Note: What follows is really only a thumbnail sketch of this morning's release of the Chilcot report on Britain's participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, along side the GW Bush Administration. There is much more to be said as more of the report is studied and to come, especially on how it might blow back into the US, if it does.
Sir John Chilcot released his report, this morning, with a 12 page statement that excoriates Tony Blair and the way he made the decision to go to war. It's clear from Chilcot's statement that Blair made the decision independent of intelligence that contradicted his beliefs and of where disarmament efforts actually stood. The Independent finds that while Chilcot did not use the word "lie" in his report, and doesn't even question that Blair "believed" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, "his damning conclusion is that the former Prime Minister deliberately blurred the distinction between what he believed and what he actually knew."
"We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted," Chilcot said. "Military action at that time was not a last resort." The report concludes that:
- The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
- Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate.
- The Government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
In reviewing key points in the report, Chilcot said that the formal decision to go to war was made on March 17, 2003, but it was shaped by "key choices" made by Blair's government over the previous 18 months. After 9/11 Blair had urged the GW Bush administration not to take hasty action in Iraq. By December, US policy was shifting and Blair suggested that the US and the UK should work on what he described as a "clever strategy" for regime change in Iraq, which would build over time. When Blair met Bush at Crawford in April of 2002, the formal policy was still to contain Saddam, but by then, "there had been a profound change in the UK's thinking:"
- The Joint Intelligence Committee had concluded that Saddam Hussein could not be removed without an invasion.
- The Government was stating that Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with. It had to disarm or be disarmed.
- That implied the use of force if Iraq did not comply – and internal contingency planning for a large contribution to a military invasion had begun.
- ) Blair Brainwashes Bush
According to Chilcot, Blair set out his thoughts to Bush in a series of private messages. In one note, written on July 28, 2002, Blair in the face of opposition from the Cabinet Office, said: "I will be with you [Bush] whatever."
It added: "This is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties. The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. It is not even the Gulf war." At times, the Guardian reports, Blair's notes read more like stream of consciousness than considered policy documents. The note continued: "He [Saddam] is a potential threat. He could be contained. But containment … is always risky." According to Chilcot, Blair shaped his diplomatic strategy around the need to get rid of Saddam which – he told Bush – was the "right thing to do". Blair suggested that the simplest way to come up with a casus belli was to give an ultimatum to Iraq to disarm, preferably backed by UN authority.
Blair urged Bush to go to the UN to get an ultimatum: Either Saddam disarm or else. This happened on Nov. 8, with UNSCR 1441. Saddam let the inspectors back in and he appeared to be fully cooperating with them. "Without evidence of major new Iraqi violations or reports from the inspectors that Iraq was failing to co-operate and they could not carry out their tasks, most members of the Security Council could not be convinced that peaceful options to disarm Iraq had been exhausted and that military action was therefore justified." So Blair decided to act anyway, in the absence of UN authority, claiming that the UK Government was acting on behalf of the international community "to uphold the authority of the Security Council." "In the absence of a majority in support of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining the Security Council's authority," Chilcot said in the report.
2) The Dodgy Dossier
The "dodgy dossier" that Blair presented to the parliament on Sept. 24, 2002 presented judgements "with a certainty that was not justified. The Joint Intelligence Committee should have made clear to Mr Blair that the assessed intelligence had not established "beyond doubt.'" The report apparently minimizes allegations that Alistair Campbell, who was Blair's communications chief at the time, "sexed up" the dossier in favor of the view that Blair was driven by what he believed to the point that he dismissed intelligence that contradicted his beliefs. "The deliberate selection of a formulation which grounded the statement in what Mr Blair believed, rather than in the judgements which the JIC had actually reached in its assessment of the intelligence indicates a distinction between his beliefs and the JIC's actual judgements," the report says. "The assessed intelligence had not established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons. Nor had the assessed intelligence established beyond doubt that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued… The dossier made clear that, as long as sanctions remained effective, Iraq could not produce a nuclear weapon."
Blair also ignored warnings that military action in Iraq would, itself, be a chaos factor. On March 18, 2003, he told the House of Commons that he judged the possibility of terrorist groups in possession of WMD was "a real and present danger to Britain and its national security" – and that the threat from Saddam Hussein's arsenal could not be contained and posed a clear danger to British citizens. Blair had been warned, however, that military action would increase the threat from Al Qaida to the UK and to UK interests. He had also been warned that an invasion might lead to Iraq's weapons and capabilities being transferred into the hands of terrorists. "It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged, and they should have been," Chilcot said.
In fact, Chilcot points out, intelligence agencies had different ideas on what was the "real and present danger" to Britain. 1) Iran, North Korea and Libya were considered greater threats in terms of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation; 2) The joint intelligence committee believed it would take Iraq five years, after the lifting of sanctions, to produce enough fissile material for a weapon; 3) There was no evidence that Iraq had tried to acquire fissile material and other components or – were it able to do so – that it had the technical capabilities to turn these materials into a usable weapon; and 4) Saddam's regime was "not judged likely" to share its weapons or know-how with terrorist groups.
3) Chaos In the Aftermath
Chilcot also blasted Blair's assertion that it wasn't possible to know what the difficulties of the occupation would be beforehand. "We do not agree that hindsight is required," Chilcot said. "The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion." Chilcot also criticized the lack of planning for the occupation which "continued to have an effect after the
invasion." In fact, the FCO had prepared a paper on Islamism in Iraq which foreshadowed the rise of extremist groups like Isis which went on to exploit the chaos of post-war Iraq. This paper was shared with the US in December of 2002. It warned that it was likely groups would be looking for "identities and ideologies on which to base movements" and anticipated that a number of emergent extremist groups would use violence to pursue political ends.
4) Chilcot Concludes War Was Unncessary
Chilcot concluded that "Military action in Iraq might have been necessary at some point." But in March 2003:
- There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
- The strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time.
