The Chilcot Report

The Chilcot Report (here) is 2,600,000 words. The Bible in English is less than 800,000. As there are time constraints on all mortal creatures, I think any gentle reader who hasn’t already done so, should read the Bible first. It ranges more widely, is more interesting, better written, better focused on various moral and spiritual questions, and benefits from divine authority.

On the other hand, Sir John Chilcot’s summary of the Report is only 3,000 words, and will reward reasonably close attention. I have just read it twice; the second time to confirm my first impression, that the Report is unlikely to contain anything I did not already know. I already knew that, for instance, the USA and UK invaded Iraq without the explicit encouragement of the full United Nations Security Council; that they did not find deployed “WMD”; that Western intelligence agencies are a shambles; that politicians make serious decisions anyway; that they are influenced by political considerations; that the budget-cut UK military was overstretched; that the planning for post-war Iraq was as inadequate as all other government planning, in war and peace, these last six thousand years; that it was over-ambitious, ditto; that the UK occupation of Basrah and environs was something of an under-equipped farce; and so forth.

On the plus side, the allies did succeed in their principal intention, by deposing Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime, inside a month. This is worth remembering sometimes. While the Chilcot Report nods empathetically to the families of the British fallen and wounded in that war and occupation, and to the courage of the soldiers themselves, it can only restate what the liberal media told them before the liberal media lost interest: that they were used and abused. This must be discouraging.

Blair is not accused of dishonesty. He is rather accused of reaching different conclusions from the authors of the Chilcot Report, in their hindsight of seven to fourteen years. But as I say, after reading the summary, I can expect nothing in the Report that could not have been said even before the invasion, and which for the most part was said, with plenty of publicity. The continuing belief that “international law” is reducible to decisions by the Security Council reveals a ludicrous naiveté. At best, we are reminded that the government bureaucracies on which Blair (and Bush) relied were, with the singular exception of their militaries, ignorant and incompetent beyond words.

But again, this isn’t news.

Many, including mainstream politicians of all stripes, supported the invasion at the time, because they expected it to be an unqualified success, and they wanted to be “on the right side of history,” or at least of the next election cycle. And many of these fairweather friends turned promptly with fortune, presenting themselves as victims of lies and deceptions; which was itself a bald and atrocious lie. Those who have admitted to personal misjudgement are so few, that I cannot think of an example. The rest use documents like the Chilcot Report, to resume their flogging of the dead horse.

That I despise these people is not news, either.