I’m Already Tired of the 'Lessons’ of Chilcot. What Can We Learn from a Report That Ignores Iraqis?

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I’m Already Tired of the 'Lessons’ of Chilcot. What Can We Learn from a Report That Ignores Iraqis?

If Blair and Bush were sincere about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, they would have invaded North Korea

Sir John Chilcot did not hear evidence from Iraqi witnesses during his seven-year inquiry into the Iraq War. (Photo: Reuters)

So where are the Titans now? I’ve often asked that question but today, I realise, Blair wanted to be a Titan. Up there with the Churchills and the Roosevelts and Titos and – dare I suggest – the Stalins. Men who made the earth move. Maybe that’s why Chilcot’s achievement was not to prove that Blair was a war criminal but that he was a midget.

Just take that cringing quotation to Bush on 28 July 2002. “I will be with you, whatever.” Sure, we understand the political importance of this tosh. Blair was trying to sound Titan-like. but proved in legal terms that what he meant was: I will be with you – whatever the British people think.

But it’s got deeper roots than that. I have a hunch this was the Blair version of the infinitely more powerful words of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s personal representative to wartime Britain, who – exhausted, but asked to speak to an audience in Glasgow – looked down the room at Churchill and tried to express his love for the great man’s stand against Hitler and Roosevelt’s support for Britain as she stood alone against Nazi Germany.  Hopkins quoted the Bible. Churchill wept as he spoke. “Whither thou goest,” Hopkins said, “I will go… Even unto the end.”    

And the best our little Tony could say was: “I will be with you, whatever.” It’s the “whatever” bit that gives the game away, of course; a kind of tossed-out line, the midget’s version of “even unto the end”, an aw-shucks come-hell-or-high-water, you can rely on me.

"If we brought in the real human beings called Iraqis, their evidence would have indeed been worth a Nuremburg trial."

And this, remember, was not a spokesman for the US president telling the British prime minister that he could depend on America. Wee Tony tweaked the whole sorry quotation to turn himself into Roosevelt, and Bush into Churchill. So earnest was he in the imitative role he had constructed for himself that Blair could not see, when he used these words, that they undermined any moral foundation the future invasion of Iraq might have had in British eyes.

But I’m already tired of the “lessons” of the Chilcot report. We must learn from what we did wrong, we mustn’t do it again – Cameron repeated the same doggerel, although he might apply it to his own knavish Brexit tricks – and we really, really must get it right before we blunder into more wars that cost hundreds of British lives, millions of dollars and tens of thousands of other chaps who got in the way but don’t feature as human beings in the Chilcot report.

That’s the real problem, I fear, with the flagellation of Lord Blair. Yes, he sure was a nasty piece of work, lying to us Brits and then lying to us again after Chilcot was published, and then waffling on about faith and “the right thing to do” when we all know that smiting vast numbers of innocent people – and even bringing about the smiting of a vaster number of the very same Muslims, Christians and Yazidis up to this very day – was a very, very bad thing to do. For these victims – anonymous and almost irrelevant in the Chilcot report – we cannot say “even unto the end”, because they are dying unto the present day. The real “end” for these victims cometh not even yet.

But here’s an underlying dishonesty about Chilcot’s reflection on Blair’s dishonesty. The evidence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was not strong enough, but it was – according to Lord Blair – still worth getting rid of Saddam. But surely if he was really sincere about the dangers of WMDs, he and Bush would have invaded a nation which undeniably did possess and boasted about them: North Korea. 

Now there’s a crazed dictatorship, butchering its own people, threatening the world – in 2003, just as today – yet not once has anyone, let alone Blair, suggested we should invade North Korea even unto the end and all the way up to the Yalu river. And we know why. Because North Korea really does have WMDs. Lord Blair and Bush would never have dared consider a military adventure against the beloved Kim Jong-un. For the same reason, Blair would never have advocated the invasion of a Muslim nation which is packed with Islamist extremists who knife, shoot and burn to death their infidel enemies and who also possess nuclear weapons, WMDs writ large and boasted about and tested: Pakistan.

I’m leaving out here a peace-loving Middle East nation which possesses even more nuclear weapons than Pakistan and North Korea combined, but mercifully treats all those it occupies with immense respect, never steals their land and always treats those others with whom it comes into contact during colonisation projects with total respect for their human rights. Yet why not mention, for that matter, the Iranians? Blair has an odd habit of targeting enemies which are also hated by the aforesaid peace-loving nation – and would presumably like to assault before they actually are able to possess nuclear weapons and therefore immediately become un-invadeable.

Poor old Saddam, he told the truth – that he didn’t have WMDs – and thus doomed both himself and the poor old Iraqis to mass death.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? The Arabs of Iraq – and now Syria – endure human disaster on an unprecedented scale because of the Blair-Bush lies, yet all Chilcot can produce with his seven years of literary endeavour and volumes to break the strength of any library shelf is a puny little domestic report on British politics and the self-righteousness of the midget who got it all wrong.

We weep for our British military martyrs, for such is how the Arabs refer to their wartime dead, yet scarcely a single suffering Arab was to be heard in the aftermath of Chilcot. The Iraqis were not allowed to give evidence; the dead Muslims and Christians of Iraq had no-one to plead for the integrity of their lives. Had their case been made, Chilcot’s report would have gone on to the crack of doom. It would have been longer than the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, the entire corpus of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Proust, Shakespeare and Dante – though the latter’s circles of hell would certainly have caught the measure of the suffering of Iraq and Syria.

No. It was, in reality, a midget report on a midget man. That’s why, if we brought in the real human beings called Iraqis, their evidence would have indeed been worth a Nuremburg trial. And yet, in the end, weren’t the ranks of obsequious, strutting, lying and defeated Nazis on the bench at Nuremburg also midgets? Even unto the end. Whatever.

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper.  He is the author of many books on the region, including The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East

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