The long awaited Chilcot inquiry has confirmed what most critics knew all along. The legality of the Iraq war was dubious. The evidence of WMD was a grotesque fabrication. The war should never have taken place. But have we really learnt anything from Iraq? The resounding answer is no and the evidence is all around us.
One fallacious line of analysis has focused on the failures of ‘groupthink’. The reality is that the government knew that Iraq did not pose a threat to international security. UN inspections did not turn up anything.
Major General Michael Laurie, former Director General of the Defence Intelligence Staff, stated, “We could find no evidence…that related to WMD….There has probably never been a greater detailed scrutiny of every piece of ground in any country.”
There is a catalogue of false pretexts for war. The fabricated Bay of Tonkin incident, used to justify the escalation of the Vietnam War, instantly comes to mind.
Besides, such an analysis conveniently overlooks history. The US and UK armed and backed Saddam in the 8 year Iraq-Iran war. Nobody batted an eye when he committed his worst atrocities, including the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja in 1988.
The US empire dominates an economic world order backed by military power. All tools at its disposal are suborned to maintain this imperial hegemony. It is imposed by a national security doctrine with close to 800 bases in over 70 countries. As Wikileaks cables have illustrated, the nexus of intelligence, government, military and business interests work together to maintain this order.
A cursory glance at foreign policy is revealing. In 1953, the CIA and MI6 helped overthrow Iran’s democratically elected Mosaddegh after he nationalised the country’s oil. In 1973, the CIA aided Pinochet’s military junta coup to overthrow the democratically elected Allende in Chile. This pattern of supporting client and overthrowing rogue states has been repeated across Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Iraq is not the aberration or the exception. It is the norm. It is business as usual. Blair was not a poodle to Bush. He was merely maintaining the paramount Anglo-American Atlanticist relationship that is the bulwark of NATO.
The Iraq war was fundamentally about liberalisation of state assets to global capital. It was estimated that Iraq could be worth $100 billion to the US economy. In the process, it was transformed from a secular dictatorship into a Jihadist safe haven. Rumsfeld’s decision to disband Saddam’s Baathist army led to chaos and now makes up a significant component of ISIS. This is a hallmark of colonial-era tactics of divide and rule. The deliberate stoking of tensions through a US sponsored sectarian Shia-led Iraqi government was notable. This ultimately led to the Sunni backlash and the spawning of ISIS.
British and American intelligence predicted that the war would lead to the amplification of Islamist terrorism. It is worth recalling that post 9/11 there were only a few hundred Islamist fighters. Fast forward through 15 years of the war on terror and this number is currently around 100,000 globally. Blair himself concedes that ISIS has been a direct consequence of the Iraq war. Samuel Huntington’s apocalyptic predictions of a clash of civilisations no longer seem absurd.
Even the most conservative estimates of the death toll in Iraq run into the hundreds of thousands. A study published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet estimated an excess of 655,000 deaths up to 2006.
If we really wanted to spread freedom or destroy Islamic fundamentalism then Saudi Arabia would be the natural starting point. Yet the Kingdom is our ally, purchaser of multi-billion pound arms deals and a major human rights abuser.
The war on terror continues unabated. Former NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark revealed that, in the wake of 9/11, the US drew up plans to attack 7 Middle Eastern countries. There is now extensive Western involvement across the Middle East including Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The pretext may be terrorism but the reality is to guarantee economic and military supremacy in the region.
Tony Blair famously called on history to be his judge. That judgement will be one of eternal damnation. He has already attempted a spirited defence but, as with Lady Macbeth, not all the perfumes of Arabia can relieve the stench of blood on his hands.
How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps is published by Zero books – http://www.zero-books.net/books/how-dismantle-nhs-10-easy-steps
Twitter handle @ElGingihy