We have now learned that, under the ‘Maxwellisation’ convention in place regarding official inquiries [whereby those whom – it is intended – will be criticised in a forthcoming report are formally advised in writing of the criticisms concerned], former Labour ministers Tony Blair and Jack Straw are shortly to receive letters from the chairman of the long-delayed Chilcot Inquiry.
All of us who are eagerly looking to seeing the Chilcot Report and particularly where, if at all, it lays the blame for any misfeasance or inappropriate behaviour by the British Government and its advisers or supporting cohorts over the events leading to the decision to go to war with Iraq in 2003 will be pleased to learn of this development.
At last it seems that the fog of deceit and obfuscation that signifies the UK Establishment protecting its own and/or Britain’s supposed ‘national interest’ in not embarrassing its key strategic partners [for which we can substitute the words ‘the United States of America’ in 95% of instances] seems to have been negotiated, or nearly so.
I’m a hardliner on those whom I believe were responsible for lying and deceiving – if not being downright traitorous – in their quest to get Britain involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States – step forward in particular, please, Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell.
The biggest issue preventing the Chilcot Inquiry from publishing its report before now has been tortuous negotiations between Chilcot and Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood over a sizeable number of communications between Tony Blair and US President at the relevant time, George W. Bush.
Those watching from the side-lines suspect we know what they contain – i.e. guarantees [or perhaps statements that could quite reasonably have been taken by Bush as such] from Blair that the USA would have Britain’s active support in invading Iraq, this long before Blair had negotiated the proposition through the House of Commons, as ordinarily he would have had to do before making any such commitment.
Apparently, the reason cited by Sir Jeremy Heywood – no doubt supported or endorsed by his fellow civil servants in the Foreign Office, if not the ministers concerned – is that to publish said items would potentially embarrass a vital ally [i.e. the United States].
I’ve never ‘bought’ this excuse.
Throughout history – and especially recently – the United States has had a pretty good record of embarrassing itself by its own actions and pronouncements.
I can point to three (of many) examples to make my point here:
- Firstly, President Obam threatening Syria that a ‘red line’ would be crossed if it ever used chemical weapons on its own citizens, following which the United States failed to take any action when Syria did just that;
- Secondly, the practices of ‘extraordinary rendition’ and the whole furore over Guantanamo Bay;
- Thirdly, the astonishing news – made public courtesy by supposed US traitor-cum-whistleblower Edward Snowden now holed up in Russia – that the United States had been routinely spying on German chancellor Angela Merkel.
In this context – I would have thought – any ‘secret’ communications between British premier Tony Blair and US president George W. Bush revealing either that the former had prematurely promised Britain’s full support for America in going to war with Iraq in 2003 … and/or that the latter was a particularly stupid redneck neo-con half-wit without an ounce of human sophistication … could not possibly rank as been more embarrassing that any or all of the three examples given above.
So why are the British and/or American establishments getting hot under the collar about the prospect of such things being revealed?
Could it just be that that their motivation is the thought that they may as well strive to keep the Blair/Bush communications ‘under wraps’ because – at the moment, them not having yet having come to public view – they still can?
My counter-argument would be to hark back to an acolyte of the Labour government of the time privately justifying the deliberate issue of a press release about some unfortunate development on the day that 9/11 occurred (“This a great time to bury bad news”).
Or, to put it another way, at the moment it would be hard for America’s public image to get any worse … so why worry?