|Colin Brown Writer and Journalist|
I covered Blair on various trips to America for The 'Indy' and can see history being re-written. Blair first made the case for toppling Saddam Hussein 1999 when Blair delivered a hugely important lecture in Chicago which I covered. You can read it on this link
The lecture grew out of talks Blair had on the so-called Third Way with then US President Bill Clinton. The background was that the Soviet Union had collapsed, the US strode the world stage as the most powerful nation on earth. Together, Blair and Clinton thought they could rebuild the world for the better.
Blair's lecture set out the case for a new justification for war - humanitarian intervention, the principle of the "Just War". It was very beguiling: with US firepower, they could remove dictators and replace them with more liberal, progressive democracies.
Those around Blair said the attacks on the twin towers changed him; it galvanised him to action to defeat terrorism and destroy dictators threatening the west
Blair meets Bush at his ranch at Crawford, Texas. I was there to cover Blair's meeting with Bush. The President confirmed the view of the British media he was a cowboy; he drove up in a pick -up truck to collect Blair at the gate of the ranch in jeans, a soft hide jacket, and cowboy boots and said "howdy" to Sky News Adam Boulton. Nobody from the press could get near the ranch, and there were no note-takers in their meeting, but the next day we all reported that Blair was ready to support Bush in military action to bring about regime change in Iraq. You can read my report (item G) with Paul Waugh on this link
Attacking Saddam fitted it entirely with the doctrine Blair had espoused in Chicago three years earlier.
Fast forward to Chilcot and Blair Press Conference this week:
Blair continues to believe in his doctrine of humanitarian intervention to justify war. The "Just War" in Blair's book would be legal, whether it has the backing of the UN or not. It is the same rule that underpins the intervention to topple Gaddafi that has left Libya in chaos.
What's the alternative? Leave dictators in place? That is how British Foreign policy operated in the past. Assad was feted by the Queen. Mugabe has never faced a Coalition invasion force (odd that).
After Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, leaders in the West have less appetite for armed intervention than in Blair's day but that will change and when it does, let''s hope that the Chilcot report will make them pause for a moment and consider: what are the long-term consequences?