THE LONG-awaited “definitive” inquiry into the Iraq war has begun in London, headed by former civil servant John Chilcot.
Chilcot has declared in advance that this will be a rigorous inquiry and not a whitewash. But anyone who is hoping to see Blair and Bush indicted in a court of law for their war crimes will be bitterly disappointed.
Chilcot claims the purpose of the inquiry is to prevent future foreign policy disasters of this kind — thereby acknowledging officially that the war has been a disaster — from the imperialist ruling class point of view.
But the inquiry panel includes not one single lawyer and is therefore not competent to address the key issue of whether the war was legal. A senior judge last week told the Guardian: “The truth of the matter is, if the inquiry was going to express a view with any kind of authority on the question of legality, it would need a legal member and quite a senior one,” the judge said. “Looking at the membership ... it seems to me that legality just wasn’t going to be a question they would be asked to review.”
Another senior legal figure said: “The panel clearly lacks the expertise to address the question of legality. The members are not experienced at cross-examination — it is simply not their skill set.” The panel will be expected to cross examine Tony Blair — who certainly is a lawyer and he will be using all his powers to defend his record. He has yet to acknowledge that the decision to go to war was a disaster.
The Government is probably hoping the inquiry, if it goes on long enough, might still the voices of bereaved relatives of soldiers who have died in Iraq. It will give them an opportunity to voice their anger. But with no possibility of a legal ruling there will be no hope of compensation.
A far bigger danger from the Government’s point of view that a legal ruling would bring would be the millions of bereaved Iraqis who might seek compensation. So far the people of Iraq seem to have no advocate at this inquiry to cross examine Blair and his fellow war criminals. The only government they have to speak for them would be the imperialist puppet regime that is more interested in suppressing the legal rights of the Iraqis on behalf of the imperialists.
Yet the Iraqi people did speak for themselves by resisting this war and refusing to be defeated. We should have no doubts that the Chilcot inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the start of the war would never have been held if the war had not gone disastrously wrong for imperialism.
There was no inquiry into the imperialist protracted war that carved up what was Yugoslavia because from the imperialist point of view that had been a success.
The justice of raining bombs and missiles on an innocent people, invading and occupying their country, imprisoning and torturing their defenders, using poison gases against whole towns and villages and forcing upon them a long and bloody civil war is not what this inquiry is about.
It is about why did the imperialist leaders make such a big mistake and fail in their efforts to secure Iraqi oil for themselves. It is about poor military judgement that led to the humiliation of the coalition of the willing — with huge repercussions around the globe.
While the United States army was fully busy in Iraq, Venezuela was able to move along the path to a workers’ state with only the inadequate machinations of the CIA to try to thwart it. And many other Latin American states have followed suit. Socialist Cuba found a powerful neighbouring trading partner and ally with plenty of oil to sell.
Since then China has grown as a global power economically and politically; Russia has re-asserted itself as economically independent of the US; India, South African and Brazil are growing powers. Global hegemony has slipped away from America’s grasping fingers. Small nations can now defy US threats, knowing they have a choice of political and economic partners.
The world has changed dramatically since March 2003 — and for the better from the point of view of the international working class. And the Iraq War has been a pivotal point within that change.
No wonder those capitalists — in the EU and even in the US — who hesitated to start the Iraq War want a post-mortem on who broke their system and brought them so much grief by being too arrogant and greedy.