So, I’m going to the Chilcot Inquiry on Friday, for Tony Blair’s testimonial – in the additional room, mind you.
I’m not quite sure what to feel about it. Initially upon opening the letter postmarked SW1, I was elated at ‘winning’ in the public ballot, and have been cracking a few jokes about being in the same building as possibly the numero uno terrorist target in the country a week after our perpetually unfathomably Orwellian ‘terrorist threat level’ was raised (in response to there being “no intelligence to suggest a terrorist attack was imminent” of course).
…But it was quickly chastened with the realisation that it wasn’t really something to be celebrating, and it’s more of a sombre moment. If I and a significant proportion of other citizens of this country had had our way, there wouldn’t have been a cause for an inquiry in the first place.
I’ve not been able to follow the proceedings too closely, due to 6hr daily sessions clashing with a working day, but I’m aware of the ‘headlines’ that have emerged from the key players from the inquiry; Alastair Campbell, Jack Straw, and of course Lord Goldsmith. I’m not too sure what to expect, though I have my reservations about the remit of the Inquiry, “to identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict”.
“We will therefore be considering the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country.”
Will these ‘lessons’ include the semantic and qualitative distinction between pre-emptive/preventive intervention (which were persistently and deliberately conflated), the moral/ethical obligations to the reconstruction efforts, or the utility of unilateral decision-making? Probably not, at least in any concrete and constructive manner.
Which makes me feel that this whole rigmarole is largely tokenistic, since its not coming to a resolution which I and many would like to see – someone being held to account for the shrewd calculated disaster that was the Iraq invasion, and the fall-out that continues to this day. However, this is precisely what the Inquiry will not do – apportion blame.
I know many groups are planning on staging protests, including STW and rightly so; if I wasn’t inside, I’d be outside. Unsurprisingly, the Met police with its usual grace and co-operation, is trying to hide the protesters out of sight of Blair and the world’s cameras, partly with valid security concerns in mind, but also probably just to make the whole thing less embarrassing for him. It will be a bizarre afternoon for sure, particularly if anyone manages to get through the barricades and perform a citizen’s arrest…
Incidentally, I find it quite odd that for all incessant news updates we get on what the former PM is up to in his gloriously jet-set post-premiership life – a potential European presidency, Middle East Envoy, and his newfound career in the States as a lecturer on faith– we have heard very little on the most notorious bit of his past that we’d all like to know most about, bar some professions of faith.
For my own satisfaction, though it’s a simple enough question, and perhaps not as hard-hitting as 38 Degrees would like, the one thing I want to know is…
Do you understand how both gratuitous for you and devastating to those have suffered asserting that you went to war based on ‘faith’ is? Did you really genuinely believe that you were ‘doing the right thing’?
It’s possibly the single thing about the whole affair that I cannot fathom; he must have been either ridiculously naïve or artfully cunning. The latter I’m willing to believe, but proclamations of the former just infuriate me. I want to be there at this historic moment, seeing him properly questioned and having to defend each and every part of his decision-making process – something that thus far has inexplicably avoided happening, neither here nor in the States with Blair’s counterpart and lead, Mr Bush.
This is undoubtedly the ‘highlight’ of the Inquiry, and should be so, as the one-time-only opportunity to finally shed some light on the elusive behind-the-scenes wranglings, the consequences of which most of us saw on the news, but with which others have had to live.
I look forward to Friday afternoon with relish.