Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Chilcot Report. Tony Blair and The Political Blame Game over Iraq.

Politicians from all the main three established political parties in Britain have claimed they want the Chilcot Report, which has investigated the decision to go to war in Iraq, to be published before the 2015 General Election. The reason is that they know it will not be and so can play political games.

There is a certain irony in the claim that 'we cannot wait any longer' for the Chilcot Report because, even if it were published before the May election it would stand only to benefit a few political parties committed to non-intervention abroad while only damaging the two with a chance of winning.

This is the reason the report is not going to be published because neither Cameron's Conservatives not Miliband's Labour Party or even Clegg's Liberal Democrats have any advantage in doing so and consequently they need to generate phoney outrage over the delay that benefits them all.

In that sense, the anti-war activists agitating for it to be published before an election were always likely to be thwarted. None of the parties and few of the MPs in Parliament have any particular interest in being diverted during an election on an issue that otherwise would not get much attention.

What most mainstream politicians have no interest having is a spat over whose foreign policy has been worse and who backed Blair, one reason those who are more than only just interested in Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq are afraid the Chilcot Report will not be published during an election.

Those who hate the entire political class think it would make a difference if it were published. In the sense that it would not prevent either the Conservatives or Labour win an election it would not. But it could do both parties some damage when both want unity on foreign policy in the war against ISIS.

The need to shore up public support in the war against ISIS is not going be served by rows over the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In fact, it is possible that Cameron wants to use the findings of the Chilcot report and the content to be published as a bargaining chip to co-opt Blair in criticising Miliband.

Just before New Year, Blair criticised his successor for moving too far away from the centre ground of New Labour, in being too radical in economics and attacking the City. He said he thought it unlikely Miliband would win the election. Miliband has also condemned Blair on Iraq.

Blair has nothing to lose as he cannot be more detested than he is at present. The idea he might have had a role in trying to register complaints about the way the Chilcot report has represented him and so delay the publication is useful in diverting all the blame and hatred on to him as the sole culprit.

As for Blair himself he has every reason to pretend, through his 'spokespeople' that the accusation that he is delaying it is a partisan political snipe because it flatters his insane and deranged mind to believe he is still a domestic 'political player' and a 'real force' for 'change'.

Blair would prefer the report came out later rather than sooner because of his absurd role as  UN Peace Envoy in the Middle East. But he is ready to keep repeating the same tired lines about him believing the war was 'the right thing to do' and he did not intentionally mislead Parliament or people.

As the report is delayed till after the election, the pretence most Westminster politicians push is to insinuate that there 'might' be a 'political' reason why the report is being held back. They are playing politics with the politics of the timing in releasing it while maintaining Chilcot is independent.

Rather than a cover up (as opposed to a whitewash ), it is far more likely that there is a gentleman's agreement that it would not be in the 'national interest' for it to be put out at the wrong time. Few politicians have much to gain from a foreign policy debate in the media glare of election time.

The Conservatives mostly voted for the war back in 2003 and so did New Labour. So the Conservatives fell for Blair's dossier of deceits and did little to pick out the flaws in his case or point to the obvious dangers of invading Iraq. They did not offer effective opposition in 2003.

The obvious riposte to that is that New Labour would be far more damaged by being tainted by association with Blair as their former PM. But that underestimates the extent to which Miliband has been trying to position himself at a distance from 'New' Labour and Blair, not least on foreign policy.

Edward Miliband defeated Cameron on the vote for war with Assad in Syria 2013. Had that happened, ISIS could well have become far more powerful by now, not only in Iraq, but also across much more of Syria. Miliband could claim he stopped 'another Iraq' from happening.

Of course, the decision not to intervene in Syria only ensured the aftermath of the war in Iraq was not even more devastating than it had proved already. The Islamic State is a knock on product of both the Iraq war and the support that western political elites gave to those backing Sunni insurgents in Syria.

While Miliband has disassociated himself with Blair and New Labour on Iraq, the last thing either party would want would be an open point scoring debate on which party is more to blame for the complete chaos in Iraq and Syria in 2015. After all, Cameron has styled himself 'heir to Blair'.

If the Chilcot report were published both parties would look bad: Miliband would be associated with Blair and Cameron would be seen as not having learnt from Blair in so far he nearly took Britain into another disastrous war as recently as 2013 which would have made the job in 2015 more difficult.

As for the Deputy PM and Liberal Democrat leader Clegg, his stance is no less pathetic and self serving. Though the Lib Dems did not back the 2003 Iraq War, Clegg backed the botched and failed military intervention in Libya in 2011 and the near catastrophe of an attack on Syria in 2013.

In fact, Cleggs' position is that Chilcot should be published in good time so as to make plain the mistakes made by Blair the better to restore the credibility of Britain in making the case for 'liberal' military interventionism elsewhere such as in Libya ( which is now in a state of full on civil war ).

So the only possible beneficiary is the one party that gains votes from being outside the establishment and which has an anti-interventionist foreign policy which is different-UKIP. So all the three 'mainstream parties' have their reasons for not wanting Iraq or military intervention in the spotlight.

There is reason to think 'the establishment' has no interest in publishing it at a time when it would get maximum publicity and media attention. The timing of the release of the report is bound to be 'politicised'. In the interests of 'objectivity' it will be delayed until it can be released with less at stake.

