On 26 March 2003, six days into US-led invasion of Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to US President George W Bush about their joint military venture in the Middle East.
The document, declassified and published by the Chilcot Inquiry, shows the two men's thinking and their reasoning behind the war. "Iraq's WMD [weapons of mass destruction] is the immediate justification for action, ridding Iraq of Saddam is the real prize," Blair writes to Bush in one telling early section. <sup>
It becomes clear in the spring of 2003 the start of the Iraq war was the first step in a larger vision. A buoyed Blair writes: "Our ambition is big: to construct a global agenda around which we can unite the world."
The note goes on to discuss strategies for diplomatic relationships with Europe and Russia, and goes on to address the other nations in Bush's 'axis of evil'. Blair writes that particularly Syria, Iran and Libya will watch carefully what was happening in Iraq at the time. "Once they know its over for Saddam there is an opportunity to give them a choice: co-operate on WMD or face isolation and in time, worse," he explained.
What follows is the declassified note between the two world leaders:
THE FUNDAMENTAL GOAL
This is the moment when you can define international politics for the next generation: the true post-cold war world order. Our ambition is big: to construct a global agenda around which we can unite the world; rather than dividing it into rival centres of power.
Your insight, which no-one has articulated better or more clearly is that post 9/11 our security is best guaranteed not just through traditional military and intelligence means but by our values. More freedom in the world means more security. Countries that are free and democratic are countries unlikely to threaten us. The terrorists and rogue states, however different in origin, come together in hatred of our values because those values represent the opposite of dictatorial states and extremist Islamic terrorists who want to Talibanise the world. They don't hate the US by accident. They hate it for what it stands for.
So our fundamental goal is to spread our values of freedom, democracy, tolerance and the rule of law, but we need a broad based agenda capable of unifying the world, to get it. That's why, though Iraq's WMD is the immediate justification for action, ridding Iraq of Saddam is the real prize.
The problem is that a ludicrous and distorted view of the US is clouding the enormous attraction of the fundamental goal. In the past weeks I have had conversations with intelligent Europeans which has vividly illustrated this for me.
A European leader who seriously compared Don Rumsfeld with Bin Laden.
Another who said how deplorable it would be to see the US system of government in Arab countries "Why?" I asked, "most Arabs would love to be able to elect their own government, protest if they don't like it and vote them out; and anyway, isn't such a democratic system our system too?"
I talked to another, who to be fair, was completely panicked by some Europeans telling him they wanted to substitute the relationship with the US for One with Russia.
In other words, rational people are behaving very stupidly.
Europe is the immediate focus of this problem. But it is not confined to Europe. We have to ask how, when we put real pressure on Mexico and Chile, they didn't come along; why Russia felt it could muck about so graphically; why Turkey turned down $6 billion of aid they needed.
The problem is we're not communicating with the rest of the world in a way they understand. They get wholly warped views of the so-called right in American politics, played back through their media; until we end up with the fatuous irony of millions of liberal-minded people taking to the streets, effectively to defend the most illiberal regime on earth.
Keep the policy; broaden the agenda and change the presentation. People want to through, even if it can't always be achieved. People need to see you as you are. No-one doubts the toughness. They need to see the sensibility. We need a strategy for this after the conflict is won. Doing it now would look like weakness. Afterwards it will look like magnanimity, from a position of strength, recognising the past months have not been as we wanted it.
I believe, done right, you could then get the international community to accept your agenda. In their hearts, they know it is right, just as they know the US is a great as well as a powerful nation, but they want to do it, feeling they've been part of it.
EUROPE, RUSSIA AND THE US
We don't gain anything by pretence. There has been a falling out. It has been serious. We need to put it back together, but on an honest basis. People can have partnership or rival poles of power. They can't have both so we need to be explicit. We need to herald a different way of working for the future. And there needs to be some way of signifying it tangibly.
What has happened is that Germany got stuck with a tactic that became a strategy that became a world view, the French took advantage of it to raise the banner of Gaullism and the Russians saw a chance and reverted to type. In opinion poll terms it has been intoxicating. They are now contemplating the hangover. But they're not hungover yet. They're still there hoping we fail.
Again I don't think we make any major overtures until it is clear victory will be ours on our terms. Any rapprochement should be clearly defined. This really shouldn't happen again. They've not treated us as strategic partners. They have feel and see the US reaching out, grandstanded, gameplayed and had we not been determined, would have knocked us off this altogether.
To unpick the coalition, I would not start with Russia but with Germany. Their lapse was a personal decision of a political leader. Not a "system" decision. Russia and France took "system" decisions. git Germany should not come back just bilaterally with the US; but should bring Europe with it, ie Germany should stand up to France visibly in coming back. This is essential to give a message not just to France but to the rest of Europe.
France-can then be brought back - there is no point in permanently alienating them; they will cause too much trouble The UK and France have also got to have it out about the US and France be encouraged to modernise Gaullism so that the nonsense of the past weeks stops. The UK can do this from a position of strength with the Germans on board.
Once Russia knows it can no longer play games between Europe and the US it will go back to wanting to work with US ie they should be asked to join the same table as the US and the EU; not flit between two separate tables. But this episode should have given us a reality check on how "modern" Russia really is. We can be fooled by Putin's intelligence and his undoubted western leanings into thinking Russia is some type of western democracy. Not yet, not by a long way. So: we reconstitute the partnership but remove their capacity to play us off and keep our eyes open.
So in general afterwards, there should be an attempt to reach a clear understanding (a) it shouldn't happen again and (b) we share the same agenda, which must include resolute action against WMD and terrorism.
