Asa Winstanley—One year ago this month Sir John Chilcot, a leading former civil servant, finally published the report of his long-awaited enquiry into the British role in the illegal and immoral US imperial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
That war destroyed an entire country. More than 1 million Iraqis were killed, with untold numbers injured, orphaned, widowed and traumatised for life. Even worse than that, the war never ended. The invasion set off a deadly chain of events – one that resulted in the creation of the horrific entity which calls itself “Islamic State”.
A brutal and bloody civil war closely followed the invasion – one sparked in large part by very deliberately sectarian policies perused by US occupation authorities. Following the pattern set by US imperial involvement in Latin America’s dirty wars, former US special forces colonel James Steele set up sectarian death squads in Iraq. These “commando units” were a major factor in the rise of the horrific group Al-Qaeda in Iraq – a forerunner organisation to “Islamic State.”
The wars that still rage in Iraq until this very day have a direct continuity with that fateful day in March 2003. Tony Blair is to blame for all of this.
Apart from particulars and certain aspects of detail, Chilcot’s report was never really going to tell us much we didn’t already know.
Literally millions of people warned Tony Blair not to go to war in Iraq, because it would become a disaster – hurricane of death and destruction for the Iraqi people, with negative consequences for the world in general. It gives those of us who marched against the war at the time no pleasure whatsoever to be proved completely correct.
But Blair has always despised ordinary people and held us in utter contempt. He is part of the political class of professional politicians who believe humanity should be ruled by a divine class of enlightened technocrats – superior beings to the rest of this, or so they claim. His entire political philosophy is completely contemptible. It’s a disgrace that he ever came to hold a death-like grip on the Labour Party.
According to Labour Party expert Robin Ramsay, “Blair hated the Labour Party and viewed it as his enemy,” but nonetheless saw it as his most likely route to power. Power for power’s sake has always been the mantra of the Blairites. Thankfully they have now been decisively rejected by the Labour Party membership, with their detritus hopefully soon to be swept away completely.
Chilcot, being appointed to lead the enquiry by Blair’s New Labour successor Gordon Brown, was never going to be incisive, or criticise Tony Blair with the outright hostility he deserves. But even he could not avoid reaching the most obvious of conclusions: “Military action at that time was not a last resort … there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.”
This month, Chilcot broke his public silence, maintained since the publication of his report a year ago. He told the BBC that Blair had not been “straight with the nation” in giving his justification for war.
Blair notoriously lied to the country, claiming that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had had chemical weapons and could deploy them against British targets with 45 minutes. Even at the time, this was a transparent lie, which could not fool too many people. But now even such an establishment figure as the leader of the Chilcot enquiry has to admit that Blair lied (even though he would not use those words, that is the clear implication).
The Chilcot report contained a key supporting document, from 28 July 2002. In it Blair wrote to then US President George W. Bush saying that “I will be with you, whatever.” Despite the play-acting of UN and parliamentary debates that were to follow, the prime minister had in reality already taken the unilateral decision to go to war – at the behest of his political masters across the Atlantic.
It is bad news that Blair remains on the political scene. He still has the temerity to chime in with his fully unwanted opinions from time to time, and has even made noises about starting a new “moderate” political force. But the good news is that that seems unlikely to succeed – recent polling shows that any return by Blair to lead Labour would cause a “voter exodus.”
“I will be with you, whatever” should now be Blair’s political epitaph, and Exhibit A at his trial for war crimes in the Hague.