Moves To Isolate Berlin and Paris Approved By US
By James Harding & Judy Dempsey
The Financial Times
Wednesday 28 May 2003
The US administration was informed and approved of two separate European declarations earlier this year designed to isolate France and Germany over Iraq.
The discreet involvement of officials in the White House and a consultant working with the administration in Washington came at a critical moment in diplomacy in the weeks ahead of war. The statements were intended to show support for the Bush administration's agenda and demonstrate that Paris and Berlin did not speak for Europe.
The White House has maintained that it was not behind the two joint statements, but at the time welcomed the show of support. In Europe they caused great consternation, exposing the rifts over Iraq and undermining efforts to forge a common foreign and security policy.
The first statement, which was signed by the leaders of eight European countries, was written by the office of Jos Mar a Aznar, the Span ish prime minister. Tony Blair, the British prime minister, was the prime mover in recruiting others such as Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic to sign up. France, Germany and the European Union were deliberately kept in the dark.
The text noted "American bravery, generosity and farsightedness" in helping to liberate Europe from Nazism and Communism, and pledged solidarity with the US in its effort to "rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction".
The Letter of Eight, as it became known, was published in the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers on January 30.
In the days before publication the Bush administration was kept closely informed of who the signatories would be and was sent a draft of the statement.
The following week the 10 nations of central and eastern Europe lining up to join Nato, known as the Vilnius 10, issued a joint statement endorsing the US position on Iraq.
The text was written by Bruce Jackson, a US citizen with close ties to the White House. US administration officials were closely consulted in the process.
The "V10" letter, as it became known, endorsed the "compelling evidence" presented by Colin Powell, US secretary of state, to the UN Security Council on February 5. It was written the previous week and signed by the 10 countries the day before Mr Powell made his presentation.
A senior White House official insisted that the Letter of Eight was not "a product made in the USA", but conceded that the V10 letter involved a greater level of Washington input.