In my local last night with friends, The Black Horse in Woburn, it didn’t take long for the conversation to get around to Iraq.
Not least because one of the people present was Jonathan Collett.
Jonathan was Michael Howard’s press secretary. He worked for Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague prior to this and as you might imagine, he knows his politics.
As part of his remit, whilst working for Michael Jonathan sat through every day and every minute of the Hutton Inquiry.
Jonathan then wrote a summary of the inquiry well before the Hutton report was released.
The conversation sparked up as a result of the statement which General Petraeus gave to Congress on Monday.
Jonathan believes that Blair lied to Parliament, to justify a legal case for the war. He argues that during the Hutton inquiry, Hutton stated that the intelligence upon which the justification to go war was based was "sporadic, patchy and limited."
Blair told Parliament it was "extensive, detailed and authoritative".
I think it is time to move on from the should we or should we not arguments and look at the Iraq we have today, and how it may improve in the future.
More importantly I think we need to set goals for an Iraq twenty years from now, and imagine what that Iraq would have been like under Saddam, and son of Saddam and son of Saddam.
Is it really conceivable now that we could have allowed such a brutal regime to have continued? Could we have sat back and watched as Iraq became a target for the fundamentalists?
A vacuum of controlled brutality, is the perfect environment from within which the fundamentalists could have operated either with the support of Saddam, or by imposing their own brand of regime change.
Iraq is an ancient country steeped in ancient history. In the grand scale of a few thousand years the twenty years or so that it will probably take to restore harmony and order will appear as a corrective necessity in the history books of the future.
A necessity which took many American, British and Iraqi lives to achieve.
The true value of the lives lost is enormous.
Without their sacrifice where would we in the Western world be in twenty years?
We look towards a positive future for Iraq, however if Islamists had colonised Iraq and controlled the largest portion of world oil, second only to Russia, where would that have left us?
Almost certainly at the mercy of people who hate us with such intensity it’s almost impossible to comprehend.
As Senator Joe Lieberman said, "They don’t want to come to the table with us, they want to blow the table up".
And for anyone reading this thinking "but the Islamists weren’t in Iraq or had any intention of moving into Iraq". Do we know this to be true? Do we not just have to open our eyes and look around the world to see what the Islamist fundamentalist’s intentions are? Do we not need to just listen to their words and teachings to understand?
By focusing our arguments on whether or not the war was legal, I think we do a disservice to the people of Iraq, who, if they were in the pub with us, would want to talk about how we make their country economically viable and secure.
They would want us to be doing all we can to make their country free and fully in the control of the people, with free elections and an accountable democracy.
Iraq belongs to its people. Not the Islamist or the West, or Saddam, but its people.
The solutions to stability, the lessons which need to be learnt, as Petraeus demonstrated with such conviction on Monday are being learnt today.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor will be the new Iraq. But in twenty years from now, even the most defiant anti-war protesters may concede that maybe, just maybe, when Iraq’s children are running around in the street with full tummies and free from the fear of brutality, when our children can sleep safe in their beds still free British citizens, that a good job was done by brave men and women.
Some who were world leaders, some who were squaddie’s. Some have paid with their political careers or parties and some with their lives, but all, whatever your opinion of should we or shouldn’t we, very very brave men.