Trial show or show trial? Channel 4 yesterday screened an hour-long programme which aimed to try Tony Blair for misleading the British nation in his endeavour to gain support for war against Iraq.
Such programmes irritate me greatly. Especially when presented by the clueless Jon Snow. He couldn't tell whether he was presenting Newsnight, a real trial or an entertainment show. The "trial" raised the promise of a proper debate on the issue. Instead, the format and time constraint delivered only annoyance. Snow's eyes were on the clock... "you have 45 seconds to summarise your case". This forced the debate to the lowest common denominator of yah boo skirmishes between the participants. Snow forced the pace through questions, answers and advertising breaks.
So the audience, both in the studio and at home, were left none the wiser. Witnesses were easily able to evade the questions posed, as their filibustering paid off within the minute. Were any minds changed?
In terms of the substance, the case for the prosecution was that Tony Blair had engaged in "honourable deception"*. Convinced of the need for regime change and the existence of weaopns of mass destruction, but unable to provide evidence that would convince the British people or the United Nations, Blair and his cronies "sexed up" the evidence. This prosecution evidence has credence given the apology from Alistair Campbell to the Intelligence Services and the statement by Ibrahim al-Marashi, author of the now infamous thesis "Iraq's Security & Intelligence Network: A Guide & Analysis", that key words in his plagiarised work had been altered to make the Iraqi threat seem more imminent. Even the defence didn't seek to justify the key "45 minutes" claim.
The case for the defence was that it was necessary to remove Saddam, whatever the provable state of the evidence. The deaths of thousands in the war were sensible sacrifice in return for removal of a tyrranical regime that had slaughtered hundreds of thousands. The evidence for weapons of mass destruction was conclusive, not circumstantial. Saddam had already used gas on the Kurds, and many tons of biological and chemical materials are unaccounted for. The ends justified the means.
For me the end cannot justify the means, as the means employed negate the foundation of our so-called representative democracy, and leave us with the "might is right" ravings of an unelected fool in America and his deluded British sidekick.
It's clear to me that Blair did believe in what he was doing, but felt that he had to lie to Parliament and people to achieve his goal. That is the most grievous charge that can be laid against a British Prime Minister. A man of honour would realise this error, apologise and step down.
If you are reading this and thinking "he's off again", I accept that my conclusions may be wrong. To convince me, please show me the evidence that Saddam was such a "present danger" that UN weapons inspectors had to be withdrawn and the UN process abandoned in favour of a war opposed by many nations and even the majority of British citizens. Please, just show me the evidence.
* "I believe that the Prime Minister must have concluded that it was honourable and desirable to back the US in going for military action in Iraq and therefore it was honourable for him to persuade us through various ruses and ways to get us there - so for him I think it was an honourable deception".
Normal decision-making processes “collapsed” without a single meeting of the Cabinet’s defence and overseas committee, the former International Development Secretary Clare Short told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 17th June.
Posted by nathan at June 22, 2003 07:26 AM
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