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The Chilcot Report: The British Political Class Confronts Their Iraq War Debacle

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

The Iraq Inquiry, whose work product is called the “Chilcot Report” after its chair, Sir John Chilcot, was commissioned in 2009 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and released last week. The print version of the report is in 12 volumes that take up a table several meters long. The @ChilcotBot will take about a year to tweet the 2.6 million words, at a rate of one tweet over four minutes or so. (Searchable electronic versions can be found here and here.) Here’s a hot take, from the not-actually-that-leftist Guardian.

The Iraq Inquiry commission’s scope, from the Executive Summary (itself 150 pages long):

The Inquiry’s report sets out in detail decision‑making in the UK Government covering the period from when the possibility of military action first arose in 2001 to the departure of UK troops in 2009. It covers many different aspects of policy and its delivery.

And one important conclusion (page 113):

Did the UK achieve its objectives in Iraq?

792. The Iraq of 2009 certainly did not meet the UK’s objectives as described in January 2003: it fell far short of strategic success. Although the borders of Iraq were the same as they had been in 2003, deep sectarian divisions threatened both stability and unity. Those divisions were not created by the coalition, but they were exacerbated by its decisions on de‑Ba’athification and on demobilisation of the Iraqi Army and were not addressed by an effective programme of reconciliation.

And (page 115):

796. By 2009, it had been demonstrated that some elements of the UK’s 2003 objectives for Iraq were misjudged. No evidence had been identified that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, with which it might threaten its neighbours and the international community more widely. But in the years between 2003 and 2009, events in Iraq had undermined regional stability, including by allowing Al Qaida space in which to operate and unsecured borders across which its members might move.

Oops. Continuing:

798. The Inquiry has not been able to identify alternative approaches that would have guaranteed greater success in the circumstances of March 2003. What can be said is that a number of opportunities for the sort of candid reappraisal of policies that would have better aligned objectives and resources did not take place. There was no serious consideration of more radical options, such as an early withdrawal or else a substantial increase in effort. The Inquiry has identified a number of moments, especially during the first year of the Occupation, when it would have been possible to conduct a substantial reappraisal. None took place.

So, even in its own, imperial terms, the Iraq War was a debacle. The UK’s strategic goals were not achieved, and when it became evident that they were not, the government was unable to change course. Insofar as the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) were the justification for war, as opposed to a convenient pretext, that justification was false. In other words, the political class was not self-correcting, although some correction after the fact may be the outcome of the report.

The Chilcot Report has been released when British politics are in an overly dynamic situation, what with Brexit and its politically risky aftermath, the potential disintegration of the United Kingdom, and leadership fights in both Tory and Labour Parties; surely the role of Tony Blair will figurely largely in the Labour fight. Even if Blair is a mere scapegoat for the failings of the political class as a whole, Blair — who seemed “close to tears” at his Chilcot presser — deserves that role so very, very richly. The Chilcot report is also being used to relitigate the run-up to the war, and so there is a constant stream of stories in the press as nuggets of horror or idiocy and occasional heroism are dug up, and scores are settled, and quite rightly. Whether the British political class can manage to hold itself accountable for their part in a strategic debacle that left hundreds of thousands of dead and set the Mediterranean littoral on fire is, at this point, unknown.

The Chilcot report shows, then, not merely a lost war, but a failure of statecraft, and even of the State itself. (War on the Rocks has a fine summary of governance dysfunction; the Institute for Governance has a report.) The Chilcot Report is also too big, and the story too fast-moving, for me to give the 30,000-foot account I would prefer to give, so I’m going to cover some topics small enough for me to get my arms around. First, I want to give shout-outs to people who got it right. This is important from the American perspective, since most “serious” people in the United States were for the war and are still in positions of power and influence (including, in the world of Democrat journalism, Ezra Klein, James Fallows, Jonathon Chait, and Josh Marshall, among many others; liberal goodthinkers all.) It is true that one reason Clinton lost in 2008 was her vote for the war, in contrast to Obama’s “dumb war” speech against it, when a state Senator in Illinois, but not much else seems to have changed; in regard to Iraq, we in this country are still stuck at the “mistakes were made,” and “look forward and not back” stage. If it is a stage. It’s a shame to think that the British political class is more functional than our own, but that’s where we are. It is what it is. Next, I’ll look at an utterly spectacular intelligence omnishambles. After that, I’ll take a look at Tony Blair. I’ll conclude by asking what the Iraqi people think of the Iraq War. They were, after all, its ostensible beneficiaries.

People Who Got it Right, Then and Now

The millions of demonstrators marched against the war, in Washington, London, and all over the world, got it right:

london_march

These millions were, of course, ignored by “serious” people everywhere, there and here, on a thoroughly bipartisan basis.

Next, whistleblower David Kelly (and BBC reporter — and not stenographer — Andrew Gilligan) got it right:

The UK’s Iraq War inquiry vindicates a whistleblower who took his own life

What Kelly told Gilligan in that hotel room in 2003 was laid out in the 2.6 million-word document released on Wednesday.

Blair’s decision to write a foreword for the dossier that concluded Iraq had or could quickly deploy WMDs “indicates a distinction between his beliefs and the [Joint Intelligence Committee]’s actual judgements,”

In less measured terms, Blair’s “45-minute claim” (contemporaneous coverage) was wrong, and he over-rode intelligence professionals to make it.

Chilcot’s report reads.”The assessed intelligence had not established beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons,” it adds.

In 2003, Gilligan asked Kelly about the unreliable evidence: “What do you mean? They made it up?”

Kelly replied, according to Gilligan’s notes: “No, it was real information. But it was included in the dossier against our wishes because it wasn’t reliable. It was a single source and it was not reliable.” Kelly blamed Campbell and his press office for that — the same Campbell who, this week, said the BBC was to blame for Kelly’s death.

He gave a “classic” example: “The statement that WMD were ready for use within 45 minutes. Most things in the dossier were double-source but that was single source. And we believed that the source was wrong.”

(Like every other episode in the history of the Iraq War, massive conflicts of interpretation have accreted around the record; see the Gilligan link above, and see here for Kelly’s death.) We’ll get to another intelligence omnishambles below.

