In essence, Blair’s claim, which has astonished many (to put it mildly) is that the latest events in Iraq are in no way a consequence of the war which on which he and Bush so enthusiastically embarked, and that the situation would have been even worse had they not taken the action which they took. He’s also calling for more resolute action now (a curious position for a ‘peace envoy’ to take, but let’s leave that to one side).
I suspect that history will ultimately judge Blair to have been wrong, even over the long term, but in truth, none of us can know for certain. The point is that we can never run history twice to see what would have happened if different decisions had been taken. If the latest events demonstrate anything, it is surely that the whole situation is far more complicated than most of us realise, and it’s extremely difficult to decide who are the good guys deserving of support and who are the bad guys needing to be dealt with. Indeed, it’s increasingly the case that yesterday’s bad guys are becoming today’s good guys (or perhaps ‘not-so-bad guys’), and alliances are shifting, largely on the basis that our enemy’s enemies are now our friends, whatever we may have said about them yesterday.
What I do know is that it was always less than honest to try and present a very complex situation as a simple case of good vs evil, in the way that Blair and Bush did. And what concerns me even more is the possibility that they might have genuinely believed that to be the case. There’s something more than a little dangerous about any politician who has such unshakeable faith in his own rightness that he cannot even conceive of the possibility of being wrong.