Friday, January 29, 2010

Tony's Testimony on Iraq

Tony Blair is testifying before the Chilcot inquiry today about the decision to go to war with Iraq. Here are some notes from the BBC report:
Mr Blair used the morning session to mount an impassioned defence of the decision to go to war, telling the inquiry: "This isn't about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception.

"It's a decision. And the decision I had to take was, given Saddam's history, given his use of chemical weapons, given the over one million people whose deaths he had caused, given 10 years of breaking UN resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons programmes or is that a risk that it would be irresponsible to take?"

Blair seems to be painting Saddam as a future threat, moving away from his earlier claims about the imminent threat of an attack at 45 minutes notice:
Sometimes it is important not to ask the "March 2003 question" but the "2010 question", said Mr Blair, arguing that if Saddam had been left in power the UK and its allies would have "lost our nerve" to act.

He also stuck to his claims about the Iraqi threat, despite evidence that this was largely a fantasy:
Mr Blair insisted that, on the basis of the intelligence available at the time, he stood by his claim at the time that it was "beyond doubt" Iraq was continuing to develop its weapons capability.
There are some contradictory remarks as well:
Mr Blair also denied he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, as he appeared to suggest last year in a BBC interview with Fern Brittan.
He said his position had not changed, despite what reports of the interview had suggested.

Blair also makes what appears to be a new claim or at least a more nuanced one: Mr Blair was at pains to point out that he believed weapons of mass destruction and regime change could not be treated as separate issues but were "conjoined".

He said "brutal and oppressive" regimes with WMD were a "bigger threat" than a benign states with WMD.

So, is regime change acceptable when a brutal government possesses WMD? Imagine the number of countries that would qualify for regime change under that standard!
Expect more fireworks this afternoon.