The Other Axis of Evil

From Holden:

Hmmmmm. Looks like Chimpy considered biting the hand that feeds him.

Two months before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush told Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he “wanted to go beyond Iraq” in dealing with the spread of illicit weapons and mentioned Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on a list of countries posing particular problems, according to notes taken by one of Mr. Blair’s advisers cited in a new book.

Mr. Bush’s comment, in a private telephone conversation on Jan. 30, 2003, could be significant because it appeared to add Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to a list that previously had included public mentions only of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which the president had called an “axis of evil.”

[snip]

The contents of a Jan. 30 document describing the conversation between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair have been reviewed by The New York Times. It shows that the notes were taken by Matthew Rycroft, then the private secretary to Mr. Blair, and addressed to Simon McDonald, then the principal private secretary to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. The contents show that the document was marked secret and personal and said it “must only be shown to those with a real need to know.”

[snip]

The notes taken by Mr. Rycroft do not provide any indication of what Mr. Bush meant by including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the list of concern over so-called weapons of mass destruction, a review of the contents shows. The reference is confined to one sentence in a two-page document, which says that Mr. Bush “wanted to go beyond Iraq in dealing with WMD proliferation, mentioning in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.”

The document is revealing in other ways not described in the book. It records a conversation between the leaders a day before they met in Washington, and shows that they discussed whether to seek a second United Nations resolution imposing an ultimatum on Iraq before beginning any military action.

Mr. Bush was reported to have agreed with Mr. Blair that “it made sense to try for a second resolution, which he would love to have.” But Mr. Bush was also said to be “worried about Saddam playing tricks” and the possibility that Hans Blix, the top United Nations weapons inspector, would report “that Saddam was beginning to cooperate.”

“His biggest concern was looking weak,” the British document says, describing Mr. Bush. It says that the two leaders had agreed that United Nations inspectors in Iraq should be given “weeks not months,” to complete their work. The United States and Britain led the invasion of Iraq that began seven weeks later.