So where are the Titans now? I’ve often asked that question but today, I realise, Blair wanted to be a Titan. Up there with the Churchills and the Roosevelts and Titos and – dare I suggest – the Stalins. Men who made the earth move. Maybe that’s why Chilcot’s achievement was not to prove that Blair was a war criminal but that he was a midget.
Just take that cringing quotation to Bush on 28 July 2002. “I will be with you, whatever.” Sure, we understand the political importance of this tosh. Blair was trying to sound Titan-like. but proved in legal terms that what he meant was: I will be with you – whatever the British people think.
But it’s got deeper roots than that. I have a hunch this was the Blair version of the infinitely more powerful words of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s personal representative to wartime Britain, who – exhausted, but asked to speak to an audience in Glasgow – looked down the room at Churchill and tried to express his love for the great man’s stand against Hitler and Roosevelt’s support for Britain as she stood alone against Nazi Germany. Hopkins quoted the Bible. Churchill wept as he spoke. “Whither thou goest,” Hopkins said, “I will go… Even unto the end.”
And the best our little Tony could say was: “I will be with you, whatever.” It’s the “whatever” bit that gives the game away, of course; a kind of tossed-out line, the midget’s version of “even unto the end”, an “aw-shucks come-hell-or-high-water, you can rely on me”.
And this, remember, was not a spokesman for the US president telling the British prime minister that he could depend on America. Wee Tony tweaked the whole sorry quotation to turn himself into Roosevelt, and Bush into Churchill. So earnest was he in the imitative role he had constructed for himself that Blair could not see, when he used these words, that they undermined any moral foundation the future invasion of Iraq might have had in British eyes.
But I’m already tired of the “lessons” of the Chilcot report. We must learn from what we did wrong, we mustn’t do it again – Cameron repeated the same doggerel, although he might apply it to his own knavish Brexit tricks – and we really, really must get it right before we blunder into more wars that cost hundreds of British lives, millions of dollars and tens of thousands of other chaps who got in the way but don’t feature as human beings in the Chilcot report.
That’s the real problem, I fear, with the flagellation of Lord Blair. Yes, he sure was a nasty piece of work, lying to us Brits and then lying to us again after Chilcot was published, and then waffling on about faith and “the right thing to do” when we all know that smiting vast numbers of innocent people – and even bringing about the smiting of a vaster number of the very same Muslims, Christians and Yazidis up to this very day – was a very, very bad thing to do. For these victims – anonymous and almost irrelevant in the Chilcot report – we cannot say “even unto the end”, because they are dying unto the present day. The real “end” for these victims cometh not even yet.