Sunday, 31 January 2010
Does Blair’s Testimony Clarify the Motive behind the Iraq War?
"No matter how skilfully he ducked and dived today, Tony Blair's legacy will forever be that of the illegal, immoral Iraq war.”
- Angus Robertson of the SNP
The ineffectual Chilcot Inquiry was never designed to account Tony Blair; rather it appears to have served as a lesson for future Prime Ministers not to make ‘administrative’ errors like submitting dodgy dossiers. Moreover, it gave Tony Blair an opportunity to present his side of the story in a casual manner.
If innocent people were killed because of an illegal war, then a crime has taken place. Therefore, Blair should have faced a panel of experts from neutral countries, selected by the UN. The process would have focused on the legality of the war, and the consequence for the innocent Iraqis; depending on the outcome, it might have formed the basis for a criminal prosecution.
Regardless of the purpose of the Chilcot Inquiry, there was expectation from all sides that it would clarify the motive behind the decision to join the US-led war, and Blair’s testimony should have played a key role. That is on the assumption that the information revealed by Blair and others is accurate and comprehensive. Nevertheless, his testimony has raised further questions on the following three issues:
a) The 9/11 Link
Blair claimed, 9/11 was the turning point; that is when Saddam Hussein became a threat. Is he suggesting Iraq was behind 9/11? Saddam Hussein was a staunch Arab Ba’athist and an Arab Nationalist, whereas 9/11 was allegedly the work of Al-Qaeda planned from the mountains in Afghanistan; the two groups are ideologically poles apart and there were no historical connection between them. Even his close assistant, Jack Straw, did not perceive 9/11 had increased the ‘threat’ posed by Iraq; only the Americans decided to view it in that light and Blair followed this like a disciple.
So, what is the connection between 9/11 and Iraq? The only connection I see is one of vengeance for the US. Blair decided to join in like a vulture behind as the injured and angry US lion. Iraq is predominantly a Muslim country; the Muslims had to pay regardless of their guilt or innocence. They would be civilised through the bombs and bullets of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’! Such crude ideas are difficult for Blair to spell out, and the people are expected to read between the lines.
b) Saddam’s Threat
Saddam was weaker economically and militarily in 2000 than in 1991, and he was even weaker in 2003, yet paradoxically, the threat level from Saddam Hussein went up after 9/11 according to Blair! Arrogant Blair was Bliar’ing here.
To date, it is still unclear how Saddam Hussein posed a threat when the Chemical and Biological Weapons were all destroyed, along with the capability to renew such activities, after the First Gulf War of 1991. Even the conventional force was stripped of its capability through a decade of rigorous sanctions; the UN inspection team lead by Scott Ritter systematically ensured the Iraqi force was paralysed. For that reason, the “smoking gun” would never be found. This is self-evident from the invasion in 2003.
One can also argue the world was safer place in 2000 than in 1991, as Saddam did not launch any further strikes against his neighbours, let alone challenge the might of the US hegemony in the region. Therefore, the containment policy was working.
c) Saddam’s Potential Threat
One can rationally understand the notion of an actual threat or an imminent one, but how does one conjure up a potential threat from a country that is progressively getting weaker. Even more absurd, how can anyone justify and invoke a war based on potential threat? It is perplexing, how Blair as a lawyer can construe the argument that one can be punished for his intention. This confirms his arrogance and dishonest nature.
Iraq was not Germany pre-1939 rebuilding its military capability; it was confined to its borders and getting progressively weaker through the rigorous sanctions. Even if Saddam managed to acquire some primitive WMDs, he would be in no position to threaten anyone, let alone the mighty US forces in possession of ‘real’ WMDs.
Blair then elaborated the world is a safer place after the removal of Saddam, but this cannot be the basis to attack another country. In any case, this sort of claim is just sheer non-sense, no nation would want their country destroyed and occupied by a foreign force to remove a dictator. The smug Blair is implying the war was good for the Iraqis who were the biggest victim. Since the invasion, the civilian casualties have continued to mount in Iraq and they face numerous problems; all were absent prior to the invasion. As Blair spoke of a better Iraq, new generation of Iraqi children are born with deformities due to the use of Depleted Uranium. In Fallujah for example, the doctors are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers.
Regardless of the facts, Blair proceeds to blame others for the situation, as if the invasion was a reaction to that and not the cause of the violence and sufferings.
So has the region become any safer subsequent to a regime change? Has the oil-less Palestinians been given a fraction of the attention that was given to the oil-rich Kuwaitis? On the contrary, peace in the region continues to mean pieces (not just land, organs of dead Palestinians too) for Israel, who has launched two savage wars on the civilian population of Gaza and Lebanon, and constantly threatening to bomb Iran. In defiance of the UN, Israel continues to build more settlements in occupied territories. However, since it is Israel killing Palestinians and looting their lands and body parts, it does not count for much in the books of neo-con Blair who was also sabre-rattling against Iran. Of course, he will always do that behind the US might. Remember, a vulture always feeds on the leftover, after the lion has finished the kill.
On that Middle East issue, the so-called Middle East envoy blamed the Palestinians entirely, unlike the moderate and pretentious two-faced Jack Straw. According to Blair’s line of argument, the Israeli forces acted in self-defence by slaughtering the 1500 defenceless civilians in Gaza, like the Anglo-US forces from distant land came to Iraq and fought a war in ‘self-defence’! The Middle Easy envoy deserves a shoe full of excrements!
However, the testimony of Blair did clarify the following.
• It confirmed the Iraq war was instigated by the Americans for a regime change, and Blair subscribed to this in 2002. This is corroborated by the testimony of Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US. According to Jack Straw, regime change was illegal, a clear violation of the UN Charter, and carried little support amongst the closest allies of Blair in the Cabinet.
• Therefore, Blair made the case for war based on the mythical WMDs of Saddam Hussein. Accordingly, Blair alludes to disarming Iraq’s mythical WMDs as synonymous with regime change. Its magic, they mean the same thing. So in the ‘logic’ (or arrogance) of Blair, 1441 not only authorised war, but also authorised a regime change!
That still does not answer why Blair joined the US-led crusade. At the time, Blair camp said, British interest would best be served by siding with the Americans, not just by giving political support but military too, even though the US did not need military support from UK, which Blair confirmed in the testimony. It was not an individual decision; the ruling elite within the UK permitted this important action. Did they hope for a small slice of a large US cake by offering their services to the American Empire? Is that why the Americans often portray the butler in Hollywood movies as a Brit?
The decision to join the US war was not based on any perceived threat to the UK, which has only come into effect because of that action. It was most likely based on some strategic and/or economic interests. But, there were no real short-term benefits gained, the bulk of the lucrative contracts went to the US companies; the vulture was not even allowed to feed on the Iraqi carcass it seems. Maybe, the US government will reciprocate in the future in some other way. This would be tested when Britain faces another crisis like the Falkland. My guess is, Blair and his cabal made a substantive error in joining the US-led war, without securing Britain’s share of the war booty, unless this is kept hidden like the Sykes-Picot treaty.
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)
Published 31st January 2010