An open thread, for anyone that wants to discuss today's Chilcot Report.
Indulge me for a minute of rambling first, though. I imagine I'll return to this but for now, having wasted a decade bickering and complaining about exactly the type of stuff that Chilcot covers, I'll confess that the headline news is immensely gratifying.
Is it childish to take such a horrifying global issue quite personally? Very well then, I am childish.
So aside from the usual backstage politics stuff, the most important of Chilcot's conclusions are surely the sections on planning and provision for wars. The bottom line - don't invade countries simply because the Prime Minister thinks it's a good idea, because there is a severe risk of getting very large numbers of people killed, including your own soldiers.
I'm also very pleased by the declaration that the Iraq disaster was anything but unforeseeable, and that those who prosecuted it intentionally ignored the - very prescient - warnings of exactly the consequences that might ensue.
Already, I've seen yelps and screeches and loud complaints that this
will now make it more difficult for the UK to wage wars, and indeed it
probably will. I say, good: our track record in recent wars is
appalling, and substantial reflection is now sorely needed.
I'm also pleased that it's dealt bluntly with the "Did the Government lie?" question, by announcing that the Government "exaggerated" its case for war. This saves us the long, boring argument about the difference between "Public Relations" and "Lies", and allows us to simply note that misleading PR about wars is a considerably more serious matter than misleading PR about a £3 bottle of shampoo.
For me, its very welcome that Chilcot's conclusions come with the official imprimatur of the British state. For far too long, any public figure arguing that e.g. the government exaggerated its case for war, or that its case for war was mere PR for a decision already taken, was likely to be mocked as a conspiracy theorist and a nutter. The suggestion that Britain's involvement in the war increased the threat of terrorism was treated as tantamount to siding with Al Qaeda, if not outright incitement to violence.
That these straightforward points were demonstrably and obviously true, did not help at all with Britain's highly belligerent and obnoxious pro-war party. Those people will still be belligerent and obnoxious tomorrow, but the difference is that the facts are now decisively on our side, because they're part of the official record.
And on Tony himself, well, what's left to be said? He was a lunatic and a true-believer when he was Prime Minister and as he demonstrated today, he's still as mad as a box of frogs.
The main accusation against him is, I think, that he preferred to risk the lives of millions of people on his own windy, arse-extracted interpretation of events, rather than listening to the advice of people who actually knew what they were talking about.
So what does Tony do? He gives a rambling, 45-minute press conference in which he confirms beyond all doubt that the accusation is absolutely correct.
I used to think that there was method in his madness but now, I'm not so sure. Looking at him today, he reminds me of people who have been accused of the most serious crimes. Those people very rarely plead guilty and usually maintain their innocence, even in the face of the most overwhelming evidence.
Why do they do this, when a guilty plea might slash their sentence? They do this because some crimes are so serious that the reputational damage is too horrible to accept, and because prisons are full of stab-happy killers with lots of time to whittle shivs.
They do it because it's better to go to jail wailing about a non-existent miscarriage of justice, than it is to admit to what you did and face the consequences.
Anyway, on that note, have at it - I'm sure that there are plenty of hilarious attempts to muddy the waters out there today, and there'll be thousands by tomorrow.
But the good news is that at long last, it's them who will have to prove their points beyond doubt. It's scant comfort, but even that has been a long time coming.