The report on the United Kingdom's role in the Iraq War delivers a devastating verdict on ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair. He will go down in history as a liar and a warmonger, Barbara Wesel writes.
He was found guilty in the court of public opinion long ago: Tony Blair went to war in Iraq alongside George W. Bush in order to make himself seem important as an international politician and as the closest ally of the president of the United States. Many were convinced that he lied to his parliament and his people and that he bore responsibility for death and chaos in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, the long wait for the inquiry report was worth it because it seamlessly outlines just how the biggest political mistake in postwar Britain came about.
The report, prepared in infinite detail by a former high-ranking government official, is a quiet, yet perfectly focused, annihilation of Blair. Britain's old government apparatus has once again demonstrated its qualities amid the political chaos of the day. In the 2.6 million word report, Sir John Chilcot explains how Tony Blair decided to go to war in 2002, and how he subsequently shaped intelligence to justify that decision.
Chilcot's verdict is unequivocal: There was no good reason to go to war in 2003, and there was no legal basis to invade Iraq. Intelligence services reports about Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction were dubious. There was no legitimacy for the war; nevertheless Blair had made up his mind: He undermined the UN Security Council, his troops were miserably ill-equipped, and he utterly failed to plan for the period that would follow the war.
Blair's original sin
Masses of British people took to the streets in protest prior to the invasion. They rightly sensed that they were being lied to. They were convinced that neither an "imminent threat" nor Saddam's weapons of mass destruction existed. But Tony Blair ignored his people in the same way that he ignored the objections of France and Germany.
Blair's megalomania led him to follow President Bush, of all people, and to take the United Kingdom into a war that ended in disaster. The report thoughtfully traces the arc of time from the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the chaotic state of the country today.
The prime minister's deceitful justifications for the war also destroyed the trust of his voters. He gagged his cabinet, and he circumvented the controls of governance.
Blair laid the foundation for the hate and opposition that politicians are so often confronted with today. He committed the original sin that feeds the distrust with which so many people regard politics.
Still no remorse
It was a pale and aged Blair who spoke of sadness and regret with a cracking voice. Yet, he still fails to understand. For he immediately uttered the same tired old justifications: The world is better off without Saddam, the attacks of 9/11 changed the world forever, and terrorism in the region today has nothing to do with the invasion back then.
It is a monumental act of denial. Blair is trying to defend the indefensible: a chain of hair-raising political and military blunders, his own misjudgments and his limitless arrogance.
"I will be with you, whatever," Blair wrote to President Bush in the summer of 2002. One should carve that on his gravestone as an eternal deterrent to blind allegiance and political hubris. With the report, Tony Blair's reputation has been utterly destroyed.
The positive things that Tony Blair achieved in office - such as helping negotiate the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland - will be buried under the ruins of the Iraq War. Whether Blair can now be brought to trial remains to be seen. But history will ultimately judge him: Here is a man who fought the wrong war, for the wrong reasons and with the wrong plan.