Tony Blair’s broken promises on Iraq
Did Tony Blair keep his promises on the question of war with Iraq without the authority of the UN Security Council? As the transcripts of two television broadcasts confirm, he twice gave a clear commitment on BBC television, on 26 January and 6 February, 2003, to David Frost and Jeremy Paxman respectively, that he would not take Britain into a war with Iraq without the authority of the UN unless (1) there was approval for it on the part of a majority of the members of the Security Council but (2) that approval had been blocked by an "unreasonable" veto cast by one or more of the Council’s permanent members. In the event, neither of Mr Blair’s conditions was satisfied: there was never a majority in the Council in favour of the use of force at that time, and so the question of a veto, reasonable or otherwise, did not arise. The draft resolution submitted by the US and UK seeking the Council’s authority for military action was never put to the vote, because its sponsors knew that if put to the Council for decision, it would have failed through lack of the necessary minimum nine votes in favour. A negative vote by a permanent member would not constitute a veto in those circumstances, since the resolution would have failed in any case. There was no UN authority for military action, and neither of Mr Blair’s conditions for going to war in that situation was satisfied. Yet a few weeks later, Britain joined in the attack on and occupation of Iraq. It seems surprising that in the welter of accusations and counter-accusations over truth and lies on Iraq, the media and the politicians have so far failed to pick up the plain breach of these promises, even though — as the transcripts show — they are so fully documented.