This week, former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott gets it right:

[PRESCOTT] As the Deputy Prime Minister in that [Blair] Government I must express my fullest apology, especially to the families of the 179 men and women who gave their lives in the Iraq War. In 2004, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that as regime change was the prime aim of the Iraq War, it was illegal. With great sadness and anger, I now believe him to be right.

And also this week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gets it right:

[CORBYN:] Politicians and political parties can only grow stronger by acknowledging when they get it wrong and by facing up to their mistakes,” he said. “So I now apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003.

That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed.

And showing what the Labour leadership conflict is about:

As Corbyn issued his excoriating statement to the House of Commons, he was heckled by his own backbencher Ian Austin, who shouted: “Sit down and shut up, you’re a disgrace.”

Whether it’s possible for the political class to award power to those who get it right is an open question, isn’t it? But at least it’s a question there, unlike here.

Intelligence Omnishambles: The “Linked Hollow Glass Spheres”

Foreign Policy summarizes this particular nugget of horror and idiocy:

If you thought the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war was bad, here’s something to chew over: British intelligence used fabricated information about Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons program that appears to have been cribbed from the Michael Bay thriller The Rock. And, yes, that’s a true sentence.

On September 23, 2002 British intelligence issued a report from a source that MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove had described as having “phenomenal access” to Iraq’s biological and chemical weapons programs. That report claimed that VX, sarin, and soman — all nerve agents — had been produced at Iraq’s Al-Yarmuk facility. The nerve agents had been put in a variety of “containers,” one of which was “linked hollow glass spheres.”

MI6 quickly realized the connection — but it was apparently not enough to immediately cast doubt on the source’s veracity. In October, the Chilcot Report says, “questions were raised” about the “glass containers,” noting that “they are not typically used in chemical munitions” and that “a popular movie (The Rock) had inaccurately depicted nerve agents being carried in glass beads or spheres.”

Despite these questions, MI6 gobbled up the information supplied by the source. On September 11, 2002, an MI6 report attributed to the same source claimed that Iraq had accelerated its manufacture of chemical and biological weapons, that it had built additional facilities for that purpose, and that Hussein wished to maintain to his chemical and biological weapons capability

Just for grins, here is an image of those “linked hollow glass spheres”; Sean Connery is on the left, and Nicholas Cage on the right:

rock

So, when U.S. Iraq Proconsul L. Paul Bremer III writes that “later, it turned out the intelligence was wrong,” those glass spheres are the sort of thing he means. Sadly, Richard Dearlove was also CC’ed by the author of the famous “Downing Street Memo,” whose key words — “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” — confirmed so many of us in our view that the Bush administration’s case for war was, er, rigged. Honestly, words fail me on this one; we seem to have entered, long ago, some alternative universe where cynicism and ineptitude have inflated to occupy so many dimensions that they are no longer distinguishable. Could MI6 have actually believed Dearlove’s source? Did MI6 persuade itself into belief? Were they browbeaten into writing as they did? Did they simply not care? In terms of the health of a political class, do these questions matter?

Tony Blair in the Dock

The wonderful book Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War cautions against “Man in the Dock” accounts of defeat, since debacles of epic scale, like Iraq, are caused by systems failures, not individual failings. Nevertheless — and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy — Fleet Street is baying for Blair’s blood.

press_blair

But if one does look for individual failings, the “special relationship” between Bush and Blair provides plenty of material. First, a smoking gun of a memo:

The Chilcot report included a previously classified memo from Blair to Bush written on July 28, 2002 — many months before the invasion — in which the then prime minister said: “I will be with you, whatever.” Removing Saddam Hussein from power “is the right thing to do,” wrote Blair, noting that while he could be contained, such a decision “is always risky.”

Second, a private meeting between the two friends in Crawford, TX:

What exactly happened on 6 and 7 April in Crawford, Texas, between the US president, George W Bush, and the man who was determined to be his best friend, not even Chilcot’s 2.6m-word report has been able to entirely unravel.

But if there was one event that changed the conversation about Iraq, it was this. Because while Blair insisted no deal was done and no hands shaken on military action, Chilcot’s report describes how the mood changed thereafter and how the Whitehall machine, at different speeds in different departments, reacting to different voices, began to hum; the tempo changed.

And little wonder.

The article provides many examples of the “body language” of the US military, all of which go to show Blair had committed the UK to go to war in Iraq with the US well in advance of his government and that, crucially, the war was about regime change, and not the last resort.

The Chilcot Commission summarizes (Section 7, page 3):

10. By early March, the US Administration was not prepared to allow inspections to continue or give Mr Blair more time to try to achieve support for action. The attempt to gain support for a second resolution was abandoned.

11. In the Inquiry’s view, the diplomatic options had not at that stage been exhausted. Military action was therefore not a last resort.

12. In mid-March, Mr Blair’s determination to stand alongside the US left the UK with a stark choice. It could act with the US but without the support of the majority of the Security Council in taking military action if Saddam Hussein did not accept the US ultimatum giving him 48 hours to leave. Or it could choose not to join US-led military action.

13. Led by Mr Blair, the UK Government chose to support military action.

14. Mr Blair asked Parliament to endorse a decision to invade and occupy a sovereign nation, without the support of a Security Council resolution explicitly authorising the use of force. Parliament endorsed that choice.

As we saw from John Prescott above, when war is not the last resort, that’s criminal, although the Chilcot report only edges up to the brink of that conclusion. Unfortunately for the political class as a whole, they voted for it, which is, presumably, why they’re putting Blair in the dock, and not themselves. Blair now faces a motion of parliamentary contempt:

The Conservative MP David Davis, backed by the SNP’s Alex Salmond, has said he will present on Thursday the motion accusing the former prime minister of misleading parliament. MPs could debate the issue before the summer if it is accepted by the Commons Speaker, John Bercow.

Sir John Chilcot said in his long-awaited report on the Iraq invasion that the legal basis for the war was reached in a way that was “far from satisfactory”, but he did not explicitly say the war was illegal.

