The Economist‘s May 31st issue contained an article titled “What I’ve learned” by Tony Blair in which he “reflects on the lessons of his decade as Britain’s prime minister.”
A few days ago The Economist printed my letter in response to Blair’s piece on its website (scroll down to the last letter):
Tony Blair lays out evidence for Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Al-Qaeda’s having been “in Iraq before Saddam’s fall”. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Blair’s credibility is such that my immediate reaction was to wonder if he was exaggerating. Notably, Mr. Blair did not reflect on the need for accuracy and honesty in dealings with the public.
Mr. Blair goes on to write “terrorism recruits adherents on the basis of an appeal to human emotion”. How do accounts of yellow cake purchases in Niger and Mr Hussein being 45 minutes away from unleashing weapons of mass destruction differ from the terrorists’ tactic? It’s unfortunate that none of Mr. Blair’s reflections pertained to the need for world leaders to be honest and forthright when advocating a course of action—especially when making the case for war. Inflated, or “sexed up”, claims cause a loss of credibility which, in turn, can mean future threats go unheeded. And leaders who exaggerate these threats see their potential wasted and legacies tarnished.
(Please note the punctuation, notably putting commas and periods outside of the quotation marks, follows the standards for British English.)