Incorrigible Warmongering Towards Russia
July 31, 2016
long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s role in
the Iraq War (2003-2011) was published in
July with much criticism leveled at the government
under prime minister Tony Blair. There seems to be a
national consensus that Britain’s war on Iraq is now
a cause of deep shame and that future British
governments should be chastened from embarking on
On the contrary, however, Britain’s
strident role in pushing NATO’s aggression towards
Russia – again on the basis of trumped-up
«intelligence» claims, as with its earlier invasion
of Iraq – shows in fact that nothing has been learnt
from the Chilcot Inquiry. Britain, shamefully,
remains an incorrigibly belligerent state that acts
as if it is above international law.
It remains to be seen if the new
British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson can bring some sanity to
Britain’s anti-Russia policy that was pushed by
David Cameron and Philip Hammond. Hammond’s slavish
following of Washington’s hostile agenda was
particularly baleful. The outlook does not seem
promising as can be gleaned from the systemic nature
of British pro-Washington’s conduct, as revealed by
the long-running Iraq imbroglio.
Sir John Chilcot, who led the
seven-year official inquiry into the Iraq war, said
the central question it addressed was whether the
war was necessary. It concluded that the war was not
necessary. Diplomatic options were not exhausted, it
said, adding that the decision to go to war was
based on flawed claims of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq
posing an imminent threat.
Chilcot’s report was
not constituted to be a legal examination of the war
or the British government’s decision to join the
American-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. So the
question of whether Blair or his government acted
criminally did not arise under the parameters of the
Nevertheless, the findings are
certainly potentially damning and could form the
case for a future prosecution. If Blair’s claims
made in 2002 and 2003 that Saddam could launch
weapons of mass destruction «within 45 minutes»
were, according to Chilcot, «not justified» then
that raises prosecutable issues that the former
premier misled his nation and parliament into voting
for an «unnecessary war».
Blair’s secret memo to US President
George W Bush in 2002 that he would follow his
policy «whatever» also indicates that the decision
to go to war was political and pre-ordained,
regardless of the intelligence facts, as Chilcot’s
report indicates. That provides additional grounds
for future prosecution.
The British inquiry, which was set up
by Blair’s prime ministerial successor Gordon Brown
in 2009 and is estimated to have cost £10 million
($13 million), goes a long way to vindicate many
anti-war campaigners who have consistently accused
Blair of being an indictable war criminal. Families
of British servicemen killed during the occupation
of Iraq reacted to the Chilcot report with angry
demands for Blair to be held to account for his
disastrous decision to go to war.
For his part, Blair continues to
maintain that he «acted in good faith» and «for the
best interests of the country».
Despite Blair’s assertions of
probity, there is wide public acceptance, following
the Chilcot report, that Britain’s invasion of Iraq
was an unmitigated catastrophe. Not only were scores
of British lives lost needlessly, but Iraqi society
was destroyed with the loss of perhaps more than one
million people. The legacy of regional terrorism is
greater than ever and it was spawned by Blair and
Bush’s war, as Chilcot explicitly noted.
Today, many Britons recognize that
their country’s international standing and foreign
policy has been fatally marred by the war. It has
been described as the worst setback for Britain’s
international image since the fiasco of the Suez
Crisis in 1956 when Britain (and France) were
defeated by Egypt’s Nasser. Sixty years on, that
latter debacle still haunts Britain’s establishment,
as it is seen to have marked the precipitous decline
of Britain as a colonial world power.
Sir John Chilcot said of his report
just prior to publication that its lessons will
serve to check future British governments from
launching reckless wars. He said the central lesson
of the report would be that «it will not be possible
in the future to engage in a military or indeed a
diplomatic endeavor on such a scale and such gravity
without careful challenge analysis and assessment
and collective political judgement being applied to
The British official double-think is
staggering. Amid solemn expiations over Iraq and
calls for future restraint on matters of war, this
same country is one of the main advocates for
military build-up by the NATO alliance in Eastern
Europe against alleged Russian aggression.
