Monday, 1 February 2010

Tony Blair and the Iraq War

I've just been watching some of the video of Blair's evidence at the Chilcot Inquiry on their website (well someone has to do it!). As usual Blair comes over quite convincingly but I don't think that I have the time or stamina to sit through six hours or whatever it is. There is so much one could write on the subject but I'll just make a few comments via bullet points:
  • Whatever conclusions are reached by the Inquiry at the end of the day I don't think those who felt strongly about the war at the time (I mean both pros and antis) will change their viewpoint. It is very much like the two sides in the hunting debate or the climate change debate once someone has an entrenched position that is it. Additional evidence is unlikely to sway them in the other direction.
  • When Blair became PM in 1997 I don't think he had thought about foreign policy much but when he paid a visit to Kosovo things changed. Witnessing the situation over there he decided that an interventionist policy was needed where there were occasions of that type. Some people referred to Blair as Bush's poodle with reference to Iraq but I beg to differ. I think that Blair developed a missionary zeal and assuming that Saddam had WMD and wasn't going to disarm then Blair had no problems in invading Iraq.
  • I think in his evidence on Friday - I didn't get to that bit watching the video this evening - Blair mentioned the figure of 100,000 Iraqis dead as a result of the war. Estimates vary a lot, some have used this lowest figure whilst others have used greater numbers up to one million in fact. I think that Blair volunteered his figure without prompting and I am wondering whether he was trying to spike the questioners' guns. If he got in the 100,000 dead in his evidence first then it might be overlooked that this was the very lowest estimate of several.
  • Blair tried to lay the blame for the problems in Iraq post invasion on those pesky Iranians coming in and spoiling the party. No Mr Blair, it's you and Mr Bush who are culpable - before the war there was some sort of strategic balance between Iraq and Iran, post war there was obviously an imbalance in the situation, effectively a vacuum where Iraq is concerned. It is perhaps not too surprising that Iraq's hated neighbour wanted to exploit the situation. The coalition was not prepared for the aftermath, they should have been - no excuses.
  • Blair tried to make a strong point about Iraq possibly supplying terrorists with WMD post 9/11. Whether this might have happened one day I don't know but there was zero evidence of any connection between Saddam and Al-Qaida. This reminds me of the fact that following the 9/11 attacks Vice President Dick Cheney set up a special unit to try every way possible to find a connection between the two. I believe that many many Americans were misled into believing that Iraq was somehow involved in 9/11 thus giving extra legitimacy to the invasion.
Much more could be added to this blogpost but I'll leave it at that for the moment.

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