Davis said: “It’s a bit like contempt of court, essentially by deceit. If you look just at the debate alone, on five different grounds the house was misled – three in terms of the weapons of mass destruction, one in terms of the UN votes were going, and one in terms of the threat, the risks. He might have done one of those accidentally, but five?”

(I think “far from satisfactory” deserves a place in the Hall of Understatement Fame with “not necessarily to our advantage.”) Corybn (despite the Independent’s deceptive headline) says he’ll “probably” back the motion, though he’ll have to read it. Corbyn’s Blairite opposition[1], as one might expect, has a different view. Leadership challenger Angela Eagle: “I think Tony Blair’s been put rightly through the mill about the decisions he took.” (This looks like the UK’s equivalent of our “he’s suffered enough.”

The Reaction of the Iraqi People Today

Remember when Saddam’s statue was toppled? That great blow for freedom, and especially for public relations? After the Chilcot report, the BBC found the Iraqi man who organized it, and asked him what he thought of the war:

Kadhim, like many Iraqis, blames the invaders for starting a chain of events that destroyed the country. He longs for the certainties and stability of Saddam’s time.

First, he says, he realised it was not going to be liberation, but occupation. Then he hated the corruption, mismanagement and violence in the new Iraq. Most of all he despises Iraq’s new leaders.

“Saddam has gone, and we have one thousand Saddams now,” he says. “It wasn’t like this under Saddam. There was a system. There were ways. We didn’t like him, but he was better than those people.”

“Saddam never executed people without a reason. He was as solid as a wall. There was no corruption or looting, it was safe. You could be safe.”

I asked Kadhim he would do if he could meet Tony Blair.

“I would say to him you are a criminal, and I’d spit in his face.”

And what would he say to George Bush?

“I’d say you’re criminal too. You killed the children of Iraq. You killed the women and you killed the innocent. I would say the same to Blair. And to the coalition that invaded Iraq. I will say to them you are criminals and you should be brought to justice.”

And Kadhim is right, as we have seen. The Iraq War was not a last resort; it was criminal. Whether the British political class is heatlhy enough to agree with him, instead of scapegoating (the truly vile) Tony Blair, is still an open question.

Conclusion

If the state has a monopoly of violence, it had better not butcher the job when it exercises that monopoly. The clever writers at The Economist conclude:

Before contemplating any similar undertaking, it advises, there must be a clear understanding of the theatre of operations; a hard-headed assessment of risks; realistic objectives; and sufficient resources. It concludes: “All of these elements were lacking in the UK’s approach to its role in post-conflict Iraq.”

Oops. We’ll see if the UK’s political class can hold itself accountable for the Iraq debacle, or whether they’ll settle for Tony Blair’s head on a pike (not that there’s anything wrong with that). As for our own political class, it has yet to even consider an inquiry on the scale and scope of the Chilcot report. I wonder if whoever is the next President will commission one?

NOTES

[1] Writes the Canary: “Of the 100 Labour MPs in office during parliamentary voting on whether to investigate the Iraq War, almost all of them voted against any sort of inquiry at all. That’s 98 out of 100 Labour MPs who tried to veto Chilcot. Of the 100 Labour MPs in office during parliamentary voting on whether to investigate the Iraq War, almost all of them voted against any sort of inquiry at all. That’s 98 out of 100 Labour MPs who tried to veto Chilcot.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

107 comments

  1. Epistrophy

    Beautifully written, Lambert. Between the Chilcot Report and the Brexit there is a chance for a fundamental change in British politics. Let’s hope it can be for the better.

    There are still some influences that members of the public should be aware, however. For example, the the Henry “Scoop” Jackson Society. Have a look at the following list that is published on the website to see if there are any familiar names. Some signatories to its ‘Statement of Principles’ of are:

    Conservative:

    Nicholas Boles MP
    Damian Collins MP
    Stephen Crabb MP
    Michael Gove MP
    Robert Halfon MP
    Stephen Hammond MP
    Greg Hands MP
    Edward Vaizey MP
    Lord Willetts MP

    Labour:

    Chris Bryant MP
    Fabian Hamilton MP
    Gisela Stuart MP

    International Patrons include:

    Max Boot (The Council on Foreign Relations)
    Michael Chertoff
    Richard Perle

    The Political Advisory Council includes:

    Conservative:

    Sir David Amess MP
    Bob Blackman MP
    Nick Boles MP
    David Burrowes MP
    Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP
    Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP
    Damian Collins MP
    David Davies MP
    Rt Hon David Davis MP
    Nadine Dorries MP
    Mike Freer MP
    James Gray MP
    Robert Halfon MP
    Stephen Hammond MP
    Bernard Jenkin MP
    Daniel Kawczynski MP
    James Morris MP
    Priti Patel MP
    Mark Pritchard MP
    Dominic Raab MP
    Amber Rudd MP
    Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP
    Nadhim Zahawi MP
    Henry Smith MP

    Labour:

    Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
    Rt Hon Hazel Blears
    Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP
    Chris Bryant MP
    Dai Havard, MP
    Rt Hon Jim Murphy
    Rt Hon John Spellar MP
    Gisela Stuart MP
    Derek Twigg MP

    Liberal Democrat:

    Dan Rogerson, MP

    UKIP

    Douglas Carswell MP

    There are also some peers on the list too, as well as others from the United States Europe and Australia. Keep this list in mind as the debate on Chilcot unfolds.

      1. Epistrophy

        The scary bit is that these folks are linked to Chertoff/Perle/Council on Foreign Relations. It will be interesting to see who supports who during the Chilcot debates.

        Also it is interesting to note that Crabb/Gove are on the list and Gisela Stuart appears twice. Of course she is staunchly anti-Corbyn.

      2. Epistrophy

        The scary bit is that these folks are linked to Chertoff/Perle/Council on Foreign Relations. It will be interesting to see who supports who during the Chilcot debates.

        Note that Crabb/Gove are on the list and Gisela Stuart appears twice. Of course she is staunchly anti-Corbyn.

