There’s inevitably a lot of coverage over Tony Blair finally ‘apologizing’ (to a point) for the Iraq War.
“I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” he said in his interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN. “I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime…”
The former Prime Minister has also said he accepts the conflict has been a factor in the rise of the so-called ‘Islamic State’.
That is an understatement, to say the least.
Blair made the confession during a TV interview in which he acknowledged the ‘hell’ that had resulted from the illegal, unprovoked US-led invasion of 2003. That the destabilisation of Iraq had everything to do with the emergence of ISIL/Daesh is patently obvious to everyone but MSM propagandists on the corporate payroll.
It also killed enormous numbers of Iraqis, numerous British, American and other personnel, brought Al-Qaeda to Iraq, enabled the later destruction of Libya, directly led to the destabilisation of Syria, caused a massive increase in Islamist radicalisation in the West and therefore created more terrorism, and in short created the conditions we have today in the Middle East (in terms of destablisation, sectarian warfare and mass migration) and also in the West (in terms of Islamic radicalisation and later the refugee crisis).
The invasion of Iraq was not a response to 9/11; 9/11 had absolutely no known connection to Iraq or to the Iraqi regime. The invasion was simply a key point in a long-planned Neo-Con geopolitical campaign that would later move onto Libya and Syria. It was a plan to introduce terrorism and chaos to Iraq in order to destabilise and carve up the Middle East and to provide a staging area for a manufactured rise of Islamist extremism that would serve geopolitical and corporate interests (and to make a tidy profit in the meantime).
All of that is well established by now. But I am becoming just slightly uncomfortable with the extent to which Tony Blair is being singled out as being to blame for the Iraq War.
I say that not because he doesn’t have a great deal to answer for as the British PM, but because he seems to have been made into the lone scapegoat for the Iraq War, as if the entire thing was his enterprise. There hasn’t been the same degree of calls for the likes of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and others – you know, the real architects of the War in Iraq and the entire phony ‘War on Terror’ – to be subjected to the same justice.
Tony Blair wasn’t the originator or architect of that illegal war; he was at worst a lying accomplice to it. And he should answer for that and face justice: but surely it’s the American Neo-Con leadership that is the first group of people that should be standing trial in any prospective tribunal.
And Blair should be alongside them, no doubt.
But what I dislike is Blair being made the sole fall guy for what was essentially a US/Neo-Con plot; and I get the impression that those American/Neo-Con forces that Blair went out of his way to accommodate are more than happy to sit aside and watch Blair take all the heat while they carry on playing golf, worshiping giant owls and living the high life. The media too, when it occasionally does go the ‘Is Blair a War Criminal?’ route hardly ever asks the same question about Bush, Rumsfeld and the American War Criminals, which forces me to wonder if Blair and the very office of British Prime Minister itself was simply a useful tool used at the time (a spin-doctor for the Bush regime’s war of aggression) and then left to take all the blame and disgrace after the fact.
And there is, as far as I know, no American equivalent to the long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry happening.
In the US, War Criminals and death-profiteers are living the high life with very little scrutiny from major media (one of them is even running for president right now); in the UK, Tony Blair has spent over a decade being demonised and hounded.
And with good justification – but again, it’s the lack of equivalent hounding of Bush and co that bothers me.
Again, is Blair the sacrificial lamb? Just like the Saudis increasingly seem like the lone scapegoat for the 9/11 conspiracy – when everyone knows the US administration and Israel would’ve been the real architects of 9/11 even if elements of the Saudi state were also collaborators in it?
Should Blair have to answer for his terrible deception and for turning the British military into an instrument of illegal occupation? Of course. That’s not the issue; but again, the Iraq War was essentially a Neo-Con crime concocted in Washington, pre-dating 9/11.
Blair was an enabler, not an architect. So we have a scenario where essentially the accomplice has to face the mob, while the actual criminal masterminds don’t have to do anything of the sort.
