Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and George Galloway

The former premier’s “tunnel vision” on Iraq.

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The latest revelation from Peter Mandelson's memoir that has caught my eye concerns a comment made by the then PM, Tony Blair, when Mandelson dared to raise concerns, in the summer of 2002, about the prospect of invading Iraq and the reaction in the Muslim world. Blair's response?

For God's sake, have you been spending all your time with George Galloway?

Amazing. Is any more insight needed into what Mandelson refers to as Blair's "tunnel vision" on Iraq? Is any more proof needed that our former prime minister had no intention of debating the rights or wrongs of invading Iraq, not even with close colleagues and friends like Mandelson, but had instead made up his mind long before the March 2003 invasion and refused to seek alternatives?

"As military preparations intensified, those who had reservations of the sort I had raised were lumped together in his mind with anyone who felt he wasn't 100 per cent on board," writes Mandelson. "The distinction between the two became blurred in Tony's mind."

It is this absolutist and simplistic mindset that led the hawkish Blair to sign up to Bush's war and not give a damn about the consequences for Iraq, Iraqis or the region. "What do you do with Iraq?" asked Mandelson. "Who is going to run the place?" Blair replied:

That's the Americans' responsibility. It's down to the Americans.

Sickening. John Chilcot et al -- are you paying attention?

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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