What Alastair Campbell has to say about the Chilcot Inquiry on the Iraq War

If ever the word tragedy was appropriate, it applies in spades to the whole experience of the Iraq War. It is too simple to view the actions of British politicians and officials – especially Tony Blair – as the acts of evil men. Enormous mistakes were made but essentially they were made by people who had good intentions – hence the tragedy. I was particularly struck by this blog posting from Blair’s communications chief at the time, Alastair Campbell. In part, he states:

“I was one of the few people who saw the process of his making the decision close up, virtually round the clock, around the world. Far from seeing someone hellbent on war, I saw someone doing all he could to avoid it. Far from seeing someone undermine the UN, I saw him trying his hardest to make it work. Far from seeing someone cavalier about the consequences of war, I saw someone who agonised about them, and I know he still does, as do all who were there, part of his team.

He was of course bombarded by views, from friend and foe. He was acutely aware of protest. He was aware that much could go wrong. He was aware lives would be lost. He was conscious of the possibility of damage to our relationship with the US if we didn’t go with them, and damage to the relationship with other allies if we did.

But here is the difference between him and other ministers and MPs, him and advisors, him and commentators, him and the public who three times elected him, including after the fall of Saddam. He had to decide. One way or the other. With the US or not. Topple Saddam or leave him. Knowing that either way there were consequences which were hard to foresee.”


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