4 Jul 2010 Many of Blair’s former intimates would rather it were not any sort of deal. Each of the men bidding to become Labour’s next leader has discovered – just in time – that the Iraq war was a bit of a mistake and yet, somehow, nothing to do with them. David Miliband, for one, has urged that we all “move on”.
This is the same Miliband who, as Foreign Secretary, rose in the Commons to state categorically (and indignantly) that MI5 had not, and would never, involve itself in the torture of prisoners. He had better hope that the forthcoming Government inquiry into the issue is also happy to “move on”.
Still, one outrage at a time. Just as it was announced that Blair is to be feted for his humanitarian habits, the Chilcot inquiry arose last week from its post-election slumbers. More paperwork – David Cameron must have hesitated for all of two seconds – has been released. Its import is either tragic, hilarious, or both:
Remember how we were all dismissed as mad conspiracy nuts for ever believing that an august personage such as England’s Attorney-General could debase his high office by twisting every principle of international law just to suit Blair’s purpose? That was true.
Remember, also, how we used to be accused of puerile anti-Americanism for believing that Blair had set aside any duty to his country just for the chance to say, “Yes, George, right away, George”? It was all true. Seedy, sad, near inexplicable, but true.
As it transpires, the then Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, told the then Prime Minister the same thing over and over. The advice scarcely justified a fancy salary, given that it was founded on the basic principles of international law, but Goldsmith attempted, for a while, to do his bit.
To wit: you can start a legal war for one of three reasons. Either you are under attack, an attack is clearly imminent, or the UN has authorised your actions for the common good. Goldsmith even went to the bother of pointing out that Saddam’s alleged interest in weapons of mass destruction was not, of itself, good enough evidence of “imminence”. He also said, repeatedly, that UN resolution 1441 had failed to give explicit authorisation for bombing the entrails out of Iraq.
But there I go: conspiracies. The need to reach for extravagant and irrational explanations for mundane events; the refusal, deleterious to discourse, just to take things at face value. Then it turns out that common sense was right all along: Blair was lying, lying in plain sight, in full knowledge of the meaning of his perfect sentences, at every step in the adventure. A warrant for his arrest is long overdue.
Last week there surfaced another claim concerning Dr David Kelly, the man who knew all about Iraq and WMD. That individual ended his life, they said, because foolishly he encouraged a BBC journalist to question Downing Street’s claims. Now it is argued seriously that Kelly was physically incapable of cutting his own wrists.
More conspiracy nonsense? Considering what we know now about Blair’s war, I offer one piece of advice: don’t seek an opinion from Lord Goldsmith. Continued