I will start off this post by saying that Tony Blair got it right. He got it right in deciding to go to war and he got it right yesterday at the Chillcot Inquiry.
Did everything go 100% to plan in Iraq? No. Does anything? No.
So thank you Tony Blair. Many people expected (and demanded) that you show up, explain what you did, say sorry and piss off. Had you done that, it would have set a precedent that if there is a great swathe of (mostly) irrational feeling/anger and ill-informed-oppposition, then the mob must have its way. The number of journalists, protestors, grieving family members and all-round rabble-rousers who were salivating at the prospect of Tony Blair, tail between his legs saying "You know what, you're right. I signed a deal in blood with Bush, I made up the 45 minute claim all on my own and by the way, we did it for oil". Some people need an outlet for their grief and some people just need someone to hate. Blair fits the bill for a lot of people in this, but wrongly so.
Every war, and I do mean EVERY WAR, has had some people who believe it is illegal, or unjust, or not morally sound and Iraq was/is no different. As Blair said yesterday, it was a "divisive" issue and being in his job, he had to make a decision to pull the trigger or walk away. Had he walked away, and left Saddam to it, there would also have been protests from Human Rights organisations saying "you must do something for the Iraqi people" as there had been for years before.
His job was looking at the evidence that was presented to him and judging the situation based on that. Tony Blair wasn't on the front line looking for WMDs and providing intelligence reports. He was presented with reports that said "He's got them". The British Prime Minister's job is to protect the people of the UK but also, as a big player on the world stage, our country has a morale obligation to help out elsewhere where we see injustice, both through diplomatic routes, trade embargoes and, where necessary, military intervention and the day we don't see that as our role, then we are less of a country and less as people than we think.
Tony Blair took the decision to invade and topple Saddam. Why?
Because if he hadn't;
- more people would have been killed, tortured and massively oppressed
- Saddam would still be trying to obtain biological weapons and WMDs
- the terrorist threat, both in the short and long terms, would be higher
- We, as a country, would have stood by and averted our eyes to people who needed our help and whom we could help.
Families who have lost loved-ones in the conflict will no doubt be grieving but that is the risk of signing up to the military. The men and women that take on this role are brave commendable people who understand the risks. A good friend has recently joined the Marines and will be posted to Afghanistan shortly. Am I happy about it? No. But this is what he wants to do and he understands that he might never come back. Most members of the miltary I speak to understand why they signed up, why they are in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I think that the most important of Tony Blair's submission yesterday, which has been printed completely out of context by the Times to help spin it's atrocious article, is
"And that in time to come, if Iraq becomes, as I hope and believe that it will, the country that it's people want to it to be, then we can look back - in particular our armed forces can look back - with an immense sense of pride and achievement in what they did."
Thank you Tony Blair, for being as clear, honest and strong in your beliefs now as you were as Prime Minister.