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Saturday, January 02, 2010

John Major shows his teeth

In the run-up to the much-anticipated appearance by Tony Blair in front of the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq war former Prime Minister, Sir John Major has stepped up to the microphone and said what many of us have been thinking:

The Tory ex-premier told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he wanted to know whether the Cabinet had been aware of doubts about Saddam Hussein's threat before the decision to take military action.

Sir John said that in the mid-1990s aides to US President Bill Clinton had raised the idea of regime change in Iraq with UK officials.

They replied that any attempt to remove Saddam had to be legal and viable.

"There are many bad men around the world who run countries and we don't topple them and, indeed, in earlier years we had actually supported Saddam Hussein when he was fighting against Iran," Sir John said.

"The argument that someone is a bad man is an inadequate argument for war and certainly an inadequate and unacceptable argument for regime change."

Sir John said he had trusted Mr Blair's claims about the danger Iraq posed, but was now not so sure.

"I had myself been prime minister in the first Gulf War, and I knew when I said something I was utterly certain that it was correct, and I said less than I knew," he said.

"I assumed the same thing had happened and on that basis I supported reluctantly the second Iraq war."

My recollection is that the existence of weapons of mass destruction was in doubt at the time of the vote in the House of Commons and that was one of the reasons why the Liberal Democrats wanted to give the UN more time before going to war. It is a shame that the Tories did not follow suit then rather than expressing their doubts retrospectively.
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