by RAY FLEMING

ALTHOUGH the coverage of the Iraq war has been extensive on British television in various ways, I do not think that any channel has yet produced a programme called Blair's War. Yet on Thursday evening in the United States the Public Service Network showed a programme with that title. Mr Blair's standing in America is extraordinarily high, partly because of his reaction to the attacks of 9/11 but mainly because the American public sees him as the only European leader (apart, perhaps, from Jose Maria Aznar) who has consistently supported - and, even, led - Mr Bush on the Iraq issue. One of the principal contributors to Blair's War is Sir Christopher Meyer, until recently British Ambassador in Washington, who speaks frankly about the influence which the Prime Minister has had in the White House during the past two years. For instance, in a most revealing passage, Sir Christopher says that President Bush came under pressure from the hawks in his cabinet to go after Saddam Hussein immediately after 9/11 but was persuaded by Mr Blair to deal with the Taleban and Osama bin Laden first. According to Sir Christopher's testimony, the President told Mr Blair that he would accept his advice and “keep Iraq for another day”. Tony Blair's subsequent role in persuading Mr Bush to take the United Nations route in dealing with Iraq has been fairly well reported already but Sir Christopher's account of the UK's reaction to the President's initial announced intention of taking pre-emptive action against Saddam Hussein is fascinating: “Taken literally, it meant a rampaging hyperpower who'll whizz around the world whacking people left, right and centre whenever it sees its security interests threatened.” Another revelation by the former Ambassador (who becomes chairman of the Press Complaints Commission shortly) is that Britain and the United States expected France ultimately to support the war and were shocked when the French Foreign Minister told the Security Council that he saw no reason for military action. Will Blair's War be seen on UK TV shortly?

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