9 July 2016

This week’s Chilcot report on Britain’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was as polite and guarded as a proper English tea party. No direct accusations, no talk of war crimes by then Prime Minister Tony Blair or his guiding light, President George W. Bush. But still pretty damning.

Such government reports and commissions, as was wittily noted in the delightful program ‘Yes, Prime Minister,’ are designed to obscure rather than reveal the truth and bury awkward facts in mountains of paper.

And beneath mountains of lies. The biggest lie on both sides of the Atlantic was that the invasion and destruction of Iraq was the result of ‘faulty intelligence.’ The Bush and Blair camps and the US and British media keep pushing this absurd line.

This writer, who had covered Iraq since 1976, was one of the first to assert that Baghdad had no so-called weapons of mass destruction, and no means of delivering them even if it did. For this I was dropped and black-listed by the leading US TV cable news network and leading US newspapers.

I had no love for the brutal Saddam Hussein, whose secret police threatened to hang me as a spy. But I could not abide the intense war propaganda coming from Washington and London, served up by the servile, mendacious US and British media.

The planned invasion of Iraq was not about nuclear weapons or democracy, as Bush claimed. Two powerful factions in Washington were beating the war drums: ardently pro-Israel neoconservatives who yearned to see an enemy of Israel destroyed, and a cabal of conservative oil men and imperialists around Vice President Dick Cheney who sought to grab Iraq’s huge oil reserves at a time they believed oil was running out. They engineered the Iraq War, as blatant and illegal an aggression as Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939.

Britain’s smarmy Tony Blair tagged along with the war boosters in hopes that the UK could pick up the crumbs from the invasion and reassert its former economic and political power in the Arab world. Blair had long been a favorite of British neoconservatives. The silver-tongued Blair became point man for the war in preference to the tongue-twisted, stumbling George Bush. But the real warlord was VP Dick Cheney.

There was no ‘flawed intelligence.’ There were intelligence agencies bullied into reporting a fake narrative to suit their political masters. And a lot of fake reports concocted by our Mideast allies like Israel and Kuwait.

After the even mild Chilcot report, Blair’s reputation is in tatters, as it should be. How such an intelligent, worldly man could have allowed himself to be led around by the doltish, swaggering Bush is hard to fathom. Europe’s leaders and Canada refused to join the Anglo-American aggression. France, which warned Bush of the disaster he would inflict, was slandered and smeared by US Republicans as ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys.’

In the event, the real monkeys were the Bush and Blair governments. Saddam Hussain, a former US ally, was deposed and lynched. Iraq, the most advanced Arab nation, was almost totally destroyed. Up to one million Iraqis may have been killed, though the Chilcot report claimed only a risible 150,000. As Saddam had predicted, the Bush-Blair invasion opened the gates of hell, and out came al-Qaida and then ISIS.

The US and British media, supposedly the bulwark of democracy, rolled over and became an organ of government war propaganda. Blair had the august BBC purged for failing to fully support his drive for war. BBC has never recovered.

Interestingly, this week’s news of the Chilcot investigation was buried deep inside the New York Times on Thursday. The Times was a key partisan of the war. So too the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and the big TV networks.
Without their shameful connivance, the Iraq War might not have happened.

Bush and Blair have the deaths of nearly 4,500 US soldiers on their heads, the devastation of Iraq, our $1 trillion war, the ever-expanding mess in the Mideast, and the violence what we wrongly blame on ‘terrorism’ and so-called ‘radical Islam.’

The men and women responsible for this biggest disaster in our era should be brought to account. As long as Bush and Blair swan around and collect speaking fees, we have no right to lecture other nations, including Russia and China, on how to run a democracy or rule of law. Bush and Blair should be facing trial for war crime at the Hague Court.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016

This post is in: Great Britain, Iraq, USA


  1. Mannstein says:

    When Blair and Bush came out to claim Saddam was the new Hitler, that it was Munich 1938 all over again, and that they were the new Churchill it was evident to even the most casual observer that we were headed for complete disaster.

    Come to think of it Margret Thatcher also claimed to be Churchill before launching the Falklands’ war. Is there a pattern here that repeats each time the West wants to run off to war?

