This is a shorter version of the argument in the Wrap today. I think it matters.
There are three ways in which Britain went to war on a false prospectus. The first, well-covered, is the WMD business. But this was, essentially, a massive failure of intelligence. It does look as if the spooks fooled themselves as much as they fooled their masters. That’s worrying and frightening, but it’s not politically culpable.
The second is the idea that we had given the UN a fair chance, but that the French had wrecked it. We had not. They had not. That’s a political flaw.
The third, and the one that took up much of Tony Blair’s speech in the debate, was that we would exert influence with the USA for the good, and that we had been doing so before. Never mind the lies he told about Saddam: look at the lies he told about George Bush:
People ask: do the US listen to us and our preoccupations? And there is perhaps a lack of full understanding of US preoccupations after 11th September. I know all of this. But the way to deal with it is not rivalry but partnership. Partners are not servants but neither are they rivals. I tell you what Europe should have said last September to the US. With one voice it should have said: we understand your strategic anxiety over terrorism and WMD and we will help you meet it. We will mean what we say in any UN resolution we pass and will back it with action if Saddam fails to disarm voluntarily; but in return we ask two things of you: that the US should choose the UN path and you should recognise the fundamental overriding importance of re-starting the MEPP (Middle East Peace Process), which we will hold you to.
I do not believe there is any other issue with the same power to re-unite the world community than progress on the issues of Israel and Palestine. Of course there is cynicism about recent announcements. But the US is now committed, and, I believe genuinely, to the roadmap for peace, designed in consultation with the UN.