Whitewashing Blair's war guilt a farcical stitch-up
"Tony Blair must think that we were all born yesterday if he believes that the half-hearted apology for an inquiry announced yesterday by Jack Straw will be given more than a split second's credibility. "Why didn't he go the whole hog and appoint Lord Hutton to chair it?" That was the Morning Star's comment on February 4 when the Prime Minister acted quickly to set up the Butler inquiry into the intelligence material deployed to justify the Iraq war just hours after President George W Bush had announced a US inquiry. It is worth looking back to counter any repeat of attempts by government apologists, in the face of outrage at the Hutton inquiry whitewash, to claim that people had agreed to the inquiry and must welcome its findings. Anti-war campaigners had no confidence in any Establishment inquiry. They expected a farcical stitch-up this time and were not disappointed, while the Liberal Democrats refused to nominate a member to the committee, complaining that it would fail to investigate political responsibility. In fact, Butler's report is an Establishment classic of its kind. It can be summed as saying that things went wrong, some intelligence was flawed, reports may have left people with false impressions, but no-one really acted out of order, so don't pin blame on anyone and let's simply draw a line under the fiasco and try to do a little better next time. This means that the false claims about Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of which Britain went to war, were soundly based but just a little inaccurate. And if this has led to 15,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and the destruction of much of Iraq's infrastructure, then that's rather unfortunate, but it couldn't be helped. The truth is that there were no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The 45-minute readiness claim was fabricated. The documents revealing uranium exports from Niger to Iraq were forgeries. The British and US intelligence services knew this, as did the Bush-Blair coalition of the lying, who decided in spring 2002 that an invasion would take place a year later to fit in with a timetable that owed everything to this year's US presidential election. Iraq was invaded precisely because it had no WMD. It was an easy touch. The intelligence services in Britain and the US played along with the war plans, offering "evidence" that backed up the false claims, even as Hans Blix's inspectors, who were conducting a genuine search, were rapidly coming to the conclusion that WMD were non-existent. They were complicit in the war crimes authorised by Bush and Blair, but they do not bear central responsibility for them. As the Morning Star said, "The blame for that ongoing tragedy does not lie with the intelligence services. They don't send armies to war. Politicians do and Tony Blair did. "No soft-soap inquiry, filled with Establishment pillars of sanctimony, can alter that fundamental truth." And no soft-soap inquiry can clear the Prime Minister of foul deeds, which ought still to see his removal and subsequent arraignment before a war crimes tribunal.
* * *Morning Star, Britain's socialist daily