Alastair Campbell has backed his embattled former boss, Tony Blair, following the release of the Chilcot report into Britain's conduct of the Iraq war in 2003 earlier today (6 July). The findings of the seven-year inquiry were scathing and concluded that under Blair's stewardship "the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort."
Campbell was the Director of Communications and Strategy at No. 10 between 1997 and 2003. Writing on his blog after the findings were made public, the IBTimes UK columnist stated that the Chilcot report ultimately failed to acknowledge that leaders need to make tough decisions.
Rejecting the notion that Blair's argument for going to war was based on "flawed intelligence and assessments", Campbell wrote: "I was one of the few people who saw the process of his making the decision close up, virtually round the clock, around the world.
"Far from seeing someone hellbent on war, I saw someone doing all he could to avoid it. Far from seeing someone undermine the UN, I saw him trying his hardest to make it work," Campbell added.
"Far from seeing someone cavalier about the consequences of war, I saw someone who agonised about them, and I know he still does, as do all who were there, part of his team."
According to Chilcot's report, Blair sent a message to then-US President George Bush eight months before the invasion of Iraq with an unequivocal message of support. The memo, dated 28 July 2002 said: "I will be with you, whatever."
Blair had neither discussed nor agreed the commitment with his Cabinet and ultimately set the UK on a path "leading to diplomatic activity in the UN and the possibility of participation in military action in a way that would make it very difficult for the UK subsequently to withdraw its support for the US."
Campbell wrote that the "the deaths of soldiers weigh heavily on [Blair], as do the deaths of Iraqi civilians. He knows there are things he should apologise for. But one thing he will never apologise for is standing up to one of the worst, most fascist dictators the world has ever known."
He also refuted the idea that UK action in Iraq made the country a prominent target for terrorists. To those who say that "UK action in Iraq put us in the front of the queue for attack should note that Isis [Islamic State] has been and remains indiscriminate," wrote Campbell.
"France was our most vocal critic over the war in Iraq, yet has been a greater victim of Isis than we and others who backed the US-led action. Belgium played no part in the war, but it too has been struck by Isis," he added.