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Tony Blair at Chilcot = Pursuing Regime Change and ignoring democratic process

January 31, 2010

Baroness Usha Prashar takes over questioning from Sir Roderick Lyne.

She starts by asking TB about his response to the shift in US policy, from WMD, to ‘regime change’. I won’t bore you with the repetitive details of Blairs answers. He again talks about 9/11 changing things, and refers to states who will ‘ trade the technology and capability of such weapons.’ He describes this as a ‘warning’ from the US. But rather predictably, doesn’t care to elaborate on any evidence that Saddam a) had weapons that could be traded b) had shown any desire to sell such weapons to terrorist organisations c)had any links with Al Qaeda d) or share details of that ‘warning’.

Baroness Prashar actually points out that he hasn’t actually answered her question, and asks again, how he responded to the shift in American policy. Blair replies- ”We intended to respond by saying, “From now on we have to deal with it“.

There was me thinking we were a country in our own right, who weren’t obliged to do something because the US did. He does not mention, at any point being wary of a shift in policy to regime change, and military action, he describes no incidence of urging caution, of gathering information.

Baroness Prashar moves back to the chequers meeting, covered by Sir Roderick earlier in proceedings.

She challenges Blair directly, asking  if it was true, that he had told the Chequers meeting it was ‘regime change in part because of WMD, but more broadly because of a threat to the region and the world.’

He replies that the issues were conjoined, and again digresses to tell us all what a terrible regime Iraq was under.

He goes on to tell us that the Americans working for regime change, is the same proposition as multilateral action, supporting the UN. Apparently, the Americans didn’t ‘believe’ he was going to give up weapons capability, and were going for regime change, and our response was-

We have to deal with his WMD ambitions. If that means regime change, so be it“.

Apparently, he does not  draw a disctinction between a nation, taking it upon themselves to change the regime of a sovereign state, with no change in evidence of a material threat, and responding within international agreement, to a material threat of a nation possessing, and being willing to trade,  weapons capable of causing mass destruction, outside its national borders. I wonder if he really can’t see the difference between the two?

Baroness Prashar asks what advice he received, and what conclusions they led him to, in preparation for his meeting at Chequers. (Remember the Manning Memo, and the Iraq Options document?) The answer didn’t need much paraphrasing-

‘Basically, we were obviously now going we had the military action in Afghanistan, it was obvious that the American system, indeed our own system, were now going to look at this WMD issue and there was advice on options as to containment and regime change and so on and so forth.”

Sorry, lets get that again. We were ‘obviously’ going- now we had the military action in Afghanistan? Eh? And there was advice on regime change ‘and so forth’???? Is that what she asked Mr.Blair? What advice, specifically, did you receive prior to the meeting at Chequers, or the meeting at Crawford? I think if it was ‘obvious’ we were going, there should really be a record of why?

He describes the time as quite intense, because he was trying to get an idea of whether the policy of Smart Sanctions, was a ‘runner’ or not? Again, he appears not to understand he is talking about a war.

Baroness Prashar asks him why the Defence Chief of Staff was at this meeting, and he responds-”Because it was very obvious that the American system certainly wasn’t going to rule out military action, and, you know, from a very early stage, I could see coming down the track I mean straight after September 11, frankly..’.

Sorry, again, my teeny weeny, lay persons brain is confused. His advisor thinks he is absolutely on board with regime change, but that he has to manipulate parliament. The US is set on regime change, but that is ok because regime change is the way we are going to deal with the WMD issue, and this is at a time, when the US own documents, state that they know fine well a war is illegal- but that they know how to get around that, Tony Blair can see military action on Iraq coming, from as early as 9/11(well, we all could, couldn’t we?)

(”A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers advice, non currently exists. This makes moving quickly to invade legally very difficult. We should therefore consider a staged approach, establishing international support, building up pressure on Saddam and developing military plans. There is a lead time of about 6 months to a ground offensive.”Iraq Options Paper)

TB is apparently having difficulty remember whether Lord Mike Boyce, who was Chief of Defence staff, was there at the meetingn at Chequers, prior to Blairs visit to Crawford. Lord Boyce is fairly clear that he doesn’t remember such a meeting. Yet Blair insists he is there? Why would Blair lie about that? Its not like he had a history of cronyism, and exclusion of key figures, when it suited him.

