As we prepare for Blair's mesopotamiam swansong before Chilcot later today we reflect and and ponder the many negative impacts of Blair's decision to back Bush's fantasy of preemption.
In the here and now it is Brown who will pay the electoral price for Iraq, while Blair's reputation is already too tarnished for his Chilcot appearance to make any difference; but back then what was Brown's position?
Steve Richards with his usual razor-sharp analysis, explains why and how the Iraq nightmare began with what he terms, "the origins of New Labour, a frail, insecure and defensive project from the beginning".
There is much in this and he is right to skewer Brown's support for it too, he also hints at why, "Acutely aware of Labour's vote-losing past when it was regarded as soft on defence and anti-American, Blair was always going to stick with the US over Iraq and seek as broad an international coalition of support as was possible.
In terms of domestic politics, Brown made similar calculations.Working on the wrong assumption that he would be prime minister by 2004 he did not want to inherit a government that had opposed the war, sided with mediocre European leaders against the US..."
Yet there was more to it than that, Blair believed; and as a SPAD of the period put it recently: 'he understood the importance of backing America, whatever our concerns about Iraq.'
Apparently he elucidated this in one of his regular weekly briefings to his SPADs at the time. Now there is a document I'd like to see the contents of in full; perhaps Chilcot could ak for that.
For a broader view and a sharper cutting edge we should look to John Kampfner, whose article sat adjacent to Richards' in the print edition today, spread across the centre of the paper. Kampfner says, "One man bears supreme responsibility for this most ignominious chapter in British foreign policy and political life. But many others played their part too, with their sins of omission and commission. Not one, not a single person, has been held to account, least of all Blair. He got away with it a long time ago. He always knew he would."
Brown and New Labour however won't get away with it, nor will the rest of us, paying as we are a number of very real prices for Blair's historic miscalculation that Britain's future lay not in Europe but in the Lone Star state and a middle eastern bonfire of his vanity:
John Kampfner: And still no one has been held to account for Iraq