- The majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.
Tony Blair issued a statement right away in self defense, promising more to follow. "The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit," he claimed, adding that whether people agree or disagree with the decision, "I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country." He said that in the followup statement he would issue, "I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse," and that "I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world."
I’m still waiting to find out who killed David Kelly?
Tony should meet the same fate as this man
Former vice president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Mr. Bemba, who led the Mouvement de Libération du Congo, a rebel-group-turned political party, also led a 2002-03 campaign of rape and murder in the Central African Republic during the country’s civil war, the court said.
On March 21, he was found guilty of three war crimes – murder, rape, and pillaging – and two crimes against humanity (murder and rape), according to an International Criminal Court (ICC) press release. Bemba will serve all sentences concurrently, minus the eight years he has already spent in jail since his arrest in 2008.
“I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse,” and that “I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.”
“I will take responsibility….Not”
“A lathe of wood, painted to resemble Iron”…
I think Bismark said that.
“I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.”
The world waits with bated breath.
Chilcot specifically said that he didn’t look into the death of
David Kelly because he didn’t have the “coronial” authority that
matter up. In other words, you’ll be waiting for awhile longer.
Yesterday the Borg Queen was been exonerated so it must be time for: Regime change! Moscow version:
“Russia’s occupation and militarization of parts of Georgia’s territory are unacceptable,”
Now for Ukraine: “Kerry visits Ukraine next, on Thursday, before heading to Warsaw to join U.S. President Barack Obama for the NATO summit.”
Since Brexit hasn’t yet taken the almost non-existent military power of Great Britain out of the EU we better us it before they (the voters) decide they don’t want to get railroaded into another neocon war.
The Chilcott Report also adversely impacts the judgment of those U.S. Senators sitting at the time who voted to give GWB the discretionary authority to go to war in Iraq.
That would include Hillary Clinton. pl
Thanks for that.
In many ways, Chilcot’s report is clearly useful. And I have not had time for anything more than a cursory glance at it. However, I think there are good reasons to believe that although revealing about some matters, on others it is continuing a cover-up.
Looking at a BBC summary of the report’s account of the intelligence failures leading to the invasion of Iraq, it did not seem to me at all clear that it could be taken at face value.
(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36713003 .)
We were asked to believe that, in September 2002, in complete good faith, the then MI6 head, Sir Richard Dearlove, was confident that MI6 had acquired a new source in Iraq which had the promise of providing the ‘key to unlock’ the country’s chemical and biological weapons programme.
Despite this – supposedly genuine – confidence in the integrity of the source, however, Dearlove did not discuss what the source was producing with the scientists in the Defence Intelligence Staff: the only people who could have evaluated it properly. (Some of these, incidentally, are pretty good.)
Among the possible explanations for Dearlove’s very odd claim, one is obvious: that MI6 already knew the ‘evidence’ was bogus, and did not want the fact exposed.
Apparently, by 18 February 2003, not only had the source failed to deliver, but MI6 analysts had concluded that he had been lying. But they did not tell Blair this at that time, reports from the discredited source were reissued that April, and the then chairman of the JIC, John – now Sir John – Scarlett, was also not told that the source was lying: although he was himself an MI6 operative by background.
Frankly, if you believe all this, I have a recently discovered bridge over the Thames at Hammersmith, just down the river from us, which I am quite prepared to sell you at a bargain price.
It seems to me overwhelmingly likely that a number of people have been lying to Chilcot and his associates, and they have not seen fit to ask them any serious questions.
Another key issue relates to the claim about Saddam having sought uranium from Niger.
I have put ‘Niger’ into the search engine on the Inquiry website, and come up with a handful of references in the report, which really take us no further on the critical question of where the bogus information originated and why it was accepted.
(The relevant page is at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/the-report/ .)
In fact, the very suspicious role of MI6 in the dissemination of the forged documents originating from Italy which started this ‘canard’ rolling, was discussed in a post by Patrick Bahzad on SST, entitled ‘Loops of Lies: The story behind the fake “yellow cake” deliveries to Iraq’, in May last year.
(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2015/05/loops-of-lies-.html .)
A couple of patent instances of disinformation from British intelligence sources may be worth adding into the ‘mix’.
One is an attempt, uncritically recycled in the ‘Financial Times’ to sustain the claim, accepted by Sir Richard Butler and his colleagues in an earlier report, that there was serious intelligence, independent of the forged documents originating in Italy, supporting the Niger uranium claims.
(See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f5670ed2-c8a1-11d8-830a-00000e2511c8.html?ft_site=falcon&desktop=true .)
Another is a draft article by the journalist and BBC presenter Tom Mangold, in which I regret to say the late Dr David Kelly appears to have been fully complicit, which was intended to suggest that there was serious evidence for the claim that Saddam had WMD he could launch at 45-minutes notice.
(See http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20041101120000/http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/evidence-lists/evidence-tmg.htm .)
Having somewhat ‘toned down’ the claim, Mangold went on to suggest that:
‘At first the spooks were uneasy about allowing this fact to be publicised. Its true there was only one source, but he happened to be an Iraqi Army officer of Brigadier rank – an MI6 agent in place, a hen’s tooth in the body of coalition human intelligence gathering from Iraq . (This source bravely stayed throughout the war, and has since been re-located by the British).’
It seems to me that the most likely interpretation of Chilcot has at least four elements:
1. the state of public feeling in this country is such that there were limits to how far a ‘whitewash’ could be attempted, particularly given what had clearly emerged from evidence presented in its hearings;
2. throughout the bureaucracy, there was a widespread sense that Blair’s driving a horse-and-cart through normal procedures of governance had been disastrous, and a repeat needed to be stopped;
3. it suited Dearlove and others to ‘plead guilty’ to the lesser charge of gross incompetence, rather than risking the more serious one – of having been consciously involved in a transnational conspiracy to lie us into war.
