Someone Might Actually End Up Paying for the Crimes of the Iraq War – Charles P. Pierce/Esquire
But it almost certainly won’t be George Bush.
Since it is very clear by now that no American official involved in plotting and planning the Iraq catastrophe ever is going to be called to face any punishment more severe than low book sales or the occasional lukewarm question from Chris Wallace or someone, we have to take our rough justice where we can find it.
There are some who held very high office at the time who have said Blair could be charged under international law, in particular over the obligations placed on occupying powers under the Geneva conventions to protect civilians, and “ensure public order and safety”. Blair apologised “for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong”. He knows full well MI6 is an easy target. He knows many others will be heavily criticised when the Chilcot report is published, almost certainly next year. Near the top of the list, along with Blair himself, are likely to be the former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, and the head of the joint intelligence committee, Sir John Scarlett. But Chilcot is expected to cast his net far and wide. Judging from the evidence he heard, many others will be in the firing line. They include: Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary who was responsible for MI6 and rejected the clear advice from his top law officers that the invasion was illegal; Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary who went along with Downing Street’s instruction that military commanders must not be seen to prepare for war to avoid upsetting the UN; military commanders for not objecting as much as they should have done and Clare Short, the international development secretary, for not helping with the reconstruction because she was opposed to the invasion, believing it to be unlawful. (Short says the problem was Blair instructed the military, bypassing her department, to deal with Iraq’s reconstruction.)
There has been an outright brawl over when to release the Chilcot Report, which is the result of a 2009 decision by then-PM Gordon Brown to have a full inquiry into how Great Britain – under onetime Third Way heartthrob Tony Blair – came to join C-Plus Augustus in the excellent Mesopotamian adventure. There’s been a call from the families of British casualties to have Parliament force Chilcot to publish the report, which now is expected to appear next spring, and David Cameron is leaning on him, too. So, I guess, centuries from now, historians will be forced to ponder how Tony Blair managed to euchre George W. Bush into a disastrous war in the Middle East. Because that’s what the documents will say.