No, it would not be “wonderful” if Blair said sorry
My friend Stefan Stern repeats the old fantasy of the opponents of the Iraq war on Labour List today: that all Tony Blair has to do is to apologise and all will be right with the world again.
He expresses it in a reasonable and respectful way, which is refreshing enough these days, but I reasonably and respectfully disagree. The reason Blair will not apologise for the Iraq decision is not because he is in denial, or because he has received legal advice not to, but because it would be wrong to do so.
Stefan even says: “I do not think Blair lied about weapons of mass destruction.” Unfortunately he then falls back on the formulation that people such as Clare Short and Lord Butler think is terribly clever, namely that Blair “misled himself”. Let’s ignore that, and accept that everyone in Government, intelligence and Parliament acted in good faith.
In any case, Blair has already said, “I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong”, even though, as David Kay said in America, it was the intelligence services that owed the President an apology for getting it so wrong.
So for what does Stefan want Blair to apologise? Presumably he wants him to say sorry that the occupation was handled so badly and that so many people have died in the civil disorder since the invasion.
I think that the American and British people, through their elected representatives, do owe an apology to the the people of Iraq for making such a mess of their liberation. But Blair doesn’t think that. He thinks it was worth getting rid of Saddam to avert worse horrors (to simplify the argument best expressed in his memoir, A Journey).
In any case, for Blair to say “sorry” would be seized on by the feral beast of the media as an admission of guilt. The comparison with Richard Nixon says it all. Nixon broke the law. There would be nothing “wonderful” about the carnival of hate an apology would unleash.
Blair is not going to do it, and nor should he.
Photograph: AFP/Getty ImagesTagged in: chilcot, iraq, tony blair
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