Alex Massie

Blair vs Chilcot vs his Critics

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I've a piece up over at the Daily Beast on Blair's appearance before Chilcot yesterday during which he showed, once again, that he's the last member of the War Party capable of explaining and selling the mission. All the others have fallen silent (Bush, Aznar) or been discredited (Cheney, Rumsfeld). Only Blair remains.

The build-up to Tony Blair's appearance on Friday before the Public Inquiry investigating the Iraq War was dominated, above all else, by two things: a palpable thirst to see the Prime Minister publicly humiliated and a nagging sense that Blair's testimony would be anti-climactic.

Both expectations proved ill-founded. Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center chanted "Tony Bliar! [sic] War Criminal!" but the old fox showed once again that he's the war's last surviving passionate and convincing salesman. Not only did he defend the decisions that were made; he'd do it all again today. This was vintage, bravura Blair: After six hours of questioning he remained defiant, unabashed, and proud.

...[His critics] insist Blair don a hair shirt and repent his sins. By doing he would not only cleanse himself, but absolve all those who have convinced themselves they opposed the war all along and now pretend that the public was duped into supporting an "illegal" war under false pretenses.

For history has been rewritten to the extent that few people in Britain today are prepared to admit they supported the war in 2003. The impression given by the BBC and other media outlets is that 90 percent of the public were opposed to intervention when, in fact, a majority supported the invasion and liberation of Iraq.

Much, then, has been made of the legal basis for the war and the fact that the Attorney General, the government's senior lawyer, changed his mind on the legal grounds for supporting the war, declaring that Saddam's "material breach" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 did in fact provide a legal basis for British involvement in the war.

But the failure to achieve a second, explicit, U.N. resolution was a political problem, not a legal obstacle. Few of the anti-war movement care to recall that the Kosovan War was, if anything, predicated upon a flimsier legal case than the Iraqi intervention.

Whole thing here.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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