The Chilcot Inquiry and
Tony Blair's 'Good Faith' Defense
The Chilcot Inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors into "the run-up to the [euphemism] conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath" began its hearings on 2009-11-24 in order to "take oral evidence from those with first-hand experience of the development and implementation of British government policy in Iraq."
Sir David Manning, who at the time was Mr Blair's foreign policy adviser, told the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war [on 2009-11-30] that President Bush and Mr Blair discussed the country just three days after the 9/11 terror attacks, and that the US did not need British assistance to carry out the invasion in March 2003. ... Sir David's revelations came as Mr Blair denied allegations that he had gagged his top legal adviser, Lord Goldsmith, after the peer had questioned the legal grounds for invading Iraq.
— Michael Savage, I did not bully Lord Goldsmith, insists Blair
The message below was posted by "quietknoll" as a comment on Michael Savage's article.
I suspect his [Blair's] defence will be that: in retrospect, although it may have been wrong to invade and not to have planned for the aftermath, we will have to believe that he made these tough decisions in "good faith". He's said this time and time again in the past of course — sadly it seems to close down further debate — this is wrong and should not be allowed to happen when he appears before the enquiry.
So far the reporting of the enquiry confirms the emerging pattern of events that we already knew about in the run up to war. It was obvious that the military planning dictated the timing and that the UN resolution route was mere window dressing. Robin Cook was honourable — his resignation speech clearly stated that he doubted the "evidence" and in the absence of UN authorisation concluded that the invasion was not legitimate.
If Bliar uses the "good faith" argument I suggest the enquiry should imagine Hitler possibly at Nuremberg arguing along similar lines. He might have argued that he realised in retrospect that he was wrong about Jews being inhuman and that it was wrong to want their extinction but the court must accept that he acted in "good faith" at the time based on the evidence that was then available.
"Good Faith" is not far removed from "Dogmatism". It is unquestioning, naive and foolish. We deserve better from our political leaders. The dead in Iraq deserved better — particularly from self-professed religious believers.
The enquiry may not be a "court of law" but only because it has no power to punish. The motives of Bliar and Bush as well as the storm troopers who "followed orders" are being exposed by the evidence being presented. In this context we need try to understand what Bliar had to say later on about "hard" and "soft" power. If we want to understand his actions leading up to the invasion we do need also to understand history and in particular the medieval swearing of fealty by one national leader to another.
The meeting at the Crawford ranch was where the British leader bent the knee before his feudal lord and master. After that craven act of submission the British leader had no option but to apply hard feudal power through the use of domestic patronage as well as soft pursuasive power in the form of media manipulation, spin and lies.
Bliar might be right when he says this was not "bullying" but only because in his world view he was exercising feudal rights of dominion and power. For the rest of us however it was, still is and I suspect forever will be, viewed as an abuse of power by a misguided fool who will never be able to accept that he made a monumental error of judgement based on unquestioning dogmatic belief in what he thought was "right" and "wrong".
Bliar's approach to policy is exposed as not "evidenced based", nor did it encompass an "ethical foreign policy". His whole idea of a 3rd way between social ownership and markets lies in tatters. Social mobility has stagnated if not reversed and inequality has advanced. Bliar's "punishment" will be history's judgement of his absolute ineptitude as a national leader.
- Iraq Inquiry Digest
This is a project to monitor and comment on the Iraq Inquiry.
- Richard Norton-Taylor: Ex-general tells Iraq war inquiry of 'amateur' approach to invasion
Senior officer says lack of direction caused deaths and Afghanistan faces similar fate if lessons are not learned
- Chilcot inquiry: Lawyers expose pressure to give green light for war
Sir Roderic Lyne, an inquiry panel member, asked [David Brummell, legal secretary to the former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith] why an assessment that Iraq was still in breach of its disarmament obligations — a decision that would trigger an invasion — could be made by the prime minister when the legal advice up to then had been that only the UN security council could decide. Brummell replied: "The evidence had to be confirmed by someone." He added: "It came from the prime minister in the name of the British government". The decision flew in the face of all the advice Whitehall lawyers had been giving.This is a crucial point. Even assuming that Iraq was "still in breach of its disarmament obligations" (which is far from certain) Blair usurped the authority of the UN Security Council by making this decision himself and treating his own decision as providing legal authorization for the attack on Iraq. Since Blair did not have this authority, the attack on Iraq had in fact no justification in international law, and thus amounted to a war of unprovoked aggression, making Tony Blair a war criminal.
