Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Cheney 'waged a guerrilla war' against UN backing for Iraq invasion

Dick Cheney, US vice-president, "waged a guerrilla war" against attempts by Tony Blair, the British prime minister, to secure United Nations backing for the invasion of Iraq.

Mr Cheney remained implacably opposed to the strategy even after George W. Bush, US president, addressed the UN on the importance of a multilateralist approach, according to a new biography of Mr Blair.

. . .

The extent of Mr Cheney's opposition emerges in the biography of the British prime minister by Philip Stephens, the Financial Times' political columnist.

In the run-up to the war, Mr Blair worked closely with Mr Bush to try to secure prior UN backing.

But Mr Stephens writes that Mr Cheney's opposition to UN involvement left Mr Blair uncertain whether Mr Bush would go down the UN route until he uttered the relevant words in his speech to the UN general assembly in September 2002. One Blair aide remarked: "[Mr Cheney] waged a guerrilla war against the process . . . He's a visceral unilateralist". Another agreed: "Cheney fought it all the way - at every twist and turn, even after Bush's speech to the UN."

In the US, Democrats have also accused Mr Cheney of putting pressure on intelligence agencies to produce evidence Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. On Friday, David Kay, the top US weapons inspector in Iraq, resigned, saying he did not believe Iraq had large stocks of biological and chemical weapons."

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