PRABIR PURKAYASTHA | 8 JULY, 2016
NEW DELHI: The Chilcot Report confirms what we have always known. That Blair and Bush had made up their minds long before the actual invasion. Both of them lied to create the WMD scare, claimed a non-existent Saddam al Qaeda link, planned to by-pass the UN Security Council; had no understanding of the war they were entering and completely botched up the post-invasion operations.
So why is the Chilcot Report important? Because this time, it is the voice of the British establishment agreeing to all of the above and providing detailed evidence.
The Report prepared by John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, took seven years to complete, consisted of 2.6 million words and has been published in 12 hefty volumes.
The most damning part of the Report is the six page secret memo that Blair wrote to Bush in July 2002, which starts with “I will be with you, whatever”. Brought to my mind the old remix song where Bush and Blair proclaim their “Endless Love”.
The memo makes clear that eight months before the actual declaration of war, Blair and Bush had already made up their minds to go to war. All that remained was how to manage the optics. As the Blair memo states, “The military part of this is hazardous. I will concentrate mainly on the political context for success. Getting rid of Saddam is the right thing to do …”
The memo goes on to outline how to crate casus belli (cause of action). Saddam could be shown not to be complying with inspections, irrespective of what he did and that military action would be taken irrespective of a UN Security Council resolution. It is all there in black and white, a good eight months before the actual war. The only issue that Blair raises is how many coalition partners can be found and how the post-invasion scenario would be handled. The smoking gun that Blair lied to the people and his Parliament is all there for us to see.
On the so-called WMD's, the Report states, "The lack of evidence to support pre‑conflict claims about Iraq’s WMD challenged the credibility of the Government and the intelligence community, and the legitimacy of the war."
Chilcot goes on to talk about how the US completely destroyed Iraq and the region and all that Blair did was to speak to Bush privately. Probably sweet nothings. Blair was warned that it would lead to the rise of instability in the region and the rise of terrorism, but refused to listen. It is a damning indictment of the UK government and Tony Blair, who led the UK to war in Iraq.
Chilcot does not provide answer to the question whether Blair should be impeached as a war criminal, as according to him, his was not a court of justice, only of enquiry. Instead, he has produced a mountain of evidence that Blair (and of course Bush) are indeed war criminals.
Before the release of the Report, George Galloway had predicted that there would be calls for the impeachment of Blair within the Labour Party. This came true, with Paul Flynn, the Shadow Commons Leader, telling the BBC, "I think really there should be serious consideration to him being prosecuted for this but I think this remains to be seen."
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, though very critical of Blair in the Parliament, did not call explicitly for impeachment. He later apologised – first and foremost – to the Iraqi people, on behalf of the party for its role in the 2003 Iraq war, and warned that those who took the decisions “laid bare in the Chilcot report” must now face the consequences.
In an unrepentant speech, Blair continued to defend his role in the invasion of Iraq, as did George Bush. To them, the removal of Saddam trumped all other considerations, including more than 1 million Iraqis killed and the whole region engulfed in terror and civil wars.
The other question that is now hanging over the Labour Party is the attempted coup by the Labour Parliamentary wing against Jeremy Corbyn, elected leader by ordinary members of the party. There is evidence to show that a coterie around Tony Blair, tied to an ad agency, master minded this attempted coup. Though it has left Corbyn embattled, given the wide support Corbyn enjoys among the grass root members, the attempt did not succeed,. The intent was to get rid of Corbyn before the Chilcot Report was placed in the Parliament. Once the Repot was out, Corbyn might support calls for Blair's impeachment, which could then put Blair literally in the dock.
(Courtesy: News Click)