Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you slip slidin' away
Paul Simon's hit song should be played at the start of each day of the Chilcot Inquiry, the latest of failed theatrical shows we have seen come and go, affecting sombrely to examine why we attacked Iraq, a country still bleeding away and as unstable as plutonium.
Lofty witnesses have been called, so far all male and white and posh, most knights of the realm. The panel is too, except for Baroness Usha Prashar, a woman and immigrant, who entered the corridors of power, become one of them.
They appear to comprehend the testimonies. I certainly don't.
Mandarins, secretive official dealers and others use language like floor polish – shine and gloss for listeners to skid over. Their facts are finely modulated and tempered to suit the times they find themselves in – when the country has had enough obfuscation and dissimulation. The nation now has only contempt for our warrior leaders who push British soldiers into battles without end ( Afghanistan) or honour ( Iraq).
They have lost all respect and credibility, those who believed Iraq could be kicked and bombed towards democracy, so its oil could flow to the west freely. And so they give us the performance of their lives, acting innocent, or protesting too much and generally giving the impression that they tried to do the right thing but were helpless before the butch men Blair and Bush who had a pact to get Saddam and use his head as a trophy and forewarning.
I have to go lie down. I am feeling a tremor of sympathy for Anthony Charles Lynton Blair. Hearing so many turncoats who once cuddled up to him must fill him with righteous rage.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, then our man at the UN now says his knowledge and conscience made him feel uncomfortable that the war, though legal had no legitimacy. He thought of resigning. Well, Sir WHY DIDN'T YOU? If you look back at what he said over those gruesome years, it is clear he supported the war, thought the UN was either too feeble or asinine to understand the manifestly superior US and UK.
In an interview in this paper with David Usborne in June 2003, he was still asserting that WMD were being moved around, hidden in private homes and buried. Sir Christopher Meyer was no better though he now presents himself as vaguely heroic. He too was pro-war, always has loved a good war. Opened a bottle of champagne when the Belgrano was destroyed. In his view Blair just wasn't a Mrs Thatcher and that was the problem.
According to new information, Lord Goldsmith warned the PM against the adventure. Then, so the story goes, Blair bullied him so much he lost three stone and finally capitulated. He too thought of resigning. WHY DIDN'T YOU?
The Attorney General, by that one action might have saved his own soul and that of Blair. All those MPs from the gung ho Ian Duncan Smith to most of the weak new Labour herd went with the PM.
Those in the intelligence community who said the evidence of Saddam's WMD was 'patchy, sporadic and simply wrong' allowed this opinion to be turned by Blair to 'beyond doubt', who went on further to claim Iraq could activate those weapons in 45 minutes. The spooks didn't make a fuss, let him get away with his fabrications. Some like John Scarlet were richly rewarded for being so obliging.
Robert Cooper, smooth talking foreign policy wonk, insisted that to defend its own interests, the west had to 'civilize' Muslims using violence if necessary. Cherie Blair is one of our top human rights lawyers and presumably not ignorant of international law. She said this weekend her husband made the right decision.
We are told that Blair made war because he wanted not to look as weak as Michael Foot. Did none of his close circle feel they had a duty to warn him that to kill and maim over a million people was extravagant ambition? Therein was enacted what the right wing political philosopher Leo Strauss calls 'the noble lie', the right of leaders to lie to the masses, aided and abetted by a small elite of the chosen ones privy to the truth.
The Iraqi academic Sami Ramadhani says his countrymen have no interest in this inquiry. They have felt and seen what happened. Ordinary Britons too have a clearer view than assumed by these people in high places. We should have had ordinary Iraqi and British citizens on the panel and sharp lawyers too. They might have disarmed the slip sliders and pushed collective responsibility.
L'etat was never just Blair. But that isn't how Albion does things. The British way is to suppress any incipient social rebellions by making sure something is seen to be done, and also that nothing really changes.