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Blair’s Overdue Repudiation

I have been struck by a few things about the responses in Britain following the release of the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry’s findings.

Some top Iraq war supporters remain unrepentant and as deluded as ever. Tony Blair affirms [1] that he would invade Iraq again if he had to do it all over, and seems to be more preoccupied [2] with the criticism that he was dishonest in selling the war than he is interested in facing up to the horrible costs of the war he helped to start. That is no different from many of our own Iraq war dead-enders, but the interesting thing is that Blair is still being criticized in the strongest terms across the political spectrum and his reputation is widely seen as being completely ruined. Voters in the U.K. didn’t have the same chance to deliver the same electoral repudiation of Blair’s government that our voters had in 2006 and 2008 with Bush’s GOP, so perhaps that is why Blair receives more scorn now.

The leader of Blair’s party, Jeremy Corbyn, apologized on behalf of the party for its past support for the war (which Corbyn opposed at the time). That is the first such public expression of regret from the leader of any major Western party that backed the invasion thirteen years ago, and it is a shame that it has taken this long for a major party leader to say so. There is no chance that a leading figure from either of our major parties would apologize for their role in supporting the war, not least because hawkish members in both parties are allergic to admitting that the U.S. has ever done something wrong. Obviously a belated apology doesn’t undo any of the enormous harm that the war has done, but it does mean admitting failure and accepting responsibility for a horrendous policy, and that is more than we have managed here in the U.S.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about all this is that there was an official inquiry into the origins of the war and how it was conducted. As important as the Iraq war has been in British politics, it has been even more so here for ours, and yet our government has never attempted anything like this inquiry and I am confident that it never would. Iraq was always principally an American intervention, and the U.S. military suffered the largest coalition losses by far, but there has never been much interest in Washington in learning much of anything from the debacle.

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18 Comments To "Blair’s Overdue Repudiation"

#1 Comment By Who Says B Must Say C On July 6, 2016 @ 8:52 pm

Good riddance to Blair and whatever’s left of Blairite Labour. I look forward to the day we can say the same of Blair’s soulmates the Clintons and the Clinton Democrats.

#2 Comment By John On July 6, 2016 @ 9:04 pm

there has never been much interest in Washington in learning much of anything from the debacle

As they say in a different but relevant context, the first step is admitting that you have a problem.

#3 Comment By Brother John On July 6, 2016 @ 11:06 pm

The US and the UK could have taken care of Iraq, had we been more willing to follow Napier’s example, quiet the traitors and naysayers, and not elect traitors to hand off to.

But never mind that. Blair’s reputation is rightly ruined because he has single-handedly done more to destroy Britain than anyone since Hitler, probably Napoleon.

#4 Comment By Geoff Arnold On July 7, 2016 @ 2:32 am

Meanwhile Frum is [3]:

US-UK intervention offered Iraq a better future. Whatever West’s mistakes: sectarian war was a choice Iraqis made for themselves.

Not a word about the Iraqis who died before the sectarian war got under way. Sickening…

#5 Comment By Adam On July 7, 2016 @ 2:50 am

The thing that depresses me most about this is when it was released. The report has been ready for years, and they release it now when they largest political upset in living memory has just happened, both major parties are in upheaval, and the uncertainty of Britain’s future in Europe is an ongoing risk across the world’s financial markets. Blair’s reputation deserves to be in tatters but a lot will survive as our attention quickly moves elsewhere.

On the afternoon of 9/11 a member of the Blair press office sent an internal email saying ‘now is a good time to bury bad news’, it showed the callousness and self-serving culture then and that culture is still alive and well today, and still causing disgust with our elites and all that that has lead to.

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On July 7, 2016 @ 7:28 am

It has revealed something more problematic than making a tragic mistake. The unwillingness to look at it for what is and grapple with those consequences:

On heels of two errors the next admin. proceeded to make more essentially premised on some false charge.

And here its revelatory about pubic will and mind as well. The public’s response to dissent on the matter based on veracity of the case for war was met with no small amount of disdain, even Miss Oprah Winfrey got in on the act of public humiliating people in opposition.

Someone want to explain Sec Leadership acuity on the matter. Someone have a clue where her lawyerly and human sensitivity were during that period or now for that matter.

#7 Comment By Johann On July 7, 2016 @ 8:33 am

Because of our assistance to the UK during two world wars, there was no way the British were going to refuse participation in our Iraq adventure. I have always believed that our administration played that card with the British, and there was no way they could refuse. Let that be a lesson to them. Don’t let someone shame you into doing something against your better judgement. Not that Blair had any good judgement, but I had the impression that Britain’s population was cool on the war from the beginning.

#8 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 7, 2016 @ 8:46 am

SIC:

“Tony Blair says world is better as a result of Iraq War” — BBC — One hour ago

[4]

#9 Comment By dead hand of the past On July 7, 2016 @ 9:12 am

The final curtain for Blair in Britain makes the return of the Clintons here in the US seem positively weird, even sick. It’s 2016. Why are people like this still in politics? Worse, why are we still having to choose from people like this?

