AT a rough estimate I would say that three–quarters of yesterday's Camp David press conference given by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair was devoted to the subject of the “liberation” of the Iraqi people. Time and again, both men returned to this theme – pledging, in Mr Blair's words, that ”the day of your freedom is near”.
The emphasis was so marked that I was left wondering whether it was being done deliberately in order to take attention away from the progress of the military campaign and the original objective of finding and disposing of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. As for what had been billed as the main purpose of the meeting – arrangements for the post–war governance of Iraq – we learnt very little indeed. Mr Bush said that the form of government must be chosen by the Iraqi people and “not imposed by outsiders” (the United States, for instance?) and Mr Blair said that the “post–conflict administration must be endorsed by the United Nations”. But generalisations of this kind beg more questions than they answer. The suspicion that Washington intends to impose its own solutions on post–war Iraq and that Britain will go along with this is as strong as were the long–held suspicions that President Bush would go to war unilaterally and that Mr Blair would tag along in the end. The Prime Minister's statement that the alliance between their two countries had “never been better or stronger” merely confirmed the impression that Washington will call the shots and London will dutifully toe the line.


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