Sunday, 10 July 2016

Criticism of the Iraq invasion doesn't stem from "hindsight"


Tony Blair and his allies have some incredible gall to try to dismiss the findings of the Chilcot report as being based on "hindsight".

Back in 2003 when the likes of Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Alistair Campbell were incessantly propagandising in favour of British involvement in George W. Bush's imperialist warmongering, there were plenty of people pointing out the flaws in their case for war.

The claim that our criticisms of their warmongering have solely sprung up solely through the wisdom of "hindsight" is a disgusting display of attempted revisionism as I will demonstrate using quotes and evidence from before the first shot was even fired.

The February 15th protests

On February 15th 2003 people protested all over the world against the invasion of Iraq. The protest in London was attended by far more than a million people (or just three men and a small dog if you believe the official estimates). I arrived on one of the hundreds of coachloads of protesters from all over the country. I had two principal reasons for opposing the war. I believed that the case for war was based on fabricated and exaggerated evidence (like the ridiculous claim that Iraq could attack the UK within 45 minutes), and I believed that the war would lead to a power vacuum in Iraq which would dramatically increase (not decrease) the threat of sectarian violence and terrorism.

The wave of sectarian violence that hit Iraq after the war and the rise of barbarous Islamist fanatics like ISIS are clear demonstrations that my second concern was valid, and the findings of the Chilcot Report vindicate my suspicions that the Blair government were deliberately overstating the intelligence case for war.

It's clear that other people attended the Stop the War protest for different reasons to mine, but one thing is undeniable; Tony Blair and his clique just ignored our concerns. In fact they didn't just ignore us, they smeared and belittled us. I remember getting home after the long coach journey back to Yorkshire to see mainstream media coverage of Tony Blair dismissing all one million+ of us as just a bunch of Saddam Hussain apologists.

Robin Cook

In his famous resignation speech Robin Cook pointed out a number of things. One of the most important themes was that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would represent an appalling failure in British diplomacy.
"I do not think that anybody could have done better than the Foreign Secretary in working to get support for a second resolution within the Security Council. But the very intensity of those attempts underlines how important it was to succeed. Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.  
 France has been at the receiving end of bucketloads of commentary in recent days. It is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany wants more time for inspections; Russia wants more time for inspections; indeed, at no time have we signed up even the minimum necessary to carry a second resolution. We delude ourselves if we think that the degree of international hostility is all the result of President Chirac. The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner—not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.  
 To end up in such diplomatic weakness is a serious reverse. Only a year ago, we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I would ever have imagined possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition. The US can afford to go it alone, but Britain is not a superpower. Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules. Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: the European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate. Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired."
Charles Kennedy

The Chilcot report found that the peaceful options had not been exhausted before Bush and Blair rushed into war. Charles Kennedy made this point in a passionate speech against the invasion.
"Before launching an almighty assault upon Iraq, is it not better to pursue the course of disarmament on the ground in the presence of weapons inspectors? No matter how sophisticated modern technology, even compared with at the time of the last Gulf war, is it not more precise to have weapons dismantled in the presence of inspectors rather than so-called precision bombing trying to take them out?"
Jeremy Corbyn

As the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has a much higher profile in 2016 than he did back in 2003 when he opposed the invasion of Iraq (he can be seen sitting behind Robin Cook during his resignation speech).

One of Corbyn's criticisms of the rush to invade and occupy Iraq was the legacy of violence that it would create. Trying to shout down anyone who points out the rise of ISIS with accusations of that they're using "hindsight" is appalling when Jeremy Corbyn said this before a shot was even fired.
"It will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations."

Tony Benn

Of all of the opponents of Blair's insistence on helping the United States with their invasion and occupation of Iraq, Tony Benn was the most eloquent and compelling. 

As with David Kelly, Robin Cook and Charles Kennedy, Tony Benn didn't live to see the day that he was completely vindicated by the findings of the Chilcot Report, but he will always be fondly remembered by those of us who had the foresight to see that Blair's warmongering would result in a catastrophe, because he was one of the principled minority of politicians who gave us a voice.
"All war represents a failure of diplomacy."
David Kelly

The biological weapons expert and former weapons inspector in Iraq David Kelly paid for his evidence based opposition to the invasion with his life. Whether you believe the official suicide verdict, or that there were more sinister forces at play, what is undeniable is that he died just two days after being ruthlessly bullied by a bunch of Blairites in a Foreign Affairs Select Committee lynching for having dared to speak confidentially with a member of the press about Blair's "dodgy dossier" being based on exaggerations and misrepresentations.

Hans Blix

The head of the UN weapons inspection team spoke directly to Tony Blair back in February 2003 to cast doubt on the so-called WMD intelligence that Blair built his case for war on. The Chilcot report makes it clear that Blair and his allies misrepresented and over-stated the intelligence case, which is precisely what Blix said to Blair before the invasion was even launched.

Trying to pretend that flaws in the intelligence case for war were only exposed after the war is appalling revisionism when they were clearly being warned about the flawed evidence by experts like Hans Blix before the war even started.


Conclusion

The fact that Tony Blair and his cronies have come up with these ludicrous claims that criticisms of the Iraq invasion are based on "hindsight" is actually quite telling. The Chilcot Report  exposed the fact that they were willing to distort evidence to promote their war back in 2003, and their fabrication of this ridiculous "hindsight" argument just goes to show that they still have the exact same mentality.

As far as they're concerned the real facts and evidence don't matter. The only thing that matters is concocting justification stories for what they want, which in 2003 was the invasion of Iraq, and in 2016 is avoiding prosecution for war crimes.


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