Tony Blair agreed to commit British troops to battle in Iraq in the full knowledge that Washington had failed to make adequate preparations for the postwar reconstruction of the country.It is based on an article by the paper's Blairite cheerleader Andrew Rawnsley, recounting interviews with people at the top of government for a tv programme. Interviewees included Sir David Manning, who was sent by Blair to Washington a year before the invasion. According to Manning:
Blair was extremely exercised that the Americans did not have a clue what they would do after the removal of Saddam.According to Rawnsley:
This tells us that it was very early on that Blair was preparing to send British forces into Iraq. Whatever he was saying in public at this time, he was working on the basis that there would be a war a full year before the invasion. It also tells us that he was prescient enough to identify the danger that the Americans would make a catastrophic mess of the aftermath. And it highlights his own failure to translate that anxiety into effective action to ensure that there was a plan for post-Saddam Iraq.Rawnsley does little to explore the fact that Blair was lying through his teeth throughout 2002 but takes the Blairite line that Blair saw it coming and has limited responsibility to the extent that he failed to persuade the US to do something about it. Clearly, there was no question of not going along with a war that was both launched on a cooked-up pretext and (rightly) seen as potentially disastrous.
The Observer is in an unfortunate position here, having been one of those papers that fell for and regurgitated the government's spin on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. It is surely one of the key players that a forthcoming book by the Guardian's investigative reporter Nick Davies will "name and shame", according to Martin Bright.