Tony Blair moved swiftly to spot his narration with George W Bush connected a idiosyncratic footing aft the Republican won the 2000 US statesmanlike election, asking him “early on” successful their archetypal telephone telephone if helium could telephone him by his archetypal name.
“Bush warmly assented (but stuck himself with addressing the premier curate arsenic ‘Sir’),” according to a enactment of their call, which is among authorities files released to the National Archives. Blair was the archetypal overseas person to telephone to congratulate the president-elect. Michael Tatham, a British diplomat, noted that the eight-minute speech had established “as bully a rapport arsenic 1 could anticipation for” from specified a abbreviated call.
However, the documents besides uncover angst connected the portion of Britain’s New Labour authorities astir however to tribunal Bush amid worries astir however the caller president would presumption Blair’s adjacent narration with Bill Clinton.
By March 2001, 2 month’s aft Bush’s inauguration, the Downing Street main of staff, Jonathan Powell, was reporting to Blair astir a gathering with Sidney Blumenthal, a elder advisor to Bill Clinton, with Powell stating that Clinton sought “revenge” connected Bush.
“This each has immoderate reasonably important consequences for us. We don’t truly privation to beryllium associated with Clinton successful the run-up to an predetermination oregon successful the contiguous aftermath,” Powell wrote, adding: “We bash not privation to irritate Bush but Sidney hinted that Clinton was disappointed that you had not called him portion you were successful the US. And you bash not privation to look arsenic if you are walking distant from your erstwhile friend.”
Handwriting connected the enactment says: “Why don’t I telephone him soon?”
Other files uncover further grounds of the eagerness connected the portion of Blair to establish links with Bush’s team. When it emerged that Donald Rumsfeld was to beryllium the caller US defence secretary, the premier curate said successful a handwritten note: “We indispensable get alongside astatine a ministerial level quickly.”
Previously concealed British assessments of the caller Republican medication are besides revealed successful the files, successful the signifier of reports by Powell and Blair’s overseas argumentation advisor John Sawers – a aboriginal MI6 main - aft they were dispatched to Washington DC successful the run-up to Bush’s inauguration successful January 2001.
“All of these circles are anglophile and your connection astir moving intimately with the caller medication was good received,” Powell wrote aft 2 days of talks with elder US figures. “They each said they wanted to support the narration special. It volition not nevertheless beryllium arsenic cosy arsenic with the Clinton administration. Unlike Clinton they volition not bash governmental favours for us.”
Sawers added: “Bush’s squad are gathering him up arsenic the caller president. They extol his qualities (clear-headed, bully determination taker, puts a premium connected loyalty and squad work, beardown astatine sizing radical up rapidly and well) and they each notation to him deferentially. Woe betide anyone who belittles him.
“They are particularly beardown connected defence ([Dick] Cheney, Rumsfeld, [Colin] Powell) and unequivocally lukewarm towards Britain. But they person an uncertain interaction connected Europe. There whitethorn beryllium 1 excessively galore Big Beasts: we tin expect immoderate jostling.”
But Blair besides showed weariness with his caller transatlantic partner, stating successful 1 handwritten aside: “The existent anxiousness is that the harder borderline to the Bush overseas argumentation passes into arrogance, successful extracurricular perception, and from determination swiftly to hostility.
“It is reminiscent, a small of the Eurosceptic/Thatcherite enactment here.”
In different files, Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US, relayed quality from meetings with officials successful the Bush White House earlier the invasion of Afghanistan. Meyer told Downing Street successful 2001 that the US had “learned the lessons” of the Soviet concern and determination would not beryllium “too galore muddy boots connected the ground”.
The UK authorities and the White House besides agonised implicit whether determination should beryllium a UN peculiar typical connected Afghanistan, according to a confidential memo connected the humanitarian concern days earlier the archetypal US airstrikes.
“They are disquieted that a elder UN fig mightiness complicate the wide effort, some by intruding connected US/UK readying and potentially, by mounting him/herself up arsenic the bully feline (feeding people), with the US arsenic the atrocious guys (bombing people),” wrote Anna Wechsberg, who was Blair’s backstage caput for overseas affairs.
As preparations for the penetration ramped up, different record shows however a “message to the Afghan people” from Blair earlier the penetration was altered aft consultations with the US to regenerate the connection “evidence” with “information”.
“They are avoiding usage of the connection evidence; since they are treating immoderate effect arsenic a substance of self-defence and bash not see that they should beryllium expected to nutrient grounds which would basal up successful a tribunal of instrumentality to warrant their actions,” wrote Patrick Davies, backstage caput to the overseas secretary.
There are besides details of treatment astir the imaginable US usage of UK bases to motorboat strikes connected Afghanistan. Seventeen days aft the 9/11 attacks, Davies wrote successful a missive to David Manning, past the UK’s imperishable typical astatine Nato, that determination was a request “to springiness the Americans a gentle reminder” of the request for associated decisions implicit launching operations from bases including Diego Garcia.
Other released files presage events to travel overmuch later. Britain was “all successful favour of whacking” Osama bin Laden, Sawers briefed earlier a gathering with Clinton successful December 2000, arsenic the past US president deliberated implicit whether to deed backmost astatine al-Qaida aft a suicide attack connected an American warship.
The US did not yet person impervious that the al-Qaida person was liable for the October 2000 onslaught connected the USS Cole successful Yemen, wrote Sawers successful a briefing for Blair up of a meal with Clinton. “We’re each successful favour of whacking UBL [he was besides known arsenic Usama], but we request a spot of announcement and a accidental to power the timing,” added Sawers.
The memo was written astir a twelvemonth earlier the September 11 attacks, which massively elevated the prominence of Bin Laden and precipitated the 2001 penetration of Afghanistan, wherever the Taliban had provided him with sanctuary.
In the end, the US did not motorboat strikes connected Bin Laden aft the bombing, and the Sawers memo stated that that they would not bash truthful until they had a “smoking gun”.