Back in 2003, I was in favour of the Iraq war and I remain convinced we did the right thing. Occasionally I might have said I was against it, but usually that was just to avoid an argument or because I was agreeing with an attractive girl. Shallow? There are bird baths out there with more depth.
It was, I believe, inevitable. Certainly it would’ve happened if we’d had a Tory government; their position at the time was that the government was being too cautious! Under Gore; yes, it would probably have been conducted more competently but it still would’ve happened. And if we’d had a Liberal government... well, I’m sure that once Charles Kennedy found himself sitting at that desk, and had sobered up, he would’ve realised how limited his options were.
I had a problem with the anti-war marches. They seemed to be a coalition of people who felt that either a) war was bad thing, per se or b) that George Bush was a bad thing, per se or c) that although wars aren’t intrinsically bad, this one was all about ‘oil’ and that ‘Tony B Liar’ had lied to us, and anyway there are worse people in the world we should be fighting against. As though we should be working down a list (because the world really is that simple). The reasoning was contradictory; people were protesting that it was wrong to go to war in support of a resolution made by the United Nations.
But I support the UN. I know enough history to know that it was a reluctance to intervene which led to the collapse of the League of Nations. And besides, if you have an evil dictator refusing to let inspectors into his cupboard marked ‘WMD’, you’re going to suspect he’s got something in the cupboard. Even if he hasn’t. And the alternative – the UK and USA issuing ultimatums only to back down at the last minute – wouldn’t just have been what Saddam wanted; it would’ve made the world we live in today a much more dangerous place.
You may disagree. Please do.
One last thought, though. Lots of people at the time, and forever since, have said that Tony Blair lied to us, that he claimed that Iraq was ’45 minutes’ away from launching an attack on Britain with Weapons of Mass Destruction.
But the odd thing is, if he had said this in a speech to parliament, don’t you think they’d be wheeling out that clip all the time? And yet they don’t, and the reason is because Tony never said this. All he did was put his name to a report that said Saddam could launch an attack on the Shia muslims at 45 minutes’ notice. Which... er... was the truth.
The ’45 minutes’ attack on Britain nonsense was a piece of misreporting by The Sun newspaper in 2002. So anyone who says Tony ‘lied’ is basically saying that they usually believe that whatever is reported on the front page of The Sun is the unadulterated truth and hasn’t been distorted or exaggerated in any way. And that if a newspaper misreports somebody’s words, then it is the responsibility of the person who was misreported and not the newspaper.
A hundred thousand people in Trafalgar Square because, due to a headline in the massively reliable newspaper The Sun, they’d got themselves all worked up about ‘lies’ which never existed.
But the main reason why I had a problem with anti-war movement was that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. He was killing his own people. Presented with the opportunity to stop that, we should. And we did. We should be proud.