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Day: January 21, 2011

Tony Blair is not a War Criminal.

At times I sit alone on an island. The whole world says one thing and I say another. The war in Iraq and the statement that Tony Blair is a War Criminal is one of those things.

History shows that Iraq didn’t have WMDs. Not much more can be said about that. However hindsight is always 20/20.

The events leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom will always be murky. I don’t know what really happened and nor does a single person reading this. If they say they do then they are a liar. The people that know the truth are a small inner-circle within the Bush administration and the Blair trusted team. They know the truth and what they say in public is roundly derided because people do not want to hear their versions of the truth. Most people have made up their mind already without seeing any of the real evidence.

Now I know millions of people protested at the time, they made their opinions well and truly heard. However I put it to you/them that it is easy to protest on an issue when you are not responsible for the safety of the country. It is easy to say the invasion is unjust when it is the populist thing to say. It is easy to call Blair a war criminal knowing that in retrospect what we were there looking for were not found.

To call Blair a war criminal then unless you are a bit doolally, then you have to believe that he (or someone working for Blair and with his authority) deliberately faked the intelligence that was used to justify the invasion. If the intelligence was just faulty then Blair is not a war criminal. If anyone reading this can honestly say that if they were in a position where they had the intelligence that Iraq was ready to basically nuke us and they had a chance to go in and stop it and they wouldn’t then I do shake my head is disbelief and pray they never become PM and they’ll be a weak PM.

The PM is responsible for the safety and lives of everyone living in this great nation. The President is responsible for many more lives in his nation. If they basically came out and said, ‘We understand that Iraq is about to basically wipe us out but we are not going to do anything because we are only 95% sure of this,’ then I’m pretty sure everyone would be up in arms and calling for a rebellion to overthrow the PM and President.

If MI5 had intelligence that the 7/7 Bombers were about to strike but were only 95% sure of said attack would they be right to allow the attack and loss of life? If the FBI/CIA knew about 9/11 but were only 95% sure of the date and identities of the attackers would they be right to let them get on with it?

If you overheard your next door neighbour saying that he was going to kill his wife or she was going to kill her husband would you stand idly by or would you call the police? If you heard that a pedophile was grooming your kid would you stand idly by or would you go round and confront them (and lets be honest you would do them over). What if you were wrong and the information you received was inaccurate? Are you a criminal for protecting your daughter from someone you genuinely believed was going to cause her harm?

Tony Blair and President Bush were responsible for over 350million lives when they made their decisions. The population of the UK and America is essentially their family. Do you not think that this might actually be quite a pressurised situation? How would you like having to make a decision that will affect millions of lives and if you make the wrong one then millions can and will die?

Intelligence is what it is. It can be great, it can be good, it can be misleading and it can be wrong. I have no idea whether the intelligence on this issue was accurate or not. History will say it wasn’t but who knows what happened in the weeks leading up to the invasion.

I don’t profess to know what happened in the weeks leading up to the invasion but I personally am willing to give the decision makers leeway in the decision making process. The only justification in my mind despite what happened for calling Blair and Bush war criminals is if they deliberately falsified information and do you know what, I don’t know if they did or didn’t.

As a rule I am an innocent until proven guilty guy and I like that. I was a foreman of a jury that found a man not guilty of ten counts of sexual assault against his step-daughter. He may well have done it but the evidence wasn’t there to convict. The evidence isn’t there to say that Blair and Bush went out of their way to change the intelligence. Some say (most Lib Dems for instance) firmly believe that they did but they don’t know – they believe – two very different and distinct things.

So here we are. Hindsight is glorious and is in shiny HD. If we knew what we did now then no doubt we would not have invaded. However – and for this part we’ll assume the intelligence wasn’t faked – however if the exact same scenario came up again then whoever is in office will have to make a very difficult decision. Do they risk the lives of everyone or do they stop a potential attack?

It is easy to be sanctimonious when you are not responsible for anything. However when you are responsible then everything is very different indeed. The Lib Dems as a party hold the moral high ground on this issue as in retrospect they were right but they had nothing to lose. If Charles Kennedy was PM at the time then would he have heeded the warnings or ignored them as he didn’t believe the intelligence?

No-one can know for sure but I think it is more than fair to say that when you have to make the difficult decisions they are a lot easier in opposition. Look at the Tuition Fees fiasco. The Lib Dems if in opposition could have torn a new hole in a minority Conservative government on this and held their ground but as we all know they were not in opposition, they were in government and therefore they had to make the decision.

This is one thing that personally has hurt me in the recent months. It has become clear that many Lib Dems would prefer to be idealist but in opposition so they didn’t have to make the hard decisions. What is the point of that? We live on Planet Earth and it isn’t a Utopia.

So to round up this ramble. If Blair and Bush deliberately lied then the war criminal moniker is fair and just. However we do not know if they did or didn’t and therefore in my opinion is wholly unfair and unjust. Let me just repeat that – we do not know one way or another what really happened. We can all have an opinions but we do not know.

I have a feeling this might be my most unpopular ramble yet. Defending Tony Blair is not exactly cool, certainly if you are a Lib Dem but I think it needs to be said. We do not know what happened but most people believe they do know for a fact what happened and those people are deluded fools.

See. I’m not just a Lib Dem stooge…

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