Cheney Iraq role reviewed in Britain
02 May, 2007
By ROBERT BARR Wed May 2, 3:56 PM ET
LONDON – Britain‘s defense secretary during the Iraq war says London underestimated Vice President Dick Cheney ‘s influence, adding another voice to the growing view that the U.S.-led coalition failed to plan properly for the aftermath of Saddam Hussein ‘s ouster, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
But Geoff Hoon, who was defense secretary in Prime Minister Tony Blair‘s government from 1999 until 2005, said intelligence officials had believed Saddam was amassing weapons of mass destruction and that the allies did not lie about why they went to war.
“Maybe we were too optimistic about the idea of the streets being lined with cheering people. Although I have reconciled it in my own mind, we perhaps didn‘t do enough to see it through the Sunni perspective. Perhaps we should have done more to understand their position,” Hoon was quoted as saying.
Even when Blair and President Bush agreed on some matter, “sometimes … the decision actually came out of a completely different place.”
He did not cite any examples of decisions apparently reversed by Cheney.
“We certainly argued against,” Hoon was quoted as saying. “I recall having discussions with (U.S. Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld, but I recognized that it was one of those judgment calls. I would have called it the other way. His argument was that the Iraqi army was so heavily politicized that we couldn‘t be sure that we would not retain within it large elements of Saddam‘s people.”
However, Blair again rejected that poor planning was the cause of the violence in Iraq.
Hoon defended the decision to go to war on the basis of intelligence that believed Iraq was building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction — intelligence he now accepts was wrong.
Hoon said he felt no need to apologize.