London: Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw had written a “secret and personal” letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair warning that the case of military action in Iraq was of dubious legality and would be no guarantee of a better future for Iraq even if Saddam Hussein were removed.
The document clearly proves that Blair was already planning for military action even though he continued to insist for almost another year that no decision had been made.
The letter was sent 10 days before Blair met George Bush, then the US president, in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.
“The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few ... there is at present no majority inside the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] for any military action against Iraq,” The Times quoted from the letter.
Straw said there was “no credible evidence” linking Iraq to al Qaeda and that the “threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September”.
He added that there was “no certainty that the replacement regime will be better” than that of Saddam Hussein.
Despite this warning a year ahead of the war, the planning by Blair and other coalition leaders for the aftermath of war was dismal.
Iraq descended into bloody chaos that cost more lives than the war itself.
Straw later wrote a further secret memo in early 2003 again doubting that the case for war had been made.
The release of Straw’s letter will pile further pressure on Blair ahead of the former prime minister giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry sometime between January 25 and February 5.