Britain’s former Foreign Secretary
Philip Hammond, who is now the finance minister in
May’s new cabinet, as well as Britain’s military
leaders sound like broken records with their
repeated claims that Russia is a threat to Europe’s
security. One British general has even predicted that
a nuclear war could break out with Russia in the
next year. Hammond’s successor at the foreign
office, Boris Johnson, will be worth listening to
closely to discern if there is any change in
attitude towards Russia. It is doubtful.
The comparison with Iraq could not be
more bitterly ironic. British claims of Russian
aggression are based on the same «flawed» or
«politicized» intelligence, which is likewise used
to whip up a media frenzy that justifies
warmongering. British troops are prominent in the
unprecedented NATO build-up currently underway in
Poland and the Baltic states.
Russia’s Defence Ministry has denounced the
NATO escalation as «hysterical Russophobia» that is
based on negligible evidence of Russian threat, and
solely on tendentious and highly disputable claims
by Washington, London and other Western governments
that Moscow «annexed» Crimea in 2014. The same goes
for Western claims of alleged Russian «invasion» of
Eastern Ukraine. No proof has ever been presented,
only sensational claims keenly peddled by Western
news media outlets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov says that NATO claims of Russia’s imminent
invasion of Easter Europe are «detached from
Of course, proof of purported Russian
malfeasance is not the real issue. What is important
is the relentless propaganda narrative of Russia as
security threat, which in turn is used to justify
NATO expansionism and the flow of lucrative arms
sales for Washington and London.
Ahead of the NATO summit in Poland on
July 8-9 it was reported that
Warsaw is to buy the US Patriot missile system «to
deter Russian aggression» – with a price tag of $5.6
billion. The maker is US firm Raytheon, which is one
of the biggest lobbyists in Washington, among other
The danger from NATO’s provocative
militarism on Russia’s border and from Russia’s
legitimate counter defense measures is that an
all-out war is not only a combustible risk, any
conflict would likely spiral into a nuclear one. The
risk of World War III is not hyperbole, with nuclear
weapon destructive power thousand-folds greater than
those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Britain’s government, military and
media establishments share onerous responsibility
for the grave deterioration in relations between
NATO and Russia.
One would think that the death and
destruction wrought on Iraq by Britain might serve
as a check on its belligerence towards Russia.
Especially given that the consequences of a war with
Russia would be inestimably greater than the
abomination that was Iraq.
No, not a bit of it. In essence,
Britain remains an unreconstructed, unapologetic,
belligerent rogue state that behaves beyond the rule
of law. It is a repeat-offender without ever being
prosecuted. It has learnt nothing from Iraq, despite
the pious claims of the Chilcot Inquiry.
That is why British political
leaders, like Tony Blair, and their aides should be
prosecuted to the full extent of international law.
Warmongering governments that are unaccountable will
continue to be warmongering governments, as the
present British-NATO aggression towards Russia
proves. (Same for the Americans, of course.)
If Tony Blair, over Iraq and
Afghanistan, and David Cameron, over Libya, were put
in the dock of a war crimes trial the chances are
that present and future British governments would be
a lot less gung-ho and incorrigible in their
reckless trashing of law.
The real lesson from the Chilcot
Inquiry is the imperative need to apply the rule of
law and prosecute war crimes. Then, future wars
might at last be avoided.
British citizens should mobilize even
more strenuously to demand that. The present
international legal structures might not be
amenable. The International Criminal Court in The
Hague said following Chilcot’s publication that it
has «no jurisdiction» over Britain’s war on Iraq or
in regard to Blair’s conduct in particular. Why not?
The ICC shows no such reluctance when going after
African alleged war criminals.
Still, British citizens should push
their own justice system to act accordingly given
the new evidence of the Chilcot Inquiry. If they
think Iraq was a catastrophe, how much more
cataclysmic would be a war with Russia? A war that
its leaders are once again recklessly agitating for.