4. as Chilcot has the ‘upper servant’ mentality of much of the contemporary British bureaucracy, the last thing he is going to do is open up questions to do with corrupt conspiracies between elements in British and American intelligence.
In this connection, meanwhile, it is also worth looking at a post by the former British diplomat Craig Murray, dealing with the backgrounds of Chilcot and his colleagues.
While I would not simply accept everything that Murray says, he is in my view a patently honest man, and in relation to the one figure about whom he talks with whom I had dealings, Sir Lawrence Freedman, his account seems to me absolutely to the point.
(See https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/07/the-truth-about-chilcot/ .)
The lines of Inquiry which Chilcot did not pursue lead in various directions – prominent among them into the United States.
It would be a calamity if his obfuscations helped to prevent further investigation of them.
Regime change! Moscow version
In what sense it is Moscow “version”?
The “version” is a desire or perhaps more accurately a pathology for changing the government of the Russian Federation, not necessarily the ability to do so. Perhaps I should have stuck with my first thought, “regime change: on to Moscow” rather than the verbiage I used above.
Indeed, this has been on my mind since the day it happened. Outrageously suspicious. Blair should be investigated for this and his war crime of invading Iraq.
Got it, thank you for explanation.
Chris Ames, the author of the Iraqi Inquiry Digest, concludes that Chilcot pulled his punches. “On each test of whether Blair acted in good faith, the report simply ducks the question,” Ames writes. “It simply refuses to question whether Blair really believed that the intelligence established beyond doubt that Iraq had WMD,” Ames goes on. “Most bizarrely, it refuses to make any finding on the period between 7 March 2003 and the start of the war, thereby avoiding addressing whether Blair’s blame the French strategy, on which Commons support for war was based, was a lie.”
Unfortunately this is as far as the Borg is willing to go. The incompetence defense is what is classically used. Exactly as we saw yesterday in Comey’s recommendation. They can’t go in the direction of intentional fixing of “facts” after the policy decision. The propagandizing the public into a war on false pretenses with disastrous consequences. That’s a bridge too far. Truth is not the exercise. It is about finding the best bureaucratic fudge.
There is however a risk they run because their rationale for power is their competence and experience. That’s always their argument. The safe hands on the nuclear button. Then there is the dissonance with their “carelessness” and poor judgment. Tony will likely skate in any legal sense just as Hillary did. But people can only be deceived so long. And the longer it takes for the reset, as the Borg keep pulling out the stops to hang on, the less chance it happens peacefully and more likely with guillotines.
There is however a risk they run because their rationale for power is their competence and experience. That’s always their argument. The safe hands on the nuclear button.
Excellent observation and the one which calls for (I am on it for the last couple of years openly) speaking in broadsides, accusations in ad hominem be damned. We are observing a complete degeneration of Western political (power) “elites” into a collection of vile amateurs who only know how to get elected by means of perpetual self-aggrandizing–that is the extent of their skills. The pool is exhausted–no statesman can emerge from it anymore.
This is getting interesting. Representatives of the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq gave a press conference immediately following Chilcot’s statement.
Roger Bacon and Reg Keys, who have been two of the driving forces, and their lawyer, Matthew Jury, made it clear they would be closely studying the report, to see whether legal action against some of those responsible is feasible.
If it is concluded that it is worth trying, it is not clear that finance will be a problem. There are many people in this country who would happily contribute, if they saw any realistic chance of seeing Tony Blair sent down.
In one sense, the report is very useful, in that it disposes of the need to establish certain key matters of fact.
My concern however is that precisely because of this, it will distract attention from the actual truth.
Often, ‘cock-up’ and ‘conspiracy’ interpretations are presented as alternatives. And what Chilcot is trying to do is to suggest that, essentially, the Iraq War was a massive ‘cock-up’.
So it was. But it was also a ‘conspiracy’. As also have been subsequent events, in particular in Syria, but also in Ukraine and elsewhere.
And I am very afraid that in obfuscating this, he and his associates will be all too successful.
This is doubly dangerous, because it is precisely the combination of ‘conspiracy’ and ‘cock-up’ which makes ‘neocons’ like Dearlove and Blair so acutely dangerous.
But, as you point out, there are also a danger to themselves.
There are complex links here to the arguments over ‘Brexit’.
Leaving aside the merits and demerits of the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ arguments, what was absolutely clear was that the ‘establishment’ in Britain had almost no understanding of the depth of the angers their behaviour had provoked.
This was the first time I had watched either Bacon or Keys. Both came across to me as very measured and reasonable people. But there are a lot of people who are a great deal less measured, and reasonable.
I left off the link to the relatives’ press conference. It is at
Having closely followed this from 2002, I doubt the Iraq war would have been initiated without the strong support of the neoconservatives. It was viewed as initiating a ME transformation. They succeeded but are generally unwilling to own their “success.”
I think it is commendable that in the United Kingdom, an inquest has been convened and its results – however partial and less than complete – published for the benefit of the electorate.
Poland, Australia, Spain, Denmark, and Italy also invaded Iraq and I am yet to see something analogous to come from those countries.
They were all mad, without a doubt, invading the seat of historical Omavid and Abbasid Caliphates; but such has been their hubris.
The man whose judgment should also be considered was Bill Clinton and his Dual Containment policy of both Iran and Iraq – at the time that Iran wanted to improve her relationship with US.
Bill Clinton’s legacy in the Persian Gulf and in Northeast Asia, in my opinion, has been a disaster for the United States.
Blair claims to have tried to persuade US from invading Iran and Syria at the same time as Iraq.
I suppose he was suggesting keeping Iran and Syria for the future; like my math. teacher used to say: “First let us raise this first baby…”
Keep in mind please that United Kingdom, Poland, Australia, Spain, Denmark, and Italy joined US willingly and enthusiastically for the invasion of Iraq.
US did not need those countries, they wanted in – loving it to be following US into battle.
