Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tony Blair on Iraq and what he should have done

In 2003 I was asked to take part in a debate at London University on the prospect of a war in Iraq. It had been arranged by the university Islamic Students' Society and I was on a panel, representing the case for war. Now, if you are going to take part in such an event you try and prepare, and so I researched the case for war fairly thoroughly. In particular, I looked into the issue of WMDs, and I could find no compelling evidence whatsoever. It was not as if there wasn't a lot of material on the subject available, including authoritative documents from the UN weapons inspectorate, but much as I looked, no WMDs. I don't lie in political debates, so I knew I would have to base my arguments on other things, and Saddam Hussein's regime provided no shortage of these. Hang on though, if an amateur like me could figure this out, then what excuse are MPs, journalists and MI6 running with for not doing the same?

Tony Blair probably knew that there were no WMDs, but he didn't really care, he thought that Saddam Hussein had to go and the rest was what was the best argument to deploy at the time. That he conned his country and his party doesn't seem to bother him at all. This is where we are different I suppose. I couldn't lie for 2 hours to a few hundred people. Tony Blair could lie to his country for months and years.

It didn't have to be that way, because there were pretty convincing arguments for war that had nothing to do with WMDs. I know, because I made them to a pretty sceptical audience one winter night, back when we all believed that a British government had at least a baseline of honesty.

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