6 July, 2016
by Pepe Escobar
It’s all here; 12 volumes, 2.6 million words (almost four-and-a-half times as long as War and Peace), seven years in the making, including analyses of 150,000 British government documents.
Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, former Whitehall insider, and officially known as “the Iraq Inquiry”, this Proustian investigation allegedly explores every nook and cranny in the UK’s run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as its aftermath.
Let’s cut to the chase. This is not a whitewash by the British establishment; it’s actually much stronger than many analysts expected. Advance leaks had hinted blame would be apportioned to quite a few figures in the UK’s politico/military/intel apparatus – and that’s indeed the case.
The key questions are known to all. Did Tony Blair lie about the need to go to war? Was the war legal? Did the war – as Blair vociferously promised – make Britain “safer”? What did Blair promise George Bush? Did he lie about those non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)? Was MI6 intelligence compromised? Did the British military fail to stand up to Blair?
It will take days to get through the whole report. But based on Chilcot’s own initial statement, some conclusions are absolutely stark. There was “no need” to go to war in March 2003. All decisions were made “on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments”.
The British cabinet did not discuss the many possible military options – or their implications. The British government – what Alice in Wonderland dreamworld did they live in? – believed the post-invasion administration would be led by the UN, and not controlled by the Cheney regime neocons.
And then this startling statement; Tony Blair “overestimated his ability” to influence US decisions on Iraq. And yet the now famous Blair memo to Bush on July 2002, transcribed by the report, had made it clear: “I will be with you, whatever”. Blair was a mere follower, not a driver.
The report paints what can only be characterized as The Three Stooges school of intelligence. Especially responsible for the debacle are Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which relied basically on MI6; and then MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove. Not only their intel was faulty; we, as independent journalists, already knew by the Summer of 2002 (I spent one month all over Iraq in the Spring of 2002) that there were no WMDs anywhere to be found. UN inspectors not remote-controlled by the US also knew it.
Make no mistake it was #TonyBlair and George Bush that made the world we live in today. #Chilcot
— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) July 6, 2016
So Blair not only totally bought fake MI6 intel, but exhibited it to the British Parliament with absolute “certainty”. The report blames the entire British intel apparatus for not trying to contain Blair.
And it gets worse. According to the report, the UK government “blamed France for the ‘impasse’ in the UN and claimed that the UK government was acting on behalf of the international community to ‘uphold the authority of the Security Council’. In the absence of a majority in support of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining the Security Council’s authority.”
Don’t expect a plot like this to show up in the next installment of the James Bond franchise.