That is the reason that I discount a vast “neo-conservative conspiracy” spanning as many countries.
This is from 1998 from Project For New American Century. Iraq was marked for annihilation since early 1990s.
Final transformation of US Foreign Policy towards neo-conservatism and “humanitarian” interventionism has started on Bill Clinton’s watch. All that against the background of US exceptionalism which was always present in American thinking. Neocons largely actualized this vision to a disastrous effect for all, US included, parties involved. Neocons will NOT own anything for a number of reasons. In some sense, present state of US foreign policy was inevitable.
Yes, the “domino” theory of the borg wars.
@Babak, Australia didn’t want to go to war – it’s Government did. Australia is one of the “Five Eyes” and has no independent foreign policy. It does what its Governemnt, of either political persuasion, thinks America would like it to do.
we have just had a Federal election here – I haven”t followed it at all. The Australian political and economic environment for the next Ten y ears is determined by Washington, hence my interest in the Presidential race.
“vast neo-conservative conspiracy?” Hardly. There was nothing conspiratorial, ie: secret, about it. I have been a reader of Commentary since about 1980. Excellent magazine with many brilliant writers over the years. It is generally considered the premier magazine of neo-conservatism to the point of describing itself as the “neo-conservative flagship.” It was also a house publication of the AJC spinning itself to an independent mag in the early 2000’s. A point of note. Jews, are, for the most part, not conservative. Neo or otherwise. But they are, generally, more interested in the welfare of Israel then gentiles and things had been going to hell in the ME.
Of great concern to them circa 2002, was the Palestinian intifada which was in full swing with suicide bombers widely active throughout Israel. The deaths, on a per capita basis, totaled far in excess of the ones suffered by the USA from the 9/11 UBL attacks. And no, I don’t for a second believe the assorted 9/11 CTs.
Saddam was hated for providing support and rewards for these suicide bombers.
It was quite fascinating to watch Powell’s televised address to AIPAC in March 2003. I particularly recall the line about Saddam being the greatest supporter and provider of World Wide Terrorism. This has a very different meaning to the AIPAC crowd v other Americans not quite as in touch with global events. To those others it helped sync in the notion that Saddam must be removed by force because he was an imminent threat to the heartland. This was, like all good political speeches, effective at conveying different messages to different groups with non-overlapping interests. As for influence, AIPAC has few if any peers and is strongly supported on both sides of the isle.
So there was a widespread desire, after initial defanging Afghanistan, to do something to stabilize the ME. This was seen as in Israel’s interest of course, but also seen as in America’s and the rest of the World. Saddam’s Iraq was seen as a ME state reasonably close to the Western ideal. They had significant minority religious populations. Hell, they sold alcohol. The theory was that we would be more or less welcomed and that it would become an attractive symbol for other states in the region to follow. Whether by force or not. It’s not coincidental that Syria and Iran have long borders in common.
It just didn’t work out the way it was intended.
The Telegraph today carried an article on Chilcot by Tim Collins, a senior British Army Battle Group commander who served in Iraq during the invasion. He has some strong words for the Blair and Bush administrations. He wrote that the calamities that fell in the wake of Saddam’s ouster were understood or feared before the invasion. He is particularly critical of Bremmer’s disbanding of the Iraqi Army which was completely in opposition to what the message was being relayed by British commander. The result of this “strategic blunder saw the growth, arguably, of the most effective insurgency in history since the American Revolutionary War.”
But in Spain? Or in Georgia? or in Denmark? or in Poland? or in Italy?
I cannot agree to the influence of English-speaking Zionist Jews across so many countries.
How about these countries’ leaders really hating Islam and wishing to join some Muslim bashing – without stitching crosses to their chests?
Well, there is remedy: it is called “The Spirit of 76”.
I want to juxtapose what you wrote with what Blair said today.
“This is doubly dangerous, because it is precisely the combination of ‘conspiracy’ and ‘cock-up’ which makes ‘neocons’ like Dearlove and Blair so acutely dangerous.”
Blair says “there were no lies, Parliament and Cabinet were not misled, there was no secret commitment to war, intelligence was not falsified and the decision was made in good faith”.
Those of us who read Col. Lang’s Drinking the Kool-aid, and have read about Doug Feith and his stovepipe, about the Rendon Group, and heard Condi Rice exclaim about mushroom clouds, the Niger yellowcake and Plame affair, Judy Miller’s aluminum tube fantasies in the Pravda on the Hudson would like a thorough inquiry into the conspiracy and the decision making to invade Iraq.
I for one would like those responsible held to account. A war crimes tribunal is appropriate. But…I’m not holding my breath. The Borg protects their own. I read today that Dubya does not plan to read the Chilcott report. Isn’t it ironic that Blair and Bush and all the others are reduced to saying the world remains better without Saddam while everyone can see just the opposite? And today how the Borg media was going apoplectic as Trump said that Saddam killed terrorists!
And furthermore that the neocon Kagan who is nominally GOP, endorsing the Borg Queen. Yes. The cabal of the warmongers. Corrupt to the core.
There is lots that is shocking in Chilcot’s report even for those of us who have been following things closely since before the war began. But what stands out for me is the belief that the UK and US were the righteous hand of god put on this earth to destroy the entire Middle East.
“Far from showing doubt about his interventionism, however, Blair complained to Bush that his belief the struggle for control of Iraq “will determine the spirit of the future world” was “all getting lost just in Iraq and WMD”. He said Iraq was “a test case for how determined we were to confront the threat. My worry now is that the world thinks: well, Iraq was a tough deal, so they won’t try that again.”
“We have to be absolutely unapologetic,” he urged Bush.
On the Arab world, he said hardline countries who don’t “fall into line” should be offered “a very hard-headed partnership or put them on the ‘axis of evil list’”. He also told Bush that more effort needed to go into the war in Afghanistan, saying: “It is our one act of regime change so far, so it had better be a good advertisement.”
