A Chilcot Retort!
This week on Facebook: I have a grandson given to conspiracy theories, he might reasonably have concluded that to hold the Brexit referendum and the release of The Chilcot Report so close together was a deliberate political conspiracy. If it were, any ideas that that they would bury each other in a media feeding frenzy that would quickly be forgotten were completely misplaced. Neither is going away soon and the only certainty here may be that The Chilcot Report will become a document that future historians will continually pour over while the Brexit referendum may simply become a footnote in English history.
For my part, I am left wondering about my ambivalence regarding the events necessitating The Chilcot Report, thinking perhaps that I should have paid more attention to the UK’s part in the Iraq invasion of 2003. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it would seem to be something that I and the media unashamedly posses, raising questions about the extent to which we are affected by media reporting and how much media reporting is influenced politically. It may be that until we are directly effected by the consequences of an event we remain — for the most part — ambivalent.
Sunday 10/7/16 Tony Blair took Britain to war in 2003 – but most of Fleet Street marched with him: Clearly, the same newspapers which had (by and large) so staunchly and unquestioningly supported the Iraq war were now condemning Blair for his duplicity without examining their own role in the progress towards war.
Monday 11/7/16 Iraq Invasion: Why Did No One Raise An Eyebrow? — But why didn’t a single FCO insider, other than a junior lawyer who to her eternal honour resigned in protest, raise any questions?
Tuesday 12/7/16 The Chilcot Report Shows How the U.S.-U.K. ‘Special Relationship’ Went Sour in the Iraq War: The Chilcot Report, which is far more detailed than any U.S. Congressional examination of the Iraq war, was given unprecedented access to previously classified documents and more than 150 witnesses, including dozens of confidential cables sent to the White House by then-Prime Minister Blair. The majority of the report focuses on failures by Britain’s intelligence services and post-war reconstruction, but British politicians have been quick to seize on claims that Blair promised the U.S. President that he had his backing for regime change “whatever” the circumstances.
Wednesday 13/7/16 Thanks to U.S.and U.K. Iraq is mired in endless war: Another 13 years have now passed, and at last we have the Chilcot report, an impartial official investigation into why Britain joined the United States in that invasion.There are some juicy documents about the prewar connivance between Bush and Blair, like Blair’s promise in 2001 that “we are with you, whatever.” But there is comparatively little on the scale of the disaster that the invasion inflicted on innocent Iraqis: 13 years of war, up to 600,000 Iraqis killed and a country effectively destroyed. So this is a good time to recall the fate of the city of Fallujah.
Thursday 14/7/16 Chilcot inquiry: What Tony Blair and George W. Bush left behind in Iraq: There was no freedom of speech, there was no democracy. Saddam ruled by fear, but at least there was rule. When you’ve tasted anarchy — and Iraq has had its fill of it — dictatorship doesn’t look so bad. As my friend Mohamed J. regularly tells me: “If only Saddam could come back from the dead.”
Friday 15/7/16 Chilcot report aftermath: What we still do not know: Sir John Chilcot published his report on the UK’s role in the Iraq war and its aftermath and to the surprise of some, it was highly critical, particularly of former prime minister Tony Blair. War had been waged before it was a last resort and it was based on flawed intelligence, said Chilcot. He also criticised Blair’s autocratic style of leadership and said planning for the post-war period had been “wholly inadequate”. But what did Chilcot not cover — and what unanswered questions remain?
There are many media articles drawing a correlation between the West’s intervention by the coalition of the willing and the anarchy that now reigns in Iraq. They all include an element of retrospection that challenges the author’s empathy at the time of the event. However, there are now other countries where a state of anarchy exists, brought about by superior military forces used in the pursuit of regime change (Libya in 2011 and more recently Syria), that are deserving of more than a mere report written in a foreign land by a foreign hand.
In ending I refer to yet another post by me with the title The Patriot, which included part of the above quote. Goering was right, it worked for Blair and Bush in their justification for the invasion of Iraq and continues to work as a justification for the “War on Terrorism”. A “War on Terror” becoming newspeak by those seeking to usurp the authority of established public administrations and in some cases actually attack the foundations of their democracy. This newspeak has become the guise under which individual freedoms, especially those inalienable rights thought to be beyond the authority of any good government, are being curtailed.
It is pity that Chilcot never quoted Goering, the report — as damning as it is being interpreted in some quarters — may have been more objective in its inquiry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003¹. Instead, it didn’t really quite damn those political leaders intent on war but was critical enough to give the media and the likes of me blameable scapegoats. Left unscathed we were free to continue our ambivalence towards never ending wars in (perhaps) our sleepwalk towards the dystopian 1984 of Georg Orwell. An allusion that may appeal to my conspiratorial grandson.
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