Iraq war catches up with Tony Blair

The invasion of Iraq by British troops in 2003 was premature, the Chilcot inquiry committee investigating Britain's role in the military operation against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has concluded. Commentators have harsh words for then prime minister Tony Blair and other former leaders.

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Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

It was all about the oil, not Saddam

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein didn't make the world a better place, writes the tabloid Ilta Sanomat:

“Blair said that he still believes the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. But in the human world there is no mechanism by which the elimination of one criminal turns all the other criminals in the world into good people. There is no doubt that Saddam was a criminal, but his downfall paved the way for the rise of new criminals. The power vacuum created a chaos that still prevails in Iraq today and nurtures private armies that terrorise the population. History would no doubt have taken a different course if there had been no oil in Iraq. Or does anyone seriously believe that they would have gone all that way to topple a tyrant whose country produced clothes pegs and porridge rather than oil.”

Star (TR) /

A sideswipe at the US Republicans

The timing of the publication of the Chilcot report is no mere coincidence, writes the pro-government daily Star:

“Even though the report examines wrong decisions in Britain it basically condemns the policy of the US Republicans. … The timing of the publication is clearly aimed at the presidential election in the US. But the report goes further than exerting political pressure; it also contains the threat of the Blair-Bush duo being held responsible for the 250,000 dead Iraqis and 179 British soldiers and provides the latter's families with an address for their lawsuits. Whether the International Criminal Court will admit the report as evidence and turn its attention away from Africa to focus on other places remains to be seen. ”

Público (ES) /

Ex-prime minister Aznar is a war criminal

Spain's ex-prime minister José María Aznar should also be condemned for his participation in the Iraq war, demands Luis Gonzalo Segura, a former lieutenant of the Spanish armed forces, in Público:

“Aznar is directly responsible for millions of deaths, for the Madrid attacks of 11 March 2004, and finally for some of the 65 million refugees. ... Aznar (and many others) are war criminals, and this country won't be a decent country until he has been convicted as such, or at least stigmatised and repudiated by all the media and society. His crime has caused the deaths of millions of people and destroyed the future of more millions. Our crime is hiding him behind impunity and insinuations.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Invasion created the basis for today's terror

Tony Blair said after the report was published that he didn't regret ousting Saddam Hussein from power. But that is only half the story, Sydsvenskan criticises:

“Yes, the world is better off without the dictator and tyrant Saddam Hussein. But that doesn't let Blair off the hook. The Chilcot report says clearly that the prime minister presented unreliable intelligence information as facts. ... The causes of a large part of today's flood of refugees and global terror can be traced back to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Naturally neither Tony Blair nor US president George W. Bush knew that when they decided on the offensive. But heads of state and government cannot be too cautious when dealing with information on which decisive military decisions are based.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

An irresponsible decision

La Repubblica also doubts Tony Blair's claim to have acted in the country's "best interests":

“As the Chilcot report highlights, the consequences of the war were not properly assessed. At this point it isn't clear with either Bush or Blair whether it was malicious intent or a lack of political farsightedness that prevailed. Probably a combination of the two. What is clear is that had they had even a minimal sense of responsibility, either political or moral, they would have refrained from taking this disastrous decision. We must not forget that in that phase a contemptuous attitude prevailed in both Washington and London to what then US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld referred to as 'old Europe', meaning Germany and France, which were both reluctant to follow the plan of attack.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Incompetence of the governing elites

The Chilcot report on the Iraq invasion demonstrates the incompetence of the governing elites, De Volkskrant believes:

“In preparing the war Blair blindly followed the information provided by the intelligence services. According to Chilcot there were hardly any Cabinet discussions. It was a mission decided by Blair and his clique. ... The Iraq war dashed any hopes Blair's New Labour revolution had created six years earlier. The fiasco created mistrust vis-à-vis the established order - a feeling that is reflected even today in the result of the EU referendum. Also highlighted is the inability to develop a plan for a 'free' Iraq. But above all the Chilcot report furnishes new proof of the incompetence of the governing elite. Apparently Blair's only plan can be summed up in his promise to Bush: 'I will be with you, whatever.' These six words say more than the 2.6 million others [in the report].”

The Times (GB) /

Don't shy away from military intervention

The Chilcot report must not make the West even more reluctant to resort to military intervention, warns journalist David Aaronovitch in The Times:

“Doing nothing, dressed up as Chilcot-approved carefulness, won’t save us because the world won’t go away; it comes to us in overfilled boats or airport bombs. ... Intervention in our far-from-perfect world, as Chilcot proves, is risky and compromising and leaves lots of young soldiers dead. That’s one reason why current western policy is all about drones and special forces. ... Maybe that’s all we can do now. Looking back, I wish we could have avoided going into Iraq. Not just because I’m squeamish about the consequences but because it would have meant we wouldn’t have lost our appetite for intervention when we needed it most - to stop Syria descending into hell and becoming the true disaster of our era.”

More opinions

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) / 07 July 2016
  Blair could have prevented Bush from starting Iraq war (in German)