But he then set out a recipe for providing evidence against Iraq. “If we recapitulate all the WMD evidence; add his attempt to secure nuclear capability; and, as seems possible, add an al-Qaida link, it will be hugely persuasive over here. Plus, of course, the abhorrent nature of the regime.”
Put it together with the 7 countries Wesley Clark said he was told the US was going to invade and it is just sickening how cheap life is to western governments. But it brings up the question are we going to dodge the rest of the bullets or are there another 5 countries that the west is going to destroy to save?
I am surprised by the intensity of the reaction to the Chilcot Report. Nearly everything in it has been known to the attentive observer for many years. From what I can tell from summary accounts, the only thing new are the texts of the master/servant messages between Bush and Blair. Certainly not the mood and content. Whatever intangibles emerge from this meticulous if lawyerly account, they pretty much conform to what was reported by Peter Stoddard in his first-hand narrative of life at No. 10 on the eve of the in invasion. (Thirty Days (London: HarperCollins, 2004) 2004 = 12 B.C. Before Chilcot. The balance of attention paid public relations, in contrast to policy substance, was such that Stothard remarks, “Today the War Cabinet is like a media studies seminar in a metropolitan high school.”
In truth, we have a major collective memory problem. We – as scholars, journalists, commentators, and citizens – find it impossible (inconvenient?) to retain memories even of relatively recent events of cardinal consequence. I guess that’s what we might call “primitive existentialism”. Live in the moment AND forget everything in the past. Then, pay the price.
as I have said before, making it official makes a big difference. pl
According to Wikipedia, the 2003 invasion force was largely American with 150,000. The UK did more than their share with 46,000. A couple other countries contributed token forces with two providing them for the initial invasion force:
There were numerous additions to the MNF forces, largely in a peace-keeping role, post invasion. Even Iceland contributed 2 troops.
Post invasion Forces of the ones you mentioned that weren’t in the invasion (at peak)
None of these contributed troops proportionally anywhere near that of the US or UK.
The plain fact is that the Iraq invasion was driven by the United States. And we like our wars to have coalitions. Makes it seem more acceptable.
All those countries are “out to get you” (muslims), that is soooo unfair because Islam is wishing well to every non muslim populations, right?
From the commentary of the Report I don’t see that Blair’s claim is supported by Chilcot. Of course it was known at the time what was going on.
Really I would have liked a detailed look into the how, why and who pushed the war in Iraq, accepting as I do Victor Ostrovsky’s purported account in By Way of Deception of how the first Gulf War was engineered. The Blair creature is fascinating in of itself, the fantastic sums of money that financed him, the laudatory media coverage, but we have only really ever got dribs and drabs.
Of course it would be nice to think that lessons have been learned but we have since ‘done’ Libya, Syria and the Ukraine with the same pattern of false claims, uncritical reporting and pathetic political oversight. At the least the general public are now much more sceptical and the internet offers a level of critical comment.
A side note of how little has changed is the fact neocon poster boy Michael Gove (http://europe.newsweek.com/why-michael-gove-wants-be-prime-minister-476349 ) and the less fanatical Liam Fox (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2049642/Was-Mossad-using-Fox-Werritty-useful-idiots-Ex-Ambassador-reveals-links-advisers-set-alarm-bells-ringing.html ) are/were considered serious contenders for being our next Prime Minister. Although Gove seems to alarm some members of the establishment (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3675197/Tory-big-beast-Ken-Clarke-brands-Michael-Gove-wild-Theresa-bloody-difficult-claims-Andrea-Leadsom-isn-t-really-Eurosceptic-extraordinary-open-mic-gaffe.html ).
As with Australia, it is something of an oversimplification to say that the United Kingdom went to war in Iraq ‘willingly and enthusiastically’.
What ‘walrus’ has to say about Australian foreign policy also applies to British.
If very serious resistance to our playing ‘lapdog’ to the United States on Iraq had not been anticipated, it would not have been necessary for Dearlove and Scarlett to lie, and lie, and lie: as they clearly did, despite Chilcot’s attempts to obfuscate.
The question of whether they lied to Blair, or colluded with him in lying to Parliament and the public, is one which the report leaves unresolved.
(A parallel question arises in relation to the role of MI6 and the JIC in relation to Cameron in connection with the Ghouta ‘false flag’.)
And it would not have been necessary for Blair to subvert the procedures of constitutional government by, in essence, cutting Cabinet out of things and making up policy on his sofa.
The ‘neoconservative conspiracy’ did not need to span all the countries involved: although, of course, the role of the Murdoch press, which is relevant to Australia as well as the United States and Britain, is significant.
As to its reality – and its relevance to Iran – I can perhaps follow up my reference to the role of Tom Mangold in collaborating with his old contact Dr David Kelly to disseminate disinformation relating to the notorious 45-minute claim.
On the website of the Litvinenko Inquiry you will find a transcript of a BBC Radio 4 programme Mangold presented on 16 December 2006. This was devoted to claims by an erstwhile associate of Litvinenko’s, a former KGB officer called Yuri Shvets, then based at an organisation called the ‘Centre for Counterintelligence and Security’ in Alexandria, Virginia.
His allegations were supported by a collaborator of his, a former FBI operative by the name of Robert ‘Bobby’ Levinson.
(See https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/HMG000513wb.pdf .)
According to this version, Litvinenko was likely to have been deliberately assassinated with polonium at the instigation of a close associate of Putin. Supposedly, in the course of their normal work as ‘due diligence’ researchers – nothing to do with any Western intelligence agency at all, of course – Litvinenko and Shvets had unearthed damning evidence about the links between this associate and organised crime.
No mention was made in this programme about the involvement of Shvets, Litvinenko, and their associates in the group around the fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky in transcribing and disseminating the famous – or notorious – tapes of conversations involving the former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, supposedly recorded by Major Melnichenko.
