This conversation took place on 23 November, 2005. At the time, the insurgency in Iraq was spreading like wildfire, with hundreds of people being killed every day, US and British personnel targeted by ambushes, assassinations and suicide bombings.
Moreover the evidence was increasing that the invasion of Iraq was destabilising not only that country, but also the rest of the Middle East. An open season had begun on Middle Eastern Christians throughout the region, and thousands were fleeing for their lives (it’s now millions).
Both Bush and Blair were coming under pressure not only from opposition parties but also from their own. Increasingly questions were being asked about the point of the war and any strategy for ending it.
This time it was Tony ‘Anthony Blair’ (TB) who initiated the contact with George W. Bush (GWB). As ever determined to protect my sources, I shan’t reveal them – unless you can top the bid put in by another Nosy Parker among my readers (we’ll discuss the details in private, shall we?).
Also, there may be some Doubting Thomases among you who’ll question the authenticity of this transcript. So just for the benefit of those naysayers I’ve picked out in italics the statements President Bush is known to have made on record elsewhere.
TB: Hello, George?
GWB: Yo, Blair! Howdy, pardner. How they hangin’, hoss?
TB: They’re hanging just fine, George, thank you for asking. But you see, our MPs are pressing me about the war, and especially all that terrorism that’s going on in Iraq. Suicide bombings especially.
GWB: Hot damn, pardner, our military policemen don’t ask me nothin’.
TB: Sorry, George, in our parlance MP stands for ‘member of Parliament’.
GWB: Do what? So what d’y’all call military policemen over yonder? For short?
TB: Er… we call them MPs too.
GWB: Boy oh boy, you Limeys sure’s weird. How can y’all tell the difference between a cop and a congressman, hoss? Fess up.
TB: Er… I admit there exists a potential for confusion. But getting back to my enquiry…
GWB: Listen to me, pardner, and listen to me good coz I’m only gonna say it once. The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.
TB: I didn’t realise many of them survived…
GWB: Same kind of folks is what I mean. So it ain’t no war on Iraq, it’s war on terror. You folla?
TB: Well, the point I’m trying to make is that some… er… folks in our Parliament, I mean Congress, don’t quite see it that way.
GWB: You know, pardner, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.
TB: Yes, but how do you explain this to Congress?
GWB: I’m the commander – see, I don’t need to explain – I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president. Mind you, hoss, if this was a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator. You folla?
TB: Oh I agree unreservedly. My friend Peter Mandelson – you’ve met Peter, haven’t you, George? – tells me all the time that’s how I should feel too. But how do you respond to vox populi?
GWB: Yo, Blair, I done told y’all not to talk like a goddamn faggot.
TB: Sorry, George, I mean what do you… er… all tell the people?
GWB: My fellow ‘mericans, I say, our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
TB: I’m sure that works famously, George. But after two years of this war people seem to sound as if they want peace.
GWB: They sure do, pardner, they sure do, yes sirree bob. So I go on the boob tube and I tell’em, I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.
TB: And they buy it?
GWB: ‘kin-A right they do, hoss. Like they’ll buy tickets for your lectures after you retire. Goddamn millions of them.
TB: Yes, thank you for arranging that, George…
GWB: Hey, you scratch my back, I scratch yours. Gotta dance with who brung ya.
TB: Then there’s this other thing. Our people are worried about the persecution of Christians…
GWB: There ain’t no Christians in the Middle East. Not like there’s in Texas.
TB: You’re right, George, not quite like those in Texas, but some… er… folks here still think they are Christians nonetheless. And they’re blaming us, you and me George, for having made their lives excruciatingly hard.
GWB: Y’ll talkin’ like a faggot again, pardner. Them A-rabs, I-raqs and I-rans ain’t real Christians. They don’t know God like I do. I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.
TB: Alas, it’s Alastair Campbell who speaks through me. And he tells me people are wondering…
GWB: Tell’em not to worry their pretty little heads. They better ask real important questions. Like, rarely is the question asked: is our children learning?
TB: Right you are, George… Now about that lecture tour…