The recent Chilcot Report on Britain’s involvement in the War on Iraq in 2003, arrives at the conclusion that Prime Minister Blair based his decision on “defective intelligence”.
While it is tempting to read this as saying he was stupid, it isn’t saying that. It is saying that the information which he was given concerning Iraq’s alleged possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction was insufficiently substantial to justify a decision to declare war on, invade, conquer, and destroy another country and its people.
There is a background to Blair’s decision.
The area called Kuwait was found to be rich in oil in 1937. It had been regarded as a rather worthless part of Iraq for many centuries.
Eventually the oil became owned by US and British oil companies and the country itself handed to Kuwaiti monarchists. This arrangement suited the US imperialists well, especially the US President of the time George Bush Snr. It also suited the Saudis and other comprador capitalists who benefited greatly from US domination of the Arabic people. It did not suit the Iraqi people and it did not suit the Iraqi capitalists, nor the government of Saddam Hussein.
In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, deposed the Kuwaiti Royal family, and declared ownership of the land and oil.
The First Iraqi war was the response of the US and Britain to Iraq’s reclamation of its stolen oil wealth. As such it also was an unjustified, illegal, and cowardly attack on a weaker opponent. “Desert Storm”, as the attack on the Iraqi forces was named, descended upon a weak and technologically unprepared army with “shock and awe” and massive and pitiless death and destruction. The Iraqi forces attempted to flee back to Iraq, but were caught and destroyed in a shameful massacre of soldiers and civilians, the images of which shocked the world. The American armed forces wished to pursue the Iraqis into Iraq and capture and destroy Saddam Hussein and his government. International outcry caused Bush Snr to stop the US invasion at the Iraqi border.
The American government regarded this as unfinished business, as indeed did the British, Australian and Saudi governments. For the next 10 years Iraq was punished for its defiance of the US. Trade restrictions, food shortages, and inspections for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were imposed for years. United Nations inspectors, in particular Hans Blix, was eventually satisfied that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction production in Iraq.
At this point Australia’s shameful role in the Second Iraqi war commenced. Australian and US inspectors rejected the report of the UN inspectors, and claimed that the Iraqi government was hiding its factories for production of WMDs. One of the British inspectors, David Kelly, subsequently disclosed that the claim that Iraq had WMDs and was capable of launching a strike in 30 minutes, was inserted into the report by the British government. Two days after this disclosure, he was found dead, probably murdered, in the woods near his home.
Australia, Britain and the US invaded Iraq again in 2003, to finish the job which was started by George Bush Snr and was to be continued by George Bush Jnr. Australia’s role in this was to foster, encourage and reward. The most vocal of the WMD inspectors who insisted that Iraq had hidden and retained the means to produce WMD, and that war on Iraq was justified, was Richard Butler. (Later he won the support of the ALP, when he opposed the invasion, and was critical of Howard’s commitment to the war.) Perhaps this villain was a US agent, perhaps just a willing collaborator. He was rewarded by being made Governor of Tasmania (by Jim Bacon), a well-funded, plum of a sinecure, which he proved to be incapable of understanding. The only task of a Governor is to do nothing, especially to do nothing political. But he couldn’t stop himself, and in a very short space of time he resigned from office, with an unprecedented gratuity of $650,000!
After the death of so many Iraqi people, and the death of so few of the US imperialists, the destruction of so much of the property and possessions of the people, and the execution of Saddam Hussein, and his family and his government, the anger of the Iraqi people boiled over and was channelled into a religious sectarian dominated resistance through which emerged what became known as “Islamic State”. Thus it was that the Iraqi war created its own avengers.
And now the Chilcot Report has shown that Blair, Bush and John Howard were heads of governments who took their nations into an unjustified, brutal and ultimately disastrous invasion and destruction of Iraq. Blair, Bush and Howard presided over the execution of Saddam Hussein, because he was the head of government in Iraq, and was forced to carry responsibility for the alleged crimes of the Iraqi state.
And now Bush, Blair and Howard must be held responsible for their governments’ slaughter of thousands of Iraqis, and for the emergence of Islamic State and its barbaric religious bigotry. No longer should our governments escape punishment for war crimes.
Former senior Australian intelligence officer Andrew Wilkie, Independent MP for Denison, has recently stated: “Then Prime Minister John Howard took Australia to war on the basis of a lie and stands accused of war crimes. That he has never been held to account, and that his Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is now Australian High Commissioner to London, is quite simply outrageous.”
He added: “These matters have never been properly investigated in Australia and there remains a pressing need for an inquiry similar to Chilcot.”
Wilkie’s own book, Axis Of Deceit: The Extraordinary Story of an Australian Whistleblower (2010) has done essential groundwork for such an enquiry.
As for the Saudi Royal family, it deserves to suffer the same fate as the Romanoff family, the last Czars of Russia, and all other regimes consigned by their people to the dustbin of history.