[FOUNTAIN]U.S. ‘mistake’ leaves bitter feelings hereIn early March, 2003, Washington was counting down the days to strike Iraq. British Prime Minister Tony Blair grew nervous at the time because the Parliament had opposed his pro-American policies and showed signs of a no-confidence motion against him. A considerable number of Labor and Tory politicians came to an understanding to bring up a no-confidence vote, and there were forecasts of Mr. Blair’s collapse.
On March 9, U.S. President George W. Bush made a call to the British prime minister. In a concerned voice, Mr. Bush said that he did not want Mr. Blair to go through a potential no-confidence resolution and he would rather go to war alone. Mr. Blair responded that he appreciated Mr. Bush’s gesture but he would do all he could. Until the situation was settled, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair exchanged phone calls every day.
Thanks to the exceptional treatment and friendship, the United Kingdom sent the largest number of troops among the allies.
And about two months earlier, on Jan. 11, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, paid a visit to the White House. He was shown confidential material on the proposed military operations in Iraq. When President Bush spoke at the Republican convention, he dropped Korea from a list of allies. The White House called that a mistake, but the incident left a bad taste. In “The Right Man” by David Frum, a former presidential speechwriter, he said he was asked to draft a public defense of the upcoming war in Iraq. After Mr. Frum wrote the draft, a senior speechwriter, Condoleezza Rice and the National Security Council revised it and Mr. Bush personally touched it up.
A president’s speech is meticulously reviewed and refined, so the White House explanation that the Republican Party was in charge of the speech is not convincing. It was very rude thing to do to a country that sent the second-largest number of troops to Iraq despite domestic political opposition. Especially in the confrontational political climate between anti-American and pro-American sentiments, such behavior is bound to create disturbances.
Offended, some foreign ministry officials say we should not extend the troop dispatch. The rude behavior of the United States has widened the distance between it and its ally.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a political news deputy editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.