US presidential candidate Donald Trump says British leaders should put the needs of their own country before that of the United States, and should not act as Washington’s poodles.
In an interview broadcast on Tuesday, Trump censured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his collusion with former US President George W. Bush over the 2003 Iraq invasion.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said Blair did a "terrible job" by invading Iraq, adding that he should have stood up to Bush. He also warned the Chilcot inquiry will be a "disaster" for the Labour Party’s prime minister.
The Chilcot inquiry was launched in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown into the Iraq invasion by the United States and the UK and its aftermath that saw British forces remained in the Arab country for six years. The 2.6 million-word report will finally be published on July 6.
"I don't see it as war crimes," Trump said. "I just think he goes down as somebody who did a terrible job. Bush got us into it, that's a terrible, terrible thing that happened."
The billionaire businessman said he would respect a UK prime minister who ignored America's wishes and paid attention to the interests of the British people. “It should be for the people, it shouldn't be a word about the relationship.”
"I'm surprised somebody would see the Bush relationship as being that important,” he said.
"Tony Blair made a mistake. You can't just go in haphazardly. You folks got involved in that mess just as we did and now look at it,” Trump added.
According to a White House memo, titled “Secret... Memorandum for the President”, Blair had agreed to support the war a year before the invasion even started, while publicly the British prime minister was working to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
The document, which was sent by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell to President Bush on March 28, 2002, also disclosed that Blair agreed to act as a spin doctor for Bush and convince a skeptical public that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which actually did not exist.
In response, Bush would flatter Blair and give the impression that London was not Washington’s poodle but an equal partner in the “special relationship.”
Powell told Bush that Blair “will be with us” on the Iraq war, and assured the president that "the UK will follow our lead in the Middle East."
Blair has always denied the claim that he and Bush signed a deal “in blood” at Crawford, Texas, to launch a war against Iraq that began on March 20, 2003, that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The Powell memo, however, showed how Blair and Bush secretly prepared the Iraq war plot behind closed doors at Crawford.