I think it is worth considering once this diplomacy is under way you doing a major speech about the transatlantic alliance in Europe that spells out the US desire for a strategic partnership and what that means. I even wonder whether it is worth meeting European leaders (including the new countries) to put it all together visually and therefore sending a clear message to Russia that their coalition was only ever virtual.
Also we are ignoring the vital importance of economics in all this. Over the past few weeks it has been French and German business leaders who have been most worried by the falling out with the US. They are big investors in the US now.
US/EU economic ties are massive. Why not make one part of this an agreement to start on removing all tariffs to business and non-tariff barriers? A big US/EU economic push would bind Europe economically to the US and make a real difference to attitudes, besides adding to our GDP.
(1) I simply repeat, boringly, the MEPP is the test for the rest of the world. It would remove 70 per cent of the anti-US feeling at a stroke. I will help in any way I can.
(2) Terrorism and WMD. We need to educate people better of the WMD risks, to develop strategies for each of the WMD countries (see below).
(3) We should become champions of WTO progress - it's a big thing for the developing world.
(4) We need to take forward your moves on Africa and global poverty.
(5) The US needs to find a way - and I think it is through science and technology - of agreeing the climate change ends but facing the world up to the reality of the means, ie not by inhibiting growth but by developing the technologies.
In addition to the breaking up of the coalition against us, it will be vital (a) to reward and treat well those in Europe that have helped; they've done so with huge courage and mustn't feel that once the tough stuff is done, we're just making friends with the others, and
(b) the accession 10, who will be full members of the EU this time next year, have been really supportive. But do not underestimate the harsh intimidation they've been subjected to. They've virtually been told that by siding with the US they're against Europe. Though holding firm, they've been badly rattled. That is so in spades for Bulgaria and Romania. France and Germany must be told in terms not to play games with their accession and the 10 should be very specifically thanked. The danger is - should this arise another time - they'll be less willing.
However, the upside is: if we can solidify them, they will change dramatically
the balance of power in EurOpe viz the attitude to the US. This is of enormous,
long-term strategic importance.
(2) Syria, Iran and Libya
They are watching carefully to see whether we mean what we say re Iraq. Once they know its over for Saddam there is an opportunity to give them a choice: co-operate on WMD or face isolation and in time, worse. Libya has made advances. We shouldn't be over-optimistic. Gadafi plays these games. On the other hand, it is worth putting it up to them: they should do a private deal first, then work out how to announce it publicly. They should give up all WMD; declare what they have; declare how they developed it (and that might include the links with Iraqi nuclear scientists); and work with us to destroy it. I then favour, in the context of the MEPP advancing, giving Bashar and the Iranians a very clear choice: to stop supporting terrorism and scrap their WMD.
The Iranian programme is really alarming. But they will want to know that if they comply they will get a new US relationship. And they will need the cover of progress on the MEPP to have any chance of selling this to their system.
(3) N. Korea
They are mad and bad. We need a two stage process (a) to bring them back into some sort of deal to cease proliferating. This should be done multilaterally, though, of course in the end that implies a new US relationship and (b) over time, we should have a strategy for collapsing their regime by external pressure, opening it up to the South and propaganda. The sheer madness of the regime is a threat; and we shouldn't be beguiled into thinking that an agreement on WMD, though necessary, is a long term cure.
4. WMD I am absolutely convinced that we need a plan to disrupt the trade in this, expose it publicly, etc who are perpetrating it. This needs to become utterly unrespectable in every form.
The truth is the opposite of what it seems. The terrorists and rogue states, despite claiming the Palestinian cause, would loath progress on MEPP. The absence of it is the best card they've got.
The terrorists use it as an exemplar of Western hypocrisy.
As for Israel, we have to divide it into two camps. Those that want a settlement.
Again your insight of involving the Arab world is right. They have to bear the heat of a deal collectively.
But the degree of cynicism is enormous. They don't really believe you can deliver a new process. On the other hand, what happened in London leading to Abu Mazen's appointment shows it can be done.
The two steps necessary are a specific agreement on security; and then a new conference to re-start it all. Announcing those, along with the implementation of the promise on the Roadmap, will be transformative. And in Israel, it will reconstitute a body of moderate opinion who will support a renewed push for peace if they think it is credible and has US support and new Palestinian leadership.
I will help, if you want me to. In the right circumstances I think I could get the Labour Party back into coalition with Sharon and the EU to fund reconstruction. I would host any meeting you wish.
(6) The Arab World
Let's be clear. Their ultimate instability - dangerous to us - is lack of democracy and a volatile mix of the religious and political. We have to construct a medium/long term strategy to open up these countries to freedom and democracy. Obviously it has to be done with care. But it's the only safe solution for the future.
The more I reflect on it, the more this, together with WMD, constitutes an entirely new phenomenon of threat. It's a security threat that doesn't arise from military equivalence; but from a modern world in which technology can deliver great destruction; in which the modern media then plays that vividly into public opinion and then consequences arise wholly disproportionate to the original act.
It makes terrorism very powerful. Defeating it requires us to construct a global agenda around which sensible nations can unite; and making any state that sponsors it feel real heat.
Explicit agreement on this should be part of our agenda with Europe and Russia
(10) The UN and GS
The shortcomings of the UN have been painfully exposed. But it is still seen, for all its faults, as the legitimate voice of the international community. The trouble with any proposal for reforming it is that it runs into a myriad of conflicting and therefore blocking interests. But it is worth working on achieving, finally, some UNSC reform.
I also ask: is the GS in its present form sensible? It certainly isn't logical. Again we need to work out a proposal. And you have the chair next year and a chance to change it.