And while Blair has – albeit after a very long time – made an ‘apology’ of sorts for his key part in the illegal invasion, there is more chance of seeing a strip-tease in a nunnery than there is of seeing smug-faced War Criminals and murder-profiteers like Bush and Cheney ever offer even the faintest hint of an apology or slightest sign of remorse for all the death, murder, destabilisation and chaos they’ve (deliberately) brought about.
Which is not to say that we shouldn’t see Blair on trial; but if we do (and let’s face it, this is all hypothetical and extremely unlikely), the narrative would lack legitimacy unless the other key players are in the dock with him, most of all the American leadership of the time. And for that matter, we shouldn’t just be seeing the Iraq War perpetrators dealt with in such a fashion, but the perpetrators of other such crimes as well; and this is also the other thing that bothers me about Blair being made the sole scapegoat – we’ve had a subsequent British leadership horrifically overthrow another regime, specifically in Libya, and yet David Cameron doesn’t suffer anything like the sort of widespread condemnation, stigma or calls for a ‘trial’ that Blair does.
And moreover, nor do Sarkosy or Obama.
The case should also be made that the interests and forces ultimately dictating these wars and conspiracies mostly aren’t holders of public office; and until international law can go after those unseen agencies and interests, very little will change. Because, again, years after Iraq – and long after Blair was already living in the shadow of his terrible deceptions – we went ahead and destroyed and destabilised another country all over again: Libya, and with precisely the same results.
None of this is intended to let Blair off the hook. He lied and conspired to help bring about the violent destruction of a country – and we are all living with the vast, far-reaching consequences of that act today.
The concern being expressed here is that Blair is becoming the sole fall guy for the entire catastrophe, while its cardinal architects are off playing golf, living the high life and facing none of the heat whatsoever.
On the other hand, it might be that a full admission and disclosure of Blair’s iniquities will act as a warning to others in high office that there might some day be personal consequences. But again, that doesn’t really work unless Cheney, Rumsfeld and co are held to justice too. And also Richard Nixon was once held to account and public shaming for his deceptions, but no one could argue that this deterred subsequent presidents and administrations from engaging in deceptions and conspiracies far worse than Nixon’s.
Will we ever see the likes of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld standing trial for their crimes? It seems massively unlikely; but should the present world order or status quo dramatically change at any time in the future, perhaps such a thing would suddenly become much more likely. United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, recently called for prosecutions of former Bush administration officials at the highest levels, while Malaysia recently, formally convicted Bush and Blair of War Crimes.
The precedent and the public will for such prosecutions is certainly there.
In any case, the reason Tony Blair has made these statements now is probably because the Chilcot Report might soon force him to make such statements anyway.
And again, don’t misunderstand this post – I’m not defending Blair. Iraq was, according to the principles of Nuremberg, a war crime on every level; and Blair’s part in it is indisputable, particularly as it has since emerged that he committed UK forces to the invasion over a year before the war and had promised to play spin-doctor and legitimiser for Bush and the rest of Washington’s Neo-Con mafia.
He is guilty. He just shouldn’t be the sacrificial lamb thrown to the lions while the other conspirators – chiefly the real originators of the Neo-Con plan to invade Iraq – walk off happily into the sunset.
Whatever the Chilcot Report does or doesn’t reveal, substantial damage to Tony Blair has already been done, as far as reputation is concerned. Here was a man who prior to 2003 was probably the most popular British PM in generations. Instead he is now widely regarded as a liar, conspirator and even a War Criminal, and will always be remembered as the Labour PM who took Britain into an illegal war based on total lies.
The sad thing about the PM who clearly wants to be loved and to be remembered fondly in history is that, had Tony Blair not supported the War in Iraq, had he not contributed so massively to such an illegal occupation and its disastrous consequences, he would’ve in fact been most remembered for his role as a peace-maker in facilitating the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
Fat chance of that now.
He chose to get on board with the criminals of the century; and now will always be defined by that decision.