Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

The more I've watched the Chilcot inquiry, the clearer the answer has become. All those ferocious arguments of seven and eight years ago have swum back into focus: the friendships destroyed; the disillusioned party workers who walked away; the broken trust running like a crevasse through the Labour party. The Iraq war destroyed many people's trust in politics. It destroyed many lives, and that's the most important thing. But among the collateral damage has been New Labour itself. It died in Iraq.

The above is from Jackie Ashley's "Here lies New Labour -- the party that died in Iraq" (Guardian). Friday War Criminal Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry in London and it was and is big news and continues to dominate the news cycle. Self-identified 'liberal interventionist' Hawk Andrew Rawnsley (Observer) whines that the next Iraq War will be so hard to sell to the British people -- his whine, by the way, is the closest the Guardian and Observer readers have ever gotten to a confession for why the papers ignored the Downing Street Memos. Stop The War offers a variety of reactions to Blair's strutting on Friday and we'll note this from Rose Gentle, mother of Iraq War veteran Gordon Gentle, killed in Iraq June 28, 2004:

When I got into the room, I was shaking and my stomach was churning, because I couldn't say anything to him. I wanted to say: "Tell the truth. Why lie? Why not put your hands up and say you made a mistake?"

The last bit, at the end, was disgusting. Sir John Chilcot asked him if he had any regrets and he said no. There were [bereaved] families in there, but there was not a bit of compassion, not a bit of anything like that. It was very hard to take.

He just sat with his back to us, and refused to meet us afterwards, which is typical of him. I am glad I saw him, but I would have preferred to see his face. He wouldn't look at us.

I think he got a lot of good questions put to him, but he didn't really answer any of them. He kept bringing things back to the paper, the dossier and he even tried to put the responsibility for the 45 minute claim on the media.

I don't think we have learned anything new, and when the inquiry ends there's not much we can do.

I will never forgive him and I believe he should stand trial. I will be angry with him for the rest of my life.

Meanwhile Clare Short, who testifies to the Inquiry this week, tells the BBC (link has video) Blair's testimony was unbelievable and short on the facts. Roland Watson (Times of London) reports that Short stated current prime minister of England Gordon Brown was kept out of the inner planning circle by Tony Blair. The Times of London offers readers reactions to Blair's appearance on Friday here, the Guardian here. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) offers his take on Blair's performance.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4374. Tonight? 4375.

In some of today's reported violence . . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three pilgrims, a Baghdad grenade attack which injured six pilgrims, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four pilgrims and a Falluja roadside bombing which wounded one 'suspect.'


Reuters notes 1 'suspect' shot dead by "Iraqi forces backed by U.S. advisors" with four more arrested in Mosul and, dropping back to Saturday, 1 woman was shot dead in Mosul.

Returning to the Iraq Inquiry, Tony Blair will be recalled for additional testimony. Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Wintour (Guardian) explain:

The panel are concerned in particular about his evidence relating to the legality of the invasion, the Guardian has learned. Blair's evidence seemingly contradicted that given by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general at the time, about the number of discussions the pair had about issues of law between 7 March and 17 March 2003, three days before the attack on Iraq.
Blair also told the inquiry that the question of whether military action would be lawful was "always a very, very difficult, balanced judgment". Yet the panel has heard he told Lord Boyce, then chief of the defence staff, that it was his "unequivocal" view that an invasion would be lawful.
Blair told Goldsmith to pass on the message after Boyce demanded a yes or no answer to whether it would be legal. Boyce had been concerned about Goldsmith's view that only "a reasonable case" could be made in favour of an invasion.

Bob Marshall-Andrews (Guardian) walks through what the Inquiry has learned from the testimonies -- mainly Tony Blair's and Peter Goldsmith (Goldsmith was the Attorney General):

He produced on 7 March 2003 a written opinion for the prime minister. In it he acknowledged that a "reasonable case" could be made for legality without the UN resolution but (and it is of course a huge "but") he "could not be confident that this view would succeed in a court of law". In other words, put plainly, legality was doubtful.
The effect of this was potentially seismic. Had this view been known to the cabinet or parliament, votes for the war would have been unthinkable. Had this unvarnished view been known to our military command and armed forces, many, if not all, would have refused to fight. Had it been known to contractors, civil servants and unions engaged on war work many, if not all, would have withdrawn their labour and support.
At this point 40,000 British troops were massed on the borders of Iraq and war was three weeks away. On 17 March the attorney general attended cabinet. The purpose of his attendance was to provide his opinion that the war was legal. His own doubts and equivocations 10 days earlier received no mention. As to the very existence of a written opinion there was total silence. The following day he repeated his unequivocal view on the law to the House of Lords, whence it came to the Commons. As to the very existence of a written opinion there was, again, total silence.

Tony Blair lied repeatedly and consistently. He never wanted a second resolution from the United Nations Security Council. He misled those serving with him and the public. That's why he browbeat Goldsmith until Goldsmith finally came around and agreed to pretend the Iraq War would be legal without a second resolution.

New content at Third:

Isaiah's latest goes up after this. Pru notes this from Great Britain's Socialist Worker:

This article should be read after: » Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder

Blair and Brown have blood on their hands

The real legacy of the war in Iraq has been exposed this week.

This, together with the appearance of Tony Blair in front of the Chilcot inquiry, has reignited anger over the Iraq war.

Many people are rightly sceptical about the outcome of Blair’s hearing—it will not be the grilling the majority wants. But the lies and horror of the war continue to seep out.

An official Iraqi study found more than 40 sites across the country were contaminated with high levels of radiation and toxins.

These are the result of the use of depleted uranium shells by US and British forces in Iraq.

Iraq’s energy resources continue to be sold off. The Iraqi government has signed a deal with oil giants Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell PLC to develop a major oil field in the south of the country.

This gives ownership of the oil fields to the companies for 20 years. There are an estimated 8.6 billion barrels of oil in West Qurna.

The oil giants will pay the Iraqi government $1.90 for each barrel of oil they extract. But when this is refined and sold on the world market it will fetch $78 a barrel at present prices.

George Bush and Blair’s war has left a trail of destruction. There are 4.5 million Iraqi refugees inside and outside the country. Electricity supplies have dropped dramatically in Baghdad.

In 2008, 61 percent of Iraqis said that they believed that the US military presence made the security situation worse. Many want the occupiers out of their country as soon as possible.

The price for the Iraq war has been paid by the one million killed—the estimate of the most credible surveys. Blair is responsible for this—and Gordon Brown signed the cheques.

On Monday at least 36 people died in coordinated suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad and in shoot-outs between security forces.

The police threat to impose a ring of steel around the Chilcot inquiry on Friday when Blair appears is another attempt to protect the guilty.

Undaunted the Stop the War Coalition organised a whole day of events outside the inquiry. They include a protest in the morning, then speeches, performances and music throughout the day.

A naming of some of the many war dead was also to be held. Those reading the names included members of Military Families Against the War, who have lost loved ones in Blair’s wars.

The Iraqi people deserve a voice in this inquiry, to tell their side of the story.

As they have been deprived of this right, it is the role of the anti-war movement to make Blair’s appearance a nightmare.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Tony Blair is guilty of mass murder
» Afghanistan: London conference will not stabilise the 'good war' gone bad
» Chilcot whitewash brings out the dirt
» Attempt to ban protest outside Tony Blair’s appearance at Iraq inquiry
» Protesters greet warmongers’ London Afghanistan conference
» Army drops several major charges against Joe Glenton
» Tony Blair’s judgement day starts at Chilcot inquiry

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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