Gezza on Blair’s reaction

Gezza’s take on Tony Blair’s reaction to a very critical Chilcot Report: The Iraq Inquiry


I watched Blair’s Press Conference, also shown live on Al Jazeera, like millions of others around the world will have done in the Northern Hemisphere. To be fair, he fronted up. The conference went on for 90 minutes.

He tried to link Saddam to 911—totally discredited years ago. Amongst various other justifications, he blamed the UN—specifically Russia and France—for vetoing a Security Council authorisation for the invasion. What impact is this going to have on the EU separation?
He said Al Qaeda became ISIS. He either genuinely has no idea what the real situation is—or he thinks others haven’t.

My understanding is that Al Qaeda barely existed, if at all, in Iraq until they invaded. Al Qaeda In Iraq, once it had gained a significant following that included many jobless Sunni ex-army occupation resistors, spawned ISIS in the detention camps that ex-Iraqi Army officers and Baathists were put into after Abu Ghraib, but they’re now separate organisations from each other, with slightly different aims. They’ve even been fighting each other in Syria. AQ-aligned groups keep moving in and out of alliances with the “moderate opposition” forces there.

Blair then took questions. No matter how his answers might be reported in print—on live tv they destroyed him. Although he said he took personal responsibility for the failures identified in the report, he blamed the UN. He blamed Saddam not complying with inspections.

He blamed the Iraqis. He blamed “external forces” connecting up with “internal forces” after they had destroyed everything —their military, their security forces, their bureaucracy, their political system, their infrastructure—& left a vacuum.

He blamed the Iranians. The Syrians.
It seemed to me that none of the reporters, whose questions were clearly heard, were buying it. He basically only apologised for not succeeding, for the fact that some of their soldiers had died—oh, and of course, for the fact that a lot of Iraqis had now died too.

He said he didn’t regret his decision to go to war because he still thought it was the right thing to do. He spoke of his “sorrow & regret” about the deaths that have resulted.

He said he would never accept criticism of the bravery and competence of the British forces in Basra. No one there had made any. It seems the report identifies some deal they made with insurgents to stop them firing on them.

He was asked several times why he had put in a letter to Bush that Britain would “follow you whatever” (or something along those lines—“whatever”, was stressed); whether the US had had too much influence on him personally; whether he had consulted Cabinet colleagues enough in making decisions on the war, and whether he would accept that had basically allowed himself to simply be led by the Bush administration. His answers were convoluted and unconvincing.

He said something about seeing some evidence that Saddam did in fact have plans to acquire or develop WMDs in the future, once the UN inspection heat & interntional scrutiny was off. (I can’t read my notes clearly—reporters might clarify that in their news reports.)

He said that the Middle East has always been unstable, and that if they hadn’t removed Saddam, the Arab Spring had shown that when the people rise to overthrow their dictators themselves, the result is chaos and sectarian killing. And that’s what would have eventually happened in Iraq. ??

(For those who don’t know, The Arab Spring is widely considered to have been a direct result of the removal of Saddam, which, according to many analysts I’ve read, is what prompted other peoples to rise & overthrow their repressive governments, spearheaded by their own Islamic fundamentalists. Which has in turn led to the strife now seen in places like Libya & Syria, and Egypt.

And, quite probably, the numerous other countries in North & Central Africa where Islamic extremists like Al Shabab and Boko Haram have sprung into vicious prominence and pledged allegiance to ISIS.)

Blair attempted, I think, to say that the Iraq invasion, and now the fighting against terrorism in the ME, has made the world a safer place. It was pretty muddy. He said he hadn’t lied to the British people.

The ramifications of the Chilcott report are going to be enormous.

Corbyn, in his speech to Parliament after Cameron’s, pointed out that he had spoken out vociferously against going to war. If I recall correctly, several of his MP colleagues supported it and he had thousands of supporters throughout Britain at that time, even after the decision was made to go to war, when people tend to get behind & back their military forces anyway.

This development could have a major impact on the current challenge to his leadership?

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24 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  7th July 2016

    Its my understanding that the problem was the coalition of the willing etc… didn’t finish the job first time. There are claims that Iraq’s population was ready to behave in a civilised manner during the restructure but some one decided that Saddam should be left in charge at that point rather than the job being completed. The blood letting that followed is arguably the result of leaving a vacuum – something the west is becoming so good at you could be forgiven thinking someone really likes the instability because there;s money in it. Blair could be in that old Morris Dance routine – the circle of the clipping of the ticket.

    Reply
  2. David

     /  7th July 2016

    “The ramifications of the Chilcott report are going to be enormous.”

    I doubt that very much.

    Reply
  3. Nelly Smickers

     /  7th July 2016

    It was Tony Blair that was responsible for changing the UK’s ‘Treason Law’ in 1998, downgrading it from the Death Penalty to Life Imprisonment.

    The original Act described the punishment for Treason thus:

    “To be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution and there be hanged by the neck, but not until they are dead, but that they should be taken down again, and that when they are yet alive their bowels should be taken out and burnt before their faces, and that afterwards their heads should be severed from their bodies, and their bodies be divided into four quarters, and their heads and quarters to be at the Kings disposal”

    No doubt Anthony will be breathing a sigh of relief XD

    Reply
  4. Pete Kane

     /  7th July 2016

    Very good article G.

    Reply
  5. “He tried to link Saddam to 911—totally discredited years ago. Amongst various other justifications, he blamed the UN—specifically Russia and France—for vetoing a Security Council authorisation for the invasion.” – The man’s deceit and hypocrisy rivals Whale Oil.

