‘Main point of Iraq Inquiry – to let Bush, Blair walk away with reputations intact’

Reuters / Atef Hassan
The Iraq Inquiry was opened to allay public criticism of Tony Blair and George Bush who started the war knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, says Michael Raddie of anti-war group Democracy Village.

There was widespread anger and disbelief last week when it was announced that theinquiryby Sir John Chilcot which has been investigating the UK's involvement in Iraq war, won't publish its report until after the general election on 7 May. On Thursday, MPs are debating the report’s delay in the House of Commons.

RT:The inquiry was launched almost six years ago. Why has it taken this long to publish the report?

Michael Raddie: I think the current delay is all to do with the “maximization process,” they call it, which is anyone that is facing criticism within the report …There has been a letter written by Chilcot’s team and they have a number of days or weeks to respond. Obviously if those people are outside of the UK government or outside the UK political establishment, then it may take even longer. Some of them may not respond at all. Officially, anyway that is the reason the delay is happening.

I think the timing of the general election this year may have something to do with this as well. There are obviously good reasons for the Conservative party not to want to publish before the general election. I suspect there is even more involved that we are not even privy to at the moment. I’m sure that Tony Blair has his legal team working furiously on this to make sure that he won’t be implicated, and the final published report won’t become a basis for any further criminal inquiries into his behavior.

Reuters / Cpl Rob Knight

RT:The release of the report has been delayed until after the election. How can it affect the outcome of the vote?

MR: I think it will affect the outcome of the vote. It will be fairly critical of political figures whether they be Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, even David Cameron and William Hague - they all had their own part to play; they all voted, most of the MPs voted for the Iraq War. How it all comes out and what the private discussions were- if any of that is published – it may affect the public opinion towards these MPs or towards the parties that they were part of.

RT:What was the actual reason to start it? What were they hoping to establish?

MR: It certainly wasn’t anything to do with place and responsibility. I think, the original reason, the stated reason was so that the country could learn lessons if this sort of thing is to happen in the future. It has happened again. We’ve gone to war with Iraq for the third time in two-three decades. We have the US along with the UK air force bombing Iraq and bombing Syria under the pretext of attacking ISIS and saving the Iraqi people from tyrants.

But the main reason was to allay the public criticism of Blair and Bush together… There is nothing in the report that is going shock most people. Most people know that Blair had promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with George Bush after 9/11. The fact that 9/11 or al-Qaeda had nothing to do with Iraq whatsoever didn’t matter- that was completely incidental.

I think it’s just a cross the ts dot the is and let them all walk away with reputations intact. There will be a public record of what was officially done before the Iraq War, before the invasion. But I don’t think we’re going to see any truth in terms of the fact that Tony Blair was fully aware that there were no weapons of mass destruction before they invaded. There is a former Foreign Office official called Carne Ross, he went on a record and said that the Non-proliferation Department within the Foreign Office were fully aware that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. This is going back to June 1997-1998 during the time of the sanctions. Blair was told about this. He was giving an audience with six Foreign Office employees. They all told him exactly the same thing, they also told him that the aftermath of an invasion of Iraq would be a complete disaster not only for the Iraqi people but for the region is a whole.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.