The man well known for his strategic actor’s pauses, his half catch in the throat, his hauling out of cheap emotion in defence of the indefensible, pulled out all the organ stops in his risible and shameful self validation in response to the publication earlier today of Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry on how Britain took the step of going to war against Iraq in 2003.
The man who has steadfastly refused to meet any of the families of the soldiers who died in that war today hiccuped for journalists that these families are daily, almost hourly, in his mind.
So, as he takes as much fools gold as he can extract from the world’s tyrants to assuage his passion for personal riches, the faces of the bereaved from whom he has stayed well away somehow swim into his vision – but do not stay his hand in grabbing what he can?
Because Chilcot has not specifically said that Blair lied or that he deliberately set out to deceive parliament and the country in taking us into a war that has caused unimaginable levels of destruction to a nation which is nowhere near recovering from them, Mr Blair holds himself exculpated.
Every single thing Chilcot has carefully found highlights the extent to which Blair is personally culpable for:
- committing to support America in that Iraq War – before even seeking the necessary legal and parliamentary authorities in Britain;
- presiding over the Ministry of Defence’s inability to press ahead in timely fashion with organising the military supplies and logistics required to support such an excursion – and to give adequate physical protection to the members of our armed forces compelled to put themselves in harms way;
- ignoring specific and detailed warnings he had been given of the multiple negative consequences of this war – every one of which has come to pass;
- deciding to take Britain to war in circumstances where the establishment of the legality of that war ‘were unsatisfactory’ – we assume this this refers to the overt bullying by Charlie Falconer and Sally Morgan of the then Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, into compliance with the Blair cabal’s wishes;
- persistently and deliberately sidelining the role of the United Nations;
- accepting without interrogating it the deeply flawed intelligence used to validate the war – part of which was directely influenced and shaped by Blair henchman and eminence tres gris, Alastair Campbell;
- presenting to parliament and the nation ‘evidence’ to support going to war against Iraq as having an authority that it did not have and that could not be justified;
- initiating that war without the required attempts first to investigate alternative options, making going to war not the ‘matter of last resort’ it is required to be;
- committing in advance to a plan to bring about ‘regime change’ in Iraq through the war – when ‘regime change’ as a reason for war is specifically illegal under UN directions;
- lacking any plan for coping with the aftermath of the political and physical dematerialisation of Iraq- which was conscious and determined: ‘We’ll bomb them back into the stone age’, as our American partners in war put it.
Today as Blair hitched and hesitated through his latest performance, he said that, while he has no doubt that he made the right decision at the time – because ‘Iraq is a far better place today’ [?], he feels for the bereaved families and ‘accepts full responsibility’ for every criticism made in the Chilcot report.
This is the man who, in office, utterly devalued the notion of ‘taking responsibility’ – publicly taking upon himself this burden, lightly and serially, in the face of all sorts of errors and consequences.
The acceptance of personal responsibility for grave failures used, pre-Blair, to mean the acceptance of serious penalty in, for example, resignation.
Blair, however, smoothly kept on ‘taking responsibility’ – but took no penalty of any kind at any point.
And today he was at it again – appearance above reality as usual; empty words; vocal catches; the cosmetically avoided suggestion of a tear or two; ‘taking responsibility’ for the sheer enormity of what he did in Iraq – and of what he made Britain do there.
His responsibility for this war led directly to his amassing of a fortune beyond imagining by all but a very few. No wonder he insists that he made the right decision back then.
Bush and America owed Blair – and Bush and America paid him, in a wide variety of ways; and propelled him to a position where he could peddle his tainted goods in unsavoury quarters for endless reward.
Why does no journalist ask the man what ‘taking full responsibility’ actually means?
He has certainly ‘taken’, but not responsibly and not ‘responsibility’ in any credible meaning of the term.
Footnote: Chilcot says that he found ‘no evidence of deliberate deception’. It would be interesting to hear Sir John’s reasoning for not finding the deployment of the ‘dodgy dossier ‘ [an out of date doctoral thesis] and its presentation as ‘intelligence’ to be ‘evidence of deliberate deception’.