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Offline the leveller

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« on: June 01, 2014, 08:23:28 PM »
 When will Tony Blair’s critics accept that it’s not a war crime to go to war?

Posted on June 1, 2014 by Admin   

When will Tony Blair’s critics accept that it’s not a war crime to go to war?

By John McTernan Politics Last updated: May 30th, 2014

555 Comments Comment on this article

There used to be a time when only the ultra-left blindly hated Amerika (as they termed it). Now it seems that a wide range of otherwise quite rational people share that analysis.

How else to explain the periodic spasms of rage whenever Chilcot speaks, or is spoken of? We have gone way beyond the normal range of anti-Tony Blair feelings here – and that is saying something.

Adult human beings, who understand – in every other sphere of their personal and professional lives – the need for confidentiality, irrationally demand absolute access to all information. Including the conversations and exchanges between President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. This is utterly ridiculous.

Let’s be clear – there will be nothing in Chilcot that will settle why Britain went to war with Iraq. We know why we did – because there was a vote in Parliament. Nor will there be any light shed on whether the war was right or wrong – we all decided our positions on that long ago. Finally, there will be no “smoking memo” – because no such thing exists. I know that for a fact – and I wasn’t even there at the time.

There are two distinct issues. The first is that at the heart of the campaign to have the Bush-Blair correspondence published is the ignoble desire to “prosecute” Tony Blair. We are through the looking-glass when people want to believe that Blair made secret promises, fabricated evidence and lied to Parliament. But that is where we are. Otherwise rational people prefer to believe in a conspiracy rather than accept the truth – that they just disagree with Blair and Parliament’s decision. Bluntly, it is not a war crime to go to war. Still less is it a war crime when someone goes to war and you disagree with them. The best advice is for people to get over it. But they can’t. And Chilcot would never have helped. Even the full publication of the correspondence would not have satisfied, let alone silenced, the critics. The absence of evidence would have merely been proof for many of just how cunning and devious Blair could be. Just like him to cover his tracks so well, they would have muttered, and called for another inquiry into this “whitewash”.

The second, far more serious and far less discussed issue is the willingness of so many people to jeopardise our diplomatic and defence relationship with the US. That would be the consequence of full publication and that matters far more than the “he said, she said” that characterises the public conversation about the Iraq War and Chilcot.

It is time to praise the Coalition Government. They are doing the right thing in refusing to allow Chilcot to publish exchanges between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. (And whatever people want to think, it is the government doing the blocking and not Blair.)

The US-UK relationship is not just vital to us, it has been central to the defence of democracy since the Second World War – and it still is. It is based on the sharing of information – and that requires an absolute assurance that what is confidential stays confidential. This is not a conspiracy against the public in either country – it is a conspiracy in their favour. It is this relationship which is at stake and it is one that should be protected at all costs.

Of course, there is an interest in reading the exchanges – it’s just not in the public interest. All glimpses of how people in power talk to each other are fascinating insights into character and leadership. The tapes of LBJ or of Nixon when they were President are revealing both about the men themselves and the office itself. But that is not sufficient justification to break the confidences of Bush and Blair now.

Ours is a sceptical age – but when that becomes corrosive distrust we all lose. Ours is also a prurient age. We harry and harass public figures, denying them privacy in the name of transparency. Democracy is not served by this, nor are we. Secret things are almost always secret for a good reason. There are bad people out there who mean us harm, for sure. They are just not the Prime Minister or the President.

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« Last Edit: June 01, 2014, 08:35:15 PM by the leveller »

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