The whole process – which was was funded by Berezovsky – played a major role in the initial ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine, back in 2004-5.
As to Levinson, a piece in the ‘New York Times’ from May this year may be of interest. An extract:
‘In March 2007, Mr. Levinson, then 59, disappeared on Kish Island, in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran, while trying to recruit a fugitive American-born assassin as a C.I.A. source inside Iran.’
(See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/nyregion/seeking-robert-levinson-cia-consultant-who-vanished.html?_r=0 .)
Of course, after his disappearance any possibility of a CIA link was denied, just as the suggestion that Litvinenko might have worked for MI6 was, repeatedly, dismissed with contempt.
When the British were forced into reopening the inquest into Litvinenko’s death, it was rapidly conceded that he had in fact been an agent, as distinct from operative, of MI6.
Indeed, very much of what had been claimed in the Mangold programme and other MSM coverage was then ditched – a fact which both Sir Robert Owen, who conducted the Inquiry, and also the MSM, have chosen to ignore. (At no point in what I have read of the proceedings were witnesses questioned about obvious contradictions in their claims at different times.)
In relation to Litvinenko’s activities on behalf of MI6, Owen’s report was quite patently a cover-up. Even more so than with Chilcot, however, some of the evidence produced in the course of proceedings is illuminating.
Among other things, some information is provided about the uses to which the then MI6 agent Litvinenko and Shvets were putting the Melnichenko tapes. On the website, one can find extracts from a letter which the former sent in December 2005 to the so-called ‘Mitrokhin Commission’ in Italy, for which their Italian associate Mario Scaramella was a consultant.
(See https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/INQ018922wb.pdf .)
In this letter, we discovered some of what the investigations of Litvinenko and Shvets into links between Putin and his associates and organised crime were supposed to establish.
So ‘evidence’ from the Melnichenko tapes was used to support the claim that the notorious Ukrainian mobster Semyon Mogilevich, while an agent of the FSB and under Putin’s personal ‘krysha’, had attempted to obtain a ‘mini nuclear bomb’ for Al Qaeda. At the time it was written, as we know from other sources, Scaramella was about to depart on a trip of the United States.
Some quick Google searches will establish that Mangold had – in addition to being, along with Brian Ross of ABC, a prime disseminator of the ‘anthrax scare’ rubbish which was used to whip up feeling in support of the invasion of Iraq – presented a programme on Mogilevich in which the prime source was Levinson.
So there is a consistent ‘modus operandi’, involving scaremongering playing to people’s fears about WMD, in which time and again the same people turn out to be involved – running right through to ‘false flag’ over Ghouta. Sometimes the purpose has been to create a ‘casus belli’, sometimes to facilitate a ‘colour revolution’, sometimes simply to discredit political leaders and movements.
Far be it from me to suggest that, given his associations, it is at least worth considering the possibility that, in his attempts to recruit an agent in Kish, ‘Bobby’ Levinson might just conceivably have been engaged in another such operation. Far be it from me to suggest that it is possible that Iranian intelligence, quite possibly with the collusion with Russian, laid a trap for him.
Such suggestions, obviously, smack of accusations of a ‘vast neo-conservative conspiracy’: quite clearly a manifestation of my latent anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, at this point, the fact that both Levinson and Mangold are Jewish cannot be regarded as entirely irrelevant. So also were the two academic members of the Chilcot Committee, Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman. Of course, Seymour Hersh and Glenn Greenwald, are Jewish, as are Stephen F. Cohen, and Eric Kraus, and Vladimir Golstein (three of the best Western commentators on post-Soviet affairs.) So too, on SST, are Professor Brenner, ‘jdledell’, and Larry Kart.
But, as I have noted before, there appears to be a kind of inverse correlation among American, and increasingly British, Jews, between, on the one hand, influence, and the other, genuine intelligence and integrity.
In relation to Chilcot, it is necessary to keep a balance in mind. As an exposé of the sheer corruption and also utter incompetence of contemporary British élites, it may turn out to mark a defining moment. The outburst by Sarah O’Connor, whose brother was killed in Iraq – ‘there is one terrorist in this world that the world needs to be aware of, and his name is Tony Blair – the world’s worst terrorist’ – may well echo down in history.
That said, what has become progressively clearer in recent years is that the ‘covert’ element alike of American and British policy has run right out of control, generating time and again projects for ‘regime change’, which have turned out a disaster not simply for their targets but ourselves.
Many elements have gone into this. But the role of rather stupid Jews, looking for fantasy solutions to the intractable problems which inevitably confront a Jewish settler state in the Middle East, and unable to escape from the traumas created by anti-Semitism in Europe and Russia, is certainly a significant part of the story.
And in relation to opening up this crucial aspect of the history of the past two decades, Chilcot does not illuminate: he obfuscates.
Actually, a great deal of the story is ‘hiding in plain sight’, as the phrase goes. So, for example, a look at the website of the ‘Henry Jackson Society’ will tell you a great deal about ‘neoconservatism’ in Britain. The fact that both Dearlove and two of the current candidates for the Tory leadership, Michael Gove and Stephen Crabb, are among the signatories of its fatuous ‘Statement of Principles’ tells you a good deal of what you need to know about the intellectual collapse of British élites.
(See http://henryjacksonsociety.org/about-the-society/signatories-to-the-statement-of-principles/ .)
However, evidence about the role of ‘covert operations’ in the pursuit of these stupid agendas is only slowly filtering out. From what has emerged, however, it is clear that no serious investigation can be premised upon an assumption that one can assume that what figures like Dearlove and Scarlett say is more likely to be true than false.
And that Chilcot accepted a version from MI6 sources which is patently poppycock is not helpful, in bringing to light the ‘hidden history’ of the invasion of Iraq.
Any chance of legal action against Blair and some of the others? pl
British legal expert seem to think not.
By way of collective memory glitches, there are 15 mentions of Bush as agent (or prime mover); none of Cheney.
