In the light of the recent Labour leadership victory by Jeremy Corbyn, the current migrant crisis and growing threat of ISIS, it is no wonder that thoughts are turning back to the Chilcot Report. Commissioned in 2009 to investigate the circumstances leading to the Iraq War, the inquiry is still no closer to having an agreed publishing date, much to the anger and frustration of the families of the servicemen and women who lost their lives during the conflict. It has even been suggested that these ongoing delays are caused by “vested interests”, and it is certainly no secret that vital evidence has been suppressed that points the finger at Tony Blair for misleading the nation and plunging the country into an illegal war.
There is a demonstrable link between the UK and the US’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current state of chaos in the region today. Had the Iraq War never taken place, there would have been no political collapse which allowed the ISIS reign of terror to take hold. Terror threats to the west, the displacement of migrants and, of course, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, can all be directly linked to the actions of our ex-prime minister. It’s pretty damning stuff.
No wonder Blair attempted to exonerate himself, denying that this connection exists. “We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this” the ex-premier stated in a lie that is equal in proportions to the lie he told the country back in 2003 about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Evidence was brought to light in 2013 revealing that Blair was well aware in 2002 that Iraq had no active nuclear programme and any WMD would fit onto the “back of a petrol lorry”. In fact, he had accepted that Libya was more of a threat to the UK, having received intelligence in the same year that Libya was actively storing nuclear weapons. However, after a private meeting with President Bush in April 2002, he became a “changed man”. It is obvious that during this weekend, the duo made a pact to do whatever it took to ensure their countries went to war, however illegal those machinations may be. It is certainly documented that from this point on, he became determined to put pressure on the secret service to produce evidence to justify an invasion of Iraq.
After 10 years of sanctions that crippled the country and led to the deaths of half a million children from starvation, water pollution and lack of medical care, the illegal invasion ordered by Blair and Bush caused the slaughter of up to a million Iraqis during the conflict itself and the occupation that followed. Of course, we can add to those deaths the coalition military personnel who also lost their lives needlessly.
The ordering of this invasion and subsequent slaughter is a war crime equal to any other, and opinions are now being expressed that Blair should stand trial once the Chilcot Report is finalised. Parents of the 180 British soldiers killed in the 2003 war certainly believe that he should pay for his crimes. Reg Keys, father of one of the servicemen who lost his life in the conflict, has been recently quoted as hoping to see “Tony Blair dragged in shackles off to court as a war criminal”. And it isn’t only the parents of the deceased who have been expressing this view.
New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn certainly thinks that the former prime minister should face the consequences of his decision to invade Iraq when the evidence is finally produced to the public that he broke international law. As a leading member of the Stop The War coalition, Corbyn is firm in his stance that the war was illegal and that Blair should be called to account to explain his actions. When asked if his predecessor should be charged as a war criminal his answer was definitive: “If’s he’s committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be.”
Until the eventual release of the Chilcot Report, the nation must wait with baited breath to see if our former leader will finally be made to pay for his illegal war.