      3. Strategist

        Spellar is a common or garden thug. Ben Bradshaw seems like a nice guy, but really really isn’t

    1. sd

      Senator Scoop Jackson is one of the fathers of brand name neoconservatives: Richard Perle, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Elliot Abrams etc (for those who are unfamiliar with his legacy)

  2. Kyle

    James Fallows was very very much against the 2003 invasion, I’m not sure who or what you could possibly be thinking of.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See here from 2002, very much an on-the-one-hand/on-the-other article that makes a lot assumptions about the good faith of the Bush administration. Granted, Fallows wised up a lot earlier and more honorably than many, but he was very much within the DC consensus here.

  3. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert, do you know when the U.S. version of the Chilcot Report is scheduled to be released?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        But but but there’s a guy with orange hair who has already asked the unaskable here in the US…oh, I forgot, he’s just a “racist buffoon”.
        Can’t have any of that pesky “reality” stuff creeping into American politics now can we.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Right, Trump beat the living hell out of Jeb Bush, who went home crying to his mother, just by raising the issue of the complete failure of the Iraq debacle in the repug debates. It’s not like it’s a mystery to the general populace—everybody can see the fiasco was based on lies and will, upon reflection, vote for the candidate that calls insanity “insanity”. That’s why I believe The Donald has a fighting chance.

  4. fresno dan

    It is hard not to look at the Chilcot report merely from the aspect that the people of the United Kingdom, albeit slowly, were able to look soberly and dispassionately at what happened, own up to all the mistakes, errors and bad faith of their government officials, and that such an exercise in reality is simply not possible in this country*.

    *Bush merely says that the world is better off without Hussein, using a rather Clintonesque passive construct to avoid entirely the question of whether the nation is better off after starting the war…

    And it seems to me, even the dems alone have no stomach for looking into the matter – apparently because they too are up to their neck in it as well…
    As well as the political classes invention of equating accountability as “Monday morning quarterbacking” or “casting blame,” “finger pointing” “second guessing” and on and on. Amazing how these people evade responsibility for a job that consists SOLELY of judgement, by giving the excuse that it was “an error in judgement” – simply astounding.

    1. Epistrophy

      If Blair is censured, has titles removed, and/or is sued, there will be ramifications in the US too. The families of the British veterans and possible Iraqis may take action against the US on the basis of the Chilcot report and there will be American veterans who will no doubt join in this effort.

        1. Epistrophy

          From IBTimes.co.uk:

          The motion, which Davis will submit on Thursday with the support of 20 MPs, could see Blair brought to the bar of the House by the Serjeant-at-Arms to apologise for the war. Davis also said it could see the former prime minister lose his privy counsellor position, citing the example of John Profumo, who was stripped of the title in 1963. The Privy Council is a body of advisors to the British reigning monarch, a seat on which is a mostly honourary position.

    2. MikeNY

      You are exactly right, FD. Both parties are in it up to their necks. It requires i) rejecting American Exceptionalism, and ii) indicting the leadership of both parties, and all our State employees. How many thousands of troops do we STILL have in the ME, and how many people are calling for escalation?

      Nahgunnahappen. Not until there is a major sea-change in consciousness.

    3. Steve H.

      “I take full responsibility” is meaningless without consequences. Blair should have blood dripping from his tear ducts for eternity for that crass custard piffle.

  5. Tim

    Why doesn’t anyone remember that jean claude juncker and guy verhofstadt got it right too. Is everyone too eager sucking up to the pro brexit left.

    1. lambert strether

      Because it’s a big and complicated story.

      And I don’t know it now, either. Got a link?

      As for “everyone,” and the “pro-Brexit left,” who’s “everyone”? And last I checked, Corbyn was a remainer.

      More evidence, less slop please.

      1. Art Vanderlay

        It’s more complicated than “last I checked, Corbyn was a remainer”.

        Tariq Ali, a long-term associate of Corbyn, told the New Yorker that he thought Corbyn was only campaigning for remain because he was the leader of the opposition. He repeated this in an article for the London Review of Books. Piers Corbyn, Jeremy’s brother, also told the press that he thought Corbyn coming out for remain was a “party management issue.”

        This video might help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXTvsqUphMc

          1. Tim

            While I am not a huge fan of Corbyn both as a matter of policy and competence I just assume he stay at this point over having some Blair/Brown retread come back in.

      2. Tim

        Both Juncker and Verhofstadt(as PM’s of Luxembourg and Belgium) were part of the anti war Chirac Schroeder gang of four.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/apr/29/eu.politics

        “Four EU states that opposed the Iraq war today agreed to create a joint military HQ for operations where Nato is not involved – a move that could widen the gulf between “old” and “new” Europe.
        The leaders of Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg also said in a joint statement that they would develop a European rapid reaction force, which would be open to other EU countries to join.

        Britain branded the two-hour mini-summit in Brussels “divisive” and “unhelpful”, while other EU states expressed their annoyance at being left out of the talks.

        It is feared the row is likely to reinforce Washington’s view of an “old Europe”, led by France and Germany, at loggerheads with “new Europe”, steered by Tony Blair.”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Great! Sorry to be cranky, but why didn’t you just say that in the beginning?

          And I remember Rummy’s “old Europe” comment. Somewhere along the line, all these guys just lost their minds….

        2. nobody

          Chirac and Schröder had not made a prior agreement to oppose the Anglo-American juggernaut and, in fact, had at times suspected each other of caving in to American pressure. But the Germans had taken a definite stand by September, 2002, and this must have encouraged the French president to count on them–and Russia–for a counter-alliance to stop the American lunge past the Security Council. Fortunately for the plotters, January 22 was the 40-year commemoration of the Treaty of Franco-German Friendship, a product of the 1963 cooperation between President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, and it brought the two heads of state together for anniversary festivities in Paris. The meeting had been prepared for months by civil servants to work out common EU policies quite unrelated to Iraq (EU farm policies and the drafter of an EU constitution). But now, at the public ceremonies of this Elysée treaty, they declared: “War is always an admission of defeat. . .the worst of solutions. Hence everything must be done to avoid it.” The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld–the “secretary of offense” to his critics–drew his infamous distinction between the countries of the “Old Europe,” those opposing the American thrust into Iraq, and a “New Europe,” America’s allies, in particular East European governments, but also Britain, Denmark, Spain, and Italy. The coinage, spurious as it was, drew furious responses from Old Europeans who probably read into it a lot more than Rumsfeld actually meant to convey. It was no surprise that East European governments–as distinct from their publics who were heavily opposed to war–tended to identify more and expected all kinds of advantages from the US. They may also have felt some resentment towards the dominant EU states France and Germany. British and Spanish leaders reportedly were irked by French and German posturing as the “founding fathers” of the EU at the fortieth anniversary. Probably none of the Europeans had taken the impact of the September 11 attacks quite as seriously as the American public which, at least in the east of the country, still felt most foully assaulted and seemed to need to lash out at an enemy beyond Afghanistan.

