Paul Heron, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and Hackney Socialist Party
On New Year’s Eve, Buckingham Palace announced that former Labour prime minister Tony Blair would be rewarded with the Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by the Queen. Should we be appalled? Or do we in fact see it as appropriate? After all, the British Empire itself is dripping in the blood of millions of people it had conquered. Maybe it is a perfect match.
Tony Blair will be remembered as the prime minister who, alongside the United States, sanctioned the invasion of Iraq. In the months building up to the invasion millions of people in the UK and internationally protested against the prospect of war. This was ignored.
In March 2003 the US, with support from the UK and others, invaded Iraq. The invasion was based on a multitude of lies. However, the foundation of this deceit was the incredible claim that Iraq – that had been subject to sanctions for decades – was able to launch ‘weapons of mass destruction’. This falsehood was built by British ‘intelligence’ but at the behest of Blair and his cohorts.
On the 1 May 2003 – barely six weeks after the invasion – US president George W Bush declared the Iraq War over, and that, in his view, the mission was accomplished. How wrong could he or Western imperialism be?
Middle East destabilised
Iraq, and indeed the whole of the Middle East, was destabilised as a result. This was partly triggered when the ‘Coalition Provisional Authority’ launched its catastrophic ‘De-Ba’athification’ programme – which left those in government jobs without work, and the country falling into chaos, with an insurgency following.
The website Iraq Body Count places the number of confirmed civilian deaths as a result of the invasion at over 200,000, with the Lancet reporting about 600,000 civilian deaths. However, both estimates are likely to be a massive underestimate.
The Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq War was damning of Blair and the security services. It found that Blair had committed himself to joining with the US come what may, and potentially peaceful options were ignored. Blair did not tell the truth about the weapons of mass destruction or, as Chilcott himself explained, the threat of the weapons was “presented with a certainty which was not justified.”
At the end of World War Two the leading Nazi’s were tried and convicted for crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of the aggression of war. The reality is that Tony Blair, George W Bush, Jack Straw, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should have faced the same. It is said that history is written by the victors; it is also the case that law is for the victors too.
I cannot face to read about Blair or hear him when he pops up on the TV to give his opinion. He should not be indulged. He is a war criminal. I have to agree with Frankie Boyle when he said: “Personally I don’t see anything wrong with Tony Blair giving his opinions on Iraq, it’s just that he should be doing them at the Hague.”