'I will for ever wonder what would have happened if Blair had said, "George, you're on your own"
A few weeks before the start of the Iraq war, Kofi Annan invited half a dozen or so journalists for breakfast at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington D.C. As I chased my chilled fruit salad around its crystal bowl, I remember thinking I was witnessing something extraordinary, the Secretary General of the United Nations had come to the capital of the Free World, and in that slow, soft, baritone of his, was trying to marshal the weight of world opinion and harness the moral authority of his office to stop the President of the United States from going to war. He was diplomatic, but unambiguous. He had come to make an intervention, and he failed.
"I think I did everything that a Secretary-General could have done or was humanly possible," he tells me over a cup of tea, nearly a decade later. He doesn't buy the idea that he should have been more assertive, more aggressive in opposition or even that he should have resigned in protest. The Bush Administration, he says, was "determined to go, the troops had been deployed, the summer heat was coming and they wanted to get it over before they missed that opportunity. In a way, the military logic was dictating the pace."
The full interview is available on the Times website.