          […]

          The second scenario in which the open break between Old Europe and America was staged was the appearance in the Wall Street Journal and major European newspapers of the “letter of eight,” a declaration of solidarity with the US that had been secretly promoted by Spain and Britain and gathered further signatures from Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, and the Czech Republic. The letter was reportedly the brainchild of Mike Gonzalez of the Wall Street Journal Europe staff. At first it was received without enthusiasm in London and Rome until Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar began to promote it. As Rumsfeld had said dismissively about the Old Europe, “the center of gravity [of Europe] is moving east.” The letter stressed the common values of the signatories and insisted that “the transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the [Iraq] crisis.” It also spoke of the September 11 attack and of the WMD mentioned in Resolution 1441. The letter of eight gathered further momentum when an ex-banker, ex-CIA functionary, and confidant of East European candidates for Nato membership Bruce Jackson–a friend of neoconservative hawks like Perle, Cheney, and Wolfowitz–added a stronger “letter of 10,” the Vilnius letter, signed by ten other East European governments. This letter proclaimed, among other things: “If France and Germany think they can run Europe or set up their own alliances, then so can we.” The Vilnius letter elicited strong reactions from Old Europeans like Chirac who commented, in an adaptation of the old Roman saying–Si tacuisses philosophies mantises (if only you’d kept your mouth shut you’d still be considered a wise man)–than they should have kept quiet instead of being so forward. The two letters were timed so as to appear just before a Congressional vote to admit seven of the candidate states to Nato, and before Secretary Powell was to speak before the Security Council to present his “compelling evidence” and obtain more specific authority for military action in Iraq (February 5).

          At first, in the Financial Times interpretation, the contretemps between Washington and the Paris-Berlin axis was marked by personal frictions and misunderstandings. But the “subsequent deterioration” of the relationship “was deliberate–and orchestrated with Washington’s knowledge” if not instigation. Washington admitted knowing and was gleeful about the letters, but claimed it had not been involved. Neither Chirac nor Schröder were notified, and neither were the EU presidium (Greece) nor the EU foreign policy representative and former Nato chief, Xavier Solana–who had just obtained the signatures of 15 EU members on a petition to the UN to continue the weapons inspections–until they saw it in the media. Of the conspiring New European nations, only Bulgaria had the decency to be concerned and to show the letter to French diplomats. The whole “poison letter affair” (Financial Times) may be regarded as a fraternity prank, say of Yale University frat boys from rich families, but it hit the EU like an explosion, not because of the content of the letters but because of the manner in which they had been passed around and endorsed… Although it may not have been intended that way, in many European quarters the poison letter plot was seen as an American intrigue to split the European community. There were rumored threats to retaliate against those signers of the letters who still longed for admission to the EU. The conspiracy of the New European states certainly brought France and Germany close together, but it also had another interesting effect: It induced Russia’s Putin to visit first Schröder and then Chirac to form an anti-war coalition of world-wide support. Chirac quickly shifted from criticism to support for Putin’s policy towards Chechnya and praise for his referendum plans for that tormented land. To the Vilnius 10 and some of the signers of the letter of eight–Poland, the Czech Republic–this resurgence of their old nemesis Russia and its diplomatic overtures to Germany must have seemed ominous.

          Peter Merkl, The Rift Between America and Old Europe: The Distracted Eagle, pp. 36-38

  6. nothing but the truth

    not so fast.

    and who were the “handlers” these two were working for? (and still the entire west’s politicians are)?

    who did blair run to work after his retirement? was it not a quid pro quo?

    and despite all these “mistakes were made” kind of thing, why are they still being made, and more ominously, why are they planning to “make some more” with Russia?

    who are the Ones That Shall Not Be Named?

      1. nothing but the truth

        seriously?

        you’re a media outfit and claim you don’t know who are day in and out preaching war in media, and naming whom will get the namer fired?

  7. Sandwichman

    Angela Eagle: “I think Tony Blair’s been put rightly through the mill about the decisions he took.”

    This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who.

    1. MDBill

      Here, let me fix that for you, Angela,

      I think Tony Blair’s rightly been put through the mill about the decisions he took.

      You’re welcome.

  8. AWB

    “Debacle” is a stretch, and is not supported by the report. “Not so leftist” is also a stretch, but this is the NC, so don’t expect anyone to get called on it. Dissenting opinions are few and far between, owing to the moderators no doubt. Literary license indeed.

      1. AWB

        “So, even in its own, imperial terms, the Iraq War was a debacle.” Not so, that’s your interpretation, which leaves the floor open to all sorts of speculation. This sort of hyperbolic reasoning might fly in New York, the West Coast, or the capital of Babylon, the District of Columbia, but not where I’m from. Thanks for sticking around. Cheers, mate!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks for sharing your concern. Do consider actually adding value to the thread by stating the sort of reasoning that does appeal to you, wherever you may be from.

          1. kj1313

            No no Lambert he is saying it was very profitable to it’s many bought politicians and military elites.

          1. Steve C

            You all may be correct but you’re impertinent. You should be more respectful of your social “betters.”

    1. Plenue

      Oh, a million dead and all semblance of stability lost isn’t a debacle? What, then, is it? As for the Guardian, it’s neo-liberal true colors have been full display for months. NC has dissenting opinions all the time, the idiots just tend to be so roundly whipped that they don’t come back. But yes, blame it on censorship, if it makes you feel smarter.

