February 3, 2010
Blair Called a Liar in Inquiry Iraq
Mr. Blair had called Saddam Hussein “a monster,” said he had no regrets about the war and warned that the same concerns that led to war over Iraq now applied to Iran and Western concerns that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Ms. Short, who quit as international development minister two months after the invasion in 2003, repeatedly accused Mr. Blair of “misleading” her and other cabinet ministers about the advice he was getting from government lawyers who questioned the legality of invading
On that issue, and on her written warnings of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the invasion’s wake, she said that Mr. Blair had effectively circumvented cabinet debate. Instead, she said, he had relied on an inner circle of “his mates” in government, having “little chats” with outsiders like herself and plying what she called a “poodle-like” relationship with the
She also accused Mr. Blair of deceit in his argument shortly before the invasion that
“That was, in my view, a deliberate lie,” Ms. Short said. “It was one of the big deceits.” She said the truth was that that the French president at the time, Jacques Chirac, could have been persuaded to back military action if London and Washington had been prepared to give United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq more time. “There was no emergency; no one had attacked anyone,” she said.
“There wasn’t any new W.M.D,” she added, referring to weapons of mass destruction. “We could have taken the time and got it right.”
There was little surprise in Ms. Short’s bitterness toward Mr. Blair, whose relations with the former minister had long been strained by her role as a left-wing firebrand within the governing Labour Party. The more damaging element in her testimony might prove to be her revelations about the equivocal role played in the approach to the war by Mr. Blair’s successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, who was then
Mr. Brown built on the party’s anger about
Ms. Short depicted Mr. Brown as positioning himself opportunistically by avoiding a clear commitment on the war. She said she had “various cups of coffee” with Mr. Brown, and found him to be “very unhappy and marginalized,” disillusioned over a range of government policies, but not specifically
Ms. Short’s testimony seems likely to deepen the challenge facing Mr. Brown as he prepares for his own testimony later this month, when the inquiry panel seems sure to ask him — in the face of deep public anger over the war — whether he supported the invasion. After he bowed to left-wing discontent in the Labour Party and established the inquiry last year, Mr. Brown took criticism for his plan not to testify until after a general election that is expected in May, which was widely viewed as an attempt to duck a public accounting before votes are cast.
But last month, Mr. Brown wrote to the inquiry saying he was ready to testify before the election, and the inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, responded by saying the panel was happy to set aside its plan not to call current government ministers before the election if they were ready to appear sooner.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs