WEB DESK: The Chilcot inquiry report on the Iraq war released last Wednesday after seven long years of a probe into Britain’s role in the war formally establishes what we have known all along: that the Bush-Blair duo invaded and occupied a sovereign state using false pretexts.
Its value, however, lies in that at least Blair is being held to account for taking his country into a war of aggression. There is no such reckoning in the US. The chief culprit, George W Bush, remains unaffected, continuing to enjoy the status of a respected former president while Washington has gone on to cause more deaths and destruction in Syria and Libya.
The Chilcot inquiry committee set up by Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, under public pressure points out that military action at the time was not a last resort and that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD were presented with a certainty that was not justified. Policy on the Iraq invasion, says the report, was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessment, and was not challenged, as it should have been. In fact, Blair was least bothered about the rights and wrongs of the war.
As he said in his July 28, 2002, note to Bush “I will be with you, whatever.” He was eager to tag along unconditionally. He claims credit for persuading Bush to go down the UN route, forgetting having stayed with Bush even as he challenged UN’s authority telling the Security Council to authorise military action or become “irrelevant”. Both then went on to ignore the UNSC and invade Iraq. According to Blair apologists, he supported Bush because he wanted to revitalise the UK’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, which had come under some strain during the previous Labour governments. More likely, a hangover from his country’s colonial past urged Blair to participate in a modern-day imperialist adventure, even if as an adjunct to the new Empire.
Blair of course remains unrepentant. The day the Chilcot report was released he addressed a two-hour long self-justification press conference saying “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer.” Considering what is happening in Iraq these come across as the words of a man completely out of touch with reality. Iraq is in tatters as a result of the invasion and occupation.
That surely does not bother him. But from the ruins of the war also emerged jihadists like the late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and later one Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri. Held at an occupation forces detention centre from 2005 to 2009 as a “civilian internee”, in due time, following Zarqawi’s death, Badri was to take over leadership of al Qaeda and then go on to form an even more extremist organisation of his own, ISIS, to establish the Islamic State in parts of Iraq expanding into Syria (in the aftermath of Western countries proxy intervention against the Assad regime) and declare himself Khalifa Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi’s IS has since become a magnate for all sorts of jihadists radicalised by the imperialist misadventure. They have been launching terrorist attacks everywhere from Bangladesh to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Libya; and from Paris in France and Brussels in Belgium to San Bernardino and Orlando in the US, putting the world on high alert.
The families of 179 British military personnel who died in an ‘illegal’ war are threatening to sue Blair. Hence he offered an apology to them saying he felt “deeply and sincerely” the grief and suffering of those who lost their loved ones.” There is no remorse for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The Chilcot report is not sure how many Iraqis were killed, saying “at least 150,000 Iraqis-and probably many more-most of them civilian” died. This is a gross underestimate.
Back in 2006, a survey carried out by the respected British medical journal, The Lancet, put the number of Iraqi war-related deaths at 654,965 – 2.5 percent of the country’s population. Countless others suffered lifelong disabilities from injuries caused by the invaders. Millions felt forced to find refuge in the neighbouring countries. Innumerable lives have perished in an ensuing civil war and relentless suicide bombings.
Iraq is still counting its dead. During the last week alone, nearly 300 people were killed in two separate IS suicide bombings and another 12 on Tuesday ie, day before yesterday. Tens of thousands of mothers in Iraq must be sharing the sentiments of the mother of a British soldier killed in Iraq who called Blair the “world’s worst terrorist” also adding Bush’s name to that designation.
Had even a fraction of these mass murders been committed by an unfriendly leader of a small country, by now Messrs Blair and Bush would have dragged him to the International Criminal Court for trial. There are people in their own countries though who want them to be tried as war criminals, like a Scottish National Party leader, Alex Salmond, who is insisting on “a consideration of what political or legal consequences are appropriate for those responsible”. He along with several supporters is reported to be actively pursuing that course.
The leader of Blair’s own Labour Party, Jeremy Corbin, who had opposed the war all along, formally apologised to the Iraqi people following the release of the Chilcot report. And speaking in Parliament he averred, “all those who took the decisions laid bare in the Chilcot report must face up to the consequence of their actions whatever they may be.” It remains to be seen if at all there are to be any legal consequences but, unlike George Bush, Tony Blair will find himself hounded by the Iraq war for the rest of his life.
Source: Business Recorder