From Memos, Insights Into Ally's Doubts
On Iraq War
British Advisers Foresaw Variety of Risks, Problems
By Glenn Frankel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 28, 2005; Page A01
LONDON -- In the spring of 2002, two weeks before British Prime Minister Tony Blair journeyed to Crawford, Tex., to meet with President Bush at his ranch about the escalating confrontation with Iraq, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sounded a prescient warning.
"The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few," Straw wrote in a March 25 memo to Blair stamped "Secret and Personal." "The risks are high, both for you and for the Government."
In public, British officials were declaring their solidarity with the Bush administration's calls for elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But Straw's memo and seven other secret documents disclosed in recent months by British journalist Michael Smith together reveal a much different picture. Behind the scenes, British officials believed the U.S. administration was already committed to a war that they feared was ill-conceived and illegal and could lead to disaster.
This article is based on those memos, supplemented by interviews with officials on both sides of the Atlantic -- none of whom was willing to be cited by name because of the sensitivity of the issue -- and written accounts. Spokesmen for the Foreign Office and the prime minister's office declined to comment but did not question the authenticity of the documents.