Cameron on Iraq

Curious about the vintage of David Cameron’s recent hawkish rhetoric when it comes to the struggle formerly known as the GWoT, I played with Google for a few minutes.

Writing in tehgrauniad on 18 February 2003 about the forthcoming vote in the House of Commons, Cameron remarked that his party’s then leader, Iain Duncan Smith had been “statesmanlike, rather than opportunistic, and given staunch support to the prime minister”. But he went on to say that while “most Tories back his view”, he described four groups who didn’t, and he aligned himself squarely with the last of these, whom he called “the confused and uncertain”.

The confused and uncertain weren’t peaceniks, Cameron stressed, but they were only “prepared to vote for war in the right circumstances”. Four circumstances were specifically mentioned in what followed. First, “there may be links between President Saddam and terrorist organisations, including al-Qaida”, although apparently the affair of the dodgy dossier was persuading some of the C and the U that there might not be. On the other hand, second, the C and the U had no doubt that “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical warheads, and a growing arsenal of missiles with which to deliver them.” And in the third and fourth places, he thought that “many of us will not support preemptive war unless Blair can produce either compelling evidence of the direct threat to the UK, or a UN resolution giving it specific backing” but that “The signs are that he hasn’t got the first and won’t get the second”.

Roughly speaking, then, we’ve got a man who didn’t agree with everything that Iain Duncan Smith was saying (otherwise he would surely have aligned himself with his leader in this article), and who presumably (I’m guessing a bit here) largely voted for the war because he believed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Cameron’s more recent rhetoric on the SFKatGWoT is now utterly different.

So the question is, what changed? This seems to make Cameron one of the very small number of people who has got much more hawkish on SFKatGWoT programme-related activities over the last 48 months, moving from being “confused and uncertain” to, well, sounding a lot like Tony Blair. I can guess at any number of explanations, but if anyone thinks they know what the answer might be, do please write something in the Comments.

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