The lies of Tony Blair
that led to the Iraq war
Associate since 1991
Comments directly to
January 19, 2010
The Obama Administration is going to leave behind 50,000 troops as they withdraw from Iraq called “Advise and Assist Brigades”. They will have warplanes, helicopters and Iraqi troops to command. Besides all this, the US State Department will deploy tens of thousands of mercenaries, provided by so-called contractors who seem to enjoy their Rambo style, careering around without much discipline. One wishes the more or less disciplined US military were not going if this is the substitute. What kind of withdrawal is this?
Other questions remained unanswered too. Why did the President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair seek to topple Saddam Hussein when he was extraordinarily weak militarily, having lost most of his planes, tanks and warships in the first Gulf War twelve years before? Moreover, a good part of what was left of his armoury was destroyed by the UN and the sanctions were visibly working. Why did they persuade themselves that war was necessary when they knew they had bent the evidence about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq’s armoury? Why could they not wait two or three months for Hans Blix, the UN’s specially appointed arms inspector, to complete his on-the-ground investigations? He was a former director of the respected International Atomic Energy Agency, whose latest appointment was approved in the Security Council unanimously, including by the US and the UK. Why didn’t Washington and London decide not to seek a second resolution to legitimise the invasion when that is what Tony Blair had promised earlier – with President George Bush’s initial (if unwilling) agreement?
On September 1st Tony Blair will publish his memoirs with a long section on the war in Iraq. Leaks have him saying that Bush was a “visionary” and a “highly intelligent friend”. What can we expect from a prime minister who hyped and distorted any evidence that he considered could run in his favour, often lying in the process, all the time trying to keep up with the lies of the Bush Administration?
At home Blair’s reputation is in tatters. He is unlikely to be remembered for the Labour government’s enormous progress on social policy and a significant rise in money spent on the poor, the ill and the aged. Instead his legacy will be seen as an unnecessary war.
There was the famous dossier that he published in which he claimed that Saddam could deploy weapons of mass destruction within forty-five minutes. Over the course of the build-up to war this was repeated four times. Later a government-appointed enquiry chaired by a senior judge found that the intelligence that led to this public statement was uncorroborated and came from a single source which was reporting hearsay from another uncorroborated single source. The government must have known this. The intelligence services would have told the prime minister. Blair had told one of his lies.
The scrupulous chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, John Scarlett, revealed that it was always known inside the government that the forty-five minute claim applied only to non serious battlefield munitions and small calibre weaponry. Ex foreign secretary Robin Cook wrote in his book, written after he had resigned in protest, “that when he was visited by Scarlett he was told that Saddam had no long-range weapons of mass destruction and neither did he have useable battlefield weapons.” When Cook put this to Blair a couple of weeks later “he gave me the same reply as Scarlett that the battlefield weapons had been dissembled…I was therefore mystified a year later to hear him say he had never understood that the intelligence agencies did not believe that Saddam had long-range weapons of mass destruction.” Another lie by Blair.
If Blair had been doing his job of gathering all the evidence he would never have said this and he would have tried harder to persuade Bush to give Blix the extra few months he asked for to complete his initial finding that Saddam probably didn’t have weapons of mass destruction or a dangerous military force. Blair knew that Washington was in a hurry to start the invasion and he somersaulted on his commitment to return to the Security Council for authorisation. In effect he had misled the British public to believe this commitment. Wasn’t this another lie?
After the invasion and toppling of Saddam Blair and Bush had to admit they were wrong about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. So they justified the invasion by making out that Saddam had worked alongside Osama bin Laden, the chief of Al-Qaeda. But almost every respected expert on Al Qaeda said that there had been no love lost between the two. Indeed, bin Laden considered Saddam as apostate. Another lie being told by Blair.
The war took about 100,000 lives and created millions of refugees. (Even at his worst Saddam didn’t do anything as bad as that. In fact most Iraqis lived a fairly calm and productive life as long as they didn’t oppose him.)
Some price, Mr Blair, to pay for brainwashing the public with false information and deceiving parliament.
Copyright © 2010 Jonathan
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