- This article is part of the Between Iraq and a Hard Place alternate universe.
The Great anti-war march ends with Robin Cook's speech. Cook declares the government's policy illegal but does not resign. He reveals the contents of the government's legal advice. Clare Short declares her support, David Blunkett attacks Cook on BBC news that evening.
Blair appears on BBC to rebuff Cook's attack. He repeats the government's claims about WMD but suggests it's right to attack even if they don't exist. Cook and Short are sacked. All cabinet members express their 100% support for Blair, with two notable exceptions; Gordon Brown and Jack Straw.
The press back Cook. He is perhaps the most popular man in Britain. In the Guardian a Steve Bell cartoon sums up the mood: Robin cook as a gnome-like St George stands on top of a curled, pink poodle-dragon with Tony Blair's deranged face. Cook has stabbed the dragon in the throat with a fishing rod and blood drips from the wound. A dove flies from the splash where the blood hits the desert soil.
Straw states publicly that he too has reservations about the need for war, but that he regrets Cook breaking cabinet unity. He suggests that the upcoming vote on the war should not be whipped. Bush gives his support for Blair. This is not considered a great help by Blair's allies.
After weeks of speculation, a speech by Gordon Brown swings the commons debate on Iraq against the use of force without a UN resolution. George Bush suggests that the UK parliament lacks the courage shown by its leader. There is general rejoicing in Britain, which is seen in some quarters as a renewal of faith in politics. Evening Standard Headline "Brown Saves Democracy". Tories decline to table a confidence motion, acknowledging that the only priority of the government at that point must be extricating its suddenly non-combatant force from the gulf.
US bombers based in Diego Garcia subject Baghdad and Basra to a "Shock and Awe" bombing run. Thousands die, amongst them many civilians.
George Bush addresses the nation, advising the American people that they are at war and stating that "the seeds planted at ground zero are coming home to roost". He tells America that it is not alone, that "despite the fickleness of old allies, America has new friends. Uzbekistan, Poland, Mr Answer, President of Spain."
Al-jazeera broadcasts images from a civilian suburb of Basra where several hundred people were immolated by smart-bombs.
The softening up of Iraq continues. All Army barracks and facilities are legitimate targets. Unfortunately many of them are in close proximity to towns and villages. There are several accidental urbicides near the Kuwaiti border. These provoke outrage all over the world.
Australian special forces and U.S navy SEALS secure the oil terminal on the Al-faw peninsula, in the first ground action of the war.
US marines assault Um-Qasr, Iraq's only port, but are beaten back by heavy Iraqi resistance. Defensive positions are pulverized by air-power, in what will become the standard US tactic of the war. Many civilians die, the pictures are again beamed round the world.
George Bush rejoices at the first liberation of the war.