    Last I heard Putin is the new Hitler.

  2. aakhan314 says:

    What goes around, comes around.
    Look what happened in Nice, France. This is a fallout of the stupid wars inflicted upon the world by USA and UK. Before this so called “War on Terror”, we never had such incedents. Now these are rampant and out of control.
    I sincerely hope we do not face more of the same.

  3. What an accurate description of those evil and fatal events. Blair should be considered as the worst blemish on the British government and its seemingly impotent royal house. It takes more than drinking tea and watching horse races to be a worthy monarch. But the master villain in this barbaric war is George W. Bush. Cheney seems to be the brains behind it all, but GWB. was front and center to collect the glory of having destroyed his own country as president. The entire western world by virtue of collective agreement with this satanic act, has bloodied hands dripping with the innocent blood of untold thousands upon thousands of innocent lives of the men, women and children, who were slaughtered in a more gruesome way than any animal ever had to suffer in an abattoir. Whoever profited from this calamity should also be brought to justice. If every guilty individual was to be brought to The Hague to be tried by a court like we saw in Nuremberg in 1946, then the criminals would outnumber the regular population in The Hague. By being silent about this, one becomes guilty by omission. I witnessed some gruesome events during WW2, but they dwarf in comparison to what happened in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. Does nobody ever look for a common denominator in these conflicts? Why is religion always a weapon of choice to get people to willingly sacrifice their lives to go and murder innocent people thousands of miles away from home? And they expect us to believe, that we are the democratic force, that erases evil. The aggressor is the murderer and those who defend their country are the victims. My brother defended our country against the Nazis. Who were the murderers then? My brother and the rest of the resistance movement, or those Nazis, who came to kill and terrorize us? And regardless of which religion you have, most people claim to serve that Almighty God, who is omniscient, omnipotent and infinitely loving, fair and just. If you honestly believe the same, then I have a bridge for sale.

  4. gschafer says:

    Why not add Cretien to your list of “our” war criminals? Looks like he (surprise surprise) was talking out of both sides of his mouth on the Iraq war.


  5. Zeeshan7 says:

    The Bush-led Republican offensive for Iraqi oil and strategic superiority in the Mid-East failed to understand the complexities of a region embroiled in conflict since the annals of Mesopotamia.

    What further compounds their arrogance behind the wall of ignorance is the assumption that anyone can be bought if you throw a few Americanisms at them.

    We’re now witnessing a mess that continues to grow bigger, with no accountability to those that were responsible and the usual blame-game being shifted to the side-effects of this; commercial break! – in comes The Donald…

  6. Caradoc says:

    It is stunning to see how far and how low the art of statecraft has fallen in the west, and the slight regard diplomacy is held in now. These are the real tools of power, not military might. As Chillcot showed, politicians simply pay no price for craven, immoral acts of any caliber, and neither do their individual political parties. You can’t have one without the other, the politician and their political enablers. Political parties should have to disband once a generation, or about every 20 years, replacing name, all officers and employees. Everything is re-set to zero. Then the entrenched don’t have as easy a time to embed and manipulate the system (they’ll still try, of course).

  7. philmar says:

    What is particularly galling is that while abhorrent folk like GW Bush and Blair earn millions on the speaking tour, others such as Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden suffer for exposing their lies and crimes. And then there are the Al Jazeera journos who were deliberately targeted by US military.

  8. philmar says:

    In all fairness I often disagreed with many of your columns during the Soviet era. I felt you were too hard-line anti-Communist. Though a repressive regime, I didn’t see the Soviets as an evil requiring billions of dollars of military spending for weapons of mass destruction. I didn’t see anti-communism as a reasonable justification to support fascist regimes in Africa, and the Americas. I saw the Soviets as bumbling fools that would eventually implode if we left them alone. The USSR was a recipe for failure: strong central government with a huge number of varying ethnic and religious groups. Their weaponry was a joke and despite the numbers of their armies and weapons they were unable to harvest their crops properly, let alone wage a winning war. I worried that aggressive American ‘containment’ (imperial aggression) pushed the world towards pointless nuclear conflagration.
    I saw Saddam as another manufactured ‘threat’ of American imperialism. So imagine my surprise when I saw you as one of the lone beacons of sanity in a complicit mass media. I saw you dropped not only from mainstream commercial media outlets but also from government run media like TVO.
    Though I don’t always agree with your views I must say I thank you full heartedly for continuing to report your views despite the personal losses you have incurred. BIG respect here. Thank you.

