Just as it was announced the US will deploy this week an additional 1,000 soldiers to Iraq, a couple of episodes from the Canadians, also in country to ‘only‘ train the national army, on how shit changes color — they’ve been in firefights already.
From Canada’s The Star this morning: ‘Forget said the incidents mark an evolution — not an escalation — of Canada’s ground mission in Iraq.’ (Yes, odd the name, attributed to Canadian Navy Capt. Paul Forget in a briefing).
And way-ironically speaking, let’s not forget the past. As the non-escalation in Iraq continues, and ISIS executes another hostage — this time, a Japanese guy — the root of all that shit lies in the lies, and horrible reality of the Iraqi invasion.
(Illustration: George and Tony at Camp David, February 2001, found here).
Crux to the hang-up — Tony Blair’s involvement with the nefarious doings of George W. Bush.
The Chilocot Inquiry is/was an investigative panel convened by Gordon Brown in 2009 to specifically examine the UK’s involvement in the Iraqi invasion and the subsequent six years — reportedly Blair wanted no part of such an apparatus — and is named after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot. Originally, Chilcot hoped for a 2011 publishing date for the panel’s findings, which included public testimony, even Blair a couple of times, and a review of tons of documents. The delay was caused by the UK government’s reluctance to let go of most-likely nasty correspondence between Tony and George Jr — via the Guardian:
It has been delayed because Chilcot and his team spent 3 years arguing with successive cabinet secretaries, Whitehall departments, and the intelligence agencies, over what documents the inquiry could publish.
Back in 2011, in a sharp exchange of letters with Gus O’Donnell, Heywood’s predecessor, Chilcot referred to his repeated demands that notes of conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush, in the runup to the invasion, should be published.
“The material requested provides important, and often unique, insights into Mr Blair’s thinking and the commitments he made to President Bush, which are not reflected in other papers,” Chilcot stressed.
In his third letter in less than a month to O’Donnell, Chilcot wrote: “The question when and how the prime minister made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations.”
Bottom line is that Tony, already a twit, got sucked into the crazy American scheme of knocking off Saddam Hussein, and of course, reaping the dividends of the horrible nightmare which has followed, and continues to this day. Blair is also a bloody asshole, bubbling up out of his yap last June: ‘“So it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis.”‘
Addendum: ‘“We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this…”‘
Unlike George Jr., though, from what all I can gather, Tony did have some expert, truthful advice well-prior to the Iraq invasion, and knew going in the whole shebang was fucked.
This past Sunday, the UK’s Independent released interviews with four guys, specialists/authorities on Iraq, the Middle East and international affairs, academics, who visited Blair in November 2002 and warned/cautioned about jumping face-first into Iraq.
The whole piece is way-interesting — some notable bits:
“They were expecting a short, sharp, easy campaign and that the Iraqis would be grateful,” says Dr Toby Dodge, then of Queen Mary University of London, and the first to speak that morning.
He warned of a possible disaster: that Iraqis would fight for their country against the invaders rather than just celebrate the fall of their leader.
A long and nasty civil war could follow.
“My aim that day was to tell them as much as I could, so that there would be no excuses and nobody saying, ‘I didn’t know.’”
Blair has been defending himself in advance against the kicking he is expected to get from Lord Chilcot and the panel helping his investigation.
There has been outrage at the news that the report will not be published until after the election, but Dr Dodge believes this is partly because members of the panel want to get their draft of history absolutely right — and that they will not pull punches.
“They fought like cats and dogs to get the transcripts of the conversations between Blair and George W Bush,” says the political scientist, who gave evidence to the inquiry’s first gathering back in 2009.
“This is not going to be written in high mandarin. It will be clear and direct. It is going to be damning.”
Professor George Joffe of Cambridge University, who also spoke that morning, and to the panel in 2009, agrees. “I think it is bound to be damning. The errors of judgement were so blatant, there is no way they can whitewash this.”
So what did happen?
And could lives had been saved if the Prime Minister’s response to that meeting on the morning of Tuesday 19 November 2002 had been different?
“We were heavily briefed,” says Dr Dodge, who is now at the London School of Economics.
“They said, ‘Don’t tell him not to do it. He has already made up his mind.’”
So there was no chance of stopping the invasion, or the UK joining it, but what was at stake that morning was the aftermath.
What would happen on the day after victory was declared?
“They had no plan for what would happen after the invasion,” says George Joffe.
“The approach was, ‘The Americans are heading this up. They will have a detailed plan. We need to follow them.’”
Another expert present was Steven Simon, then deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He was also a US diplomat who had been seconded from the State Department; it is unclear whether Blair was aware of this.
Mr Simon now believes that even with greater forward planning the invasion would have had the same catastrophic results, as it was absurd for the White House to think it could bring democracy to Iraq with a war.
“If everything had been done differently, there might have been some small shot at avoiding disaster. But only a small shot.”
The sixth wise man was Professor Michael Clarke, then at King’s College London and now the director general of the Royal United Services Institute.
The irony was that Saddam himself thought he had chemical WMDs, says Professor Clarke, because his own generals had not dared admit to him that they had not built as many as he thought.
“Everyone believed the weapons existed but they didn’t because they had deteriorated and Iraq had not built as many as we thought.” Those that were in existence had deteriorated. Each general thought the others had the weapons, but they too were bluffing:
“Nobody would tell Saddam the truth.”
Way-way-ugly ironic via a regurgitated whisper from the US Senate: ‘“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.‘
Walk and talk and Tony and George…