Wednesday 28 September 2016

Chilcot lays bare the tragedy of Iraq war

Published 07/07/2016 | 02:30

'Somewhat scandalously, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday told of his regret over the war, but coolly stood by his decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003' Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
'Somewhat scandalously, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday told of his regret over the war, but coolly stood by his decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003' Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Chilcot report exposes the full extent of the flawed intentions and false pretexts on which Britain's entry into the ruinous Iraq war was based. It is a dismal story of hastiness, arrogance, and delusion that resulted in a blind rush into a catastrophic Middle East intervention that has destabilised world peace, and facilitated the rise of Isil.

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Yet, somewhat scandalously, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday told of his regret over the war, but coolly stood by his decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In the many findings, one that stood out was that eight months before parliament even approved military action, Mr Blair had committed himself in writing to backing George W Bush, with the words: "I will be with you whatever."

So with the phraseology of a besotted adolescent, Britain was set on a tragic course that has since claimed more than half a million lives, and is likely to take many more.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq have already earned their place in geopolitical and military history as templates for abject strategic failure and societal disintegration. For Mr Blair to remain defiant in the face of such excoriating criticism is stupefying.

The report totally demolished the case for war, finding amongst other things that there was "no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein", war "was not the last resort", certainty about the presence of WMD was unjustified, and the planning for post-war Iraq was "wholly inadequate".

The report amounts to a scathing verdict on Mr Blair and his actions, which have left the threat of legal action over his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq.

Yesterday, British families wept bitterly amid charges that their government had been careless with the lives of their loved ones.

In the darkly brilliant anti-war novel 'Catch 22', Joseph Heller wrote: "The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on." It is a message that has ricocheted over the decades. War is the ultimate obscenity. It must always be a measure of last resort, never the chummy response of one good old boy to another in a supine act of mutual admiration.

Fortune might well favour brave in Brexit aftermath

Charles de Gaulle may have been correct about the impossibility of governing a country which has "246 varieties of cheese", yet one might learn a lot from the French appetite for opportunity.

Yesterday, their Prime Minister Manuel Valls made a bold post-Brexit pitch to snaffle up banking jobs away from London's City. He set out an attractive stall of sweeteners including a mouth-watering personal tax regime for expatriate workers and returned émigrés.

Recognising that now is not the time for standing on ceremony, IDA chief Martin Shanahan bluntly warned that Ireland also needs to move rapidly on personal tax rates as the cut-throat competition for foreign investment intensifies. Brexit has torn up the rule-book and in the asymmetrical aftermath, in the short-term at least, there are likely to be few winners but only survivors.

Given the new paradigm of a plunging pound and far more competitive corporate tax rates on our doorstep, we have little choice but to be bold. There are risks, of course, but the corresponding rewards could be well worth it; besides, given the pace of change, we have little choice but to react imaginatively and decisively.

To its credit, the IDA has not been caught napping. With the news from Brussels that the European Parliament is once more setting its sights on tax harmonisation inside the EU, the Government will also need to be on its game to protect our own corporation patch.

Irish Independent

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