"Iraq will be better," declared Tony Blair five days after the fall of Saddam. "Better for the region, better for the world, better, above all, for the Iraqi people." That contrasts starkly with the several hundred thousand dead and injured Iraqis, four million refugees inside and outside Iraq, 4,141 coalition soldiers who have died and the cost to the UK of well in excess of Â£5bn. Yet it's now clear that Mr Blair knew before the invasion that America's planning for post-war recovery was woefully inadequate - and so was Britain's. There was no properly worked-out strategy for the key longer term objective of transforming it into a stable, prosperous nation that the Blair-Bush vision held out. We know this because Lady [Sally] Morgan, Mr Blair's former political secretary, has said he was "tearing his hair out", and his former foreign affairs adviser Sir David Manning has said he was "very exercised about it". The fact that Mr Blair feared the invasion aftermath might be heading for disaster is potentially more damaging to his reputation than his decision to put the full weight of his office behind the intelligence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. For that he had cover from the Secret Intelligence Service. What, then, is his defence to the charge that he recklessly continued with the invasion? His friends and advisers say his frustration stemmed from his inability to influence the Pentagon, under Donald Rumsfeld, on post-war planning. The hawkish defence secretary had required his generals to give America a "lite" footprint - a small invasion force that could be rapidly withdrawn afterwards. Does this defence stack up? It suggests that Mr Blair's "hair tearing" did not begin until 20 January 2003 - just eight weeks before the invasion. It was only then that Mr Rumsfeld was put in charge of post-war planning, with a presidential directive establishing a reconstruction unit in the Department of Defense. Considering that the American General George C Marshall was given three-and-a-half years to plan the reconstruction of Germany after World War II, that's leaving things dangerously late.