Censorship isn't the story; greed and hypocrisy are.
Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, is blocking passages from a fly-on-the-wall account by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former ambassador to the UN, on the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Downing Street disowned any involvement in the censoring of the book yesterday after reports in the Observer and the Mail on Sunday that Tony Blair had wanted to block publication.
No 10 put the responsibility on the Foreign Office and Whitehall procedures to vet civil servants' memoirs for the removal of parts of the book, The Cost of War.
Sir Jeremy, who was also Mr Blair's special envoy to Iraq for a year, has been known to be a critic of the politicians' handling of the war.
The Observer said yesterday that some of the removed passages were highly critical of the US.
In one, Sir Jeremy calls America's decision to go to war "politically illegitimate" and says that negotiations in the United Nations "never rose above the level of awkward diversion for the US administration".
The story here isn't about the fact that the government is censoring his book, although that is important and should be condemned. What is the story is the way that Jeremy Greenstock has gone from being one of the biggest supporters and spokespersons for the war on Iraq, to being a supposed critic. Until June 2003, "Sir" Jeremy was Britain's ambassador to the UN. He had a major role in drafting the failed second resolution which would have "authorised" war (source: Blair's Wars by John Kampfner), which was never presented to the UN Security Council. He regularly appeared on Newsnight and other programmes at this time defending both the British and American governments efforts. He followed the line.
His first major break with policy was in July 2004, over a year after the invasion, when he was one of the first associated with the attack on Iraq to admit there had been major failures, as in the small matter of there being no weapons of mass destruction, and that the US had listened to the lies and distortions of Iraqi exiles too willingly, hearing what they had wanted to. He's now written his book, as many others have/or are doing. What's going on in here is the rewriting of history. They want us to forget that they supported this disastrous war, and what's more, they're succeeding. Is the situation in Iraq on the front pages of newspapers or on the main headlines of the news anymore? Do bears defecate in tree-rich environments? It doesn't matter that 150 died over three days of suicide bombings last weekend.
What really matters is that these people get their money.
A forthcoming book by Sir Christopher Meyer, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission and British ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003, will reveal the inner workings of Britain's lobbying in the run-up to the war, but it does not appear to have been censored.
Like Sir Jeremy, he has negotiated a newspaper serialisation deal and his book is due out this autumn.
That means that "Sir" Jeremy will have a nice fat wad of cash for his book. Let's see what else he's been up to since his posting to Iraq. Ex-ministers cleared to work for lobbying firm:
Civil servants faced much tougher restrictions. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's former special representative to Iraq, had to agree not to visit that country on business for six months last year after taking a job as special adviser to BP.
BP eh? What's BP when it's at home? Oh yeah, I think they just might have had an interest in war in Iraq. Too bad that the US doled out nearly all the contracts to their own firms. "Sir" Jeremy also now has took up a directorate at the Ditchley Foundation, which seems to have a nice line in hosting talking shops for politicians and others concerned in "international affairs".
The sad fact is that the deeper you dig into the Iraq war, the more corruption you run into. This war was all about greed and hypocrisy; "Sir" Jeremy Greenstock is just one tiny cog in it.