    2. charles leseau

      If they’re so leftist, would you care to show me the latest opinion piece advocating that workers form unions or strike? How about one telling people to boycott some major corporation for various misdeeds? You’ll never see those pieces. They’re not left. They’re liberal – all identity politics all the time.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I provided a link a couple of days ago: The workers at one of Trump’s casinos are on strike. Are the Democrats all over that? Not a chance. They went with the sheriff’s star instead.

  9. Take the Fork

    I completely opposed the Iraq war. Not on unthinking or sentimental pacifist grounds, or partisan anti-Bush grounds. That said:

    I feared chemical weapons would be used against US troops
    I feared it was a prelude to an attack on Iran
    I was convinced it was mostly about oil
    I thought there would be significant casualties in the initial ground invasion
    I did not believe we would be welcomed as liberators
    It did not occur to me that sectarian violence would be unleashed in a post-Baathist Iraq
    I believed that an occupation would be met with terrorist resistance

    I was absolutely wrong on every single one of these counts except the last, and on that count it never occurred to me that an organized insurgency could be fused with terrorist tactics to produce a civil war.

    So while I “got it right” in the sense that this war was, in general, a bad idea, on everything else I was off. Way off. This was certainly no confirmation of my Weltanschaung. I did not and do not feel vindicated, but instead have some notion of how it is for a stopped clock.

    1. oho

      “I feared it was a prelude to an attack on Iran”

      It was per Wesley Clark.

      So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the secretary of defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

      http://www.democracynow.org/2016/7/6/iraqi_exile_uk_iraq_inquiry_confirms

      http://www.democracynow.org/2007/3/2/gen_wesley_clark_weighs_presidential_bid

    2. Escher

      You can’t say oil had nothing to do with it. That said, I suppose in the end it was more about neocon dreams of world domination, just as the next one will be.

    3. Adam Eran

      FYI, Greg Palast says it was about oil… Iraq has the worlds largest proven reserves after the Saudis and Russians. His point: The war was to make sure the oil stayed in the ground.

    4. Plenue

      >I was convinced it was mostly about oil

      If not mostly, in large part it was.

      >I did not believe we would be welcomed as liberators

      In large part we weren’t. So you were right on that score.

      And in my experience pacifists are thinking constantly, and are correct in their sentimentality. Being opposed to war simply because it is war is an entirely reasonable position.

      1. Take the Fork

        Oil: maybe more than I think. But definitely not the main driver, in my view – not based on what I have read about the war plans (or lack thereof).

        Liberators: we were greeted as such almost everywhere except for parts of the Sunni triangle. I believe this was a genuine response. It lasted about a week or two – until it became apparent that we couldn’t occupy with the same skill as we could invade.

        Some pacifists are quite thoughtful, no question. Many are not, especially in the US, where pacifism among intellectuals was encouraged by Marxist regimes to undermine the will to resist, a tendency that exists to this very day, especially on college campuses.

        Being a pacifist behind a massive security apparatus is a luxury. Pacifism is not a reasonable position when facing an enemy bent on conquest, subjection or extermination. Then it’s just a shortcut out of the gene pool.

        1. Plenue

          “especially in the US, where pacifism among intellectuals was encouraged by Marxist regimes to undermine the will to resist, a tendency that exists to this very day, especially on college campuses.”

          Pffhahahahaha.

          “Being a pacifist behind a massive security apparatus is a luxury. Pacifism is not a reasonable position when facing an enemy bent on conquest, subjection or extermination. Then it’s just a shortcut out of the gene pool.”

          Considering the single biggest purveyor of violence for decades has been that very ‘security’ apparatus…please, spare us the blather about it being a hard world full of hard men. If we would simply stop bombing everything in sight, we’d suddenly find there are a lot fewer people who also want to bomb things.

      2. Steve C

        I think it was about Bush’s insecurity about his own manliness, his fragile male ego, his sense of entitlement and his rich fantasy life. It also was about Cheney’s psychopathy and the neocons taking advantage of these factors to manufacture a war.

    5. 1 Kings

      You forgot to mention our wonderful leaders disbanding the Iraqi military apparently so ‘free people can do what free people do’, or something to that effect. Hey Donald(no, not that one), can you field this one?
      O’ Rummy, you knucklehead..

  10. Detroit Dan

    I don’t remember Josh Marshall being for the war. I remember him, in 2002-203, quite clearly pointing out the bullshit being thrown about with regard to weapons of mass destructions.

    1. pretzelattack

      i remember a post where he said he initially thought the pnac people had a point, i don’t know when he changed his mind.

  11. barrisj

    Well, all this is fine, and I will await a Chilcot version of why the UK (and Nato) were manoeuvered into a full-scale land war beginning in the Ukraine in late 2017 v. Russia, led by the US and President Clinton, based on what clearly was bogus intelligence and a “Gulf of Tonkin” causus belli. Because, what we are witnessing today – especially in light of the recent Nato ” summit” and Trudeau Jr. quickly off the mark to send 1000 Canadian soldiers to Latvia(?!?!) – is an absolute disaster in the making in Europe, an “Eyes wide shut” scenario as infamous as anything appearing in Chilcot. Cue Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Chilcot will be ignored in time as “the West” clatters ahead, provoking relentlessly the Russian bear.

  12. timotheus

    Re: endnote (1): and of these 98 Chilcot-vetoing Labour MPs, how many are demanding that Corbyn resign?

    Also, I note that The Economist’s list of questions for approving future war-making plans does not include, Is it legal?

  13. Oregoncharles

    “I wonder if whoever is the next President will commission one?”

    That would be to issue their own death warrant – whoever it may be.

  14. Synoia

    One has to speculate on what the deal was between Tony Blair and George Bush, aside from bromance.

    (Inset joke about William Fitzpatrick and Patric Fitzwilliam here).

    Denizens of the US were funding terrorists in the UK at the time of this bromance, the IRA vs the UK in Northern Ireland. The UK could not sign up to George’s War on Terror while simultaneously looking the other way (ignoring breach of the anti-money laundering provision of the Patriot Act).

    I smell a deal. Why has Tony not com forward and explained his bromantic deal? What other items could exist in such a deal?

