Tony Blair will not face any War Crime charges
The Chilcot Inquiry will not now publish their report into the events leading up to the Iraq War until after the General Election in May 2015.
Certainly there are many calling this a ‘whitewash’ and the conspiracy-theorists are already beating their drums over the length of time this inquiry has taken to publish any findings.
One thing I’ve noticed, though, is the lack of an attempt by the Conservative Party to gain any political capital from this (the inquiry or the delay itself) in the run up to a very tight Election, one would have thought they could have used it to sling some mud in the direction of their main opponents.
The report will be published in late 2015, that is as much as we’ve beeen promised, but those who expect it to ultimately lead to the arrest and prosecution of Tony Blair as a War Criminal are going to be bitterly disappointed. Certainly, the report will be critical of Blair and his cronies, and it will almost certainly give an account of failings in proper procedures being followed.
The report itself will not have any sway as far as prosecutions are concerned, and the desire to pursue and publicly prosecute an ex-Prime Minister of the UK will simply not be there. I personally believe that, whilst Tony Blair has been over-zealous in his attempts to go to war in the first place, he did believe it was the right thing to do at the time. Regardless of his reasons, he is the man responsible for a great many deaths – we lost many servicemen and the overall death toll could be as many as one million souls (if some reports are to be believed).
The Conservative hierarchy, Cameron in particular, will rattle their sabres and criticise Mr Blair when the report is made public – but they already know the most of the facts, as does everyone else. There will be no real surprises in this report, though there may be a few items (probably in conversations and memos between the Blair and Bush Administrations) that will cause embarrassment both sides of the Atlantic.
The International Criminal Court (ICC)
In order for Tony Blair to be prosecuted, either the UK Establishment or the ICC (International Criminal Court) will have to consider an action. The ICC are unlikely to do this, if we look at their record they tend to be focussed on Africa and other small/developing countries. This indeed has given rise to many accusations that they are a puppet of Western Imperialism and I’m not sure these accusations are entirely without merit, given their cases up until now.
If we take a look at the ICC Website, they have only attempted prosecutions against African countries so far, although they do have open enquiries into such events as Iraq (the mistreatment of prisoners by UK soldiers), Afghanistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Georgia, etc. What actually comes out of these enquiries is anyone’s guess, but I’d think the prosecution of any major government will be unlikely.
As for the Iraq Inquiry being currently looked at by the ICC, they (in their own words) are “in the process of conducting a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information received in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court”. The full Preliminary Examination Activities Report is available from the ICC website.
The UK Establishment will do nothing
There will be no desire in the UK to bring any sort of prosecution, it just isn’t the way of our government (whoever is in power) to actually prosecute some of their own. Take a look at the Expenses Scandal that rocked parliament a while back, there were very few convictions, in fact there were very few even lost their jobs. In a normal organisation, if someone was caught ‘fiddling their expenses’, they would have been sacked on the spot and in most cases prosecuted. As it was, there were a few non-important MP’s thrown to the lions, but the onus seemed to be on getting this scandal to blow over as quickly as possible. If they are to be expected to ask for and bring a prosecution against Blair, we are going to be disappointed, there is nobody with the backbone to actually break the mould and step up to the task (nobody that is actually in a position to do anything).
The main stumbling block against the UK initiating any prosecution will be their desire not to damage the UK’s position on the world stage. This will be their argument when the debate eventually happens in the Commons and whilst there will be some MP’s who will openly criticise, there will not be the consensus of opinion that will matter.
What will happen, in the usual British way, is that there will be some procedures put in place to prevent any future leaders from acting in the way Tony Blair did. Blair was the main person responsible for us going to war, but all of the others around him (most were opposed to such direct action) just sat silently and refused to use any influence to call a halt to the proceedings. Gordon Brown held sway, but did nothing, though most political commentators will say he was not in agreement with his PM at the time. There were a few who resigned (Robin Cook and Elizabeth Wilmshurst resigned, as did Clare Short eventually), the rest grudgingly held their tongue and went along with the worst piece of Foreign Policy in generations.
No prosecution for Tony Blair
There has been an outcry in some parts to have Tony Blair prosecuted, but the vast majority of any ‘evidence’ is already in the public domain, and there has been no effort made to have this even referred to the ICC or any UK Court. The Chilcot Enquiry will throw some further spotlight on the whole event, but it will not produce any substantial clear evidence that will change the mind of those who have the power to act.
No, we will have to accept, Tony Blair has made a catastrophic mistake in his handling of Iraq. This has led to the death of so many people, with nothing to show for it except the overthrow of a corrupt regime. There was no real plan in place for an alternative to Saddam, and the country has been left in such a mess as to pave the way for ISIL and the current batch of extremists to step up and take control of vast areas. All the ‘training’ and ‘assistance’ we have provided to form a new and capable Iraqi Military machine has proven to be nonsense as they were overpowered with little effort by what started as nothing more than a terrorist organisation.
The only thing we can hope for, and even this may be doubtful, is that history will judge Tony Blair harshly. The people who surrounded him at the time, and those who are currently in power, will be gone and those who come next will have no obligation to him.
Some interesting reading…
Arrest Blair – A website offering a financial ‘bounty’ to make a Citizen’s Arrest. This is actually quite interesting as there have been a few people who have tried.
The Downing Street Memo – A website which tries to lay bare George Bush and his determination to go to war in Iraq, using Downing Street meeting minutes, etc. These actually prove that the War was already decided upon, and the ‘intelligence’ was made to ‘fit’ the decision.
The Guardian – Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for Tony Blair and George Bush to be tried as War Criminals by the ICC.
“On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?”
Desmond Tutu, 2012.
What grounds indeed Mr Tutu?