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A report in some very long grass

28 September 2012

The truth about the Iraq War should be revealed, says Alan Storkey

DO YOU remember the Chilcot inquiry? After several whitewashing reports, the Chilcot inquiry was set up in July 2009 to examine UK participation in the Iraq War. We could reasonably have expected it to report a year or so ago, in 2011. We now know that it will not be published before the end of 2013 - and possibly later.

Meanwhile, the world, led by Archbishop Tutu, has woken up to the fact that the rule of law applies to all nations, not just the enemies of the West, and has asked for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, for conducting an unprovoked aggressive war against Iraq (News, Comment, 7 September).

Why is the Chilcot inquiry so late? There are two reasons. First: the Establishment has kicked the problem into the long grass. Everyone - Mr Blair, the Government, civil servants (with the notable exception of the deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, who resigned because she saw the war as illegal), Parliament, the Conservative Party, and the intelligence services - sycophantically supported the illegal war, poodles all.

Second, Chilcot is in an impossible situation. The inquiry was expected to toe the line about being misinformed on weapons of mass destruction and the supposed legality of the war. But these defences do not wash. They were cooked up, as Jack Straw, Colin Powell, Sir John Scarlett, Lord Goldsmith, and others knew. Everything was brought into line, because the decision to go to war had already been taken: first, by Bush and Rumsfeld, and then by Blair. It was an institutionalised dishonesty, a fabrication. And we did it.

The fabrication was frightening: a student paper in the dossier; palpable untruths about the threat; the attempted debunking and intimidation of Hans Blix and the other inspectors; pressure on David Kelly; and various attempts to muzzle the BBC, to force a volte-face from the Attorney General, to vilify the French for having principles, to bring the Cabinet into line, to press Parliament into agreement, to suppress knowledge that the weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed, and to get the tabloids to help to spread the lies. As a result, 100,000 people were killed, a million more were made refugees, a civil war followed, and Iraq suffered billions in damage and further billions in economic losses. In the aftermath, various companies have exploited oil revenues so as to boost their profits.

The underlying reason for the war was that military and neo-conservatives in the United States needed it, especially after the failure to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Moreover, since the collapse of the USSR, the military needed enemies, and the US needed a headline victory. Afghanistan did not provide it; Iraq would. After all, it was disarmed. The British military was in hock to the Americans, and the arms companies were out for a showcase war. Mr Bush, Mr Blair, Mr Powell, and Mr Straw were brought into line by the United States' military, led by Donald Rumsfeld.

We have dishonoured our military, and killed many of them by fighting an unjust and illegal war to advance militarism. It is time that we, as Christians, fully debunked militarism. "God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet" is perhaps not the best expression of God's continuing relationship with the British Isles.

Dr Alan Storkey is the author of Jesus and Politics (Baker Book House, 2005).

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