Tony Blair Bombshell: How It Reshapes the Iraq War Debate

By Brendan O'Neill | The Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

Tony Blair Bombshell: How It Reshapes the Iraq War Debate


Brendan O'Neill, The Christian Science Monitor


Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's remarks about the Iraq war move us away from a legal debate to a moral one.

I was implacably opposed to the war in Iraq, yet I would like to thank Tony Blair, former prime minister of Britain, for saying days ago that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the "right" thing to do.

Why? It isn't because I have changed my mind and now accept that the Iraq war was a good thing. It is because in speaking the language of "right" and "wrong," and in airing his moral convictions in public, Mr. Blair has helped to elevate the debate about Iraq from the legalistic quagmire it was sinking into, and to return it to where it belongs: the realm of morality and politics.

Blair's comments, made in a TV interview shown on Sunday, have caused a storm here. The interviewer asked Blair: "If you had known then that there were no WMD, would you still have gone on?" Blair replied: "I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]."

Significantly, Blair added: "I mean, obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat."

This has led some people to argue, quite rightly, that Blair in 2002 was clearly looking around for "evidence" that might help to justify a course of action he had already decided on. He chose the "evidence" of WMD, but if he had known that those weapons did not in fact exist then he would have "used and deployed" different arguments to justify the war.

This suggests Blair did not actually have the courage of his convictions. He may have considered it "right" to remove Saddam - yet instead of trying to win public support for war on that basis, he cynically searched for some legalistic fig-leaf with which he might doll up his invasion.

However, it was not the slippery "different arguments" part of Blair's interview that most riled observers here - it was his use of the r-word: "right." This, commentators argue, shows that Blair is arrogant, deluded, and dictatorial.

In fact, Blair's utterance of the r-word gives us an opportunity to move beyond the legalistic nitty-gritty about whether it was legitimate to go to war, and instead to discuss whether it was morally right or wrong.

For too long, the debate about Iraq has been conducted at a legalistic level. In Britain in particular, the war has become almost the exclusive concern of lawyers and legal advisers to the government, who bicker endlessly, sometimes in private, sometimes in public, about whether the war was acceptable under the stringent international rules governing military action. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tony Blair Bombshell: How It Reshapes the Iraq War Debate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.