Iraq and Tony Blair – the gift of hindsight
As I write the stenographers and checkers are still grappling with the transcript of today’s marathon session (which, when completed, will appear here). But surely one of the most-repeated words both in Tony Blair’s questioning and in his replies was ‘hindsight.’
With the benefit of hindsight. Speaking in hindsight. Would one change that in hindsight?
That same hindsight should have prepared Inquiry-watchers not to expect any truly dramatic twists or turns today. Mr.Blair has had not just one previous witness session but almost eight years to confirm for himself why (in his mind at the very least) the actions that he and President Bush embarked on were the right ones.
One by one the trapdoors apparently primed by recent Inquiry disclosures (such as this one) failed to fly open.
If the Attorney General failed to back military action from the off it was only because he didn’t understand the negotiating history. Yes, perhaps he should have been brought on-board earlier – but only in hindsight, of course.
Yes, his still-classified notes to George Bush had promised support against Saddam – but they also included warnings about ‘the difficulties.’ And no, he said, he certainly never wrote the oft-quoted “You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I’m with you.”
Some may judge that Mr Blair displayed an excess of chutzpah in presuming to lecture successor Prime Ministers on how run their affairs (although, judging by today’s other events, at least one of them followed his lead in choosing controversial communications directors).
Equally surprising was the zeal with which he reopened his war of words against Iran, given the context and setting within in which he was doing so. Negative, destabilizing, supportive of terrorist groups – not so very different one might say from the language used in those pre-war dossiers.
As happened last time round the final word went to the bereaved. Wherever one ‘sits’ on the Iraq War, however one feels that history should treat today’s witness, the disembodied women’s voices lamenting that Mr Blair’s tribute to the fallen came “too late,” “too late” will stay with those who heard them long after Chilcot finally reports.