One can pick out what one wants to from the Chilcot report that took nearly seven years to complete and comprises of more than one a half million words. However, the huge report does not contain a single accusation of criminality against the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His decision to wage war on Iraq was not considered illegal. It did not demand that he be brought to account or that he should be scrutinised further. Instead, Blair was cleared of the main accusation levelled against him; that he had lied to Parliament.
Blair himself has not apologised for the war or changed his mind. He apologised for the errors related to the war, such as dissolving the army and Saddam’s government; a decision made by Washington that he opposed at the time.
Unfortunately, what is published and translated in Arabic reflects a mixture of trickery and ignorance. With all due respect to my newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that is renowned for its thoroughness and professionalism, it used a statement made by the marginal Scottish National Party (SNP) as the basis for its title “Blair Should be Held Accountable!”
In fact, I was expecting that the investigation’s report would be harsh because the war was a failure and the results did not reflect those that the government pledged. The report blamed Blair for not using all peaceful means possible before resorting to war, and this means that the committee did not criticise his decision to go to war, but rather the fact that he was not patient enough.
As for the support that Blair provided to the former US President George W Bush, we must understand the special relationship between Britain and the US. Any British prime minister, whether Labour or Conservative, cannot abandon the alliance with the United States, especially in a crisis, because the relationship with Washington is of the greatest value to Britain internationally.
The war was a political act before it was a military one, and bad wars are the ones that you lose. The objections to America’s war on Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1990 were far greater than those made to the war on Iraq in 2003. Had the United States lost the first war against Iraq in Kuwait, everyone would have said that it was wrong. However, it is described today as a political and military success. Frankly, there are no correct and incorrect wars; there is triumph and defeat. The Americans won their war against Saddam in 2003 very easily and this surprised them and the world. This easy victory deceived them to the point that they underestimated the difficulty of the crisis management that follows wars.
Washington failed to achieve its primary objective; the establishment of a stable ally system that represents a political model for the Middle East. As for the countries of the region, they dealt with the crisis differently. Most of them considered Washington’s establishment of a regime in Baghdad as a threat. For example, Bashar Al-Assad’s regime was scared that it would be next and therefore took over the management of the Iraqi resistance and facilitated Al-Qaeda’s operations in Iraq.
The Arab media began to applaud Al-Qaeda and the armed opposition, and this helped Iran and Assad. Iran took advantage of Saudi Arabia’s refusal to cooperate with the Americans and cooperated with the US during the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq. Iran also gave the US access to its airspace, cooperated with it politically and worked with US intelligence services. This is what later changed the situation in the region. The refusal of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf and Egypt to intervene and cooperate resulted in governmental disorder in Baghdad and the political rise of Shiite extremism. I have written an article on this issue previously: http://m.aawsat.com/home/article/121271
Important attempts to establish a centralised system through conducting referendums on the constitution and elections failed. Instead of engaging in these elections, ignorant people resisted them and called for a boycott. In doing so, they wasted their constitutional rights and are still suffering today.
As for the Arabs who celebrated the Chilcot report, they do not understand the system of accountability in Western culture and want to use it to blame others for their failures. Instead of objectively interpreting events, they resort to blame and revenge, two qualities that have been rooted in Arab culture since the Battle of the Camel that took place 14 centuries ago!