In an eerie twist of fate, yesterday marked eight years since Tony Blair delivered his eve-of-war address to the House of Commons on Iraq. David Cameron’s calm and resolute statement on Libya has already attracted similar plaudits.
In an op-ed piece for today’s Times (£), the former prime minister gives Cameron his blessing.
[T]he decision to impose a no-fly zone and authorise all necessary measures to protect threatened civilians comes not a moment too soon. It is a shift to a policy of intervention that I welcome. Such a policy will be difficult and unpredictable. But it is surely better than watching in real time as the Libyan people’s legitimate aspiration for a better form of government and way of life is snuffed out by tanks and planes.
Elsewhere, Blair writes that “the distinction between moral outrage and strategic interests can be false”. He adds: “In a region where our strategic interests are dramatically and profoundly engaged, it is unlikely that the effect of a regime going rogue and brutalising its own people will remain isolated within its own borders. If Colonel Gaddafi were allowed to kill large numbers of Libyans to squash the hope of a different Libya, we shouldn’t be under any illusion.”
It is perhaps the greatest indictment of the Iraq war that it ultimately served neither moral nor strategic interests. But Blair’s appetite for intervention remains undimmed as ever.