Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blair states the bleeding obvious - newspapers get excited

Many of the papers this morning seem to be excited by a BBC interview with Tony Blair by Fern Brittan in which Blair essentially says that he would have still taken Britain into Iraq even if he knew Saddam Hussein had no WMD, as he would have just had to use a different argument. Blair said,
"I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat."
Why precisely this is somehow a shock I will never know. I've often said in posts and comments here that the WMD line was just the chosen argument, whilst the overall rationale was wider. It's also been documented for some time in Peter Stothard's Thirty Days: A month at the Heart of Blair's War, which I'll post again in case you've not seen it before.

"Has Tony Blair become some sort of reckless crusader over Iraq? He thinks not. In September 2002 his analysis of relations between Washington, London and Baghdad was clear and cold. It rested on six essential points to which he and his aides would regularly return:
  • Saddam Hussein's past aggression, present support for terrorism and future ambitions made him a clear threat to his enemies. He was not the only threat, but he was a threat nevertheless.
  • The US and Britain were among his enemies.
  • The people of the US, still angered by the September 11 attacks, still sensing unfinished business from the first Gulf war 12 years before, would support a war on Iraq.
  • Gulf war 2 - President George W Bush v Saddam Hussein - would happen whatever anyone else said or did.
  • The people of Britain, continental Europe and most of the rest of the world would not even begin to support a war unless they had a say in it through the UN.
  • It would be more damaging to long term world peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support to do so.
These six points - when scribbled on the back of an envelope or set out on a printed page - are not exceptional. What is exceptional is the certainty required to follow their logic. It is Tony Blair's certainty that has been the surprise for many Labour MPs."
People may not like it, they may wish to bang on about illegality*, but given Blair's form in office for putting the British military into theatre for global interventionist reasons, should anyone really be surprised about what he has now said?

* Funny how so few bang on about Kosovo being illegal.

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