Tony Blair thinks we all need to consider the fact that we were ,  ‘‘Everyone was moving on from Afghanistan. It was always going to be on the agenda, once you had September 11, and, as I say, a different sense from everybody that we had to act, and so we had, you know, a perfectly good discussion about it”.

And here we are again. It doesn’t matter how many times we go round in circles with Mr.Blair-this is what it comes down to. After 9/11, regardless of what Saddam did- invading Iraq was always going to be on the agenda. People were beginning to get bored- we needed a sequel. Well, I think the point of this inquiry, Mr.Blair- is to find out why. I don’t want to labour the point, but  why does a terrorist attack, by individuals allied to one organisation, mean that invasion of a country is inevitable, regardless of what they did, or didn’t do, and whether the novelty of Afghanistan had worn off or not, I would still quite like to know what that had to do with Iraq. I would like to agree with Tony Blair though, he wasn’t the only one who could see it coming. God knows, when most Americans stated in polls, that they believed Iraq to be behind the attacks on the Trade Towers, our media mocked, little did they know, that our own Prime Minster might as well have believed it.

Baroness Prashar refers back to Jack Straws evidence, when TB insists he was at the meeting. He gave advice prior to it. So if Mike Boyce wasn’t there, and Jack Straw wasn’t there, yet he thinks they were- is that not a problem? And who precisely did Tony Blair, think he had to discuss this with? Either this meeting was so unimportant, that it barely registered above what type of coffee he drank that morning, or he lied, or he just didn’t think any of defence chiefs, or foreign secretarys needed to be involved. I am not sure which is more frightening, I know which is more likely.

Baroness Prashar, who is really doing a nearly credible impression of someone who may be asking about why a war started, at this point- asks TB if he and Jack Straw were agreed on the tactic of going to the UN, as a means to allowing the cabinet to support military action, as part of the plan to achieve the desired objective of regime change- and Mr.Blair, replies ‘absolutely’. Sorry- if the objective of going to to the UN for a resolution, is to increase support for unilateral military action= does that not render the party line that we were exploring all diplomatic solutions, untrue? And wasn’t Jack Straw fairly clear on the fact that to invade Saddam, with the objective of regime change, was illegal?

I apologise for getting repetitive(seriously, you think the post is repetitive- you should read the transcript of Blair’s evidence), so luckily the questioning moves forward to support for the action, in europe.

Mr Blair says it was quite important to get other leaders on board with the plans that he had already made. He was confused apparently, about why the support that the US had garnered, immediately post 9/11, had diminished. It couldn’t be because the US had declared a ‘war on terror’, without defining what ‘war’ meant, or what ‘terror’ was, and apparently believed that a plane flying into a building, was justification for doing what the fuck they liked, regardless of the consequences, and the rest of the world looked on, shitting themselves, could it? I didn’t find the attitudes of european leaders confusing- they seemed fairly clear on their views.

I find it quite confusing that Mr.Blair completely dismissed the objections, of leaders of major western democracies, in his preparations, democracies who were as much a part of the UN, as we were. Even more confusing than his dismissal of the thoughts of the british public, or his own MP’s.

Blair says that his meeting at Crawford(the one AFTER the Manning memo, and AFTER the Iraq Options March 2002 document) was designed to get a ‘real sense’ of what the Americans wanted to do. Mr.Blair, I was sat at home, and I had a real sense of what the Americans wanted to do. You had it written in black and white,, had apparently already discussed that you were going to push this plan, and use the UN route to buy time- to build support- how on earth, are we expected to believe that you went to Crawford, to get a ‘sense‘ of what the US wanted to do? Wouldn’t getting a sense of what the US wanted to do, require going back in time t0 the week after 9/11?

And then we move onto Blair and Bush’s meeting at Crawford. Apparently, Iraq wasn’t even on the agenda really. Not compared to Israel. A meeting at Chequers to discuss the impending war, and yet it was relegated to second place, during the meeting in Crawford, due toe the problems in Israel at that time. For a second, I thought maybe the rhetoric about ignoring UN resolutions, being intolerable was real, and that was what they were discussing. What with Israel ignoring countless UN resolutions….

