We always had to go to war

John Keegan:

"Opponents of the war waged by America and Britain to bring down Saddam Hussein will be disappointed by the Hutton report. They had hoped that Lord Hutton would endorse the allegation made in Andrew Gilligan's now notorious broadcast that the Government had tampered with the contents of an intelligence report in order to enhance the case for war.


"Evidence of weapons of mass destruction would not, however, really help. The anti-war party is not so much concerned that Britain was involved in the war as that there was a war at all. Yet there was going to be a war, like it or not. The American government was determined to get rid of Saddam and was even more certain than the British that Saddam had WMD and was a danger to peace.

"Unlike the British, moreover, America did not agonise about further legal endorsement of military action, the 'second resolution'' so widely demanded in and out of Parliament. The Americans took the view that Saddam was already in breach of enough UN Security Council resolutions to have no ground for complaint if he were attacked. The resolutions identified him as a threat to peace and security and warned him of 'serious consequences.'

"The bitter-enders have become so legalistic, however, that it seems they would prefer Saddam to have survived in the absence of a second resolution even at the expense of his monstrous dictatorship over the Iraqi people surviving as well. The legalism that pervades the European world is both baffling - and growing in strength.


"Even had the second resolution that the Prime Minister so earnestly sought been passed, it is unlikely that its outcome would have satisfied the anti-war party. The resolution would almost certainly have insisted that Saddam co-operate more closely with the UN inspection regime, making resort to military action contingent either on failure to comply or on discovery of the 'smoking gun' (whatever that meant) so often demanded by the legalists."


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