Frontier | Vol. 49, No.3, Jul 24 – 30, 2016
In 2003, Britain deliberately participated in the offensive against Saddam Hossain’s Iraq, the offensive spearheaded by the US under the blatantly false pretext of accumulation of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ by Saddam Hossain. Iraq was devastated—it was bombed to the stone age—and some weeks later, Saddam was captured and hanged, but the falsity of the announced US charge against him lay exposed. The USA’s real intention of controlling the vast oil resources of Iraq with the help of a puppet government remained, however, unrealised in the face of popular resistance, and the USA had to make a retreat. Now the situation is one of chaos with the IS rearing its ugly head while fratricidal civil war continues unabated. A question however continued to haunt the average British mind: why did the British government, which did not apparently have any quarrel with Saddam Hossain, got involved in the aggressive war? The question gathered momentum because Britain did not gain anything while more than 200 British citizens, including 179 soldiers, died in the war, not counting the material costs. In the face of mounting adverse public opinion, the Chilcot inquiry committee was appointed in 2009 by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Chilcot inquiry committee’s report has been released recently and the findings of the committee have suggested that the grievances of the families of those British citizens who had died in the Iraq War were fully justified. According to the report, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister during 1997-2007, involved Britain in the Iraq War ‘before peaceful options had been exhausted’. Not less importantly, the decision to go to war was based on ‘flawed intelligence’, as the report says. Put simply, Blair shared the US lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and presented them before the British people and British Parliament. This was done “with a certainty that was not justified”. It is also revealed by the report that Blair, eight months before the invasion, wrote a personal note to George Bush expressing his sycophantic attitude to the latter. The revelations are not startling, but they officially corroborate the opinions of well-meaning people all over the world, including those in Britain. What is noteworthy is that despite Tony Blair’s protestations about the correctness of his Iraq adventure, he seems to be kicking against the pricks. Except for some diehard warmongers who see offensives against those who refuse to kneel down before the Anglo-American hegemony as signs of ‘British greatness’, Blair’s self-defense has now few takers in Britain for the simple reason that Britain received nothing from the War but lost much in terms of men and material, if for nothing else. The apology tendered by the current leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn for having led Britain into the Iraq war is an example of Blair’s isolation. This is only natural, because the global economic crisis, from which Britain is yet to recover, has ostensibly sharpened the feelings of the British people against such imperialist adventures as well as against subservience to the US ruling classes. In truth Jeremy Corbyn was candid enough to describe the Iraq War as an “act of military aggression, launched on false pretext”. Chilkot’s 2.6 million-word, 12-volume report did not make any judgement on whether the war was legal but did conclude that the legal basis for Britain’s action was “far from satisfactory”. If anything the Iraq War has long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of global legal opinion. After the publication of the Chilkot report Tony Blair voiced “sorrow and apology” and tried to show his ‘bold face’ by justifying his action of toppling and finally killing Saddam Hossain. But British public opinion is very much against him.
The families of those British citizens who died because of the Iraq War have been calling for Blair’s trial at court, although whether their desire will be fulfilled is doubtful, because the lobby of war-mongers are as yet not without power in Britain and elsewhere, and there are those middle roaders who, despite their condemnation of Blair, are not in favour of trying him. Common sense, however, suggests that both George Bush and Tony Blair should be tried for war crimes committed not only against the people of Iraq, but against their own people also. The sequel to the release of the Chilcot inquiry report shows the increasing realisation among the British people about the futility of sticking to the old imperialist legacy.