February 02, 2010

Tony Blair Was Right

As our British friends are well aware, the UK has recently seen the Chilcot Commission hearings, meant to investigate " how the decision to invade Iraq was made, and consider the lessons learned."

The Iraq war has been long and terrible. The former PM has many enemies on the left and many on the right. They all wanted Blair to back down, to apologize, to be humbled in some way. Except Blair did not go along with the script

From an opinion piece in Monday's Wall St Journal: Mr. Blair offered a ringing defense of the decision to invade Iraq, and a very different set of lessons for the present. "This isn't about a lie, or a conspiracy, or a deceit, or a deception. It is a decision," Mr. Blair told a packed room that included relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq. "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 U.N. resolutions, could we take the risk of this man reconstituting his weapons program?"

The article goes on to say Every Western country, including those opposed to the war, believed Saddam had WMD, a fact forgotten by many now, but which was the essential basis on which any leader had to make decisions at the time.

Blair adds "What we now know is that he [Saddam] retained the intent and the intellectual know-how to restart a nuclear and a chemical weapons program when the inspectors were out and the sanctions changed, which they were going to do. . . . "Today we would be facing a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran, competing both on nuclear weapons capability and competing more importantly perhaps than anything else . . . in respect of support of terrorist groups. . . . If I am asked whether I believe we are safer, more secure, that Iraq is better, that our own security is better, with Saddam and his two sons out of office and out of power, I believe indeed we are.". And of course, Mr. Blair is correct.

It's been seven years since the Iraq war started, a war that began as a cakewalk, and which unfolded as a moral horror, one compared with Vietnam. Despite recent sectarian atrocities , things have steadily gotten better . A civil resolution is not unthinkable, not now.
But I'm not here to convince anyone that the war was correct - I think that not deposing Saddam would have led to a vastly greater horror ,but probably most here disagree and that is fine.

I only ask you to reconsider something that I've said on these pages many times. That the oft-repeated cliche that Blair was " Bush's poodle " was never accurate. It was always a wicked, untrue slander.

Tony Blair was a strong advocate of coming to terms with Saddam's Iraq before 9/11 and before Bush even took his oath of office. He was at least a co author of the move for regime change in Baghdad, and as national leaders went he may have been its father.

I don't care to speak of his performance on other matters - but on Iraq, Blair continues to exemplify a political courage and a clarity of thought rare in any time. A tip of the hat to Mr. Tony Blair, who continues to speak the truth on Iraq.

And may God bless the men and women who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the money essay!!