Monday, January 18, 2010

I was against Iraq war before I backed it to the hilt, says Straw

That is pretty much the import of a letter - leaked by whom one wonders? - in which it emerges that he told Tony Blair about all sorts of misgivings about the venture that he somehow managed to still in public.

Of course, the bare Sunday Times report does not really convey the full extent of the legalistic arse-covering and evasive circumlocutions involved; it is language contorted in an attempt to make sure his arse is covered at all times. You can read it in full, if you can bear it. Otherwise here's a taster:

(i) regime change per se is no justification for military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a goal. Of course, we may want credibly to assert that regime change is an essential part of the strategy by which we have to achieve our ends — that of the elimination of Iraq’s WMD capacity; but the latter has to be the goal;

Yes, Jack. But what do you think? Is it a good idea or not to attack? Right or wrong? A noble cause or a squalid piece of aggression? You're foreign secretary after all, surely you wouldn't want your name associated with something that you fear is illegal and could backfire disastrously? No?

I should say at this point that if any of you feel like launching into a passionate screed about the rights or wrongs of the invasion of Iraq nearly seven years ago, please don't do it here. There's no shortage of places on the web where you can do that.

However, one would like to think that whoever leaked this letter did so to make Straw look bad; the idea that he (or his "friends") might have done so in the expectation that he might get credit for weakly, evasively opposing something he later actively supported would be an insult to the intelligence.

Still, let's wait and see whether Gordon Brown tries the "I had no idea this was going to happen and if I had done I would have stopped it even though I wrote the cheques for it" defence when he eventually gives evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. It would not wholly surprise were he to do so.

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Blogger Vincent said...

I hope the enquiry and the media don't lose their heads over this. It isn't about wanting the guilty to have their heads sliced off and stuck on spikes for all to see. I have the primitive desire to see Blair arraigned for war crimes, and I'm not the only one, but I don't think that should be the point of the enquiry.

So what is the point? It ought to put on trial the politics of deception. So the more Campbell, Hoon, Straw, Powell, Blair & co demonstrate the arts of spin in defending themselves, the more the real issue is brought to prominence, even though they may think they are sweeping stuff under the carpet.

If the reasons they put forward now for going to war are different from the reasons they put forward then, this is an indictment of the supposed checks and balances on Government. Going to war should of course be above party politics. The House of Commons I believe treated it that way at the time.

If we are under imminent attack from a foreign power, then yes, that's when we need Government to act swiftly and decisively without losing too much time consulting Parliament.

If on the other hand our leaders soberly decide that it is "a good idea" to invade another country and topple its leader, then the thoughts, arguments, diplomatic steps, consultations, debates in Parliament and so on should have been thoroughly and neutrally recorded for posterity and not coated in slimy spin like a spider's web of deceit.

This is my dispassionate screed; not about the rights and wrongs of the invasion, about which I don't claim to be a judge; but the need for a government of my own country which doesn't stink.

8:34 am  

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