Ahead of the Chilcot Report findings, Tony Blair has appeared on CNN to make what analysts have deemed “spin” remarks, apologizing for aspects of the way the Iraq war was conducted, but staunchly defending the decision to invade.
Tony Blair apologises for ‘bad intelligence’ ahead of Iraq War https://t.co/Hahb9lOi4z
— The Independent (@Independent) October 25, 2015
Tony Blair blames bad intelligence.
“I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong.”
Blair also concedes there were mistakes after Saddam Hussein was deposed.
“I also apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.”
Tony Blair also goes on to say that the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) was partly to do with the planners and executors of the 2003 Iraq invasion, though at the same time refusing to admit that his decisions are what caused this to happen.
As Blair’s critics point out, these concessions are not new and, in fact, what is at stake is whether it was wrong to invade Iraq in the first place and whether the decision to invade was illegal based on the fact that Tony Blair knew the intelligence was flawed before sending British troops to fight in the war.
Did Tony Blair rush to war?
The fact is that very little intelligence pointed to Saddam as a threat. There were two main pieces of evidence: a heavily-plagiarized Ph.D. thesis from a student in California and a report from Hans Blix, the U.N. weapons inspector who, before the invasion, reported no evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).
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By ignoring UN intelligence and ignoring the official reports that Iraq did not have WMD, it could be argued the US and Britain committed a war crime. [Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images]
Up to half a million people turned up on the streets in London to protest the war
The majority of British people did not want a war with Iraq, but Tony Blair went against the people’s wishes believing it was for the best to do so; however, when it was learned the decision was justified on bad intelligence, people questioned the motives of Blair. [Photo by Hugo Philpott/Getty Images]
Did Tony Blair Lie?
Regardless of his personal reasons for going to war, if it is found that Tony Blair lied to get his way, then he could be prosecuted under the law, though this is highly-unlikely to happen due to his immunity as a former PM. [Photo by Matthew Fearn-Pool/Getty Images]
Hans Blix testified in February 2003 befor the UN that no WMD had been found
Hans Blix testified in February 2003 before the UN that no WMD had been found in Iraq, but this was not enough to satisfy Colin Powell, who, at the time argued weapons (which the US had sold Iraq) were “unaccounted for.” [Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]
Colin Powell Testified before the UN that the US had intelligence Iraq posed a threat to the world
Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the UN that the US had gained images of two trailers that contained Anthrax. It was later found out that these trailers were being used for scientific research unrelated to military activities and they did not contain anthrax. [Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images]
Tony Blair and his ally, George W. Bush, both relied on the plagiarized Ph.D. thesis to justify going to war without the backing of the U.N. For making this poor choice, Hans Blix, speaking on the anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq, made it clear how poor he felt the decision-making process was considering the actual evidence on the ground.
“There were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq].”
Not only does Hans Blix accuse Tony Blair and George W. Bush of a lack of critical thinking, but also acting in “bad faith.”
Blix handed intelligence to the U.N. that he had convinced Saddam Hussein to cooperate with the West, despite Saddam’s fears that the intelligence would be used to bomb Iraq. It turns out Saddam’s fears were true, as the United States and Britain ignored the U.N. report and used the cooperation of Saddam Hussein as an advantage in the invasion, despite the cooperation.
Ultimately, Hans Blix believes that it was never the purpose of Britain and the United States to seek out the truth about Iraq WMDs, as searching for WMDs to prove they were not there resulted in the impossible task of “proving a negative.”
“For example, how can you prove that there is not a tennis ball in this room? Or that there is no anthrax in all of Iraq?”
As the News reports, the invasion of Iraq by Britain and the United States resulted in chaos in the region, and the rise of al Qaeda, Daesh, and Islamic State, which is responsible for up to 11 million refugees from Syria and 210,000 deaths as of the writing of this article.
Blair is unmoved by these facts.
“I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he’s not there than that he is there.”
It is hard to believe that such fait accompli (justifying a wrong action by virtue of it having already been done) thinking is being used to justify the invasion as it is an obvious “ends justifying the means” argument, which scholars of ethics and judicial law know well does not excuse the actions of statesmen who break rules for their own personal agenda.
Former PM Tony Blair defies critics of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by launching an emphatic defence of the war in… https://t.co/oof36aKoPo
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 25, 2015
Hamas leader who held talks with Tony Blair arrested near Ramallah https://t.co/M5ZHEKWOYO
— The Independent (@Independent) October 20, 2015
A leaked email reveals Blair backed military action in Iraq a year before the war http://t.co/QhiduENR9z
— The Independent (@Independent) October 18, 2015
In fact, it is clear the invasion of Iraq had been planned well before the arguments were formulated to justify the war. Evidence in this regard relies upon a memo allegedly written by then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on March 28, 2002, to then-U.S. President George W. Bush.
“On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary.”
One need only connect the dots to realize that no matter what the intelligence pointed to, that the war would go ahead, which is what the main question of the Chilcot Report is expected to answer.
Previous reports have failed to place significant blame on Tony Blair. The Hutton Inquiry, for example, which looked into the suicide of weapons inspector David Kelly, found that allegations against the government that they ignored U.N. Inspectors’ intelligence due to a decision to go to war that was made previously were “unfounded.”
This related specifically to the so-called 45 minute claim against Saddam which was found to have come from the aforementioned Ph.D. thesis, which formed the basis of what is now considered to be the “dodgy dossier.” That is the document the British government used to justify the invasion.
According to Statista, there have been 165,591 civilian deaths caused by the 2003 invasion.
According to the most recent Cost of War analysis, the war has cost $814.6 billion.
Other historical facts around the invasion follow.
- 2003 March — U.S. topples Saddam’s government.
- 2003 December — Saddam captured in Tikrit.
- 2004 June — Iraq Interim government gains sovereignty.
- 2005 October — Iraq gets a “Islamic federal democracy” constitution.
- 2006 December — Saddam executed.
- 2007 January — U.S. increases troops in Iraq to attempt to stem sectarian violence resulting from the vacuum of power in Iraq.
- 2008 November — Britain and U.S. announce all troops to leave by 2011.
- 2009 March — U.S. President Barack Obama announces withdrawal of most U.S. troops by end of August, 2010.
- 2010 August — The last U.S. brigade leaves Iraq, seven years after invasion.
- 2011 December — U.S. completes troop pull out.
- 2012 December — Violence escalates, President Jalal Talabani suffers stroke.
- 2013 April — Insurgency increases to the point of “full blown sectarian war.”
- 2013 October — Up to 7,157 civilian deaths, more than double the previous year.
- 2014 January — Islamists seize Fallujah and Ramadi.
- 2014 December — The Iraqi government attempt coalition against the rise of the Islamic State.
- 2015 March — Islamic State destroys Assyrian archaeological sites of Nimrud and Hatra.
- Present day — Islamic State so-called “Caliphate” stretches throughout Iraq and Syria, killing civilians, raping young girls and women en masse, and destroying historic sites, such as the ancient city of Palmyra, with Russia and the U.S. still fighting over how to coordinate against the rise of terrorism throughout the region.
Irrespective of the report’s findings of Tony Blair’s faults leading up to the invasion, one thing is clear: The Iraq War has not improved life in the Middle East. In fact, it has made it far worse, with consequences still yet to be felt by the world at large.
[Image by William Wintercross / Getty Images]