should’ve known…

Posted on Thursday 28 January 2010

So I googled "Chilcot" to see how the Press was reacting to Lord Goldsmith and to my surprise I found a report in the American Press – in the Wall Street Journal. I should’ve known that it would be a neocon piece diatribe against the Chilcot Inquiry as a partisan skewering of Tony Blair. I wonder if they’re watching the same Chilcot Inquiry that streams to my computer…
The Trial of Tony Blair

Instead of investigating the run-up to the Iraq War, the Chilcot commission has a forum for personal attacks on the former British prime minister.

Wall Street Journal
JANUARY 27, 2010

It was supposed to be an inquiry to find out what lessons could be learned from Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war and its aftermath. Instead the Chilcot inquiry has turned into the trial of Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who agreed to back the U.S.-led military campaign to overthrow the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. As a result, British police have been obliged to set up a massive security cordon around the Queen Elizabeth II conference center in central London, where tomorrow Mr. Blair is scheduled to make a six-hour appearance at Sir John Chilcot’s public hearings into the Iraq war.

When Gordon Brown, Mr. Blair’s successor, set up the Chilcot inquiry last summer after British forces had completed their withdrawal from Iraq, his intention was for the five-man panel to examine Britain’s involvement in the war and to make recommendations as to how it might improve the nation’s contribution in future conflicts…

But from the moment the public hearings began at the end of November, a very different agenda has dominated the proceedings. Rather than investigating the contribution and effectiveness of the different Whitehall departments involved in the military campaign and its aftermath, the primary focus has instead been the role Mr. Blair played in leading the country to war, and whether he deliberately misled the British public and parliament about his reasons for doing so.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the inquiry to date is the relish with which a succession of senior British officials who served under Mr. Blair at the time of the Iraq invasion have sought to damage the reputation of their former leader. Of these, the most eye-grabbing has been the claim made by Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to Washington, that Mr. Blair had signed "in blood" a deal with George W. Bush to overthrow Saddam as early as April 2002, when the two leaders met for a summit at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas…

But that has not prevented Mr Blair’s detractors from maintaining their relentless campaign to destroy his political reputation. Having failed at previous British inquiries into the Iraq war—notably those conducted by Lords Hutton and Butler—to find the "smoking gun" that proved Mr. Blair’s deception, his opponents are clinging to the hope that the Chilcot hearings will finally give them the evidence they need…

This might make for good political sport, but it hardly does much to enhance Britain’s international standing. As one of the few Western democracies to confront Saddam’s corrupt regime, Britain should enjoy some of the credit for helping to transform Iraq from a brutal dictatorship to a functioning democracy, where Iraqis are due to vote in fresh elections in March. Is the world, after all, not a safer place now that Saddam and his other henchmen are no longer terrorizing their countrymen, and defying the will of the U.N.?

Instead, the unedifying sight of the country’s governing classes indulging in bitter recriminations over a war many of them never supported in the first place is likely to inflict serious damage on Britain’s status as a world power. You only have to look at countries such as North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan to realize that, in the interests of global security, the West might one day find it necessary to resort to military action again. But the concern now is that, based on what we have heard so far at the Chilcot inquiry, British support can no longer be guaranteed when it comes to fighting the wars of the future.

Mr. Coughlin is the Daily Telegraph’s executive foreign editor and author of "Saddam: His Rise and Fall" (Ecco, 2005).
The Wall Street Journal used to be a decent newspaper. Notice that Mr. Coughlin makes the same argument that Cheney makes – "Is the world, after all, not a safer place now that Saddam and his other henchmen are no longer terrorizing their countrymen, and defying the will of the U.N.?" Rhymes with the ends justify the means and regime change
    January 28, 2010 | 8:25 PM

    Still nothing in the Times.

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