I didn’t watch Blair’s performance at the Chilcot inquiry, for health reasons, but I did read that he mentioned Iran 30 times, as in ‘the same good case for war applies to Iran’. This comes in the context of America concentrating ships and missiles in the Gulf. It is unlikely that the US will attack Iran directly, but increasingly likely that Israel will provoke a conflict. Blair may be preparing the ground for this.
Blair felt ‘responsibility but no regret’ over the destruction of Iraq which has killed over a million, created at least four million refugees, and turned a fertile land into a diseased desert. He focused on Saddam Hussain’s monstrosity, but refrained from explaining how Saddam’s most monstrous crimes were supported by his Western backers. He was allowed to refrain. He didn’t entertain the possibility that Hussain could have been deposed in other ways. He blamed Iran and al-Qa’ida, neither of which had a presence in the country before its collapse, for Iraq’s problems, and again his illogic was not questioned.
Blair told us how his “calculus of risk” had changed after September 11th. “Those of us who dealt with terrorism by the IRA [knew] their terrorism was directed towards political purposes, it was within a framework you could understand. That completely changed from that moment – Iran, Libya, North Korea, Iraq .. All of this had to be brought to an end.” The language of that last sentence is Qa’ida-esque in its apocalyptic nihilism, but beyond that, it is abundantly clear that al-Qa’ida terrorism is directed towards political purposes. Al-Qa’ida demands the closing of American miltary bases in the Arabian peninsula, for a start. But we can’t talk about that so must pretend the demand doesn’t exist. And what, again, is the link between September 11th and the secular, pragmatic (if monstrous) Saddam Hussain regime?
I didn’t watch any of the Chilcot inquiry, but I did hear that one of the panel members, Martin Gilbert, had complained to a radio station about out-of-control antisemitism in the UK. What were the manifestations of this antisemitism? Former ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles, in the Independent on Sunday, and Richard Ingrams in the Independent, had questioned Gilbert’s impartiality as a panel member given that he’s an active Zionist, a loud proponent of the Iraq invasion, someone who accompanied prime ministers Major and Brown on official visits to the Middle East, and who previously compared Bush and Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill. Miles used the word ‘Jew’, perhaps inadvisably, but it is apparent in his piece that his concern is Gilbert’s establishment Zionism. Murdoch’s Times rushed to Gilbert’s defence, characterising Miles as an antisemite.
“Well,” Gilbert lamented, “apart from the fact that as far as I can see Israel regarded Iran as the greater danger in March 2003, it’s just appalling. What were the religions or characteristics or ethnic backgrounds of the other three members? They were of no interest to these antisemites, so that was very unpleasant.” But the columnists weren’t worried about his ethnicity or his religious observances. They were worried about his professed loyalty to a criminal foreign power. They worried that Chilcot would fail to examine the role of Israel-first neoconservatives in propagandising and lobbying for the invasion, and they worried that Gilbert himself would deflect attention from this crucial issue, as he does in the statement above.
Which radio station did Gilbert give the interview to? Israel National Radio, based in Bet El, an illegal colony in the West Bank. Which rather seems to validate Miles and Ingrams’s supposed ‘antisemitism’.
Meanwhile, a criminal is at large. His hands drip with Iraqi, Afghan, Lebanese and Palestinian blood, and still they grasp for more.