Bush–Blair 2003 Iraq memo

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Sir David Manning (centre) and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw (right) at a meeting with Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz on 13 November 2003, eight months into the war and 11 months after the decision to invade Iraq.

The Bush–Blair 2003 Iraq memo or Manning memo is a secret memo of a two-hour meeting between American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that took place on 31 January 2003 at the White House. It purportedly shows that at that point the Bush administration had already decided on the US invasion of Iraq. The memo was written by Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time David Manning, who participated in the meeting.

It has become controversial for its content, which includes discussing ways to provoke Saddam Hussein into a confrontation, with Bush floating the idea of painting a U-2 spyplane in United Nations colors and letting it fly low over Iraq to provoke Iraq into shooting it down, thus providing a pretext for America and Britain's subsequent invasion.

It also shows George Bush and Tony Blair making a secret deal to carry out the invasion regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction were discovered by UN weapons inspectors, in direct contradiction to statements made by Blair to Parliament afterwards that Saddam would be given a final chance to disarm.

In the memo, Bush is paraphrased as saying:

Bush also said to Blair that he "thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups" in Iraq after the war. Five pages long and classified as extremely sensitive, the existence of the memo was first alleged by Philippe Sands in his book Lawless World (2005). It was then obtained by American newspaper The New York Times, which confirmed its authenticity.[2]

UK Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said, with regard to the memo: "If these allegations are accurate, the Prime Minister and President Bush were determined to go to war with or without a second UN resolution, and Britain was signed up to do so by the end of January 2003."[citation needed]

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