I’d do it again – Blair on Iraq – what a chutzpah


I\’d do it again – Blair on Iraq – what a chutzpah

It feels as though today was the day that Chilcot team fell short. Time and again as they hit crucial areas of questioning they seemed to back off pursuing the point. So in terms of new facts that we have learned there is relatively little to report. What Tony Blair has done is give us a much fuller sense of his thinking and his motivation throughout. There was an agreement struck in the Texas ranch in April 2002, between Blair and Bush but it was not, says Tony Blair, an agreement to go to war. He made it clear that the agreement was to deal with Saddam and that included going down the diplomatic route. He did admit that if the diplomatic route failed he had made clear to the president that Britain would be with him. On the legalities Mr Blair outshone the Chilcot questioners and was clear that in his mind there was no legal ambiguity. The justification under UN Resolution 1441 to go to war if Saddam was in material breach was plain. On the post-war planning Tony Blair made some remarkable claims. He says humanitarian disaster was avoided and that it wasn’t possible to foresee that the extent to which al-Qaida and the influence of Iran would become the key factors in the instability and insurgency that followed. In fact Iran was a running theme in his evidence and Mr Blair took every opportunity to point the finger and almost chastise the western world for not being stronger on the Iranian question. Throughout his evidence, Mr Blair continually referred to “the 2010 Question” and it is clearly his new rationale for the war to ask what would Iraq have been like in 2010 had Saddam still been in place. In his view, we could potentially have seen Iran and Iraq in a nuclear arms race, with both sponsoring terrorism. So if anyone thought today would be cathartic it was not.   It is hard to see how the evidence will have changed any minds or have reapportioned any blame. Despite a somewhat nervy and stressed beginning the former prime minister has been in his element impassioned, steely, absolutely sure of his own opinion and giving no ground whatsoever.   Of course the Inquiry panel may yet bite back – it will only be when they report that we will know what they really think of his evidence and whether they believe it. So it is undoubtedly too soon to write off today but it is also hard not to feel that opportunities to get to the truth were squandered or missed.
Andrew Neather, his ex-speech writer, writes in the Evening Standard ” A political genius who lost us our moral authority.” “Tony Blair’s slipperiness and blind allegiance to the US leaves a toxic legacy.” The Evening Standard’s Editorial writes ” …his appearance before the Chilcot inquiry shows just what an articulate and convincing politician he is.” Articulate – yes but convincing liar – you have to decide in May 2010.

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Filed under Anglo-American Relationship, British Colonial Obligations, British Politics, Community cohesion, Corruption, Credible Electoral Governance, Credible Political Governance, Diversity, Equality, Global Credibility, Government Culpability, Government's Guile, Indo-American Relationship, Inter-Faith, Race Realtions [Amendment] Act 2000, Social Justice

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