    1. oho

      “One has to speculate on what the deal was between Tony Blair and George Bush, aside from bromance.”

      That’s an implication of the Chilcot Report. The UK gave the US everything in return for squat…..

      The UK was played like a lap dog, precisely because of Blair’s man crush on W Bush.

      1. sd

        Bill Clinton made Tony Blair look good and George W. Bush made him look bad. The takeaway is he’s just a yes man with no actual original thoughts of his own.

      2. Epistrophy

        That’s an implication of the Chilcot Report. The UK gave the US everything in return for squat…..

        Heh heh … But Tony Blair, that struggling altruistic, erstwhile, life-long Labour stalwart, a member of us common little people, became a lean mean money making financial machine the day he stepped down from office. Who wudda thunk?

    2. windsock

      Really? The Good Friday agreement (1998) had been signed by the time of the Iraq war and the IRA had given up their weapons.

      Tony Blair sucked up to Bush just so he could avoid giving the weapons a stick with which to beat him (i.e. “You’re anti-American).

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      What do they need a secret deal for?

      Let’s consider Blair:
      -he can wave his dick around of or reelection
      -imagery of reverse colonialism. The British are coming to liberate not colonize, largely ignoring this is pretty much how the African colonies started
      -a place in history. Blair the Liberator.

      For a narcissist, what else is there? Blair probably expected to write a new history of the British peoples. This is a guy who thinks people yelling at him on the street is unwarranted. Dead soldiers? These people don’t care. Money? Was it Tony’s?

  15. ekstase

    1) “So, even in its own, imperial terms, the Iraq War was a debacle.”

    It’s funny, for those who get bothered by little things like a lack of morality, that the clincher always seems to be that these people are also utterly incompetent. Could there be a connection between those two things?

    2) “I think Tony Blair’s been put rightly through the mill about the decisions he took.”
    Reminds you of the BP oil spill CEO quote:
    “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” —BP CEO Tony Hayward
    http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/stupidquotes/a/gulf-oil-spill-quotes.htm

    Ah, the suffering endured by these people.

  16. VietnamVet

    Excellent report. My summary is that there are no consequences for failure.

    This is the anti-thesis of technocracy, the current ruling ideology. Propaganda, surveillance, endless wars and identity politics are the tools to stay in power and to gather wealth. If one has a job or survivable pension, it is human nature not to look directly into the abyss we are headed towards. An optimist isn’t concerned. A pessimist acknowledges that climate change or a nuclear war with Russia ends it all. Muddling through doesn’t seem an option anymore since the disastrous judicial selection of George W Bush.

    1. Synoia

      Assume for some people the Iraq war was a success, and then identify those people.

      That could provide a better answer. Cheney’s Halliburton stock options were under water before the Iraq war. No so after the Iraq war.

      Plan or Opportunism?

  17. Army Wankers Babble

    Debacle? Nah. Catastrophe. Eh…

    Bombardment, attack, and invasion of another State in manifest breach of the UN Charter constituting the crime of aggression, a crime of the US civilian/military command structure with no statute of limitations in universal jurisdiction.

    Ah. There you go.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t see “debacle” and “catastrophe” as mutually exclusive. The post discusses the UN rules. US rules are not relevant because the post is about the UK.

  18. optimader

    My summary is that there are no consequences for failure
    failure = fantastically wrong wrong wrong wrong decisions, doubled down with a mind numbingly vain “staying the course”. A congenital inability to reevaluate assumptions-decisions based on supplemental intel.

    1. Steve C

      The initial decision wasn’t based on Intel. It was the White House telling the CIA what to say, the CIA regurgitating it back and the White House then pointing to what the CIA said. And eager-to-please Blair joining in.

      1. Optimader

        Intel, albiet false intel
        On 5 February 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations General Assembly, continuing U.S. efforts to gain UN authorization for an invasion. His presentation to the UN Security Council, which contained a computer generated image of a “mobile biological weapons laboratory”. However, this information was based on claims of Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball”, an Iraqi emigrant living in Germany who later admitted that his claims had been false.

        More false intel
        Powell also presented evidence alleging Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda….

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        It was actually worse than that. Cheney beat on the CIA analysts, and interpreted raw intelligence on his own, to get the results he wanted (“facts and intelligence were fixed around the policy”).

      3. sd

        Cheneys energy meetings were clearly planning sessions for the Iraq War and explains why he was so desperate to keep the details out of the public eye. It’s obvious in hindsight that Cheney came in to office specifically looking for any excuse to invade Iraq.

  19. Kokuanani

    Thank you, Lambert, for specifically naming [and shaming] Ezra Klein, James Fallows, Jonathan Chait and particularly Josh Marshall. So soon we forget their support of the war. For some reason their presumed [or claimed] “progressive credentials” afford them a hell of a lot more credibility and respect than they deserve. This albatross should be hung around their necks, and they should constantly be identified with it.

    Thank you also for a magnificent effort.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Having read Marshall since ’02, and liking him for the first half or even more of those years, I’ve come to regard him as one of the more loathsome bourgeois journalists out there. Josh is on the side of the Big Battalions (in DC-Manhattan terms, of course; he doesn’t seem to have a lot of contact with actual battalions). His MO is to be on all sides of a question with a lot of faux-profundity until it becomes clear what the outcome will be — and then he is gangbusters for the victor, hoping to reap the spoils.

      Thus, I remember him being skeptical of parts of the plan for war at first, but supportive of others; then supportive generally after Sully, Blair, et al. had convinced us credulous Yanks with their pommy accents, but with some wiggle room; then guardedly critical as more things went wrong, taking sort of the Kerry/Dem 2004 line of criticizing the conduct of the war but never rethinking the colonial premises, and really only turning against it around the time of the Shiite-Sunni civil war starting with the destruction of the Al Askariyah shrine in 2006. I could be wrong. I’d have to go back through his archives to check.

      As it is, the guy has been so firmly ensconced in our new Hall of Mirrors that he doesn’t see the peasants piling the kindling beneath him. It’s been a very clarifying election season, and it’s not even August.

