Luke Akehurst effectively says that the invasion of Iraq was right because:
(a) Saddam Hussein was a bad bastard;
(b) Everyone… and he means everyone, thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction;
(c) Even if he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, the invasion was justified because… errrm, Saddam Hussein was a bad bastard who might have weapons of mass destruction in the future.
Therefore, since we now know he didn’t have them, people shouldn’t get too excited because our Prime Minister misled the House of Commons and took the country to war based on a lie.
Well… it’s a point of view.
The counter point of view was that US Intelligience agencies lied over Saddam’s possession of WMD in order to try to legitimise their invasion. The CIA reports which said that Iraq…
has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.
… was unadulterated horse shit. Their reports to Bush said that ‘Iraq had rebuilt missile and biological weapons facilities damaged during Operation Desert Fox and has expanded its chemical and biological infrastructure under the cover of civilian production’ and that ‘Baghdad has begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin.’
It was nonsense, and post-invasion was proven to be a nonsense. Blair used that argument to secure a majority of Labour MPs would support the resolution for war. He knew the Tories would vote for the war anyway, they always support resolutions for war. But Labour MPs needed convincing, arm twisting, and being told downright lies. Blair had failed to convince them that getting rid of a bad bastard was sufficient justification for invading another country. That was why the possession, not the potential for WMD’s was important to Blair.
Of course, none of this negates Akehurst’s view that he would want to fight (or more accurately, send other people to fight), wars against bad bastards on the grounds that they are bad bastards who might one day possess weapons of mass destruction. But let us not try to kid everyone with the continued deception that ‘we all thought he had them, but it wasn’t important even if he didn’t’. Two million people who marched on Hyde Park had seen through Bush’s lies, and had heard what Hans Blix was saying. Labour backbenchers may have been prepared to accept being sold a lie, many, many more people in the country didn’t believe it then, and they know they were right.