Liar, Liar, Will Blair Get Fired?
The bombshell news of the day, I guess--well, except here in the USA--was the revelation--well, the 'official' revelation of what was patently obvious to anyone with a brain and an understanding of British politics--that Tony Blair's AG had a curious change of opinion about the legality of the Iraq war just at the time that Blair was insisting that his imminent hurling of excrement at the moving fan would turn up roses as opposed to covering all within range in filth:
The story is worse than people think. Now that the government has been forced to disclose the full legal advice submitted by Lord Goldsmith, the extent to which Parliament and the country were misled is clear for all to see.
The issue at stake is not whether, when or why the Attorney General changed his mind on the legality of war in Iraq. Tony Blair and Jack Straw have pointed out, with the customary slipperiness of a profession they know well, that it is the right of a lawyer to elide from one line of argument to the next. Goldsmith's views may well have "evolved". In fact, I have previously documented how they did.
What matters is that MPs were not made aware of - to put it politely - the progression of his thinking. When Goldsmith sat in the cabinet seat vacated hours earlier by Robin Cook, he was asked by the Prime Minister to make a presentation of the legal case for invasion. Blair did not invite questions before the Attorney was thanked for his contribution and left.
Two years, roughly 1600 dead US soldiers, scores of dead "contractors," thousands of dead Iraqis, thousands of wounded US soldiers and Iraqis, and some $170 billion dollars later, I think it's pretty clear that Iraq is at best a festering wound--and a self-inflicted one at that.
And, speaking of festering sores--Ahmad Chalabi is now the (temporary) oil minister. Well, I guess in some respects Iraq is getting more like the US every day.
But, back to Blair--despite the fact that he's been caught, well, lying, it looks like he'll continue on as PM, mostly because he's still the lesser of evils, as it were, although that's a pretty relative scale. Michael Howard, Tory leader, won't find any traction from this, and, while I'm not an expert on British politics, I just don't think Charles Kennedy will manage to make any headway either. But Blair's new government will likely be a lot weaker than the present one...