Ask Blair early on

by Chris Ames

This afternoon, on Comment is Free, is a blog post I wrote following (the first part of) Thursday’s seminar, held by the Inquiry, on “The Evolution of International Policy towards Iraq 1990-2003”.

I argue that, following the seminar, the committee can be in no doubt that the purpose of the invasion, from both a UK and US perspective, was regime change. The piece ends with a suggestion for the Inquiry:

“It has said that people like Blair will appear later in its proceedings, after the issues on which he might be questioned have been clarified. But perhaps it should now cut to the chase. Rather than have various witnesses prevaricating, dissembling and contradicting each other for months, perhaps Blair should be asked early on: “Did you, from early 2002 or earlier, give George Bush an undertaking that if he went to war to remove Saddam you would be with him? And did you then find that Bush remained determined to go to war and feel that you had no other choice?”

“You never know. He might just admit it. We’ll hear no more about intelligence failures and weapons of mass destruction.”

I do think that the Inquiry could potentially save a lot of time if it challenged Blair at an early stage on the mass of evidence that suggests he agreed early on to go support any US-led invasion and subsequently built a case around weapons of mass destruction. One way or another, Blair may end up justifying the war, as others have done, on the grounds that it is a given of UK foreign policy that we must be as close as possible to the US.

Read the rest of the CiF piece here.


3 comments to this article

  1. Tertia

    on November 9, 2009 at 11:28 am -

    I agree with the opinion of asking Blair early on – before he had time to work on “B’liars” and get his spin doctors work overtime.

    Very good suggestion!

  2. Iain Paton (former RAF)

    on November 11, 2009 at 10:10 pm -

    I think Blair will need to be quizzed later on.

    There is probably only going to be one opportunity (as with Hutton) and there needs to be scrutiny of as much evidence as possible beforehand, rather than relying on where Hutton and Butler stopped. This means that Blair’s counsel may be able to see which way the wind is blowing, but it is unavoidable (and it’s a principle of justice that evidence should be made available to anyone ‘charged with an offence’…except under Labour government)

  3. Chris Ames

    on November 12, 2009 at 10:09 am -

    Iain, I’m not saying that Blair should not be quizzed later on as well, and there is no reason why he should not be quizzed twice. He is not PM any more. Neither will he be represented.
    What I am saying is that the Inquiry will by now have seen a mass of evidence that suggests that Blair and others chose to pursue regime change in early 2002, or earlier, when intelligence on Iraq’s wmd was said to be “poor”. If Blair acknowledges this, it will save a lot of time.