Mary Riddell writes:
The sheer gall of Tony Blair never ceases to startle. And he gets away with it. Once, the revelations emerging from the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war would have been dynamite. The attorney general’s advice that the invasion would not, without a second UN resolution, be legal; the Foreign Secretary’s worries about the whole enterprise – these are yesterday’s sensations, neutralised by time and by inertia.
And yet there is still something awesome about Mr Blair’s intractability. On he marched, in thrall to the US president and unhindered by his supine government and a credulous opposition who have never squared up to their faults either. Blair’s lack of remorse and his adamantine belief that he was right cannot be dented now. The loss of the lives of British forces and of Iraqi civilians was in his view, a wholly necessary price.
To say that Blair is unrepentant does not begin to explain his intransigence. Having prosecuted one disastrous war, he is now squaring up for the next dust-up, with a renewed warning that Iran, a “looming challenge”, has got it coming. With luck, the leaders who followed Blair, on both sides of the Atlantic, will shake their heads in disbelief at this madness.
The world, Blair apart, learnt long ago that modern enemies cannot be bombed into submission. In particular, al Qaeda, stateless and sinuous, will never submit to western firepower. But there are other lessons to absorb, one of which is that the autocracy demonstrated by Blair should not go unpunished. Chilcot is not conducting a trial. He has, however, said that he will not shirk from ascribing responsibility. This was Blair’s war. If he is not held to account this time, then we shall have learned nothing, except that complicity has trumped justice once again.