One week from today—July 12—will mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the July War in Lebanon, which lasted 34 days and resulted in the deaths of approximately 1200 Lebanese civilians and 43 Israeli civilians. None of the latter nationality were liquidated by Apache helicopter after being ordered by Hezbollah to abandon their villages.
Around the time of one such massacre in Lebanon, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair took advantage of the G8 meeting in Russia to hold a chummy private conversation in which they reflected on certain aspects of the war but failed to ensure that a nearby microphone was switched off.
Highlights of the conversation include how Blair should perhaps travel to the afflicted region instead of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as Rice would be expected to deliver a ceasefire whereas Blair, in his own words, “can go out and just talk.” As for Bush’s contributions to world diplomacy, these include addressing the British prime minister as “Yo, Blair” and suggesting that Syria tell Hezbollah to “stop doing this shit.”
Following are excerpts from the transcript of the conversation published on the BBC website, which I have divided into thematic categories.
THE TRADE THINGY
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?
Blair: I’m just…
Bush: You’re leaving?
Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy…[indistinct]
Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
Bush: … Thanks for the sweater – it’s awfully thoughtful of you.
Blair: It’s a pleasure.
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh absolutely – in fact I knitted it!!!
Bush: What about [U.N. Secretary General] Kofi [Annan]? He seems all right. I don’t like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out…. But I think…
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [indistinct] is really difficult. We can’t stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Blair: I don’t know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
Bush: I think Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is going to go pretty soon.
Blair: But that’s, that’s, that’s all that matters. But if you… you see it will take some time to get that together.
Bush: Yeah, yeah.
Blair: But at least it gives people…
Bush: It’s a process, I agree. I told her your offer to…
Blair: Well… it’s only if I mean… you know. If she’s got a…, or if she needs the ground prepared as it were… Because obviously if she goes out she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s all over…
Blair: Dunno… Syria….
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing…
Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah.
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and make something happen.