Blair's sorry spectacle
Thursday September 30, 2004
Tony Blair's words about Iraq were a carefully crafted piece of concealment, collusively endorsed by his lieutenants (Blair refuses to say sorry, September 29). He was right to say that he couldn't sincerely apologise for doing something he thought was right. He had, we must suppose, good moral reasons for seeking to pursue that course of action. But he couldn't secure his favoured end without the consent of others.
What many of us want him to apologise for is not the moral stance that led him to the decision to act with Bush, but the dubious means by which he secured that consent in the Commons, appealing to considerations that had nothing to do with the concealed moral grounds of his own decision.
Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool
So Tony Blair's speech was "low-key, conversational and reasoned" (Leader, September 29). And his "apology" on Iraq was a "rightly well-received milestone in his fragile rehabilitation with his critics".
No matter that he abused the intelligence on WMD, overrode security warnings about unleashing more terrorist attacks, and deceived the country over the"threat" posed by Iraq. No matter that he then launched an illegal and immoral invasion that has led to tens of thousands of deaths, a further destabilised Middle East, a weakened UN, and increased the threat to Britons everywhere.
Even a kindly, if myopic, critic might conclude that Blair's political judgment on Iraq and in supporting Bush was sufficiently bad to demand his resignation. A more dispassionate critic might well go further: that Blair ought to be tried for war crimes. As for the Guardian? Well, clearly, you'd rather remain part of some agreement between reasonable gentlemen of the establishment. Future historians will note your dishonourable role in propping up Blair.
Dr David Cromwell
While the Guardian and most of the media have adopted an aggressively anti-Blair stance, many of us have kept faith that he would survive as prime minister. Blair's Brighton speech was reflective, sound and unifying. Let's hear it for him and for a Labour third term in office.
Tony Blair has acknowledged that the intelligence that justified going to war was wrong. If he was responsible for the misjudgment, then he should resign, and if he wasn't, then John Scarlett should be fired. None of this will happen because, for as long as Gordon Brown keeps most people in employment and the economy moving along, the perception is that the government can get away with anything, and people will vote with their pockets. The "radical progressive" spirit boils down to bread without the circus.
The ethics of Mr Blair are not the real problem, but the laxity of a system of government in which an error of this calibre can pass without anyone ever being answerable. To say "he will pay the price at the ballot box" is to exempt from responsibility ministers and MPs who hold themselves out as suitable to lead and rule. Their putting of their jobs ahead of their ethics on an issue of this magnitude is the real scandal in this shameful tale.
In his speech to Labour's Brighton conference, Blair said he looked for another way to resolve the situation in Iraq. Is he admitting there is no "third way" in politics?