Tomorrow the Chilcot report will finally be published. It only took seven years to complete. The report is the final outcome of the Chilcot Inquiry, which determined whether the decision for Britain to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was right, or not, and if not, who was to blame for the decision.
Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister of the day, is thought to be heavily criticised in the report. However, it’s generally accepted he’ll not suffer any punishment for his part in destroying a country still riven by sectarian violence. The ICC has already made clear Blair will not be prosecuted, whatever the report’s condemnation.
Why? Prosecute Blair and Bush would also need to be indicted, and that would not be condoned by the American government (and, likely, not its people).
The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, wrote today from Iraq:
It is doubtful whether Iraqis who are so caught up in the pain of daily life will take much interest in the long-delayed publication of the UK’s official inquiry into its part in the invasion of 2003…
Many people I have spoken to have already made up their minds about the impact of the invasion on Iraq. One of these is Kadhim al-Jabbouri, a man who became a symbol of the Iraqi peoples’ rejection and hatred of Saddam Hussein…
Kadhim owned a popular motorcycle shop and was a Harley-Davidson expert. For a while he fixed Saddam’s bikes, but after the regime executed 14 members of his family he refused any more work. The regime’s response to his effrontery was to put him in jail for two years on trumped-up charges…
…Kadhim, like many Iraqis, blames the invaders for starting a chain of events that destroyed the country. He longs for the certainties and stability of Saddam’s time.
“Saddam has gone, and we have one thousand Saddams now,” he says. “It wasn’t like this under Saddam. There was a system. There were ways. We didn’t like him, but he was better than those people.”
“Saddam never executed people without a reason. He was as solid as a wall. There was no corruption or looting, it was safe. You could be safe.”
Many Iraqis echo that. Saddam’s regime was harsh, and it could be murderous. He led the country into a series of disastrous wars and brought crippling international sanctions down on their heads.
But with the benefit of 13 years of hindsight, the world that existed before 9 April 2003 seems to be a calmer, more secure place. They have not had a proper day of peace since the old regime fell.
I asked Kadhim what he would do if he could meet Tony Blair.
“I would say to him you are a criminal, and I’d spit in his face.”
And what would he say to George Bush?
“I’d say you’re criminal too. You killed the children of Iraq. You killed the women and you killed the innocent. I would say the same to Blair. And to the coalition that invaded Iraq. I will say to them you are criminals and you should be brought to justice.”
…Jihadists were not in Iraq before the invasion. Shia and Sunni Muslims, whose sectarian civil war started during the occupation, could co-exist…
Iraqis have often made matters worse for themselves, but it was mistakes by the US and Britain that pushed Iraq down the road to catastrophe.”
Tony Blair hid away from public scrutiny for many years after his fall from power. Recently, he’s been turning up in newspapers and political talk shows, as though Chilcot never existed. When asked about Chilcot he shrugs it off as though it doesn’t matter. “Obviously, there’ll be a debate,” he says, “And I’ll be putting my viewpoint across when the time comes.”
He still believes what he did was right. At least, that’s what he tells us all.
Tomorrow, after seven years of waiting, we’ll know whether Chilcot agrees with him.
“Iraq Chilcot inquiry: Bitterness in Baghdad” BBC, July 5th 2016