I do not think the driving agent behind Iraq invasion is in question, nor the capabilities of the United States.
Colonel Lang, Willy B:
On the face of things, the arguments made by Owen Boycott look compelling. However, I would not completely rule out the possibility of some kind of legal action.
At the press conference given by the relatives of the servicemen, the answers given to the question of whether legal proceedings would be attempted were very circumspect.
What their solicitor, Matthew Jury, and Francis Bacon and Reg Keys, who were clearly the leaders, were at great pains to stress was that the report would be gone through with a fine toothcomb, to see whether there were areas where charges could be made to stick.
It is just possible that there may what one might call an ‘Al Capone’ situation. A close scrutiny of the factual evidence and the finer points of the law might turn up unexpected grounds on which those involved can be taken to court.
For what it is worth, there was an article by General Sir Michael Rose – a former commander of the SAS among other things – in the ‘Mail’ this morning, which opened:
‘The report makes clear there are a number of possible grounds for legal action against Blair by the families of the 179 people killed in the Iraq war. But I believe it is Blair’s flagrant abuse of intelligence that gives them the best option.
‘For it was his unequivocal statement that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be launched in 45 minutes which finally persuaded Parliament to support the invasion of Iraq.
‘It was that statement, based on seemingly uncorroborated evidence, that gave rise to the appalling suffering these families have endured.’
(See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3678097/GENERAL-SIR-MICHAEL-ROSE-families-179-personnel-killed-Iraq-Blair-court.html .)
Of course, Sir Michael is not a lawyer, but from the little I have known about him he has always struck me as a man of competence and integrity. It would somewhat surprise me if he ‘went public’ in this way without having reflected seriously on the issues involved.
And this brings me back to what I think is a central point about Chilcot’s report.
From the summaries I have read, it seems to me overwhelmingly likely that on some of the critical intelligence issues what we are dealing with is a collusive fiction, concocted by key figures in collaboration, designed to suggest that incompetence, rather than deliberate mendacity, was at issue.
If however deliberate mendacity was at issue, then what we are dealing with would have to be collusion to mislead Parliament. It is not clear to me what the legal position would be in relation to such collusion. But it is not a trivial matter.
Precisely the same issue arises in relation to the JIC ‘Assessment’ which Cameron adduced in his unsuccessful attempt to get the support of the Commons for us to join with the United States in bombing Assad, in response to the patent ‘false flag’ at Ghouta.
Here, it is material that the claims made by Seymour Hersh about the key role of the British defence science laboratory at Porton Down in enabling General Dempsey to persuade Obama to pull back from bombing in Syria have hardly been picked up on this side of the Atlantic.
(For Hersh’s account, see the April 2014 piece he produced in the ‘London Review of Books’ under the title ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line; available at http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line .)
Without going into the complexities, what Chilcot has to say brings up the need to see the – successful – attempt to lie us into war against Iraq, and the – unsuccessful – attempt to lie us into war against Syria in conjunction.
It now seems reasonably clear that – probably to protect people at Porton Down – Hersh’s sources obscures the crucial fact that MI6 provided the laboratory with ‘environmental’ samples from at least one of the smaller scale ‘false flag’ incidents which preceded the ‘larger scale’ Ghouta attack.
Indeed, this was explicitly claimed in a report in the ‘Times’ and the ‘Australian’ in March 2013 by Tom Coghlan – the role of the Murdoch papers is again crucial.
(See http://brianhaw.tv/index.php/index/1555-22032013-propaganda-murdoch-claims-mi6-testing-syrian-soil-for-nerve-gas .)
I now think there are very strong grounds to believe that they had such samples from more than one of the relevant incidents – and quite possibly all four – and that they were obtained through a former British Army chemical weapons specialist called Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.
(See http://www.militaryspeakers.co.uk/speakers/hamish-de-bretton-gordon-obe/ .)
So, we have an interesting similarity and dissimilarity.
On the one hand, Chilcot asks us to believe that Dearlove had obtained a source who he thought was providing a ‘smoking gun’ on Iraq’s chemical and biological capabilities, that this was critical in shaping the ‘dodgy dossier’, but that somehow Porton Down – whose scientists, as I understand it, have as much expertise on these weapons as anyone in the world – was not brought in.
I don’t believe this for a moment, and I much doubt that Sir John Chilcot and his colleagues do so either.
In relation to the ‘environmental samples’ supposed to incriminate the Syrian Government of responsibility for Ghouta and the earlier incidents, however, we have every reason to believe that Porton Down was brought in at an early stage.
Why was this? The answer is I think clear. The techniques of mass spectrometry which have made it possible to identify, from ‘environmental’ samples, not only the presence of sarin but critical evidence about its likely origin have actually developed relatively recently.
At the time that samples from the earlier incidents were supplied to Porton Down, de Bretton-Gordon was clearly unaware that they could be used to establish not simply the presence of sarin, but its likely origin.
The circumstantial evidence suggesting that, over Ghouta, British intelligence was consciously involved in disseminating disinformation is strong. The implausibility of the account intended to rebut suggestions that this was the case in relation to Iraq needs to be seen in the light of the subsequent incident – and vice versa.
What should not happen is that relief at the fact that Chilcot did not provide a complete ‘whitewash’ obscures the extent to which he obscured the truth. And if more people pointed to the acute implausibility of critical parts of his account, there might be more prospect of seeing Blair and others meet the fate they so richly deserve – imprisonment, or at least financial ruin.
At the end of his article, General Rose writes:
‘There has to be an element of retribution over the way we were taken to war. We need to hold people in public office to account, or our democracy will continue to suffer catastrophic failures such as the invasion of Iraq in the future. The war was unjust and unjustifiable. On January 9, 2006, I publicly called for the impeachment of Blair over Iraq. At that time our MPs did not have the moral courage to act. Today, reflecting the anger of the people of this country who have been so betrayed by him, let us hope they will now do so.’
