Paul Waugh is only doing it to disrupt my real work. Now he decides to take issue with something I wrote before Tony Blair's appearance on the Fern Britton programme.
He accuses me of selective quotation, which is unfair, as I was working from a first web edition of The Times before the full transcript was available. I returned to the interview in my post the next day and with a transcript of all the Iraq sections of the interview a few days later.
This is the important exchange about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction:
Blair: "I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean, obviously, you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat."
Waugh rightly thinks that the the last sentence is more significant than the one before it, which is all that The Times quoted. Its main significance is that it was a mistake for Blair to have expressed himself so clumsily. Waugh says:
Well, it does if you are opposed to the war and looking for a "hidden" motive to explain why Blair "really" wanted British forces to take part in the invasion. To me, it sounds awfully like a man following a train of thought even as he realised that it was a dead end.
If Saddam had complied fully and verifiably with UN resolutions, Blair would still have preferred him out of power, but there would have been nothing he could have done about it. If the Americans went ahead with the invasion, Jack Straw, the Cabinet and the House of Commons would not have been with them, as Straw made clear in his submission to the Iraq Inquiry (pdf).
Finally, Waugh says:
Yet John is the man who keeps telling us that there is no such thing as an illegal war. Confusing, huh?
Perhaps I was not as clear as I should have been. There is no court that can rule on the legality or otherwise of military actions outside of treaty-defined war crimes. Britain as a matter of public policy prefers to rely on a body of international precedent; America doesn't give a stuff. So actions can be more or less "legal": Kosovo was "less", Iraq "more", because it was in pursuance of UN resolutions as "revived" by 1441 (and well explained by Straw in his submission).
Or perhaps Waugh could ask Philippe Sands to explain it to him.