  20. ian

    What if we hadn’t invaded Iraq? (no mistake – it was wrong).
    I’m curious how the middle east would have evolved.
    Would Saddam have retired (to be replaced by Uday or Qusay)?
    Would it have gone like Syria?
    Invading Iraq for sure was a dumb thing to do, but is equally wrong to believe all would be well today if we hadn’t.

    1. witters

      Ian’s non sequitur – ‘Invading Iraq for sure was a dumb thing to do, but is equally wrong to believe all would be well today if we hadn’t.’ – is what is called in VSP circles, ‘being judicious’.

    2. Clive

      I wouldn’t be naive enough to say “would be well”, but as a minimum I think “would be better” covers it. If you’re being really pessimistic, “couldn’t be any worse” — how much more dreadful would the situation have to be before the quagmire that is Syraqistan starts to look like a step up? Can you spell b-l-o-w-b-a-c-k ?

    3. Epistrophy

      As one who has spent most of their career in the middle east, believe me, this war has destroyed any hope there for decades – this – and the assassination of Rabin by his own people.

  21. nobody

    A scrap from the archives… Sam Tannenhaus interviews Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz:

    Q: So now there is the much-reported, I just want to make sure I get it right, famous meeting at —
    It’s been reported in a couple of different ways, and I’d like to get it in your words if I can, the famous meetings that first weekend in Camp David where the question of Iraq came up. I believe the President heard you discussing Iraq and asked you to elaborate on it or speak more about it. Can you give us a little sense of what that was like?

    Wolfowitz: Yeah. There was a long discussion during the day about what place if any Iraq should have in a counterterrorist strategy. On the surface of the debate it at least appeared to be about not whether but when. There seemed to be a kind of agreement that yes it should be, but the disagreement was whether it should be in the immediate response or whether you should concentrate simply on Afghanistan first.

    There was a sort of undertow in that discussion I think that was, the real issue was whether Iraq should be part of the strategy at all and whether we should have this large strategic objective which is getting governments out of the business of supporting terrorism, or whether we should simply go after bin Laden and al Qaeda.

    To the extent it was a debate about tactics and timing, the President clearly came down on the side of Afghanistan first. To the extent it was a debate about strategy and what the larger goal was, it is at least clear with 20/20 hindsight that the President came down on the side of the larger goal.

  22. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Just curious. Why is it never prefaced “David Kelly, who ALLEGEDLY took his own life…”

    Questions remain.

    One little known fact is that Kelly was a Baha’i.

    From the “Suicide and the Baha’i Faith”, published in 2003.

    1. The act of suicide is strongly condemned in the Bahá’í teachings, and alongside the other world religions, it is “forbidden”.

    IMHO, fortunately, the Law of Karma is like gravity, you don’t have to believe in it in the slightest to experience its effects.

  23. Rhondda

    From wikipedia:

    In September 2002, MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove said the agency had acquired information from a new source revealing that Iraq was stepping up production of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. The source, who was said to have “direct access”, claimed senior staff were working seven days a week while the regime was concentrating a great deal of effort on the production of anthrax. Sir Richard told the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Sir John Scarlett, that they were “on the edge of (a) significant intel breakthrough” which could be the “key to unlock” Iraq’s CBW programme.

    Anthrax. Hmmm.

    Has anyone any idea who “the source” was for the misinformation and lies in the UK? For example, the “linked glass spheres”?

    1. Skip Intro

      Curveball? He was a popular ‘single source’ for neocon-friendly ‘intelligence’. He was also known to be untrustworthy by the BND (German Intelligence) who warned everyone they could about him.

  24. JustAnObserver

    Interesting, and very sad, to be reminded of the David Kelley “suicide”. I remember, as clearly as it was yesterday afternoon, picking up a newspaper at Exeter station on my way back from a news-free holiday in Cornwall and being faced with this. My mind screamed “THIS JUST STINKS”. Hence the scare quotes.

    I’m not, as a rule, a conspiracy nut but in this case I’m willing to make a rare exception.

    1. Skip Intro

      A real conspiracy theorist would be talking about Wellstone, and/or the anthrax envelopes.

  25. urban legend

    There is only one thing you need to know that demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bush, Blair and Cheney were flat-out liars: the UN inspection team, which was supposed to be the reason for the Congressional resolution — which actually worked as ostensibly intended to get the Hans Blix team in there — had not completed its work.

    In fact, of course, the reason for the invasion was to cut off the inspection team’s work. Had they come to the conclusion that Bush, Cheney and Blair knew they would come to — that there were no weapons of mass destruction — the rationale for a regime change would have been permanently eliminated. So much for the Project for the New American Century and Bush’s determination to face re-election as “a war-time President.”

  26. Felix_47

    Having dealt with the horrendous consequences of this war to the lives and limbs of Americans and Iraqis from 2005 to the present I have to say that the one thing that might save us from more of this would be a universal draft with essentially no exemptions. These phoney politicians to include Hillary would have thought twice if their kids were headed to Anaconda or Stryker or Anbar. One leading politician who gets to welcome his child missing three limbs and half of a brain drooling in a wheelchair might take a stand for honesty. Instead we are led by non leaders whose conception of leading is not to lead by example but to lead from the rear. If Hillary`s daughter could have had the opportunity to donate her legs and brain to an IED in Iraq or AFG we might have a much more responsible political candidate instead of a lawyer businesswoman masquerading as a leader. The only solution to this problem that I can see is a universal draft and the root of this willy nilly neocon BS is that there are no consequences since we now have a volunteer military consisting to a large degree of kids that cant get a job in this shitty economy……..We spent, including VA disability and medical 6 trillion dollars on this absurdity. We could have given every Iraqi man, woman and child and every Afghan a green card and 150,000 and emptied the countries. In fact, we could have done that and taken the oil to pay the sums back to the treasury.

  27. dots

    What a great amount of work you put into this, Lambert. I’ve been wanting to look at what the report has to offer but am daunted by the enormity of the publication. Your distillation is helpful. Thank you. I appreciate also the link to the ANSWER rallies against the war. It’s too bad they didn’t even make a ripple at the time. We sure needed a hell of a lot more dialog from many, many more voices.

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