I really didn't want to get too caught up in Chilcot but I ended up listening to Blair all day on the radio at work..it was pretty dull, let's be honest, but I have a pretty clear image in my mind that I wish to share
Firstly, it seems clear after Sept 11th that Blair and Bush wanted rid of Saddam, despite there being no credible link between the two (that remains a rather bizarre, unanswered connection) - Blair seems to have shifted to the 'regime change' argument the yanks supported since 1998
The British would never accept regime change as a legal argument, unlike the Americans, therefore there needed to be an actual threat - to the Americans the regime is a valid threat in itself, as a yank advisor just pointed out on Newsnight, but the British and the UN would disagree
So Blair felt justified in removing Saddam - this is what he said all day, but the fact remained that the argument presented to us was WMD, this turned out to be false - to me this is crucial, in fact it's the only point that matters
Yes, Blair has to make decisions, and frankly had he supported regime change and said that in 2002/3 then I wouldn't have a problem, but the fact is he used the threat of WMD as the main argument, not the great regime change he talks about now - he stood up in parliament and said '45 minutes' and that the intelligence was 'beyond doubt'
Again, if the intelligence was simply wrong and we were all mistaken, fair enough - but it turns out that intelligence was at the time 'patchy and sporadic', and when we combine that with the testimony of Hans Blix, who never finished the inspection, and the fact that nobody really seems to have been keen on this action but 'president' Blair it seems increasingly obvious that WMD was a crock, and the intelligence simply wasn't strong enough for Blair to use as an excuse - he wanted regime change, he used a false argument, written by Alastair Campbell, quickly exposed by Andrew Gilligan
That's the issue here - we were taken to war on false pretences, for Blair to constantly say now 'Saddam's gone, we're better off' is completely beside the point, that wasn't why Parliament was asked to go to war
The only question that needs asking is did he genuinely believe in that so-called 'sexed up' dossier, or were we being deliberately misled to suit his ends?
I'm afraid Chilcot will not determine this, I doubt anyone ever will, but I do hope this is the end of over seven years of infernal debate about this - we have a pretty clear picture that Blair acted almost alone in his support of the US, with little cabinet or legal support, nor very good intelligence, and it seems increasingly likely that Parliament was indeed misled to remove Saddam - that's probably the best we'll ever get from this, if you don't believe the ends justifies the means then you're argument cannot be dismissed as ravings, you were right - I hope people can accept a moral victory as I think it seems pretty clear to most of us that we were indeed lied to and that we've been right from the start
But you're dreaming if you want to see him punished