I know from personal experience that Jeremy Greenstock is an unusually kind person. It was interesting to watch his evidence this morning, and I am particularly pleased that Sky gave us two hours of it uninterrupted.
Jeremy’s contention that the Iraq war was legal but not legitimate is an interesting attempt at nuance. I don’t buy it, but it illustrates that he was plainly very uncomfortable about the whole thing. I am not sure that even now he has really come to the terms with the fact that all he was involved in was a charade. Bush and Blair had decided to invade at Crawford, a full year before Jeremy’s painstaking crafting of fig leaf resolutions and attempts at consensus building. As Greenstock conceded, the military timetable had been decided and the diplomacy had to try to run ahead. When it stumbled, the invasion carried on regardless. Greenstock was ridden over.
I thought Jeremy’s attempts to convince himself rather than us that Britian’s “commitment to the diplomatic route” won friends and helped to build a consensus after the invasion, was a rather pathetic (in the true meaning) attempt to explain away his own futility.
There was one hilarious abandonment of logic when Jeremy said that he believed Iraq did have WMD, but they are still hidden. He offered two attempts at evidence for this. One was that they had a concealment committee. Well, if so, somone on the committee would have leaked post-invasion. The second was that some fighters had been buried in the sands, and revealed when the wind blew away the sand. He offered that as evidence that weapons can be concealed in the desert sands. Actually, Jeremy, it is evidence that they can’t.
But what was entirely plain is that Greenstock is much more sceptical of the Iraq War than the committee who were questioning him. The packing of the committee with confirmed war supporters (Greenstock at one point made what I believe was a sly dig about committee member Rod Lyne’s role at the time in question) makes the whole exercise futile, not least by limiting witnesses to answering non-sceptical questions. There was a priceless moment when Gilbert invited Greenstock to agree that the French and Russians only opposed the war from national and personal interests, and Greenstock declined to do so.