24-hours after a report claiming the UK government is the most transparent in the world, the 6-year wait for The Chilcot Inquiry in to the Iraq War to be published was extended until after the general election in May this year.
I was present for one of the eyewitness-sessions of the enquiry when former Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared, back in 2010. Whilst he blathered on about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran (which still hasn’t happened, even after decades of neo-con doom-mongering) I wondered how difficult it was to completely wrap yourself in an ideology to protect your being from the glaring mis-truths you have to speak and actions you carry out. It obviously takes a high degree of a certain kind-of-intelligence to do this, no-one doubts that Blair was and is an intelligent man, in this way. However, that intelligence was completely consumed by the Iraq invasion and subsequent set of disasters that have be-set that country and region since. He looked like a haunted man that day, let alone today.
It wasn’t JUST Blair though. He was the prime minister at the time and he certainly set the tone and action for the UK joining the US politically and militarily on this mis-adventure. I do doubt that the ever-cautious Gordon Brown (at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer) would have been so hasty to join the lunatics in the Pentagon and Oval Office if he had been prime minister at the time. However, it was Parliament which made the final decision to join the invasion, overwhelmingly, 412-149. (This final vote took place one-day before the invasion began).
Were the Members of Parliament, who voted for the invasion, blinded by the intelligence (or lack of) coming from the UK and US security forces? Were they too busy being whipped in to frenzy by the media (Murdoch) and party whips? Was there a sense of left-over imperial pride in re-entering the scene of previous British conquests in the early 20th century in the then named Mesopotamia? I don’t know. It must have been a tricky time for many, and many still carry the scars of their terrible decision-making today, most notably Tony Blair. It is easy to conclude that it was the faulty (made-up) intelligence that fooled these members of parliament, but even if the intelligence had been 100% correct, that Saddam Hussein had a large WMD programme and was potentially looking to build nuclear weapons, were those reasons, based on old assumptions and half-truths that had been known for decades, reason-enough to commit your armed forces to a hasty assault on a sovereign nation? If so, we in the UK should prepare for invasion as our government pushes ahead in replacing our nuclear “deterrent”.
You will have heard and read a lot about how what is happening in Iraq and the wider-region has nothing to do with the US-UK led invasion. Or will you? Most reports I have seen on the likes of BBC television news offer very little context on how Islamic State (IS) came to exist and how, most importantly, they are accepted or at least tolerated as an alternative by Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq in comparison to their sectarian governments who are seen as waging war on them. In the aftermath of the invasion, the American and British systematically destroyed the Iraqi state as existed under Saddam Hussain’s Baathist and Sunni-led dictatorship and turned the country completely over the previously persecuted Shia majority of the country, without any real thought or concern for the consequences this would have on the citizens of Iraq. If the invasion was illegal under international law (which to this laymen, it clearly was) these actions were tantamount to the prolonged torture of an entire country and its people (not to mention Abu Ghraib).
When The Chilcot Inquiry is eventually published, clearly at a time which best suites those under the microscope and wider establishment and not the British public, who were, it should be remembered, overwhelmingly against the invasion, what will we discover that we do not already know? The invasion was an utter disaster for the people of Iraq, yet not one of the decision-makers has ever felt any justice for this. History books, enquiries and public anger are not enough. Where is the International Criminal Court (ICC) when you need it?
Jonathan Woodrow Martin
Originally published on Counterpunch on 22nd January, 2015.