Thank you very much.
There’s a famous quote from the Nuremberg war crimes trials on the crime of waging aggressive war being the worst crime, which I cannot now locate. Perhaps someone else can find it and post it here. It’s the worst crime because it’s the source from which all of the other crimes flow. The ICC said in a statement reported by the Telegraph a few days ago that. “As already indicated by the Office in 2006, the ‘decision by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the Court’s jurisdiction.'” For some strange reason, the Nuremberg principles are not part of the ICC charter, perhaps because the ICC was George Soros’ baby.
The faking of intelligence, which Cheney certainly on the US side, was a function of the intent, from the outset, to wage unprovoked aggressive war against another sovereign state, the threat from which was grossly exaggerated.
A very important report has just appeared on the BBC.
(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36738086 .)
One key passage:
‘Of the possible criminal offences Mr Blair could face in this country, the most likely is misconduct in a public office.
‘It is committed when a public official acting in the course of their duties wilfully neglects to perform that duty, or wilfully misconducts themselves to such a degree that their behaviour amounts to an abuse of the public’s trust in them.
‘The offence was used frequently in the phone-hacking scandal to prosecute police officers and other public officials who took money from journalists in return for providing stories.
‘The former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord MacDonald QC, believes Tony Blair’s conduct in the build-up to the Iraq war could amount to misconduct in public office.
‘Speaking to The Times, he highlighted an example of “particularly egregious misconduct” set out in the Chilcot report.’
‘There is a potential civil claim for “misfeasance in public office”. This is almost the civil equivalent to the crime of misconduct in public office.
‘It is based on proving that the office holder abused their power in a way that injured the claimant. Judged on the lower civil standard of proof, the balance of probabilities, it requires that the office holder owed the claimant a duty of care, breached it and that resulted in harm to the claimant.
‘Often the claim will involve the office holder having acted unlawfully while knowing that what they were doing was unlawful. Mr Blair has always maintained that he acted in good faith. That would be a successful defence to a civil claim for misfeasance.
‘Lawyers for the families of those who lost loved ones in the war and its aftermath are studying the 2.6 million word report to see whether it provides the basis for civil claims against the former prime minister. It will be a long and challenging task.’
You can perhaps see why I think it so important that Chilcot’s unquestioning acceptance of the claims by Dearlove that he was simply an incompetent bungler should be looked at more critically than has, up to now, been the case.
Also: Like Ghouta, this is one of those cases where the transnational nature of ‘information operations’ means that these can evade detection by investigations – both in the MSM and the blogosphere, which are largely ‘national’ in focus.
This is why input from the U.S. into what is going on would be so helpful.
Various people saying Blair may be charged with ‘misconduct in public office’.
Nor do I think that neo-conservatives per se provided the tipping point. For most of the 70’s and 80’s they were relatively marginal. In fact their subsequent growth was a significant brake on the Left which peaked in the early 70’s. It was the confluence of the disintegration of the USSR, the rapid success of the first Gulf War, the most destructive intifada in Israel to date, and, of course, 9/11 that aligned the Left (R2P: NYT, New Republic, etc) and drove the USA into this mess without really understanding the aftermath. The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.
‘Lawyers for the families of those who lost loved ones in the war and its aftermath are studying the 2.6 million word report…
should there be no basis for civil claims, who gets billed for this study?
Again I will point out to you that you have not addressed the causes of the participation of Spain, Georgia, Denmark, Poland and Italy.
Walrus, depending how charitably one interprets his response in regards to Australia’s participation in the war against Iraq, is stating that Australia is a dependency of the United States and its people – the plebs – are happy as long as they have the 3-day barbecue and the TV – and cannot be bothered by what the Tribunes of the People do.
I suppose that goes for New Zealand – only even more so.
“Again I will point out to you that you have not addressed the causes of the participation of Spain, Georgia, Denmark, Poland and Italy.”
I don’t see why their decisions, and what informed them, to join the MNF at the very low levels they did is relevant. Had they chosen not to join it would have made zero difference. They may well have done so for very disparate reasons. The only thing that mattered to the USA was expanding the country count in the coalition. That was for political/diplomatic reasons, not military ones.
Cheney had plans drawn up for an invasion of Iraq, but needed an excuse. 9/11 provided this. Although 9/11 was performed by Saudi-national terrorists, and filmed by Dancing Israelis, Cheney correctly counted on Americans being too ignorant to discriminate one group of scruffy Arab bad guys from another. America had to stomp “somebody” to “teach them a lesson”, and Iraq was first in line. [But “real men go to Iran”…it’s still not over…]
I am not finding a good reference to Cheney’s detailed plans off the top, this will have to do for now:
Pls remember Cheney + Rumsfeld + Wolfowitz also were running a shadow government, with secret meetings and their own intelligence agency, to take over in case Bush ever became incapacitated.
The profit motive for Cheney as largest private shareholder of Halliburton was there as well.
Bush had already decided to invade Iraq as well:
However, the biggest problem I have is with the “Oded Yinon” plan. As discussed in the ’80s and ’90s, this was common knowledge among Likud powers that Israel would soon subvert America and use its Pentagon/CIA to wipe out Israel’s rivals, including Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran. Here’s how the corruption works: Congress funds Israel with billions of U.S. taxpayer money each year. Israel and its oligarchs then fund AIPAC with close to a hundred millions a year. And finally AIPAC funds Congress with $75M a year. Everyone gets paid; there is never any reason to stop. Congress votes for what’s good for Israel, not necessarily the United States, and no one is the wiser.
I credit this as partial causality for the almost unanimous Congressional vote to invade Iraq.
Britain was a fore-ordained cat’s-paw, even more than Congress and the American population. Sorry, chaps, you’ve been played.
I don’t know what “had plans drawn up” means. The armed forces had no plans “drawn up.” The neocons wanted t o invade Iraq but there were no “plans.” A hope is not a plan. pl