“He [Mr Blair] believed the WMD story. It’s not true that it was made up and that he always knew it was made up. Was it wrong? Yes. But the idea that he somehow sat down and confected this story and that was the justification for the policy he opted for is not true.”
But the whole point of power in an organisation is that you don’t have to be explicit. Any powerful man cultivates in his subordinates the power of mind-reading. Anyone around Blair knew without being told that the story had to be confected; had to be true. Otherwise there could be no British participation in the war, becasue it would have been clearly illegal. So, no, Blair didn’t have to sit down on the sofa. Alasdair Campbell did. And even he didn’t entirely confect the story, not in all its details. He just swept all conflicting evidence away.
In a narrow sense it is of course absolutely and completely true that the WMD story was the justification for his policy. He couldn’t have sold the war to parliament, to the army, and possibly to his conscience, without that justification. But a justification is all it was. It wasn’t the reason for the policy. It was, if you like, the the justification that you give to your subordinates – “our action is justified because”. It wasn’t the justification you offer your superiors — what Tony said on his knees at night — which would have been something much more high-minded and brutal about the need to keep in with the Americans.
more: Mr Blair “was always in favour of regime change, but that did not mean he always wanted regime change through military means. He must have known it might come to military action, but I have always believed he hoped and probably believed there was a way of getting there by using the UN to put pressure on Saddam. I don’t think he ever wanted to go by the military route.”
Unfortunately, the tooth fairy never showed up to extract the rotten little dictator, so we had to invade after all.
1 Yes, it’s a typo. But one somehow more onomatopoeic than “bewildered”