David Blackburn

Blair on the rack

Blair on the rack
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Not so good for John Rentoul: it’s WMD time and Blair’s body language spoke volumes. His movements were almost involuntary. The glasses were on and off, the brow furrowed, the head wagged and jagged in the manner of an amphetamine junky going cold turkey, and the hands were more intrusive than Andrew Marr’s. In round one, Blair was as languid as Dirk Bogarde; he was more like Daniel Day-Lewis second time round.

That said, the line holds. As Iain Martin notes, it is extraordinary that Blair “didn’t focus a great deal” on the intelligence he received. But he argued, I think fairly, that Hussein’s deliberate obstruction of Blix was suspicious, and that “it at least suggested that he had the potential to be a threat and the intent” to re-start his WMD programme. Hussein’s non-compliance with 1441 and the inspectorate gives Blair an escape route for the fact that much of the intelligence upon which his case was based was bogus, and he claims not to have scrutinised it. Blair was also very scathing of Blix’s pusillanimous conduct with Hussein, the only stage at which Blair looked comfortable, and with good reason - Blix was contemptible.

The Former PM stated he had to take a decision on the basis that the intelligence was correct; that required action in March without a second Resolution. Freedman asked Blair about his efforts to secure a second Resolution. This line of questioning, though very pertinent in terms of chronology and intent, overlooks Sir Christopher Meyer’s evidence that the military operation was scheduled precisely to 10 March 2003; though there was one slight delay, after which the US weren’t for waiting. Therefore, there was little chance of Blix being able to complete an inspection under a second Resolution even in the unlikely event of Saddam complying with it, or the international community believing the findings. In other words, an invasion in March was inevitable, which explains why the government were so determined to get Goldsmith to see the light and agree that military action was legal without a second resolution in early February.