AT NO juncture in the Chilcot report are the words “lie” or “crime” juxtaposed with the name Tony Blair, but inquiry conclusions leave no doubt about culpability.
Blair has seen every accusation against him and been able to defend himself and yet the final report strips bare the web of lies he span to justify his determination to invade Iraq at George W Bush’s behest.
Career civil servant Sir John Chilcot couches his statements in moderate language, but the inferences are clear.
Blair first discussed regime change in Iraq with the US president shortly after the September 2001 al-Qaida atrocities in the US.
His July 2002 secret letter to Bush, promising “I will be with you, whatever,” committed this country to war.
His chosen task of confecting a pretext for war the following March involved misuse of intelligence, assisted by spin doctor Alastair Campbell, and the “far from satisfactory” manner in which Lord Goldsmith’s legal opinion was compiled.
As a lawyer, Blair knew that invoking regime change to invade Iraq was against international law.
Washington routinely disregards international law, but it could have proved problematic for Blair, which is why he encouraged and relied on fabricated assessments of Iraq’s capacity to deploy chemical and biological weapons — Campbell’s “dodgy dossier.”
Despite claims that all the world’s intelligence agencies believed at the time that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), UN weapons inspectors sent to the country after the first Iraq war 1991 reported all WMD destroyed.
Subsequent Iraq-wide inspections led by Hans Blix in 2002 and early 2003 found no trace of WMD before UN inspectors were forced to end their work because the long-planned invasion was about to begin.
The US-UK blitzkrieg soon defeated the Iraqi armed forces, prompting Bush’s Mission Accomplished braggadocio aboard a US warship, but the occupying powers’ destructive excesses sparked popular resistance to the occupation and sowed seeds of subsequent sectarian and national conflict.
Having crushed Saddam’s armies, the occupiers set about destroying Iraq as a state, until then among the most advanced in the Arab world.
The police, armed forces and civil service were disbanded while personnel learned they would receive no more salaries or pensions.
Ministries, apart from the oil ministry, were abandoned to looters, while state infrastructure, from power generation to clean water provision, was destroyed, opening the way for lucrative contracts for Halliburton and Bush’s other corporate paymasters.
Sectarian strife encouraged by Washington gave rise to Islamic State (Isis), even though Blair pretends that Isis was born in Syria.
His claim that there was no way of knowing that his war would bring about disaster for British troops and Iraqi civilians is dismissed by Chilcot, who does “not agree that hindsight is required.”
More pertinently, Jeremy Corbyn warned at the time that invasion would “set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation.”
Yet Blairite MP Ian Austin had the gall to heckle the Labour leader’s dignified response to David Cameron’s self-justifying parliamentary introduction to Chilcot.
Pro-war colleagues whined their support for Blair, defending their 2003 votes and accepting no responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of imperialist aggression.
Their abject backing for a man dubbed “the world’s worst terrorist” by Sarah O’Connor, whose soldier brother was killed in Iraq, confirmed their estrangement from not only Labour members but wider public opinion.
That these defenders of Blair’s crimes are the most ardent advocates of Corbyn’s resignation to be replaced by one of their own speaks volumes for their political degeneracy.
It confirms the need for Corbyn to remain as Labour leader.
this article appeared in The Morning Star, Thursday 7th July