    Blair had the talent to be one of Britain’s great PMs. What a snake he turned out to be.

    Good post Gezza.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  7th July 2016

      Good comment too, artcroft. Blair is a snake-oil salesman from top to toe.

      Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  7th July 2016

    Al Jazeera News Hour gave a short guest spot to Geoffrey Robertson, “Former UN Appeal Judge”. (Upper classly, very Englishly elegant in demeanour & voice 🙂 He said the UK has committed the crime of “aggressive war”. This is the War Crime for which the Nazi leaders were prosecuted at the conclusion of WW2—for invading Czechoslovakia & Poland.

    But in 1998, when the International Criminal Court was set up the term, “aggression” was suspended as a crime until 2017, when it is to be reviewed. It has not been properly defined. He thought there would be some countries which will refuse to agree to it being incoporated back as a crime into the War Crimes legislation.

    Even if it is, because the US & UK invasions were not crimes at the time they were committed, their leaders cannot be retrospectively charged with War Crimes. They will get away with it.

    Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  7th July 2016

      “I’m with you, whatever……”

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  7th July 2016

        Impressive photoshopping!

        Reply
      • MaureenW

         /  7th July 2016

        Looks about right, thought Bush could have been tweaking Blair’s nipple though.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  7th July 2016

          “I’m with you, whatever……”
          Tell Wayne spot on again Nelly. That was the phrase I was trying to remember. 🙂

          Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  7th July 2016

    q) Why does Al Qaeda still exist & ISIL has now risen ?

    a) because Bush/Blair/Cheney/Rumsfeld etc. made up a load of B-S to invade Iraq (to grab their oil reserves).. this created a massive power vacuum, that these ‘Terrorists’ have now filled.
    They are not going away anytime soon.. Thx to ‘the coalition of the willing’ (now inc. NZ) ! 😦

    btw; to use the common saying ‘One man’s Terrorist is another man’s FREEDOM-fighter’ :/

    Reply
    • David

       /  7th July 2016

      Only if you definition of a FREEDOM-fighter spans to include those who are very clearly fighting for something that is not in any way freedom.

      Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  7th July 2016

    q) Who are REAL ‘Terrorists’ ?

    a) likely: the ‘trigger happy’ coalition soldiers running around Iraq, Afghanistan etc. shooting at anything that moves & they don’t like the look of. I’m certain they are ‘terrorising’ whole cities in these countries, with their ‘unrestricted antics’ ! :/

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  7th July 2016

      Obama has announced he is extending the tours of American troops in Afghanistan because of the deteriorating security situation there.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  7th July 2016

        Extension is to the end of his Presidency.

        Reply
      • Zedd

         /  7th July 2016

        a situation they created !! 😦

        Saddam Hussein was once USAs ‘friend’.. what really happened ? :/

        Reply
        • David

           /  7th July 2016

          If he was teh USA’s ‘friend’, why didn’t they sell him any weapons?

          Reply
          • Zedd

             /  7th July 2016

            I think he was getting a ‘better deal’ from the Russians ? :/

            btw; Don’t believe everything you see & hear on CNN.. misinfo.-PLUS !

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  7th July 2016

              I didn’t make the situation up, I just reported it.
              Seems Blair & Bush didn’t report the situation they just ….

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  7th July 2016

      I imagine that if you had any direct experience of the Taliban in Afghanistan you might change your opinion:
      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/10/afghanistan-harrowing-accounts-emerge-of-the-talibans-reign-of-terror-in-kunduz/

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  7th July 2016

        I need to do a bit of review but what I remember was the Taliban coming to power there after getting organised & armed to fight the Russians after their invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden was among the many foreign mujahideen who flooded into the place to destroy the atheist Russian invaders. Most via Pakistan. They were wooed & armed & equipped & the best organised & effective groups of fighters were paid large sums of money by the US, but, when the Russians left, the money and any pretended US interest in assisting them to recover from the depredations & destruction left by the Russians & their puppet regime abruptly stopped.

        I also remember once the US had cruise missiled the Al Qaeda jihadi training camps the Taliban had allowed to be set up in Afghanistan, the Taliban, who weren’t now all that keen on all the goings on there, offered to hand Bin Laden over to another country where he would be likely to receive a fair trial. He’d taken a while to claim credit for 911 and there was some doubt he was in fact directly involved with the planning & execution of that mission. That he might not have been, but had subsequently decided to exploit the situation when he saw how muslims had reacted & was being accused of being behind it. The US rejected the offer & invaded Afghanistan with its allies to (1) get Bin Laden, and (2) depose the Taliban.

        They reported he’d disappeared, but solid intel from reliable informants had revealed he was hiding out in the mountains at Bora Bora, where they had a sophisticated network of caves and underground bunkers. Military & intelligence officials were shown on TV advising the world of this and holding up detailed diagrams of multi-level underground complexes.

        Then footage of them pulverizing the place with the bunker-busters specifically designed for this sort of job. When their forces searched the area after the bombardment there were only a few caves, some of them with evidence they had been there but had left some time before.

        Reply
        • Brown

           /  7th July 2016

          At the end of the day I suspect that only a few people know what the heck is really going on and those few are not the types to talk to the media. Truth is a nice but outdated concept that has long been subverted by what is required to maintain appearances. The big money is now so big and global that its influences extend well beyond the local borders – we’ve not really seen such reach before. The old British Empire was a clumsy oaf in comparison despite its global expansion. Lots of little businesses seem so much nicer a concept than multinationals.

          Reply

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