This is known as 'public diplomacy'. It is not certain the report would be published in full and the really interesting correspondence between Bush and Blair is being redacted from public view anyway. With Britain at war with ISIS in Iraq at present, the full truth is even less likely to come out

The truth about Iraq War is unlikely to come out for another two decades under the thirty year rule for releasing documents, that is, 2033. By then, many of the main actors and decision makers will be old or dead. Iraq will probably not exist as a nation anymore and it will then be a matter of history.

Complaining in the Guardian, Haifa Zangana wrote that Iraqis deserve to have the truth out on Blair's deceit about invading to disarm Saddam Hussein of non-existent WMD's. The Iraqi Communist party exile raged 'the Chilcot inquiry is becoming like a mirage for people seeking water in a desert'.

Zangana writes 'Iraq is a nation with a long memory'; she should have added it is also one with a short history as a creation of Britain and France that is now disintegrating. The formal entity of Iraq will go on for some time but its already a state fractured between Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions.

The secular Iraqi nation state Zangari wanted to preserve is finished. Greed for control over the oil and ethnic-sectarian cleansing of Sunnis by Shi'ite militias ( tacitly allowed by the US occupation forces ) resulted in Sunnis retreating to West Baghdad and into aligning with ISIS in the north west.

There is no doubt going to be a lot of covering up and whitewashing from the British political elites. But the Iraq War is widely recognised as a catastrophe and many of the facts and deceptions are mostly known. Analysis the released documents in a few decades will be mainly a job for historians.

Likewise by 2033 many of those who protested against the Iraq War will have died and Britain is likely to be a fully developed surveillance state integrated into an embattled EU buffeted by the wars and attacks from collapsed states and zones of anarchy on its Near Eastern periphery.

Zangari goes on to write 'The British government’s decision to stand shoulder to shoulder with the US in the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been engraved in our collective memory and to certain extent in the Arab-Muslim memory more generally.'

It will, of course, haunt Britain and the West too. Blair himself has progressively looked more haunted as the controversy over the war drags on the scale of the madness and mayhem he unleashed mounts in such as way that the nightmare of Iraq has only intensified without an end in sight.

Blair is only looking to History to be his judge: but his own grasp of history in the Middle East is weak and it will damn him in ways he either cannot or does not want to comprehend outside the framework he has created for himself and others to try and see the invasion as part of a longer war.

For Blair, vanquishing dictatorship in Iraq was about being on the right side of history, of modernity against the 'forces of reaction' whether secular dictatorships or religious based fundamentalism. Blair regards them as interconnected: only the creation of modern states based on neither are the future.

With Iraq that was meant to be a secular democracy and Blair has hardly been alone in believing these could come about through using decisive military force. Cameron believed it in Libya too and the result is similar chaos and civil war. So the new default position is a 'War on Extremists'.

The vague word 'extremist' is useful because it means any force which stands in the way of western geopolitical interests whether secular dictators or religious fundamentalists or anything in between. Some jihadists fighting against Assad were 'moderates' until ISIS turned against the West in 2014.

The other handy use of the new war on Extremism is that is explains why the invasion of Iraq did not work. Saddam was extreme in his dictatorship. So on liberation lots of extremists who did not want moderate forces of modernity and progress to win out turned up to spoil Blair's triumph.

Blair know blames the lack of education in war wracked lands such as Syria and the rise of jihadists not on brutal geopolitical proxy wars but on lack of education. He seems to think education worked in states like UAE and so there is not any reason why it would not work globally, even in Britain.

As with Gordon Brown, another complete political failure and idiot progressive thinking that education is a panacea to global problems such as the instability in Afghanistan and Nigeria, Blair seems to think better education would have prevented the worldwide 'culture of hatred' .

Blair clearly understand nothing about the nature of Islamism and is in complete denial about the connection to geopolitics, Saudi and Qatari funding for Sunni militants Iraq and Syria to contain Iranian backed militias and his own obvious role in having made that contest clash in Iraq.

Iraq's collapse and the rise of ISIS has created a Caliphate and a base for jihadists that is going to make the dangers emanating from Afghanistan in the 1990s look relatively minor by comparison. On the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean, there are jihadists itching to be agents of terrorist blowback.

The Iraqi Sunnis were the main losers whereas they had once prominence under Saddam with his base in Tikrit. It is certainly something ISIS is ready to exploit as the value of life, especially in Sunni regions of Iraq and, after 2011 in Syria, has collapsed and violence became normalised.

While the US has indicated this year in 2015 it is moving towards a position of negotiating with Assad-and involving the regional players backing rival sectarian militias in Syria in diplomacy to end the war-this has come two years too late to have prevented Syria's descent into barbarism.

With the Euphrates and Tigris drying up due to the impact of declining precipitation in the Turkish mountains, global heating is die to exacerbate water shortages and to drive Sunnis into the hands of those forces which can best guarantee survival at the expense of others in the lands held by IS.

There is little reason to believe the West is going to be able to extricate itself from the Middle East, not least as the threat to global oil supplies, caused by the rise of the ISIS threat drawn them into a protracted conflict with a paramilitary jihadi state intent and interest in fighting to the bitter end.

This is the course of contemporary history. The Iraq War was the major opening salvo in what is going to be a series of brutalising and barbarous resource struggles. One thing is very certain; Tony Blair's place in history is assured and his feeble attempts to spin a positive legacy around Iraq are futile.

No comments:

Post a Comment