I actually ‘won’ a ticket for the afternoon session. I got excited when it arrived in the post only to find on closer inspection that it wasn’t for the main room, but a ticket for the viewing gallery. i.e. the chance to watch it next door on a big screen. I decided to save the five hour return journey and put my feet up and watch it on Sky.
I’m prepared to accept his word on a couple of points (thousands aren’t!):
- He genuinely believed that Saddam had WMD.
- He genuinely believed he was acting in the best interests of the UK.
I also totally get his point that at the end of the day he had to make a judgement, and he did.
What bothers me though is the lack of recognition anywhere that those beliefs and that judgement, although sincere, look to have been wrong. It mystifies me that he kept trying to get the panel to ‘ask the 2010 question, not the 2003 question’. The 2010 question he wanted asking was about a ‘hypothetical world’ where Saddam had WMD. The 2010 question we are all asking is the real world question where Saddam did not have WMD.
The thing that really, really bothers me though is this: When you are a leader, yes, you have to make judgements. You make judgements (hopefully) on data more than instinct. In national security issues the data you rely on for the judgement calls is ‘intelligence’. Let’s say that the Inquiry decides to cut Blair some slack and say that given the intelligence he was given at the time, the call was reasonable. He had to trust the intelligence that proved wrong. If I was Blair my fury with intelligence services would know no bounds. For the hundreds of millions of pounds we spend on our intelligence they got something we had been on the case of for over a decade dreadfully wrong. The consequences of their failure was:
- Millions (billions?) spent on a war
- Huge loss of life of Iraqi Civilians
- Significant loss of life from our own armed forces
- Distraction from the task at hand in Afghanistan
- Removal of the one regional counter-weight to the ambitions of Iran
- The entire quartermaster stores of the Iraqi army passing into hostile militias to be used god knows where
- The radicalisation of certain British youth introducing a new domestic front for terror
But on the plus side we did get Saddam. Not sure the debit and credits work in our favour though.
So given the consequences of this judgement, I am baffled that the chap who provided the data to the PM from which he made his judgement, John Scarlett – instead of getting hung out to dry – gets promoted. As with Goldsmith the questioners gave Blair a chance to hang some of the blame on them and he loyally stuck up for them. The mind boggles.
Anyway, I stand by my predications as to the Inquiry’s findings: HERE