The Chilcot Report and Tony Blair’s Legacy

The satirical machinations of MyThinks is taking a break for this post. Things of a more serious nature need to be dealt with.

Having read John’s post on the Chilcot Report earlier today following its release late last night (NZ time), I felt it was important to mention a few things that had crossed my mind over recent months as we’ve waited for Sir John Chilcot to release his report.

I moved to the United Kingdom in mid-2001 as every kiwi young person tends to do at some point after high school (I moved after uni and a stint working in the real world). I was living in London when the planes hit the Twin Towers and by the time war was on the cards I had moved to Edinburgh.

Following 9/11, the rhetoric ramped up. I remember how Bush, Cheney and the other war mongers in that regime trying to get us to link the Al Qaida attacks in New York to Saddam Hussein. Many of my friends (and many millions of others around the world) called bullshit on that. Even reading the news reports about 9/11 – reports put out by the very compliant Murdoch-led media – we all knew the only relationship between Al Qaida and Saddam was the fact they were from (roughly) the same part of the world.

So the US wanted a war and Tony Blair obliged with his “I will be with you, whatever” love note to Dubya.

All it came down to was a PR battle – a battle to grab the hearts and minds, not of the Iraqi people, but of Western voters. Sure, throughout history, making the case for war has been a constant PR battle. Hitler did very well in Germany in the mid-twentieth century because he knew the importance of good public relations. The tobacco industry work the same gambit now. PR is a hugely important tool for those people selling things that kill. The right message can make you look like you’re doing smokers a favour, or that brand-free smoke packets are an infringement on your rights as a person (oh… that’s right… companies aren’t people). Blair and Alistair Campbell worked tirelessly selling war. So tirelessly. For so long. Selling a war that nobody wanted. And it was important for them to do this because if we all believed then Blair wouldn’t be voted out of office.

So we all marched. Millions and millions of us around the world. We knew the reasons for that war were bollocks. We marched, but in vain. The coalition invaded, Saddam was toppled and Iraq was free. Free from everyone except all those terrorists who jumped into the vacuum created by the coalitions appalling post-war planning.

Chilcot was withering in his critique of Tony Blair’s decision to take the United Kingdom. Blair was equally unrepentant in his rejection of the multi-volume critique from Sir John.

Blair’s weasel words today marry well with many of the weasel words he has said over recent years. He has long-held the view that he was right, that his decision-making was for the right reasons, and he was acting in good faith for the safety and security of the Western world.

Every time Blair tries to justify his decision all he sounds like is a man trying to protect his legacy. The unfortunate thing is that his legacy is ISIS. Today, during his very, very, very long press conference where he again tried to convince himself he was in the right, Blair said:

I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer

Yes. Much safer. Try telling that to the people of Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, etc. etc. etc.

I can’t say whether ISIS would or would not have happened if Blair hadn’t become Bush’s Cheney’s lackey in the Iraq war. Terrorism is a blight on the landscape of humanity. At that time Al Qaida was carrying out all manner of atrocities.

What I can say is the US/UK action in Iraq emboldened those ISIS and Al Qaida types to recruit Westerners to carry out their mayhem. We are now in the ridiculous position where Trump wants to ban Muslims from the United States in reaction to an atrocity committed by an American-born American.

After Blair’s outrageous defence of his own war crimes I am angry. So very angry that he, despite the millions of damning words in the Chilcot Report, despite all the evidence, still doesn’t have the cojones to admit he was wrong. Then I suppose he doesn’t have a voting block to try and placate any longer so he can say he was right as often as he wants and not be punished at the ballot box. He’ll still end up earning millions a year consulting for the Middle East dictators who remain. 

At the end of the day this all comes about because he isn’t a normal human being. He’s a politician. Would we all think more of him, forgive him, if he did admit he was wrong? Probably not. After all, he’s a politician. And he’s Tony Blair. I think the redemption ship has long since sailed. It left around the same time as Blair’s contrition dinghy.

All we have, all of us who protested so vehemently against the war, is a 2.6 million word tome that tells the world everything that Tony Blair said to the universe surrounding the reasons for invading Iraq was a crock.

That doesn’t make me feel better. In the slightest.

 

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