We have watched with keen interest the exchanges, so far, in the ongoing Iraq War Inquiry. Two things are discernable;
First, the same variables since the Hutton Inquiry and other related inquiries continue to re-surface. These phrases/variables/indicators include WMD, Tony Blair, George W Bush, Crawford meeting, Saddam Hussein, Mr. Goldsmith, UN route, regime change, containment, 9/11, dossier, 45 minutes, etc.
Second, it is also discernable however that there is no agreement as to when, where, and how these variables were juggled by different political actors leading to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In other words which of these phrases, variables explain the other, and which ones were explained by others. Put in another way, which of the variables are independent and/or dependent on other indicators. Let’s try to juggle the variables.
a) Policy of regime change plus violation of no fly zone plus ownership of WMD= Invasion of Iraq.
b) WMD plus violation of no fly zone, plus previous use of WMD minus Policy of regime change=Invasion of Iraq (which invariably results in regime change).
c) WMD, plus violation of UN resolutions, plus UN route, minus Policy of regime change= Legal Invasion of Iraq.
d) WMD, plus policy of regime change, plus previous use of WMD = Legal invasion of Iraq.
A, D and B, C are more related to American and British actors respectively.
This latest Inquiry attempts to answer this question. Who played what role/s, when, where, why, and how did their roles fit into any of the above combinations. We believe that the delivery and presentations of the actors so far, have been as expected. The nature of the defence of their roles has depended largely on their alignment, re-alignment, or non-alignment with the BIG actors and public opinion. It is also interesting to note that the roles they played in relation to the variables were largely functional. Consequently you cannot pin down one actor against two acts. It has always been one actor, one act. ‘I am a loyal foreign secretary, and my influence is limited or I don’t interfere with intelligence because I am just a loyal communications man’ and so on and so forth.
Sir John and his team have been accused of not firing strong and right questions. We do not believe that this is the case. The reason some people fill this way is because the same phrases we have had since 2003 are being repeated again and again, and the entire process has become boring. Moreover their questions have centered on three things.
A) Sexing up of the dossier. We have had this before and Hutton Inquiry blamed government for this.
B) 45 minute notice. We have also had this before. But assuming the Inquiry decides that this was exaggerated; then one would ask what time would have been perfect? Assuming 60 minute notice would have been more appropriate, and then we leave you to determine if it was worth all the hassle setting up an Inquiry just to make simple addition of 45+15=60. Maybe we mean that an impression has already been created. But it is only 1/4 of the appropriate level that is missing. Does it worth the hassle once more? We do not think so.
C) ‘The evidence is absolute and total’, allegedly made by Tony Blair. Why not? He is a politician and must sound convincing while making a political statement. That was his honest assessment of the evidence put before him. Was he competent to make this assessment? Yes. He was duly elected by the British people to take the tough decisions. These are not my words but the words you should expect from Tony when he appears before the Inquiry soon.
So the Inquiry is devoid of any new or stimulating challenge. Unfortunately this will reflect in its findings. Our prediction is that the outcome of the inquiry will be valid, conclusive or whitewash to the extent that it satisfies or balances expectations of different groups, individuals, top actors and public opinion. We also believe that a lot of post Iraq war worries are moral matters. The moral judgment therefore belongs to the altar of Blessed Sacrament which are found more, everywhere, but UK.