    • Mannstein says:

      “Soviets as bumbling fools…” indeed. Under that regime 60,000,000 were killed 7,000,000 million alone in the Ukraine during the 1930s according to the “Black Book of Communism” by Stephane Courtois et al.

      Courtois was himself a French Communist. He should know what he was talking about and was not about to be biased on the topic.

      Hitler was a boyscout compared to Lenin and Stalin.

      Like it or not but the Soviets were hell bent on spreading their foul noxious ideology over the entire globe.

      Take a look at the former Soviet Union’s coat of arms which was displayed openly on every official Soviet building. That says it all.

  9. tony clancy says:

    Well said as usual, don’t forget the Australian Prime Minister at the time John Howard who followed like a well trained puppy.

  10. I don’t understand why the Government of Iraq doesn’t sue the US and Britain for damages for the illegal war and bankrupt the USA and the UK?

  11. Manysummits says:

    As I understand it, the United States was one of the countries who voted against the ‘Rome Statute’ which created the ICC, in 1998 I believe.

    And the US has never signed on or ratified the treaty creating the ICC.

    John Kennedy would have, I think, and Jimmy Carter also would, were he President today, which he is not.

    And so we are left tilting at windmills.

    Which is better than nothing.

  12. Just some observations:
    I don’t think anyone expected any different report. It took 7 years to allow the indignity of any accusations to mellow. The report, in addition, was prepared by the government in charge of the atrocities and by those of the upper class. They really don’t want to criticise their peers…after all, we may want to ‘sip tea’ with them in the afternoon.
    There does not appear to be anything new contained in the Chilcot Report. All the criticisms and comments were well known 7 years ago. The report was just another waste of government money that could have been put to Health Care or Education. This would have been far better. It might be that a government may not want an well educated population. The report is like a Canadian Royal Commission. The Government doesn’t have to do anything, but the populace should be happy that the Government is doing ‘something’ by creating a Royal Commission on the subject.
    The Chilcot Report can be likened to any government prepared reports on social agencies, prisons, psychiatric wards, etc. where someone under their care has died due to negligence. The words ‘incompetence’ or ‘carelessness’ or ‘stupidity’ or ‘negligence’ are never included in the body of the report. To make matters worse, nothing is ever done to fix the problem. Governments should hire independent investigators.
    The report was careful to avoid issues like shipping Blair off to the Hague as well as Lord Goldsmith, providing a government based legal opinion, and a host of others. Bush, or that matter any American leader, would never be hauled off in manacles; the Americans are not signatories of the International Criminal Court, and for this very reason. The Americans preach ‘Rule of Law’, but don’t want to practice it.
    ….and from Nuremberg, “… Where the act in question is an act of State, those who carry it out are not personally responsible, but are protected by the doctrine of the sovereignty of the State. In the opinion of the Tribunal, this contention must be rejected. The principle of international law, which under certain circumstances protects the representative of a state, cannot be applied to acts, which are condemned as criminal by international law. The authors of these acts cannot shelter themselves behind their official position in order to be freed from punishment in appropriate proceedings.”
    If there are crimes, for starting a war, the individual soldiers are placed in the same dock. Nuremberg established that. “I was only following orders”, doesn’t work.

  13. Steve_M. says:

    Excellent post! As for al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein was more than willing to help the West crush that organization altogether and he would have been a valuable ally against them. To that extent, Donald Trump is right when he says that Hussein was good at getting rid of terrorists.

    As for Iraq, few people seriously believe that it is better off now than it was under Hussein. In his time, it was apparently fairly safe for a westerner to walk the streets of Baghdad, day and night. Today, one would really be taking one’s life in his or her own hands just by setting foot in the Iraqi capital.

    Like you, Eric, I place most of the blame for the current mess in the Middle East at the feet of Tony Blair and George Bush. They should indeed be put on trial as accused war criminals, but it’s a safe bet that such will never happen.

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