Robert Fisk: Blair should take responsibility for Iraq. But he won't. He can't

This is not a debate, it's a bloody, blood-soaked disaster for which the former PM should take responsibility

Share
Related Topics

Has this wretched man learned nothing? On and on, it went during his BBC interview: "I would absolutely...","I definitely...", "I believed absolutely clearly...", "It was very, very clear that this changed everything" – "this" being 11 September 2001 – "Let me state clearly and unequivocally", "The Intelligence picture was clear...", "legal justification was quite clear", "We said completely accurately... "Because I believed strongly, then and now...", "My definitive view in the end is..." You would have thought we won the war in Iraq, that we were winning the war in Afghanistan, that we were going to win the next war in Iran. And why not, if Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara says so.

And I hereby abandon all further reference to Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara, with its unhappy reference to Britain's humiliating military defeat in 1915 Mesopotamia. He must be re-created Lord Blair of Isfahan. Having conquered Saddam, he wants to conquer Ahmadinejad. "I am saying that it is wholly unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons capability," he told poor old Andrew Marr. It was necessary for the Iranians," quoth he, "to get that message, loud and clear." Thus did our Middle East peace envoy prepare us for war with Persia. But I rather fear the Iranians got his "message" a long time ago: if you want to avoid threats from the likes of Lord Blair, you'd better buy a bomb pdq. After all, what he didn't announce was: "I am saying it is wholly unacceptable for North Korea to have nuclear capability." And we all know why.

Sometimes, Blair sounded like the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman. He and his Israeli boss believe Ahmadinejad is worse than Hitler – which takes some doing – and Lord Blair, as we know, is no appeaser. Oddly, however – since he's supposed to be our peacemaker between the two sides – "Israel" and "Palestine" were two words that went totally unmentioned, even though Blair blurted out to the Chilcot inquiry that there had been "phone calls" with Israelis during his decision-making conference with Bush over Iraq. Marr missed out there. What on earth were Blair and Bush talking to the Israelis about as they prepared to take us into this catastrophe?

It was all so very schoolboyish. Yes, "people" disagreed about the war. "People always want to look for a conspiracy." And – my favourite – "this debate will go on." But it's not a bloody debate – it's a bloody, blood-soaked disaster, for which Blair should take responsibility. But he won't. He can't. So Iraq's descent into butchery was all the fault of al-Qa'ida, of "the external involvement" of al-Qa'ida and Iran.

Iraq was "destabilised by the same external forces that destabilised Afghanistan." Alas no. The men shooting and bombing and killing Brits and Americans in Iraq were largely Iraqis, the very men – and occasionally women – whom Messrs Blair and Bush thought they were liberating from Saddam. "People are driving car bombs into crowded suburbs," Lord Blair said at one point, as if this was some kind of folkloric tradition, an odd tribal habit that had nothing to do with our 2003 invasion.

"How can you not feel sorry about people who have died?" Lord Blair remarked of the victims. What we wanted to hear was "I feel sorry for the people who have been killed." Even that might have come a tad nearer an admission of guilt. "We haven't caused this," Blair said in an unguarded moment. Not my fault, Guv! I noticed, too, how Marr stuck to the minimum 100,000 figure for Iraq's dead, rather than the half million or million statistic which haunts our former prime minister. Thus Blair was able to refer to the "hundreds of thousands of people who died under Saddam". It was the old story. Blair wasn't as bad as Saddam. And Blair's nicer than Hitler, more sympathetic than Stalin, kinder than Genghis Khan. Nope. This whole mess had nothing to do with Lord Blair. "You have to have the courage to do what you think is right." But "thinking" is not good enough. I hope the air-raid sirens in Isfahan are in good working order.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A huge step forward in medical science, but we're not all the way there yet

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album