Wednesday, July 06, 2016
He Knew. Tony Blair Knew.
It's going to take days to digest the 2-million word Chilcot Report into the British government's decision to partner up with the Bush-Cheney regime to invade Iraq.
For years Tony Blair has been going on about how the conquest of Iraq was absolutely the right thing to do. The end, sending Saddam Hussein to the gallows, justified the means, the invasion, and the endless aftermath - the various wars without end that are the hallmark of today's Middle East.
Blair is actually playing two cards: the justification card and the sympathy card. Perhaps finally realizing that Chilcot would skewer the justification ploy, Blair has now been baring his profound anguish and suffering over how it all went wrong.
The Bush-Blair Bandwagon ultimately relied on a UN Security Council resolution, 1441, as authorizing their devastating attack on and occupation of Iraq. 1441, however, did no such thing. To wrangle it through the UNSC where both France and Russia stood to veto it, the Anglo-Americans assured the doubters that the resolution did not constitute authority for war and there would be no war on Iraq without a further, express resolution. That, of course, never happened.
Tony Blair knew the Security Council had not authorized the attack he and Washington were planning. That's why the Brits tabled a further resolution, the one they had promised to bring to seek the Security Council go ahead. Only it quickly became apparent that resolution would be defeated. That led Blair to withdraw the resolution before any vote. Blair knew he needed authority. He sought approval. Then he backed off and he's been trying to cover his tracks ever since. It was a monumental blunder.
Chilcot, according to reports, concludes that Blair knew war on Iraq was not authorized by the UN Security Council. He knew it was an illegal war and he, a war criminal, for ordering it. The rest of the report, as far as I can tell at this early stage, is window dressing. As for the post invasion aftermath, Chilcot does dispose of Blair's persistent dismissal of critics as resorting to hindsight. Given that an occupying power has a number of clear obligations to the occupied people, including providing for their security, Blair might be on the hook on this score as well.
What comes of this now is unclear. Will Blair be prosecuted? He ought to be but that doesn't mean he will.
Blair, of course, has written a book, A Journey: My Political Life. I'll leave the review to Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks.