The evidence given by Tony Blair to the Chilcot inquiry in London over his decision to invade Iraq showed a man utterly incapable or unwilling to understand the gravity of the decision. The hundreds of thousands killed, the lies told in the service of war and the criminality of the entire enterprise. Many in the world will always regard Blair as a war criminal, myself included.
Blair’s testimony even included a not-so-subtle call for military action against Iran.
In the Guardian, Iraqi Haifa Zangana writes:
It was excruciating watching Tony Blair’s testimony at the Iraq inquiry. Blair was the same smooth talker as he was throughout his career, repeating his “absolutely clear” visions, how options are quite simple, and “when you’re right, it is the right thing to do”. He kept to his usual script, including reading from his speeches and preaching at length on why he feels stronger now about WMD and managed to manoeuvre the committee on to “the danger of Iran”, though never mentioning Israel’s arsenal. He was so self-righteous, I got the impression that he was about to stand up holding the bible ranting “God will judge me on the Iraq war”!
But how often do war criminals admit their crimes? He was in a warm, well-lit hall, conversing with gentle folk in an academic conversation that could have lasted forever. Undergraduates would have asked more probing questions.
Sabiha Khudur Talib, a 62-year-old grandmother from Basra, was led away from her house in 2006 by British soldiers, according to her son. Her tortured body was found dumped on a roadside in a British body bag. The Royal Military Police, we are told, is investigating. Should not Blair be investigated too? Contrast Blair’s questioning with the questioning of Iraqis initiated by Blair and Bush.
Abu Ghraib was just the start for the terror campaign unleashed by the “liberators”. The legacy is still there, by mercenaries and US-UK trained Iraqi guards: midnight raids, people led into darkness in their underwear with hands shackled and sacks on their heads, to be tortured about allegations that can be later dubbed “mistakes”. Last month alone nearly two thousands Iraqis were arrested, accused of terrorism.
Blair’s polished performance only confirms to Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims what they experience on the ground: racist, colonial foreign policy.
This inquiry can only be meaningful if it leads to the re-establishment of justice and international law. Without that we can only imagine what the growing orphans will do to Iraq and the world in a few years. A humanitarian worker, quoted in the latest Red Cross report, said: “Once I was called to an explosion site. There I saw a four-year-old boy sitting beside his mother’s body, decapitated by the explosion. He was talking to her, asking her what had happened.” He will be asking the living too. Current UN estimates are of 5 million Iraqi orphans, holding the UK and the US responsible. It is up to the British people who had twice democratically elected Blair and co to make amends to the victims, to hold their government responsible for the damage to Iraq and to the world.