Jack Straw is also a war criminal, as the following extract from this article shows.
Sir Michael Wood, the top Foreign Office lawyer at the time of the invasion, said the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, had overruled his advice that an invasion would be illegal without UN backing — which challenged the evidence Straw gave to the inquiry last week that he had only "very reluctantly" supported the conflict. "To use force without security council authority would amount to a crime of aggression," Wood wrote in a memorandum to Straw. Straw replied: "I note your advice but I do not accept it."
- Andrew Gilligan: Who will turn the heat on Tony Blair over Iraq?
- Five crucial questions Blair must be made to answer
- Did you mislead the public and parliament about Saddam Hussein's weapons programme?
- Did you give President George Bush a guarantee that Britain would follow the US to war?
- Did you pressure the attorney general to change his mind about the legality of war after his initial judgment that it would be illegal without a second UN resolution?
- Did you believe regime change would have been justified?
- Did you insist orders for equipment such as body armour be delayed in the run-up to war because you did not want to alert opponents to the imminent invasion?
- James Cusick: Blair's Iraq WMD admission: did he mislead Parliament?
Tony Blair's confession that he would have taken Britain to war in Iraq even if he had known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction leaves him more vulnerable to legal action, a leading international lawyer warned yesterday.
- Reg Keys: "I wanted to shout out. 'Blair, look at me, you have brought shame on yourself.' I wish I had spoken out."
When Tony Blair appeared at the Chilcot inquiry last week, the families of some of the British soldiers killed in Iraq were there to hear him defend his decision to go to war. Here Reg Keys, whose son was one of six military policemen brutally killed in 2003, writes about the mix of fierce anger and deep sadness he felt as he watched the former Prime Minister.
- Andrew Rawnsley: Blair v Chilcot. No contest: we and the truth are the losers
Sir John Chilcot's panel would have to be very good indeed to lay a glove on a man who has already ducked and weaved his way through seven years of questions ... Very good indeed Chilcot and co are not. I did not expect this to be Tony Blair "on trial", but I had hoped that his inquisitors would display a bit more cutting edge than a month-old lettuce. Time and again, they approached an interesting subject area, stumbled around like people in the dark trying to find the light switch and then abandoned the quest without leaving themselves or anyone watching much the wiser about the most divisive war in the last century of our history.
Right. Apart from a few penetrating comments by Sir Roderic Lyne concerning the legality of the war this was generally a pathetic performance by the Inquiry committee members, most of whom appeared to be of very mediocre intelligence and totally incapable of pursing a line of inquiry which might result in an exposure of any of Blair's many lies and deceptions, as well as his megalomaniac belief in his own infallibility, a belief which (during his reign as prime minister) led directly to the deaths of millions of people.
Tony Blair, Jack Staw, Geoff Hoon and Lord Goldsmith (and of course George W. Bush and Dick Cheney) are all war criminals because according to the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals (the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal) "To initiate a war of aggression [as Blair, Bush and the others obviously did] ... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
In his Britain, You Better Wake Up Gilad Atzmon comments:... none of the Inquiry members is an attorney. None of its member are qualified in the art of questioning. Consequently, the inquiry doesn't have any legal ability, capacity or teeth. It is a farce. ... The clumsiness of Gordon Brown's cabinet appointing such a farce of an official inquiry is mind blowing.
He also wrote:
The more I read about the Chilcot inquiry the more disturbed I am. The fallacy imbued in the heart of British "democracy" is staggering. While some commentators are concerned with questions to do with the legality of the war, the most crucial issue here is actually the disappearance of ethical judgment from our public and political life. Rather than being concerned with morality and ethics British politicians are concerned with legalism. In other words, if someone would manage to prove that the war was "legal" then the murdering of a million and a half Iraqis would be well justified. Let's all face it, our politicians are corrupted to the bone.
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