Steve Richards has a powerfully argued case for the domestic and political rationale behind the Iraq war. The crux of his piece today is that Tony Blair wanted to show he could support a Republican Preisdent in the US in the face of a changed Tory leadership in 2001, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America, gain a war leader’s “bounce” in popularity, be strong enough to remove Gordon Brown as Chancellor and have enough support from the right – including the Tory party and the press – to build a coalition that would eventually take Britain into the Eurozone.
Rewriting history? Perhaps not. Sir Christopher Meyer, then British ambassador to Washington, told the Chilcot Inquiry yesterday that Blair had decided up to a year before the 2003 invasion that trying to stem the tide toward conflict in Iraq was a “complete waste of time”, and that the government never considered opting out or opposing it, but were rather “left scrambling for a smoking gun.” That suggests a number of external agents were, indeed, playing out.
As the evidence amounts in the Chilcot Inquiry, more such damaging scenarios will unravel. What’s already evident is that Blair’s motives were likely much more complicated than simply the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.