London: Former British prime minister Tony Blair’s “sycophancy” towards Washington and the failure of the governing class to speak the truth were cited as key factors for Britain’s involvement in the second Gulf war against Iraq in 2003.
A former prosecutions chief, Sir Ken Macdonald, told the Lord Chilcot Inquiry that Blair indulged and engaged in an “alarming subterfuge” with (then US president) George Bush, and then misled and cajoled the British people into a war they did not want.
“Blair’s fundamental flaw was his sycophancy towards those in power. Perhaps this seems odd in a man who drank so much of that mind-altering brew at home. But Washington turned his head and he couldn’t resist the stage or the glamour that it gave him,” The Times quoted Macdonald, as saying.
In his most savage comment, he writes that the heart-rending sacrifices made by British forces would become the stuff of poetry and song in future years. But none of that would sprinkle any starlight on Blair.
“On the contrary it is entirely the work of warriors cast carelessly into death’s way by a prime minister lost in self-aggrandisement and a governing class too closed to speak truth to power,” he says.
Sir Ken’s intervention comes after Blair’s declaration in a BBC interview that he would have favoured removing Saddam Hussein regardless of whether he had possessed weapons of mass destruction.
The inquiry yesterday insisted that Blair would give evidence in public, after reports that he might not.
A spokesman for the inquiry said: “Mr Blair will be appearing very much in public and will be questioned in detail on a wide range of issues.”
Sir Ken suggests that the inquiry’s performance so far has been generally unchallenging and he goes close to warning of an establishment cover-up.
“In British public life, loyalty and service to power can sometimes count for more to insiders than any tricky questions of wider reputation. Disloyalty, on the other hand, means a terrible casting out,” he says.
He claims that Blair secured support from the Commons for the Iraq war largely on the ground that it was needed to remove weapons of mass destruction.