But no. That is my naiivety showing through. Apparently, they spoke to Israeli officials, while at Crawford, on the subject of Iraq. And after the  ‘frank’ discussion, between Blair and Bush, it was apparently agreed that Blair would ‘deal with Saddam’.  Apparently, the views of Israel were sought. Now, as the only concrete reason for this action, was non compliance with UN resolutions, I am wondering why Israels views would be sought? All of a sudden, the idea that Israel was a contributing driving force behind the war in Iraq, becomes slightly less paranoid. Given that in Tony Blairs speech to the George Bush Presidential Library, Tony Blair made a point of saying that the source of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, was NOT the existence of Israel, at his speech in the George Bush Presidential library later that week, and that they increased their level of aggression(in breach of upteen UN resolutions) later that Spring, I would say that this raises concerns that are far wider, than the war in Iraq, and which raise important questions about the role of the US and Blair, in the Middle East Peace Process.

We were agreed on both, actually, as it came to finally, but we were agreed that we had to confront this issue, that Saddam had to come back into compliance with the international community, and, as I think I said in the press conference with President Bush, the method of doing that is open, and indeed he made the same point.

He concludes this line of questioning, by talking about his need to allay Mr.Bush’s fears, that we wouldn’t act strongly enough-and the message that would send to the world. I wish he had given the british public similar consideration. Of course, he hadn’t agreed to go to war at that meeting. Of course not. Ridiculous suggestion. Apparently, he is also very confused at the suggestion that he made a private committment, because what he made, in this private meeting, where noone else was present, which had been prepared for, with what was essentially plans for invasion-was a public commitment to deal with Saddam in an appropriate, and legal way.

President Bush says of the meeting ‘”The Prime Minister and I, of course, talked about Iraq. We both recognised the danger of a man who is willing to kill his own people and harbouring and developing weapons of mass destruction.”‘. Yup, that sounds like a meeting, where discussion of Iraq wasn’t a major part of the agenda.

We have more of Tony Blairs ‘beliefs’, when he says he ‘believed’ the attack on the trade towers, to be an attack on the UK. Can I respectfully ask, that before our future leaders decide we have been attacked, that they have a clear definition of what constitutes an attack on the UK, and an appropriate response. And that in govt inquirys, when ex Prime Minsters state they believe they have been attacked, that someone questioning them, ask them to actually quantify this belief with evidence.

I got quite pleased when Baroness Prashar said that she believed that he did discuss military planning, at Crawford. Its the nearest that I have seen, to someone calling Mr.Blair on blatant lies, or his belief that the people he is speaking to, are stupid. The idea that, in that context, there was no military planning at Crawford, or that Blair didn’t promise our support, is ludicrous. Only slightly more worrying is the revelation that the Israelis were involved in conversations at Crawford, when there were no fucking advisors, or anyone else, present.

Blair goes back to the stance that we were still ready to go down the diplomacy route, even though he has stated that he felt it regime change through military action, was inevitable, that actually, it had been on the cards, since 9/11.

I think the point at which he is blatantly lying, creates a natural point, at which to pause. I shall resume again tomorrow.



*please note the shift to discussing Saddams ‘ambitions’-rather than the outright claims, that he had weapons, and we knew he had them. An assumption which underpinned many of the speeches at that time.



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3 comments

  1. A very succinct summary. The overriding problem with the Blair / Bush position is that you cannot object to Iraq ignoring UN resolutions, whilst your closest Middle East ally does the same continually, and then ignore the need for a UN resolution before you merrily commit to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.


    • Absolutely, the list of resolutions that Israel have ignored, is endless, and yet the ONLY concrete reason that we have been given for ‘action’ in Iraq- is the non compliance with the UN.
      How do you solve a problem of someone ignoring UN resolutions, by undermining the UN, and acting unilaterally?
      Its just not logical justification for anything, never mind the slaughter of hundreds of thousands.

      I wrote this last night, and this morning, I am going over and over in my head, why, at a private meeting, between Bush and Blair- where there were no advisors- there were ‘conversations with Israelis’- especially given that it is very clear, regardless of what Blair said- that the subject of discussion at Crawford, was Iraq. GIven the absolute support Israel had for the action, and the Israels position in the middle east, I wonder why this hasn’t been picked up.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa, Lisa. Lisa said: Blog post regime change, part 3 of blog posts-re TB evidence at Chilcot. http://tiny.cc/B0WJt […]



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