In the United States, we’re all supposed to have forgotten that the narrative leading to the Iraq War was propelled by false facts and arguments, often in circumstances where the claim of good-faith error is difficult to sustain. We’re supposed to keep listening to political figures who made false claims, and utterly exonerate the media that allowed them to circulate and gain credibility. That’s the American approach: “look forward, not back.”
In Britain, however, a careful self-assessment is underway that has gained wide public attention. A commission of inquiry is slowly dissecting the developments, measuring the statements of political actors, and pressing them—civilly but firmly—to explain themselves in view of the subsequently exposed facts. There’s plenty to criticize about the British process (and in the second foreword to Sam Dash’s book Justice Denied, I did just this). But it’s a sober and introspective act that does honor to the democratic process.
Today former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared before the Commission and was pressed about the bogus claims of WMDs in Iraq. Here’s a key clip from his appearance this morning, courtesy of the BBC. I’ll post more on this next week, after I’ve had a chance to finish reviewing the transcripts from the past two weeks.