So – Tony’s begun the final stretch of his long goodbye. Shed a tear and forgive him for he only did what he thought was right seems to be his message. I guess – in the end – that’s the get out of jail free card he wants to play – but I am not sure that Iraq, above all other issues, can be put away so easily.
Of course, it’s better waging war if you think it’s the right thing to do than waging war if you think it’s wrong – but that’s not really the issue. So – why did we go to war in Iraq? We can never crawl into his head to find out for sure, but my guess would be a mix of the following:
- the difficulties of getting armed intervention working in the former Yugoslavia made him (wrongly) see the US as being the only effective international force for intervention
- he believed disagreeing with George W Bush wouldn’t stop him, but agreeing with him would give the UK some influence and control over what happened (largely wrong again I think)
- he genuinely thought it was the right thing to do – and it became almost a crusade for him (though the religious overtones of that word shouldn’t be latched on to too much – after all armed intervention in the former Yugoslavia was largely on behalf of Muslims to protect them)
- he judged that Saddam’s fall would bring peace and stability to Iraq
And as for weapons of mass destruction – did he really believe Iraq had them and sincerely convinced himself of the case? Or did he deliberately set out to make a case, exaggeration and distorting it knowingly in order to get the votes in Parliament and the support outside? Plenty of ink has already been spilled on that question and I don’t think today’s speech will have changed people’s views one way or the other.
Anyway, I digress. Of course – all the media focus is was he good or was he bad. Ten years of Prime Ministership has to deliver both good and bad. Northern Ireland – good. Iraq – bad. The obvious is easy.
My own main beef with Tony (outside of illegal wars) is that he went a step further than Thatcher. Thatcher is the reason I went into politics. I couldn’t stand the selfishness she created by promoting and encouraging a grasping ‘me’ society – and negating the common good. Blair has gone further down the road by delivering permission to dodge and spin to get what you want. Truth doesn’t matter – only getting what you yourself wants matters. It’s a sad old world – ain’t it?