Sunday, July 06, 2003

As the festering boil that is the row between Downing Street and the BBC rises to a pus-filled head, Max Hastings in the Sunday Telegraph crystallises the real issue that has been obscured amid all the mud-slinging:

"The BBC and the Government are fighting about marginal aspects of the WMD issue - the notorious claim that they could be deployed in 45 minutes. Yet the important point, surely, is that the Government was undoubtedly informed by the intelligence services that the Iraqis possessed WMDs and would probably unleash them.

"Alastair Campbell has chosen to fight the Corporation on a single very narrow issue, on which he will probably win. Yet this masks a wider and much more serious one, concerning his master rather than himself: was Tony Blair telling the truth about why he proposed to take Britain to war?

"George Bush told the American people that he was invading Iraq because he wanted regime change. Washington treated WMDs as a subordinate matter....Tony Blair, by contrast, told the British people that the issue was WMDs....

"...If, at the end of this story, the Prime Minister finds himself with no WMDs, without Saddam on the game cart, and with Iraq still in an unholy mess, then he will have failed in both his public and his private purposes."


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