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Chilcot: what we need is determination to hold criminals to account for their crimes

Tony-Blair-war-criminal-posterWhat we already know is damning enough. The UK went to war over Iraq because Bush wanted British support, and at the Crawford summit in April 2002, 11 months before the war started, Blair in effect committed to providing that, though the exact terms of that surrender to Bush still remain secret.

The rationale for war however was not easy to find. Bush initially favoured saying Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attack, but there was no evidence for that whatsoever. So Blair settled on finding proof of large-scale activity by Iraq in WMD. However, since the UN inspectors left in 1998, the evidence was almost non-existent.

The case put together for the ‘dodgy dossier’ in September 2002 was deeply flawed. The inventory of chemical and biological weapon parts which Blair presented to the Commons was weapons ‘unaccounted for’ after the first Gulf War 12 years before, but they were presented as weapons currently possessed by Saddam. The 45-minute claim referred to battlefield nuclear weapons, but when it was reported (perhaps on deliberate advice) as a much wider threat, no attempt was made to correct the mistake.

Then the claim was made in the dossier that Iraq tried to buy 500 tonnes of uranium yellowcake from Niger, even though it was already known from a visit to Niger by a former US ambassador 6 months before that the claim was wholly bogus.

Then the claim was made by Blair in the Commons in February 2003 that the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam’s son-in-law, in 1995 had revealed “the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear programme”, yet Newsweek found out that in his de-briefing Kamal had said exactly the opposite, namely that “all weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed”. The lies and massaging of data then finally produced the really big lie in the dossier that Saddam’s WMD programme was “active, detailed and growing” and the intelligence to support that judgement was “extensive, detailed and authoritative” when in fact Saddam had no WMD at all.

A man who could misuse and abuse the evidence to such a degree on an issue of such overriding critical importance for the nation was not worthy to be prime minister.

It may be said that being sinuous with the truth is not lying, but it is certainly not open and honest. Or it may be said that deliberately presenting a seriously misleading account of the facts is not lying, but again it is not truthful or straightforward either. Maybe Chilcot will tell us more, perhaps how deeply cynical the exchanges were between Blair and Bush, perhaps how dismissive they were about any accountability to their cabinets, parliaments and peoples, and perhaps how cocky and over-confident they were that they could do it all alone. But the case against Blair and Bush is already overwhelming and conclusive.

What is needed is not more details, but a determination to hold them to account for the crimes they have committed.

6 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    sadly that’s the labour part for you these days, John will be back now in a minute telling us about 1983 and Kinnock and the hated labour left.

  2. PoundInYourPocket says:

    I haven’t read this as from memory Michael actually voted in favour of the Iraq war on a number of occassions, refusing to join the many other Labour “rebels”. You really can’t do an about turn on that issue can you. If there’s one thing that galls me it’s the way that since the tragedy of the Iraq war so many of those that voted in favour now make the hollow and insincere claim that they were “fooled” by the false evidence. Well you would have to be quite a fool to have believed that 45 minute claim in the first place. Michael and the others that voted in favour are certainly not fools, they voted in favour of the war knowing full well the incinserity of the evidence and not now absolve themselves by saying they were hoodwinked. This was the most sorry and shameful episode in Labour’s history and revealed the majority of MPs as spineless careerists devoid of independent thought or principle.

  3. Rod says:

    PIYP: ” Michael actually voted in favour of the Iraq war”

    This is the problem with much of the Labour Left: when the chips are down they cave in.

    Just think – when Miliband was elected leader in 2010 it would have been unthinkable for the Labour party to end the link with the trade unions. But that is what has happened.

    And come 2015 many of the people who have talked proudly of the trade union role within the Labour Party will be encouraging us to vote Labour despite Miliband’s campaign against the unions.

    And they’re not at all concerned that the LP favours austerity, military intervention and an undemocratic EU.

    Vote Labour, get the Tories.

    1. PoundInYourPocket says:

      As I read on one of these posts, it’s not just about voting, it’s about creating a party that’s worth voting for. I’ve left behihnd all my expectations of the Labour Party, other than at least the pledge to remove the Bedroom tax (and I anticipate a roll back on that pledge nearer the time). But it’s the old problem of what to do with your useless vote in a FPTP sysyem with no party worth voting for. May as well throw it away on the Tory-lite party.

      1. Rod says:

        PIYP: “throw it away on the Tory-lite party.”

        A vote for Tory-lite is a vote for disaster.

        Stay strong, build the alternative.

  4. Dave Roberts says:

    I’m afraid that whatever happens we are stuck with Labour and all attempts to challenge it from the left have failed.

    From the CP to Respect and all of the Trotskyist attempts in between the only alternative to the Tories was and is Labour.

    Harping on about illegal wars isn’t a vote winner, quite the reverse, most people aren’t pro war but they are pro military and the status of the armed forces as never been higher.

    Anti war sentiment is associated wit George Galloway and that is a sure fire vote loser. Look at East London. He is also guaranteed to lose in Bradford. Paddy Power are offering good odds at the moment so get in while you can!

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