A Word on Blair

Yesterday the Chilcot report was finally published after a seven-year long wait. For many of us following the Iraq War from the very beginning none of the contents were at all surprising. The report was a damning account of catastrophic failures of decision-making at the highest levels, but not only that. Tony Blair ignored all of the advice from a number of specialists, political actors and community groups. His only commitment was to President Bush and his taste for war having experienced small-scale successes in Sierra Leone and Kosovo. On this occasion, shoulder to shoulder with the Americans, his was a messianic mission to rid the world of evil as he and Bush saw it. The dragon that was unleashed however has created far more damage that any dominant western force has been able to contain.

What was most saddening about Chilcot day was how Blair responded to the report. Looking gaunt and haunted he held a press conference for over two hours, defiant in the face of wave after wave of questions. His ultimate argument was that he was doing the right thing as he saw it. He believed it was a justifiable war. But the intelligence needed to support it was doctored to uphold the argument that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction could reach London in 45 minutes. His other delusional line focused on the idea that the region is now a safer place. This could not be further from the truth as the collapse of Iraq triggered the civil war in Syria and the exodus of many millions of refugees not seen fleeing in fear since the second world war.

Countless pages will be written on what unfolded on Chilcot day but for me and for many others the Iraq War almost changed our life direction as a response to what was the most unnecessary and illegitimate of British foreign policy disasters. However, it is dwarfed by the immense feeling of emptiness and sadness at the thought of what unfolded in the heads of men at the helm of world power and then not having the ability to come to terms with their deceit. The Iraq war broke down trust in politics and created the conditions for what we face in a post-truth democracy.  It is where expertise is derided and where scaremongering and alarmism has become the new normal. Blair’s personal legacy is ruined and eventually he will be forgotten but what it has done for political trust in general may never be recovered.