Here's a "blink" summary of the Anglo-American relationship from a Derbyshire miner. "Blair started out all right but then he met that Doobya. And he walked with his arms out like he was carrying two big barrels. After that, Blair walked with two big barrels under his arms. That's what happened. You can tell about a man by the way he walks. Same as I say."
A verdict based on three seconds of observation may outperform a million words of evidence and years of inquiry. In that one glimpse is everything a busy
person needs to know about why we went to war in Iraq.
The last day of the Chilcott Inquiry. They'd asked for Jack Straw to come back for a final go. Wily Jack, his voice like the shuffle of dusty paperwork. With his
elisions and allusions, his dysjunctive conjunctions - he can make a paragraph mean what he wants. And if he can't, he can fall back on “the negotiating history” which shows the opposite of the obvious is actually the case.
He can write "very perceptive" on an MI6 suggestion for regime change, and then explain why that had nothing to do with the case for going to war (because that would have been "palpably illegal"). Of course Chilcott is out-gunned – but he does yet have the final word, and there are encouraging signs.
For the sake of natural justice, a tribunal has to allow a witness to respond to charges, if they want to lambast him in their report.
The charge Straw was confronted with was that the Government fraudulently blamed the French for the failure of a second UN resolution. In what he described as "a short question" Rod Lyne laid out a three-part steamer with highly placed officials saying they were instructed to blame Chirac even though they knew it wasn't the case.
In his reply Straw demurred, "Not instructions with a capital I." My guess is they'll get hammered for this and some other administrative crimes.
In Jack Straw's favour, it is probably true he was sacked because he said the bombing of Iran was "inconceivable". He still says the approach to that country should be "more carrot than stick".
Compare that with Tony Blair's Götterdämmerung declaring “with all the passion I can summon" that Iran had to be bombed, beaten up and invaded. Or, as he put it, "confronted". In order to believe he did nothing wrong on Iraq he has to believe that the same should happen to Iran.
Cynics would say he was addressing the US in those words. "Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also," as it says in the Bible (it explains why you can't serve God and Mammon).
It's been one of those peculiarly British things, the Chilcott panel, a celebration of the amateur spirit. None of the panel had any experience in questioning, and you could see them being rocked and rolled by energetic witnesses. But Chilcott - like Hutton - has produced a wealth of materials for historians, student and exorcists.
Whatever the verdict, it is surely impossible to believe that Blair took us to war in Iraq without an ulterior purpose. And the fact that he and Alastair Campbell “stand by every word" shows they disagree with all that cant about "learning lessons".
Same as I say.