More on this to follow, but as expected, Tony Blair denied any wrong doing whatsoever in the lead up to the UK’s illegal war with Iraq, maintaining that Saddam ‘was a menace’ and needed removing.
Blair spoke at the Chilcot inquiry, a hotly anticipated showdown that has no legal means of punishing the former Prime Minister, but could cast a shadow on his legacy.
“The decision I took – and frankly would take again – was if there was
any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we
should stop him”
Reports on the inquiry itself have been scathing, and many have been unimpressed with the questioning, particularly of Blair. Writes Seamus Milne of the Guardian:
Once again, the chance to hold Tony Blair to account is being
squandered by questioning that has has ranged from the feeble to the
shamefully complicit. Faced with such embarrassing cosiness (Lawrence
Freedman plumbed the lowest depths), the former prime minister quickly
overcame his initial nervousness. Far from conceding any ground over
the aggression against Iraq, he repeatedly argued that the same
“calculus of risk” now demanded similar action against Iran. The fact
that he remains the Quartet’s man in the Middle East should be cause
for the deepest alarm.
Blair’s self deception is so deep that he has convinced himself of his own sincerity, and probably genuinely believes he made an honest, well informed choice in going to war with Iraq. The problem is, it wasn’t a choice he had to make. Just because Bush had decided to take Saddam out didn’t mean the UK had to go along with it. Preemptive wars are wars of choice, and are explicitly illegal under international law.
It would be like saying to a jury, ‘My neighbor may or may not have had a gun hidden in is house, and I had a choice as to whether to shoot him or not, and in the end, I shot him’. It would be laughed out of every court in the country, but not apparently, when dealing with Prime Ministers or Presidents or rich Western nations.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.