In less than ten hours one of the most anticipated events for a very long time will occur. Anthony Lynton Blair, the UK’s glorious ex leader for over a decade, is going to appear in front of the Chilcot Inquiry to discuss the controversial Iraq war. Tony Blair has always justified going to war as being the right thing to do in spite of claims by many that the invasion broke international laws. The main justification that he used for the invasion was the threat of WMD’s a claim that was based on faulty intelligence but still used to scare a section of the British public into support.
The famous Downing street dossier was an example of how vague statements of past menace were turned into definite intentions of threat and the famous 45 minute claim was the killer line that has been and will probably always be remembered as the lie that led to war. However Blair has always been a consummate liar and it will be interesting to see whether the Chilcot inquiry presses him hard enough over his decision to stick side by side with America after the events of 9/11 come what may.
Its a decision that Tony has to live with for the rest of his life and I doubt he will ever make another that has led to so many consequences. Yes Saddam, a brutal dictator and ex ally who we armed in the 80’s has gone, which is a good thing, but along the way thousands apon thousands of Iraqi men, women and children have died as well as hundreds of troops.
The county has definitely changed and not purely for the better. There is a demcratic state instead of a one party Bathist dictaroship but whereas once there was a society that was outwardly secular and cohesive under Saddam it is now a bitter sectarian chaos where Sunni fights Shi’ite and road side bombs still go off every day in markets killing shoppers in their hundreds. Not forgetting the death squads and religious militias that enforce strict Sharia laws on women who dare to show their knees or faces in public. This may or may not be a price worth paying for “freedom” but you would have to ask an Iraqi about that.
Added to the personal costs of destroyed lives, cities and institutions is the cost to the image of our country as well as that of the USA in terms of world politics. Its very hard to take the high ground and lecture other countries such as China and Russia on morals and the rule of law when we disregard international laws so quickly when they don’t go our way. The UN has been shown to be worse than useless when it comes to preventing a world leader such as America when they have their blood up and spoiling for a fight. Its very well for us to use UN resolutions to legitimise our aggression but we have to obey them when they don’t otherwise the hypocrisy will come back and bite us very hard.
Tony Blair believed that the first UN resolution was enough to make any attack on Iraq legal and even though many in the Foreign Office disagreed with this belief it didn’t matter as long as he had a green light from the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, which he finally got after some behind the scenes arm twisting. On the surface during 2002 it seemed in public and in the house of commons that war was not inevitable and Blair often remarked that it could be prevented if the weapons inspectors were allowed to do their job. However it now seems that this was all lies and the decision to go to war had already been made by him and George Bush back in 2002. He also recently admitted on an interview with Fern Britton that even if Iraq was found not to have weapons of mass destruction he would have still pressed ahead to remove him presumably using another false pretext to convince the public and his government.
Hopefully Chilcot will press Blair hard on these falsehoods today when he is questioned as the whole inquiry has been leading up to this climax with witness after witness when asked about the change in policy, change in legal direction or discrepancy between public statements and private assurances have all said “Well you need to ask Tony about that”. Therefore today is the day that Tony has to answer his critics and explain his deception. He is a consummate actor and a skillful politician and liar therefore I am in no doubt he will not be fazed by any of the inquiry panel members questions.
Today’s questioning of Blair is an event that has certainly drawn the crowds in and everyone is hoping it will be a chance to witness Blair squirm as his deceptions and misdeeds are laid bare for all the public eyes to see. However much we maybe wishing for some sort of justice to be delivered on the war criminal its only a inquiry with no authority to pass sentences and therefore there is a great possibility that today’s questioning will be a damp squib with Blair worming his way out from any hard questions.
He will dazzle us all with his usual political double-speak and phony concern for any “honest mistakes” that were carried out due to the faulty intelligence that all major countries apparently believed in. We will just have to cross our fingers and hope that the Catholic God that Tony now believes in decides to issue some divine judgement of his own as it looks like that may be the only way Mr Blair will ever face some kind of justice for the war in Iraq.