solving them with war will not make it better. Relations with the world are definitely worse off and the rebuke of the UN shows Bush and his gang for the dunces that they are.
Ken Probe, Somis, Calif

We have a truly special relationship with the US; a one-way extradition treaty, a subjugation of our military, and a leader who doesn't seem to think this is a problem. Why can't we just join the US officially, so we can at least have the advantages, as well as the downsides of being US citizens?
Greg, Bristol, UK

It is far too early to say whether history will vindicate anyone
Katja, Berlin
I am still amazed at the vitriolic and irrational lashing out about this matter of Iraq, which has far more grey areas that black and white areas. Whatever one thinks of the war, is simply unrealistic for Bush, Blair, other world leaders, journalists or armchair critics to think that any WMD can be found this quickly. Obviously it is far too early to say whether history will vindicate anyone - to ask the question is sensationalist. The war is not even over yet.

But what really disgusts me is how ignorant, hysterical people have the nerve to toss around terms like 'genocide'. Say what you will about this war, but to even dare utter that these world leaders have attempted to wipe out an entire ethnic people from the planet is not just absurd, it is beyond repulsive.
Katja, Berlin, Germany

Tony Blair committed us to war on the basis of the threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction. To be most clearly vindicated, he needs to have had sound intelligence at the time that Iraq did hold WMD. Finding WMD now is not enough, if it means we went to war on just a hunch they were there. Mr Bair could also yet be vindicated if it turns out that he had another reason for war, one which he was justified in concealing from the public.
Shane Hines, Ipswich, UK

As a third party with least national bias, I have a hard time categorizing the two in the same class. Regardless of the job title, Tony Blair is a truly refined statesman of a calibre fit for global politics. Britain should be proud of him despite all the mess he has got himself into. Bush, in contrast, is a well trained but overall mediocre manager type, for whom the office of Texas Governor was already a stretch. His election to US presidency is a true failure of American democracy.

As to a "special relationship", it is natural for people to have affinity on the basis of common language, historic events, etc. Looking into the future, however, I see Britain embarking on the policy of neutrality but still leaning more toward European camp especially if the US does not abandon its ambition to make the world a better place the American way. Iraq is a tragic but good lesson for both.
Yevgeni, Moscow, Russia

Britain and America did what the UN should have had the guts to do
Jim Garner, Ottawa Canada
It is clear now that Blair and Bush lied. However, the Iraqi government, having agreed to open its borders to inspection, then reneged on their pledge -- stupidly, because they really did not have any WMDs. Given the fact that Iraq dishonoured its pledge, the UN should have used force. Britain and America did what the UN should have had the guts to do.
Jim Garner, Ottawa Canada

It's interesting that two British Guantanamo prisoners are being released into British custody. Surely there must be prisoners from other countries deserving of similar release. Or are such special favours only given to those select countries who are part of the Iraq alliance? The war in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda has no connection to the war in Iraq against WMD and Saddam Hussein. The US is not locking up Iraqi POW's in Cuba.
John Jensen, USA

Mr. Bush will leave the building untouched by all this Iraqi business only if he leaves a secure Iraq. Mr. Blair no doubt will pay a heavy price for taking his nation into an unwanted war. The end is nigh for him and history will recall that the price of playing games with ones public heartfelt opinion is dangerous.
Tony, Beirut, Lebanon

History will frown on Bush and Blair.
James Jones, Dallas, USA
History as a whole will not vindicate Bush and Blair. Based on the lack of concrete WMD evidence before and after the war, history will frown on Bush and Blair. The US and UK relationship will survive but their respective congressional bodies will not plunge their nations into war as was done with Iraq. The world has lost trust in the US and the UK. Remember these two superpowers turned their backs on the United Nations, the very international law making body that they help create. It appears that Blair and Bush mislead their nations into war. How can this be vindicated? I can't think of anyone who wanted to be mislead into war.
James Jones, Dallas, USA

History FORGETS, it cannot forgive.
A.T.Goodman, Southport.

Not at all. They have offered no solution to the problem of deepening divides between the Western and Eastern worlds. They are simply alienating millions of people world wide and are compounding the threat of continuing terrorism. You cannot declare war on a phenomenon, but this isn't something the US seems to realise. Look at the ongoing failure of the War against Drugs.
John Kearney, UK

The PRESENT vindicates Bush and Blair. OF COURSE they were RIGHT to get rid of Saddam. They just gave the wrong reason. I just wish they would do the same to dictators everywhere so all humans can be free. As for the special relationship, it is dependent upon the UK doing what the US wants. In that sense all nations can have a 'special relationship' with the US. Obedience. Just to illustrate this point, Clinton once told Blair to shut up, in those very words, about sending ground troops into Bosnia. There's how special it gets.
Amoroso Gombe, Bristol (Kenyan)

History may forgive the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, it will not forgive the installation of him in the first place
Tom, Worcester, UK
Whilst indeed, history may forgive the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, it will not forgive the installation of him in the first place. He was placed there to kill communists (most of which happened to be of the professional class, which is probably why there's no infrastructure now) which he did with great efficiency, to try and take the moral high ground over the recent act of aggression against Iraq would simply be ridiculous, we put him there, we kept him there and its our fault mass graves are found on a daily basis and its our fault that they lived under poverty and oppression for so long. To say we've done them a favour is a non-argument.
Tom, Worcester, UK







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