Sunday, September 02, 2012

blair, bush, tutu and iraq

Co-incidences. Synchronicity.
It’s strange how some things just come together at the same time for no apparent reason isn’t it?
I recently bought a massive book entitled “The Iraq Papers”, edited by Ehrenberg, McSherry, Sanchez and Sayej from my favourite “The Last Bookshop” for the princely sum of £2. Like a huge number of people in the UK, I was very much opposed to the war (and duly joined the London demonstration etc) and had written to Tony Blair in January 2003 (ie. before the war) outlining my concerns. Although I have no intention in reading the entire “Papers” book, I did think it would be interesting seeing some of the reports – especially for the time leading up to the war.
So, I was somewhat taken aback when I read an article in the Guardian last week indicating that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had withdrawn from a seminar in South Africa in protest at the presence of Tony Blair and the former prime minister's support for the 2003 Iraq war. Tutu’s spokesman indicated that "the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair's decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible".
This was followed by a report in The Observer newspaper indicating that Tutu had called for Tony Blair and George Bush to “be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war” (note: as a complete side issue, it also pointed out that Blair’s fee for attending the conference was £150,000 whereas Tutu would have spoken for free!). As you might imagine, Blair has strongly contested Tutu’s view.
All this made me wonder when on earth we were going to hear anything from The Iraq (or Chilcot) Inquiry - SURELY, you remember this, don’t you? It was launched in July 2009 and held its final round of hearings in February 2011. The Inquiry is currently analysing the written and oral evidence it has received and drafting its report (I can lend them my copy of “The Iraq Papers” if that would help?). Sir John Chilcot has apparently advised the Prime Minister that the Inquiry will be in a position to begin the process of writing to any individuals that may be criticised by the middle of 2013…
I appreciate the complexity of undertaking such an Inquiry (especially as it spans a period of some nine years, but it does seem to be taking an AWFUL long time doesn’t it?
PS: I hope that to have read ALL the relevant papers within the next few days and to update you via my blog shortly thereafter (Chilcot eat your heart out!)!

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