Corridors of Power: U.K. Ambassador Tells All, Open Skies Finalized and More

Corridors of Power: U.K. Ambassador Tells All, Open Skies Finalized and More

MEMORIES AND MEMOIRS -- At a farewell dinner for departing British ambassador Sir David Manning in Washington Friday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warmly recalled how she and Manning had worked together during the Iraq war: Rice as national security adviser to President Bush, and the ambassador as her counterpart at 10 Downing Street. But this harmonious picture doesn't quite match the one Manning painted in the New Statesman magazine, claiming that the Bush administration sometimes failed to inform Prime Minister Tony Blair of key decisions on Iraq, or failed to take into account British objections.

For example, Manning insists that Blair was not told by Bush that the neocons, through the Defense Department, had in effect hijacked control of the Iraq post-war reconstruction, scrapping months of pre-war planning by State and the British Foreign Office. "I did not know that the [Pentagon] was going to take over running the country," Manning complained in last week's interview. "We didn't have any sense that that was about to be the way post-war Iraq was going to be run."

Downing Street was also opposed to Washington's decision to disband the Iraqi army and to carry out a deep purge of Baathists in the government, according to Manning, but the Americans went ahead and did it anyway. The Guardian newspaper called Manning's statements "an extraordinary admission of British lack of influence on the key decisions taken in Washington."

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