Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 27 April 2005

Blair and the war in Iraq

Over the weekend the legality and the justification for the participation of the UK in the war to oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq has been brought up as their latest pre-election campaigning stance by the LibDems, followed by the Conservatives and the SNP/Plaid Cymru.

My position on this remains broadly what it has been for quite a long time - since well before the start of the military operations, in fact - that it was an evil necessity to remove the brute Saddam Hussein from power. As I wrote in July 2004 (click here for full post) when the Butler Report was published:

"I have always believed that the main justification for invading Iraq was 'regime change'. Of course the Labour government could not say this, whatever its senior members may privately have believed (and I have no personal knowledge to help me decide), because such a stance would have been political suicide within the wider Labour party and in the country as a whole. The only way the Labour government could obtain political support for its policy of participating with the US in the invasion of Iraq was to stress a belief that Iraq represented a danger beyond its borders, hence the 'deploy within 45 minutes' claim amongst others.

"So far as I am concerned, this allowed the operation to go ahead and lead to Saddam Hussein being 'taken out' and that is all that I cared about. The fact that this might come back to haunt Tony Blair and his government was, and is, quite immaterial to me - I am no fan of him or his party, but I am quite happy to acquiesce in a policy which will achieve objectives I believe are valid if the only price to be paid is potential political oblivion for Tony Blair. Think 'useful idiots'."

If Blair in due course is ousted, in one way or the other, because of his firm support for, and initiation of our participation in, the war then this is a small price to pay. I dislike Blair, the Labour Party and most of what it stands for, but I am very happy to acknowledge that on this one matter Blair acted completely as I would have wished. It is disappointing, yes, that no WMD have been discovered, but as that was never what I believed to be the main justification for the war I cannot become too overly excited about it. When members of other political parties (LibDems Charles Kennedy or Menzies Campbell, for example) state that the war was not only illegal [which it might have been, but frankly I don't care, so don't bother coming back to that, so far as I am concerned!] but immoral then one can see just how opprtunist they are. They cannot escape from the grim conclusion that they would have preferred to leave Saddam Hussien in power and the Iraqi people to continue to suffer - Menzies Campbell has just been on the BBC Scotland lunchtime news here trying to postulate that "well you can't be sure of that, because the regime was crumbling" - frankly this kind of refusal to face up squarely to the practical consequences of the policies advocated by his Party disgusts me; the regime may have been crumbling, but I reckon it would have limped along for several more years if permitted to do so, specially as the regime was widely believed (and now known) to have diverted large portions of the 'oil for food' revenues for military and other government purposes theoretically forbidden under the UN sanctions regime.

Of course, however strongly I feel about this there is no way I will vote 'Labour', but the events of the past few days have cured me of any glimmer of thought that I might vote LibDem or SNP. I feel I might as well just abstain, or vote for the Publican Party (who have a candidate here) - although I am not a pub-goer, nor have I ever smoked, they at least seem like a harmless enough bunch. Now, much more important matters beckon me - lunch, for example.

UPDATE: (Wednesday 27APR05 21.55 BST) Not that it makes any difference to how I feel about the necessity for military action being required to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, it seems that the legal advice Mr Blair received from Attorney General Lord Goldsmith may have been considerably more equivocal than the public has, until now, been led to believe.

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