#10 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 7, 2016 @ 10:16 am

@ Johann, who says: “Because of our assistance to the UK during two world wars, there was no way the British were going to refuse participation in our Iraq adventure. I have always believed that our administration played that card with the British, and there was no way they could refuse.”

“No way they could refuse”? Don’t try to excuse UK Prime Minister Blair. Blair could have refused the Iraq war. But Blair needed to put aside his shtick as Bush’s “poodle” and instead show some backbone.

Canadian Prime Minister Chretien stood up to Bush and refused participation in the Iraq War. And remember, like the UK, Canada fought alongside the US in World War 2 — and the US is Canada’s largest trading partner, much more closely tied to the US economically than is Britain.

Chretien was interviewed in 2013 on the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War:

“’It was a very important decision, no doubt about it. It was, in fact, the first time ever that there was a war that the Brits and the Americans were involved and Canada was not there…Unfortunately, a lot of people thought sometimes that we were the 51st state of America. It was clear that day that we were not’.”

“Chretien said he refused to commit to military action in Iraq without a resolution from the UN Security Council. He said Canada always followed the UN and intervened in other conflicts when asked to. Chretien also said he was not convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – the threat that fuelled support for a U.S.-led invasion of the country — and that turned out to be true.”

[5]

#11 Comment By JohnG On July 7, 2016 @ 10:23 am

If Blair’s repudiation is overdue, what are we to think about the Clintons?

Their common sins go way back to before Iraq, when they bombed Serbia (illegal, there was no UN resolution nor did Serbia attack anyone) and created the basket case of a “country” called Kosovo. Yet another breeding ground for terrorists, only this time actually IN Europe, not to mention that effective investigation into organ trafficking by our “allies” was stonewalled and went nowhere. Kind of like the investigation into those emails.

With all the blood on his hands, repudiation is a mild punishment for Blair, he should really be in jail. But then, there is that special place that Mad Albright likes to talk about, looks like she is thinking about it too.

PS Think what you will about Trump but at least he has no blood on his hands.

#12 Comment By Sandra On July 7, 2016 @ 10:52 am

I agree that Blair deserved the repudiation he received and subsequent tattered reputation. I do respect, however, that in the midst of it he defended his actions. As a leader, or in this case former leader, I don’t think you say to the families of those thousands of lives lost “oops I made a mistake”. His defense of his position at least allows those families to retain some glimmer of hope that their loved ones died for a just cause or at least one that was considered to be just at the time. While his defense may have been self-serving I would hope that at least in part he did it for them.

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 7, 2016 @ 12:10 pm

@ Sandra, who says: “[Blair’s] defense of his position at least allows those families to retain some glimmer of hope that their loved ones died for a just cause or at least one that was considered to be just at the time. While his defense may have been self-serving I would hope that at least in part he did it for them.”

Run that thought at the families of those who died:

[6]

#14 Comment By Colonel Blimp On July 7, 2016 @ 12:23 pm

Blair’s determination to cling to Bush’s coattail must be seen in the context of the 1980s, when the Labour Party was entirely frozen out of Washington. During the noon of the Thatcher-Reagan era, nobody in D.C. wanted to have anything to do with a beaten rabble of socialist losers. When the Labour leadership reassessed things in the 1990s, its chief foreign policy conclusion was that it had to purge itself of anti-Americanism and cleave as close to the USA as possible; there was not alternative, not for them anyway.

Now, I am certain that a Tory government would also have gone with Bush into Iraq, with all the consequences that would have followed. However, I don’t think it would have been quite so witlessly, in fact disgustingly subservient to the Bush administration.

#15 Comment By oldlib On July 7, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

Blair’s reputation is in tatters, unfortunately Dick Cheney can always find a TV camera here in the US. Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Abrams, and other architects of this ongoing disaster were still advising Republican presidential candidates in the current campaign.
The people who planned and executed the invasion of Iraq should be in prison, both here and in England.

#16 Comment By Myron Hudson On July 7, 2016 @ 3:25 pm

I recall that at least part of Blair’s decision was based on knowing that the W administration was going to do it anyway; if going it alone there would be attendant isolation which was to have been avoided; that the quid pro quo that Blair extracted was the administration officially take the position supporting a 2-state solution in Israel/Palestine.

Still, we bombed and invaded a relatively toothless nation with a population that was 60% women or children (legacy of Gulf War 1) and which posed no threat to us. Criminal, indeed.

#17 Comment By Johann On July 7, 2016 @ 7:13 pm

Good points Kurt Gayle.

#18 Comment By city eyes On July 7, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

We need a truly independent tribunal to investigate 911 and the Iraq war. So many questions? Who benefited? Certainly not America.