“A broken” and “haunted” man was the Telegraph’s description of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair following the release of the Iraq War report. What I saw was a good “poor little me” act performed to perfection in an attempt to salvage remnants of his reputation. “I didn’t lie or deceive,” he emphasized over and over with teary eyes while still insisting that “the world is better off without Saddam”.
He quotes from an Iraq Survey Report to the effect that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was poised to reconstitute his Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programs as soon as sanctions were lifted – yet another twisting of the truth from the master manipulator.
Firstly, how would inspectors know the secretive Iraqi leader’s future intentions? Secondly, Charles Duelfer, who headed the Bush administration’s investigations of Iraq’s weapons status, told Congressional committees that Saddam’s ability had “progressively decayed” and inspectors found no evidence of any efforts to restart the nuclear program.
Blair maintains that the 11 September attacks changed the culture. He says he was afraid that Iraq’s WMD would fall into the hands of terrorist groups, notwithstanding that there were no terrorists in Iraq pre-2003.
The Chilcot report was no establishment whitewash like its predecessors. This time, the blame for Iraq’s ruin was laid squarely at the former prime minister’s feet although the intelligence services and the gung-ho Ministry of Defense, which left soldiers without appropriate vehicles and body armor, did not escape censure. But it did stop short of tarring Blair as a liar in spite of his dodgy dossiers; one listed from a student’s 12-year-old thesis published on the internet.
There was another crucial omission. It failed to pronounce the war as “illegal” even though former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan did not hesitate to do so in September, 2004 when he said the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN Security Council or the UN’s charter.
There are armies of lawyers scrutinizing the report’s 6,000 pages so as to build a case against him, but it will be a mammoth challenge.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has announced it will not investigate Blair’s decision, which it maintains is outside its remit. Blair’s lucky he is not African, or “even worse” an Arab. If he were, that remit would undoubtedly be stretched to accommodate. A UN supported special tribunal is also out; it would, in my view, be vetoed by the US and Britain in the Security Council.
The to-do list
I believe Blair deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars, together with his American buddies former President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Minister of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the war's architects. Invading Iraq was on their to-do list from the get-go, along with several other Arab countries.
Blair admits that Bush’s aim was regime change in Iraq and that he was on board. In one of his now declassified notes to the US President he says the war’s goal is to bring about “the true post-cold war world order”, a statement smacking of neoconservative doctrine.
If the truth be told they knew full well that Iraq had destroyed its chemical and biological weapons in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The former head of Saddam’s Republican Guard and his son-in-law Hussein Kamel Al-Majid confirmed exactly that to Western intelligence agencies when he defected to Jordan in August 1995. Dr. David Kelly, a weapons expert, died in mysterious circumstances shortly after exposing holes in Number Ten’s case for war.
Blair deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars, together with his American buddiesKhalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Blair’s admission that regime change was the underlying goal is a hot potato. Forcible regime change is illegal under international law and violates the UN Charter. This is why they cherry-picked intelligence to suit and launched a propaganda war against “evil” Saddam, who they armed with chemical weapons during the eight-year-long Iraq-Iran war and gave him a wink and a nod to invade Kuwait via the US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie.
They destroyed a functioning country on false pretext. Blair’s missives to Bush indicate the pair was waiting anxiously for Saddam to slip up so they could pounce. A massive troop contingent was waiting in the wings. Bush was itching to deploy it in theatre.
UN weapons inspectors asked for more time but, with or without a new UN Resolution, rightly blocked by France and Russia, Bush was champing at the bit. He was, I believe, getting tired of his British poodle’s continual yapping at his heels demanding UN resolutions and an Israel-Palestine roadmap that ultimately led nowhere. He was ready to go it alone and gave his sycophant across the pond an opportunity to opt out with no hard feelings. But Blair had pledged in a 2002 memo to stand with Bush whatever.
This neo-imperial gang terrorized Iraqis with “Shock and Awe”, hanged Iraq’s president, dismantled its army and purged its civil service of Baathists. They are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the displacement of over two million and for the eruption of sectarian divide.
They compounded their crimes with their failure to plan for the day after, leaving vacuums of governance that were speedily filled by Shiite militias, al-Qaeda and its ISIS offshoot, which wrapped its tentacles around Syria and many other Arab countries. And they were warned that weakening Iraq would unleash its Iranian neighbor and make the way clear for the implementation of its geopolitical regional ambitions.
They threw the first stones in the pond against the advice of Middle East specialists who correctly predicted the ripples inherent in the removal of an iron fist from Iraq. Europe is paying the price in terms of terrorist attacks and hordes of Iraqi and Syrian refugees knocking on its doors.
Several commentators are even pointing fingers at Blair for triggering the British public’s hostility towards the political class and mistrust of officialdom.
In short, there is an argument that Bush, Blair and their cohorts should be treated as criminals who should be an example of to deter others, especially the Trumps of this world who shoot first and ask questions later. But do not hold your breath!
The question that bugs me is why Iraq when the country did not have sufficient food and medical supplies and presented no threat?
On the other hand, Tehran was believed to be developing nuclear weapons, was building up its military capacity and its mullahs never stopped spewing messages of hate directed at the United States as well as threats to Israel. Not only has Iran not been targeted by the United States, it has been rewarded for its years of clandestine nuclear development with the cessation of economic sanctions while its president is courted by European capitals.
Together and separately, Bush, Blair and US President Barack Obama have upset the fragile regional balance of power leaving Sunni states more vulnerable than they were when Saddam’s Iraq was a powerful bulwark protecting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states from Iran’s territorial ambitions. Was this intentional all along?
Is the bolstering of Iran to the detriment of Saudi Arabia and Gulf states America’s set in stone foreign policy objective? Obama has been critical of Saudi Arabia suggesting the Kingdom must learn to share the neighborhood with Iran.
We must never forget what was done to Iraq still bleeding from the fallout to this day. It is imperative that we know exactly who is with us and who is against us. GCC leaderships should demand honest and transparent answers from our western friends not confined to mere words.
I have been warning about the potential of US-Iranian détente or some sort of Grand Bargain in my columns for many years. For many the idea was alien, even laughable. They are not laughing now.
Our allies must prove which side of the fence they sit; they can begin with an official recognition of “the Arabian Gulf” based on the fact that the coastlines of Gulf states around this body of water are 85 percent longer than Iran’s. If they refuse to comply with this comparatively minor request, we will know where we stand.
As Aesop wrote, “A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other and we then know how to meet him.”
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.