So what actually changed between 7 March and 17 March to turn "maybe" into "definitely"?
Blair, Brown and Straw claim that Hans Blix's report "Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programmes" presented to the Security Council on March 7, was evidence of Saddam Hussein's non-compliance. However, the same day, Blix announced that Iraq was making significant progress and was co-operating. Blair alleges that a report by Straw setting out the Foreign Office assessment of the situation convinced the attorney general that the war was legal, but the report was just a selective version of Mr Blix's earlier report.
Straw claimed that on 10 March, Jacques Chirac threatened to kill the UN resolution, making it "impossible to put before the Security Council successfully". The French government accuses the British government of deliberately misrepresenting its position and notes that only 4 of 15 members had been prepared to back the resolution.
Blair's Government then decided that resolution 1441 re-enacted automatically, so a second resolution was not needed. Earlier, the British ambassador had stated "There is no 'automaticity' in this resolution . If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the council for discussion,"
Straw alleges that Lord Goldsmith was presented with "clear and strong factual evidence" that Iraq was in breach of its obligations. Of course, we know the evidence was not clear or strong and Straw now admits that Blair simply told Lord Goldsmith they had evidence, he didn't see any of it. The full opinion of March 7 does not state categorically that a war would be lawful. The opinion states that in order to obtain a court ruling that war was lawful they would need "strong factual grounds" and "hard evidence" of non-compliance. Every report by the UN inspectors concluded that there was increasing compliance by Iraq and that they had found no actual WMD, even although they checked the sites suggested by British intelligence.
The government denies suppressing the report from the cabinet, but Lord Goldsmith only presented a short statement on March 17, he did not mention any of his reservations. Clare Short confirmed that none of the ministers present was allowed to ask questions and Patricia Hewitt admitted that neither she nor any other member had questioned Lord Goldsmith. The ministerial code states that the whole cabinet should receive the "complete text" of advice from the government's law officers.
Under international law, there are only three routes to a legal war;
1 Self-defence; Claims that Iraq could muster long range weapons in 45 minutes have now been rubbished, and no-one realistically thinks that Saddam could attack the US or UK. Remember that despite their claims there is no evidence linking Saddam to the September 11 attack.
2 To avert a humanitarian catastrophe; There was no humanitarian crisis until we invaded. Thanks to us loads of civilians have died, infrastructure and homes have been destroyed and national resources sold off to US companies. As a result the infant mortality rate and the number of children living in poverty has risen. Then of course there is the insurgency.
3 UN resolution
Blair accidentally admitted his guilt when he confirmed that when he realised there would be no resolution, he "had to decide whether we back away, leave Saddam immeasurably stronger, or remove him. I took the decision to remove him. These decisions are tough and that is what leadership is about". Lord Goldsmith made it quite clear that "regime change cannot be the objective of military action". International law is very clear; you cannot invade a country and depose their leaders just because you do not like them. Like many people I wanted us to help the Iraqi people, but we had the perfect chance to remove him when he illegally invaded Kuwait. Instead, Bush senior decided to keep him in power and the UN applied sanctions which made the Iraqi people even more reliant on Saddam's corrupt government.
Clearly, Blair and his buddies were less than open, and gave assurances they had no evidence to back up. The decision was political, and illegal. What makes it all the more sickening is that Howard (who is leading the charge to have Blair beheaded) says he would have voted for the war anyway! The Tories are opportunistic and hypocritical, but that is no surprise. The real surprise was that after finally getting rid of the Tory scum, Labour turned out to be a bunch of Tories anyway.