No, the Chilcot Inquiry wasn’t a whitewash
Few adjectives, no name-calling and no hyperbole. Instead, each sentence pointedly weighed and turned into a sober narrative.
Nevertheless, the Chilcot Inquiry is a damning verdict against Tony Blair and British involvement in the Iraq war.
This report may not satisfy all of those who opposed the war and already condemned Tony Blair as a “war criminal” and a “liar”. But Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues on Britain’s Iraq Inquiry offered an admirable lesson to the establishment on Wednesday. They could not have written a more damaging critique of how a nation rushed into a ruinous war by following the lead of one man.
Tony Blair got the war he wanted. But it was one which ended up being an horrendous disaster for all of us — especially for the Iraqis.
What Sir John Chilcot revealed was utterly devastating for a former Prime Minister, who has not only recklessly destroyed his own reputation but whose actions ended up in the loss of hundreds thousands of people’s lives in the bloodbath that followed.
In agreeing with George W Bush Jr. to invade Iraq, it is now evident that Tony Blair wanted his war more than anything else.
George Bush Jr. was inventing threats and exaggerating evidence but Tony Blair didn’t budge. Instead he pledged his allegiance to the US president by offering his unqualified backing to the invasion of Iraq eight months before UN inspectors had completed their work. In a letter to George Bush Jr, Tony Blair wrote “I will be with you, whatever.” These few words will be remembered as a pledge to support the craziness of the American foreign policy.
The Chilcot report has also revealed a six-page memo marked as secret and personal, where Tony Blair wrote to the then US president in July 2002, stating that the removal of Saddam Hussein would “free up the region” — even if Iraqis may “feel ambivalent about being invaded” and could well fight back.
Here lies the true nature of the invasion of Iraq.
It wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction or threats to the West — it was about a unilateral vision of the world where the United States and its closest ally the United Kingdom had a moral duty to spread “their democracy” around the Arab world. In their “world” the Western Democracies had a duty to punish a dictator by bombing the local population and sending in ground troops.
All those letters and memos included in the Chilcot report show a rush to invade Iraq without planning, by using smokescreens and fabricating excuses.
Unfortunately, rushing to war without allowing a chance for peace, and with a lack of planning for what comes next, fuelled Islamist terrorism and helped to destabilise the region even more.
Let’s be honest, most people didn’t need a 2.6-million-word report and a seven-year inquiry to understand the true consequences of the Iraq war.
Of course Saddam Hussein was a dictator that didn’t hesitate to invade Kuwait or use chemical weapons against his own people. He was a fascist and the earth is better off without him. No, Tony Blair did not lie about Saddam Hussein but he was too “quick” in both his judgement to invade Iraq and his support of the Bush’s administration in their “war of civilisation”.
Tony Blair was “too sure” in his ability to secure the support of the UN council, too sure in his abilities to manage the “aftermath” and too careless of the consequences of a change of regime.
Thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives since 2003, the world isn’t a better place and Iraq is still a dangerous place to live where terrorism is a disease that spread like wild fire as soon Saddam Hussein was defeated.
In March 2003, there was no imminent threat even if Saddam Hussein was a dangerous monster. Even if the Iraqi tyrant was a murderer that used torture as a political weapon against his opponents, war with occupation of the country wasn’t the way to remove him.
Tony Blair has his own personal belief in the moral righteousness of toppling a dictator, and an illusion that a new Arab democracy would rise afterwards. In 2002/2003 Tony Blair was living in a fantasy world where “democracy” can be brought by “bombing a civilian population”.
Instead of bringing peace, Tony Blair has contributed to the destabilisation of an entire country.
Instead of finding Weapons of Mass Destruction, we witnessed the unleashing of Islamist terrorism across the globe and especially in Iraq.
Tony Blair tried hard on Wednesday during his press conference to defend his own actions, but how to justify the indefensible? It’s now an impossible task.
The last Labour government achieved much, especially by bringing peace to Northern Ireland. But Tony Blair has destroyed his own legacy with the invasion of Iraq.
Some of his remaining supporters feel that they still have to “protect” their “leader”. This minority insist on defending the actions of Tony Blair, akin to members of a “cult”, with blind faith blocking out the truth.
But the truth is that this war was a disaster; firstly, for the families of the 179 servicemen and women who lost their lives, but moreover it has created a living nightmare for the Iraqi population.
The Chilcot report is damning indictment of Tony Blair and everything he stood for. As a political leader, he is now, thankfully, finished.