‘In a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree.’ That’s been one of Tony Blair’s stock responses to critics of the Iraq war since before it started. He wheeled it out most recently to dismiss Desmond Tutu’s call for him and George W. Bush to be ‘made to answer for their actions in the Hague’.
Obviously Blair’s right, up to a point: the existence of God, who to vote for, the price of jam, what would win in a fight between a weasel and a rattlesnake – all things that people can agree to disagree about. But with some questions – such as, say, whether or not someone’s committed a crime – the disagreement has to be settled in a court of law. If you’re spotted kneeling over a bloody corpse with a knife in your hand, the police are unlikely to let you go just because you tell them they’re entitled to their opinion, even if you’re a former prime minister (we’re talking about a hypothetical ‘healthy democracy’ here, remember).
If Blair’s as sure of his innocence as he proclaims, he shouldn’t have anything to fear from being put on trial. You might even think he’d welcome the opportunity to clear his name and silence his critics once and for all. On the other hand, it’s obviously never going to happen, so there’s no reason for him to give it much thought. But that needn’t stop the rest of us speculating. Were he indicted, and for whatever reason didn’t feel like agreeing to disagree with his accusers at the International Criminal Court, he could always run to the embassy of a friendly state that isn’t a party to the Rome Statute: Kazakhstan, say, or the United States. Either would surely be happy to offer him asylum. Justice wouldn’t be served, but at least he’d have to give up his lucrative touring of the international lecture circuit.