Surprised — but glad — to see how scathing the Chilcot Report turned out to be. It’s not a criminal indictment, but already, just the bullet points from Chilcot’s press conference are highly damning of Blair as a leader: rushing headlong into a totally unnecessary war, with very dubious legal backing, ignoring reports on the likely consequences of the invasion, bowing to belligerent US wishes at every turn, showing incredible disregard for the soldiers he was sending in to occupy a country (and for the innocent civilians of that country, who, Chilcot notes, died in vast numbers) and knowingly exaggerating murky intelligence to justify the unnecessary campaign. All of these points are now thoroughly established and can’t be disputed, whatever else one might say about Blair’s motives or moral turpitude or criminal responsibility. It has been confirmed — by the British establishment itself — that Blair led the country into an unmitigated disaster that has destabilized the world and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. What a nightmare. What an endless nightmare.
And as the Chilcot Report is released, let’s remember how the Baath Party, and Saddam’s particular faction, came to power in Iraq in the first place: with not one but two coups backed by the White House and assisted by the CIA, which provided the plotters with hit lists of “suspected Communists and leftists” for mass execution, as Roger Morris reported long ago, just before the invasion — in the New York Times.
Also good to remember that George H.W. Bush (now regarded as the “good George Bush”) happily pushed weapons, money, intel and WMD material to Saddam even when the US government knew he was using chemical weapons. It was only when he got into a tussle with the Kuwaiti royals — long-time business partners of oilman GWH Bush — that he suddenly became the “new Hitler” and Iraq was subjected to 25 years (and counting) of war, sanctions, terror and chaos that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people (if not more; US Sec of State Albright admitted that US/UK sanctions alone were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children by the late 1990s). The US/UK record in Iraq — morally horrific, murderously cynical, shameful beyond measure — goes back many decades and is thoroughly bipartisan. GW Bush and Tony Blair should pay for their contribution to this record (although of course they won’t); but their war of aggression is only one chapter in this long, sickening history.