Tony Blair's spin mastery has worn out. The Chilcot inquiry may not have found him to be a liar, but it would be difficult to imagine his legacy as any but Bush's starry eyed poodle who became jointly responsible for the destruction of Iraq and the catastrophic consequences we are all witnessing today.
Tony Blair just does not get it.
After the savaging he was dealt by the long awaited, 2.6 million word Chilcot inquiry, Blair spoke to the press for nearly two hours in order to make sure the world knew he did not lie and was in fact a victim himself, deeply sorry while standing by his actions to take Britain to an avoidable.
Blair may not have been found by Chilcot to have lied, but what he did came so eerily close to a reasonable person’s description of such a practice that it is difficult to grasp Blair’s understanding of what a lie actually is.
Making statements which one knows to be false, or being reckless with statements that one might not actually believe to be true but doesn’t bother finding out the veracity of, are pretty close to what would commonly be determined as deceit, and deceit is a lie is it not?
However we must defer to Lord Chilcot’s legal prowess and accept that in the strict sense of the law, and weighing the evidence, Chilcot determined Blair did not act in bad faith, did not lie and did not deceive.
For Blair that was vindication.
For the British media it was game on.
After all, Blair only solicited advice that suited him and left his Cabinet out of critical decisions preferring the couch summits of his inner circle of ‘Yes‘ people.
Nevertheless Blair, squinting into some distant mark at the far end of his press conference room managed quite the theatrical performance.
He paused for effect, he looked a little misty eyed at times, his voice seemed to catch....as he pleaded for people to now stop calling him a liar.
Unfortunately for him is the reality that ‘Bliar‘ is such an easy mark with his surname (similar indeed to Petraeus turned easily to ‘Betrayus’).
But then he doubled down.
Call it arrogance, defiance or just plain ego, Blair declared he would again make exactly the same decision on the basis of the information he had.
Not just that, he chided Chilcot for criticizing him yet not coming up with the right solution!
Then he argued had the same decision he made to take out Saddam Hussein been made years ago with respect to Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, hundred of thousands of lives would have been saved.
Then to give himself a pat on the back, he said more lives have subsequently been lost in Syria than were in Iraq and Assad is still in power.
By conflating the two disasters he’s essentially saying my disaster was not as big as your disaster, so I win.
Well the world seems to remember two things with respect to that.
First another hideous dictator in Libya was taken out for similar reasons as those used by Blair and his best buddy George W. Bush, to whom he had declared unquestioning support, and just look at Libya now.
Second, a key reason for the reticence of the international community to invade Syria was the diabolical shambles that was the result of Bush and Blair bromantic Spring break escapade in Iraq.
I watched the entire presser and it was difficult to stomach.
I know I will never get back those two hours, but I readily surrender them to the sobering experience of watching again this man whose hubris knows no bounds.
Tony Blair’s inability to recognize that people do not believe him, no matter how often he declares, nay instructs them, of his innocence and his Christianity is mind boggling.
How sickened were the families of the 179 British military who, as the report found were sometimes ill equipped for the job, when it was exposed that Blair, often called Bush’s poodle, had written like a lovesick teen and against the advice of his most senior advisors that “I will be with you, whatever”.
That commitment was made eight months before the war...before the British Parliament was even debating. Before the millions of Brits turned out in the streets to protest any thought of going to war.
We now know that Blair didn’t probe too deeply because it suited his commitment to do anything George W Bush wanted.
He left his own Cabinet out of key decisions; he ignored the advice from his MI5 head that invading Iraq will make Britain more vulnerable to Al Qaeda attacks (which it did) ,
As Chilcot so clearly set out, the information Blair had was “flawed intelligence”.
There was a “wholly inadequate” plan for what to do in Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
Britain invaded Iraq when peaceful options for disarmament still existed.
Iraq and its leader, no matter how hideous he was, posed no imminent threat to Britain (of the United States for that matter).
Blair thought he was much more influential on George W Bush than he actually was.
But Blair, don’t forget became the master of political spin when he was at No. 10.
Somehow he clings still to that ‘skill’.
His “hardest, most momentous and most agonising” decision of his premiership was made in “good faith”, and don’t forget the world is better place for the absence of Hussein.
Well yes, but it is better for Daesh, not for Iraqis, Brits, Syrians, the French, Belgians, Turks, Bangladeshis, Americans, to name just a few of the victims who have suffered at the hands of those who filled the Hussein/Qaddafi power void.
Like a self appointed penitent Blair said that his post prime Ministerial work as a Middle East envoy is because of his sorrow over Iraq.
Prey could he tell us what exactly he achieved in all those years of swanning around the Middle East?
As far as his private business goes he made bundles of cash securing contracts with some who would be right up there in a dictator contest with Hussein.
What about his so-called efforts to bring peace to Israel-Palestine?
Two years ago I was sitting in the foyer of the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah, discussing with a Palestinian doctor various impacts of the hope-shredding illegal occupation of Palestine.
Suddenly the foyer doors flew open and in walked a phalanx of men in black sunglasses, taking up positions to protect the precious cargo which was to follow.
In strode Tony Blair, Middle east Envoy.
My interview subject just looked at me and shook his head.
No words were necessary.
Little did we know there limped a man broken by the tough decision he had to make to go to war in Iraq. We could not tell from his countenance that he was in fact burdened by the anguish he felt every day and night which drove him to bring good to the Middle East.
If he made the same promise to the middle East as he did to Bush “I will be with you, whatever”, it is pretty sure the region would say, “well you will be in the foreseeable future in ways you will never understand, but no thanks...you’ve done quite enough”.