A report seven years in the making has just reminded the British people that they’re still quite mad about that war we roped them into. On Wednesday, Sir John Chilcot and the Iraq Inquiry Committee delivered a 2.6 million–word indictment of former prime minister Tony Blair’s decision to help us overthrow Saddam Hussein. The report finds that Blair failed to challenge the Bush administration’s flawed intelligence, shaky legal rationale, and flimsy preparation for the invasion, all while misleading the public about the strength of the case for war.
None of these findings are surprising. But they should dump some fresh kerosene on the Labour Party’s raging civil war over Jeremy Corbyn, which has been framed by the leader’s defenders as a battle over Blairism.
Plus, the report does offer an amusing window into Blair’s impotent attempts to influence the Bush administration’s thinking in any way. In a memo from July 2002, Blair pledged his unconditional allegiance to Bush’s war effort, before listing a series of very legitimate concerns about its wisdom.
To which Bush (essentially) replied, “You had me at ‘I’ll be with you.’”
Blair’s defenders have sometimes justified his blind cooperation with Bush as deference to the “special relationship” between the U.K. and U.S. The Chilcot Report argues that this relationship is strong enough “to bear the weight of honest disagreement.”
“It does not require unconditional support where our interests or judgments differ,” the report notes.
Friends don’t help friends send young people to kill and die in needless wars built on lies.