Morning headlines: American “decapitation” attack on Saddam Hussein begins war…Troops advance to the Iraqi border… France, Germany and Russia strongly object at U.N….
George Bush began the bombing of Baghdad rather earlier than his best ally expected. At 8 a.m. the members of the “War Cabinet” have just begun a discussion of how they heard the news, whether they were reading official documents in bed, watching football or enjoying the sleep of the just.
In front of Tony Blair is an outline of the broadcast text drafted after the trip to the Azores. How should he begin it?
“My fellow Americans . . . ” suggests senior aide Campbell.
Tony Blair does not even begin to laugh.
“What about the end?” asks the prime minister, impatiently scratching the side of his face. He is now being made up so that he can deliver the message. As soon as it is complete he will fly to Brussels and President Chirac. “I want to end with ‘God bless you,’ ” he says.
There is a noisy team revolt in which every player appears to be complaining at once.
“That’s not a good idea.”
“Oh no?” says the prime minister, raising his voice.
“You’re talking to lots of people who don’t want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats.”