I happened to listen on Wednesday to Peter Oborne’s excellent R4 programme from late October on the ‘unofficial’ Chilcot Inquiry. What really struck me were the similarities of the politics of the Iraq invasion with this week’s vote on airstrikes. In particular whether military action makes the UK safer or not. There was the same handwringing, hairy chested posturing in the name of improved national security. The scale of Iraq of course was much greater and the scale of the failure is at the end of the Richter Scale.
It is worth mulling over the then head of MI5’s words at the time.
From the Programme: Baroness Manningham-Buller has refrained from speaking to journalists but told the Chilcot Inquiry that senior government figures had been warned before 2003 that invading Iraq would increase the terrorist threat to Britain.
She told the inquiry that in the event, the threat increased “substantially”.
“The fact is that the threat increased, was exacerbated by Iraq, and caused not only my service but many other services round the world to have to have a major increase in resources to deal with it.
“In 2003, having had an upgrade in resources after 9/11, which my predecessor agreed, and another one in 2002, by 2003 I found it necessary to ask the prime minister for a doubling of our budget.
“This is unheard of, it’s certainly unheard of today, but he and the Treasury and the chancellor accepted that because I was able to demonstrate the scale of the problem that we were confronted by.”
It seems on the question of the threat EMB was right. Blair and team did not listen to this and any other sensible advice and the state of exception in the UK we now live in was much exacerbated by the invasion and in addition it created the conditions for the rise of Daesh. What baffles me is that why anyone in the news media takes Blair’s opinions seriously or worth publishing. His error of judgement was as serious as Eden’s over Suez or Chamberlain’s over Hitler. He should be reflecting in a monastery not giving speeches.
All history suggests that military intervention triggers the law of unintended consequences and whether it works or not seems be a random statistical chance.