The Latymer School History Magazine - page 13

Bush’s portrait
of Tony Blair
of his presidency came only
18 months after he took
office when on September
11th 2001 the terror attacks
on the Twin Towers and
Pentagon occurred. This then
led to 2,996 deaths and
many more during the
subsequent invasion of
Afghanistan, which had
international support. Then
in 2003, with the war in
Afghanistan still raging on,
George Bush continued his
“crusade” to pacify the
Middle East with the invasion
of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Bush’s presidency ended
before the final American
soldier was withdrawn on
18th December 2011, but his
terms in the Oval Office were
overshadowed by the war,
from his botched “Mission
Accomplished” speech, in
2003, to “the surge” that
occurred in 2007, which
appeared to be Bush’s final
attempt to complete the war
before the end of his final
term in the White House.
One of the centrepieces of
Bush’s exhibition is his
painting of his British
counterpart, and ally in “the
war on terror”, Tony Blair.
Blair followed his close
friend loyally into both of the
key conflicts they oversaw,
even taking a leading role in
justifying the invasion of Iraq.
Worldwide there was little
public support for the
invasion, with a French
academic claiming that just
between January 3rd 2003
and April 12th the same year
as many as 36 million people
took part in almost 3,000
separate protests against the
Iraq war across the world.
These included between 10
and 15 million protesting
worldwide on February 15th
2003, with over 3 million in
Rome, the largest ever anti-
war protest, and more than 1
million in both London and
Barcelona. Despite all of this
public unrest, and the lack of
a UN mandate, the invasion
went ahead on 20th March
2003, with ‘coalition forces’
from the USA, UK, Poland,
and Australia. When the war
ended nearly ten years later
it had cost the US over $1.7
trillion, led to the death of
4,804 coalition soldiers as
well as over 100,000 Iraqis,
both soldiers and civilians.
The blame for much of this
waste and death should fall
at the feet of both the
painter and his subject. A
large proportion of the
justification for the war was
put forward by Blair’s New
Labour government, who
promoted this invasion
through publishing both the
Iraq dossier (more
commonly known as the
‘dodgy dossier’) in
February 2003, and
the September
dossier which was
written in 2002. In
the September
dossier various
claims were made
regarding the Iraqi
government’s
possession of
WMDs, all of which
were later found to
be false by the Iraq
Survey Group — a
fact finding mission
sent by the coalition
forces following the
invasion in order to
find any evidence of
such. Major General
Michael Laurie, who
was involved in
producing the now
infamous Iraq
dossier, later went as
far as to tell the still
unfinished Chilcot
inquiry into the war
that; "the purpose of
the dossier was
precisely to make a
case for war, rather
than setting out the
Did you know?
Bush said he
was inspired to
start painting
by Winston
Churchill, who
did the same at
the age of 40.
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