Perfecting Hindsight: Chilicot version

It’s another ‘report’ to establish moral superiority by bashing and trashing leadership in unpleasant world affairs. This time, it is Tony Blair as the victim for supporting George Bush in the Iraq war. Not that it isn’t countries under examination, it is specific political leaders. Andrew Rawnsley reviews Ten things that Chilcot’s verdict reveals about Tony Blair and the Iraq war. One of the first things to consider in this review is the axioms that show bias.

What he can’t bring himself to say is: “If I knew then what I know now, of course I would never have taken Britain to war in Iraq.” Some react to his defiance by putting it down to self-delusion, denial and vanity. The most important reason is this: for Blair to accept that the entire enterprise was a mistake would be to say to the bereaved that their loved ones died in vain for a terrible folly.

“Folly” ? Notice the many ‘qualified’ assertions about this folly.

Chilcot concludes that the legal basis for the invasion was “far from satisfactory” and confirms that the cabinet never tested the advice from the attorney-general … On the other hand, the war was never condemned by a vote of the UN and the occupation was subsequently given a form of endorsement in post-invasion resolutions passed by the Security Council creating a framework for Iraq’s future.

Up to the cusp of the invasion, key members of the cabinet could have acted to stop British participation in the invasion. Any one of John Prescott, deputy prime minister at the time; Gordon Brown, chancellor; and Jack Straw, foreign secretary, could have halted it by resigning. … The late Robin Cook was the only member of the cabinet to quit

Even the original premise is qualified in item 10.

10 Could an Iraq war ever happen again?

That seems unlikely after the defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some policy thinkers worry there could be a sound case for intervention in the future and it won’t happen because the scars are so deep. Strategy is a mess. After the horrors in Iraq, Britain, with France and America, took a different approach when genocide was threatened by Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, using air power but not deploying troops. That form of intervention-lite has turned out badly. The failings in Iraq and Libya resulted in reluctance to intervene in Syria when anti-regime protesters rose up against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. Even when he unleashed chemical weapons on civilians, parliament refused to sanction British intervention at the first time of asking. More Syrians have died since that conflict began in 2011 than Iraqis have died since the invasion of 2003. Non-intervention can be every bit as blood-stained as intervention.

The “scars are so deep” but these scars do not come from the war in Iraq but rather the political war at home. It is a political war driven by fantasy and hate and personal desires that run so deep as to stimulate massive reports trying to defend them by ignoring reality. That ignoring reality isn’t so much a creation of a new one as an emphasis on just one aspect of the whole. This is like the desire for a socialist dictatorship supported by ignoring the human suffering that results any time it surfaces.

The ‘other side’ of the Iraq war angst is in the Authorization to Use Military Force passed overwhelming by the U.S. Congress and in the U.N resolutions regarding Iraq and in the recent history of the late 20th century. These factors cannot be swept aside in ad hominem moral preening trying to pretend that humanity is what it is not.  History makes it clear that “Non-intervention can be every bit as blood-stained as intervention,” 

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