We will learn nothing if we just villify Blair and Campbell

First of all apologies for posting so late on this – but being on a mates stag-do meant that I was incapable until now!

As I am sure most of the world is aware Alistair Campbell suffered a rare ‘loss of composure’ moment on the Andrew Marr show yesterday (see below). Whilst I am sure it made some people happy to see him in such discomfort, it just gave me a sense of unease.

What do we learn and what does it say about us as a society when all we want to do is pin the blame on someone and move on to the next moral outrage? I was against the Iraq war from the outset – I never truly believed that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a clear and present danger to the UK or its allies (though there seems little doubt that it was exactly that it you were a Kurd, the wrong type of Muslim or just someone who dared to publically speak out against his regime). However, I wasn’t in charge of the country – Blair was. He saw it differently, he argued his case, won support in Cabinet, within both the Labour Party and the Conservative party as well as within at least half of the UK population at the time. (If people remember back to the Winter of 2002/2003 the majority of polls were showing an almost 50/50 split in terms of support for any Iraqi invasion.) To just blot-out the facts of this and re-write history so we can have the ‘bad guys’ in one corner and the rest of us good guys in the other is just plain wrong – and of no use if we want to stop an unjust war happening again.

We need to spend less time putting our senior politicians on a pedestal and then being shocked when it turns out they are fallible as the rest of us. Despite what most people think, the majority of politicians are honourable people who go into public service to try to do good. Despite what is touted in some areas of the mainstream press and from intellectually lazy commentators Prime Ministers don’t want to go to war – it costs a fortune, it detracts from domestic policy and, as we have seen in Blairs case, it destroys any hope of a decent legacy – besides which, as I have just said they go into politics to make things better, not worse.

What is needed now is a dispassionate assessment of what happened in the lead up to the war, just as the Chilcot inquiry is trying to achieve. It is the lessons we can learn I am interested in, not the victimisation of those who offered a new dawn, but ended up being just as fallible of us.

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One comment

  1. A reasonable and reasoned response – but here’s what bothers me. I could not and still can’t understand why it happened.

    Intelligence reported fairly clearly that militarily, Saddam was not a threat – although no. 10 tried it’s best to convince us otherwise.

    Yes, he gassed 5000+ Kurds, but is entering into a long-term war that has so far killed over 100,000 people really an appropriate response? I didn’t see anyone queueing up to invade the US after Union Carbide gassed 5000 Indians.

    For decades, Saddam had played friend to the West because Saddam’s Iraq was the most secular of all the muslim nations in the area. Yet after 9/11 he was cast in the role of a Bin Laden henchman – despite the fact that the paid had never met, Bin Laden would have regarded Saddam as a secularist traitor to the faith, and Al-Quaida were operating out of a different region.

    I can’t believe that Blair actually believed that Saddam constituted a real threat having now seen the evidence he was acting on. He isn’t that stupid. He also isn’t stupid enough to think that you could just march in, remove the dictator, put a ‘freindly’ in power, and go home.

    I’d love to make out that it’s all a huge oil conspiracy run by the evil Bush and his cronies, but that doesn’t really ring true either.

    I still have NO IDEA what we are doing there or what we hope to achieve.

    I will take a lesson home though as you suggest. Greater checks on US and UK military power.

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