The principal architect of the illegal Iraq war, Tony Blair, the then British prime minister, has admitted that emergence of the Islamic State is a consequence of the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein and brought death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Concerned about his political legacy as one of Britain’s longest serving prime ministers he wants to come to terms with that bitter truth, but given his reputation, in the words of Daily Mail, as ‘arch-manipulator of the truth’, not in so many words. Instead of accepting mea culpa, bereft of ifs and buts, he has tried to shift the responsibility for the invasion on his intelligence agencies who had ‘falsely warned him against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which can destroy British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes of order by Saddam Hussein’.
These weapons were never there in Iraq, and among many who came on board to say this was former head of International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix. But he wanted the war on Iraq, not as much to rescue Iraqis of the tyrant and introduce democracy; he wanted Iraqi oil and had successfully sold this war to George W Bush. Tony Blair insists he doesn’t regret removal of Saddam Hussein, a ruthless dictator no doubt, but under him an average Iraqi citizen’s life was safe and secure and the country’s development was on an upward trajectory. What he regrets, and that too without accepting full responsibility for it, is the chaos and anarchy that followed the invasion.
Following the invasion a pseudo democracy had been imposed on Iraq by electing Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister, whose sectarian outlook and policies caused immense harm to a largely communally integrated Iraqi society. No wonder then, most of the Islamic State fighters are the remnants of Saddam’s armed forces, who are better trained, more motivated and enjoy support of people in the Sunni areas.
While Tony Blaire stoutly justifies the ouster of Saddam Hussein by force he is apologetic for “the fact that the intelligence we received (about WMDs) was wrong”. His apology falls short of admission that in actuality it was he and not ‘we’ who decided to go to war on Iraq. And that he has done on purpose.
He wants to preempt negative fallout of the Chilkot inquiry report which is expected to be made public shortly. But given the instant reaction to his admission and half apology aired by the CNN, he may still attract a lot of negative flak. It was a bloody war that destroyed lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Britain too paid a heavy price: some 179 British soldiers were killed and 3,500 wounded between 2003 and 2009. Agonized over Tony Blair’s self-centered version the families of fallen soldiers have expressed their feeling of revulsion against him and demanded full apology with hands held high.
They also have a dim view of the Chilkot inquiry, saying it would be nothing more than a “cover-up”. His critics also want George W Bush and his then Secretary of State Colin Powell, to apologise on this account. But, to the US presidential hopeful Donald Trump the villain of piece in Iraq war was not fellow Republican George W Bush. “I mean, look what happened. Libya is a disaster. Iraq is a disaster. Syria is a disaster. The whole Middle East; it all blew up around Hillary Clinton and around Obama,” he told CNN. But beyond this politicking he makes a pitch for Saddam Hussein: “He was a horrible guy but it’s better than now”.
If for Tony Blair it is his political legacy that matters and to the Republican candidate the tragic, unwanted Iraq war is just a thing of political play. By all accounts what Tony Blair did to impose war on Iraq is a war crime. He should be tried under the international law.
Source: Business Recorder