Friday, 29 January 2010

Tony Blair - sorry seems to be hardest word


I feel deeply sorry for those bereaved parents at the Iraq inquiry yesterday both inside the hearing – who for the most part maintained a quiet dignity - and those protesting outside.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair – gung-ho advocate of the 2003 conflict – who gave evidence for six hours failed to make time to express regret at their loss. They must have gone away even more convinced their children had given their lives to further politicians’ dubious aims in pursuit of an illegal war.
Rather Blair appeared keen to make the events leading to the Iraq escapade a rehearsal for a future attack on Iran.
Blair wriggled when he was obliged to admit that the threat from Saddam Hussein since 9/11 hadn’t grown - but he insisted that the perception of the danger presented by the Iraqi dictator had.
It was, of course, futile to hope that the ex-Labour leader who is currently employed as a millionaire international adviser would shed any light on the key question - why was he signed up to supporting George W. Bush in removing Saddam Hussein by any means almost from the attack on the Twin Towers. The destruction of the World Trade Centre was one horror that couldn’t be laid at the Iraqi tyrant’s doorstep.
The aim of the inquiry is to learn the lessons of the Iraq war and not condemn the guilty. This is a pity because Blair would not have been spared the relatively easy ride he enjoyed yesterday.
His response to the question about his television interview with Fern Britton last year, for example, would not have satisfied a court of law. He insisted that he had never meant to suggest that he would have invaded Iraq even if it were shown there were no weapons of mass destruction. Yet this was the widespread impression given at the time. “I did not use the words regime change,” he insisted. He didn’t have to.
To Britton’s question: “If you had known there were no WMDs, would you have still gone on?” Blair replied, “I would have still thought it right to remove him (Saddam).” As by way of some bizarre excuse he added, “I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat.”

He is right that the world is safer for the overthrow of Saddam but there were, as he admitted, more dangerous despots. Regime change is supposed to be illegal under international law. But Iraq looked an easy number, which was why there weren't enough troops given to the plan nor attention to post-war planning. These errors were paid in blood.

Tony Blair may be feted still in the US but the Iraq war is likely to haunt him forever in the eyes of his own people.

4 comments:

  1. Yes Grapefruit Crazy.This is Jaffa.I agree with you re the bereaved parents.Given that they had been allowed into the proceedings, then Tony Blair who always has his wits about him and who managed to use the proceedings to put out some of his own messages should have also had his wits about him re the bereaved. Something like an addition to his comments about the Iraqui babies as follows....that their[the British soldiers'] deaths will have not been in vain because they have helped save thousands of innocent civilians who on past experience would have been tortured and executed by the murderous Baathist regime over many years to come.

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  2. Thank you Jaffa, again. I agree that Blair who doesn't blink without trying it out on a focus group first will come to regret cold shouldering the parents. GC

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  3. Jaffa replies, not necesarily "cold shouldering"--they were not part of the enquiry itself merely in the audience so perhaps he felt he could not direct them directly. But obliquely he could have had some words of comfort for them.

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  4. Blair was on TV again today urging an orderly transition to democracy for Egypt. Time tempers everything. It is all over now for Western adventures into Arab lands. Very difficult to support dictatorships whilst urging change on them.

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What do you think? GC