Saturday, November 28, 2009
It's the Evidence to Chilcot, not the Report Which will be the More Important
There is a fair bit of scepticism about the Chilcot Enquiry into the Iraq War. Many columnists not to mention my friends and colleagues, reckon it is a 'show' inquiry put on by the 'establishment' and likely to produce the same sort of whitewash served up by Hutton and Butler in their reports. Listening to Simon Jenkins and the gifted historian Peter Hennesssy on Today this morning, it is clear the latter, at least, will have more than enough material for yet another brilliant and excoriating volume.
I see these things slightly differently. These previous reports might have been bland and surprisingly non accusatory but they did succeed in accusing and exposing through the evidence submitted to them. So we can read in Butler, the precise ways in which Number 10 'sexed up' the 'dodgy dossier'. Moreover, the publicity which surrounded both enquiries ensured the likes of Blair, Straw and Goldsmith did not escape free of criticism either by the present and certainly will not not by history.
So we have Sir Christopher Meyer, more or less admitting what we all have come to conclude: Blair was so in thrall to Bush, through power worship or something similar, that he had already committed his country to war long before his party or parliament had any real chance to debate it. Bush was the main culprit but Blair was complicit as hell. Then there was his devastating comment about the trap Blair set for himself with WMD- 'We had to find the smoking gun. And, of course, there wasn't one'. And there will be more, much more. Ignore the report, savour the evidence.