Monday, March 12, 2018

Criticism of Prime Minister Blair's response to the Chilcot report

PREFACE: I generally refrain from direct critical evaluation of the 06JUL16 Chilcot (UK Iraq Inquiry) report because I'm an American versed in the workings of the American domestic decision on Iraq who's not similarly versed in the workings of the British domestic decision on Iraq. However, the American and British decisions on Iraq share the predominant, international context of the enforcement of Iraq's compliance with the UNSCR 660-series, Gulf War ceasefire mandates. As such, I have on occasion critically evaluated UK-based commentary related to the Chilcot report on the mutual grounds of the US and UK decision on Iraq. For example, see my Rebuttal of Prime Minister Brown's memoir argument against Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In the same vein, here is a brief criticism of Prime Minister Blair's response to the Chilcot report.

A brief criticism of Prime Minister Blair's 06JUL16 response to the Chilcot report:

Prime Minister Blair's response to the Chilcot report attempts to justify the British decision on Iraq using an apology format, and indeed, a savvy political apology can be strategically affirmative while actually unapologetic. Otherwise, an apology normally is an implicit acceptance of the accuser's contextual frame and contrite admission of culpability and/or error. Blair's response to the Chilcot report is inclined to be strategically affirmative of the Iraq intervention, but it falls short of the intended political impact because Blair failed to clarify the operative contextual frame that's necessary to properly sort, order, and evaluate the data he listed.

Context is essential. Blair properly cited that UNSCR 1441 was "[d]etermined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations" and afforded Iraq's "final opportunity to comply". However, Blair critically omitted the operative context of UNSCR 1441 that "recall[ed] that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance" and "[re]cogniz[ed] the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security". Review the OIF FAQ and my rebuttal of Prime Minister Brown and attend to their dialectical structure. Suffice to say, in contrast, Blair's omission of core load-bearing elements much explains his dooming failure to clarify the operative contextual frame of the Iraq issue.

Blair provides a workable list of relevant data points, which could and should have been quilted onto the operative contextual frame to present a persuasive response to the Chilcot report that clarified the Iraq issue. Instead, Prime Minister Blair's failure to correct Sir John Chilcot's distorted context carried over Chilcot's mis-ordered mis-evaluation of the data and lets lay the obfuscation that enables Chilcot's faulty premises. In other words, Blair presented to the public an incoherent pile of puzzle pieces instead of a coherently assembled, clarified narrative-picture of the Iraq issue that could dispel and replace the prevailing, Chilcot-abetted revisionist narrative-picture.

Compounding his fundamental failure to clarify the operative contextual frame, Prime Minister Blair misrepresented key fact findings, especially from the Iraq Survey Group, just like President Bush did in his 2010 memoir, which I correctively criticized here. Regarding Blair's comments on the post-war competition for Iraq, also see my commentary on the post-war planning, setbacks, and adjustments.

Blair's exhortation to "learn the right ... lessons from Iraq" is precluded by the Chilcot-abetted revisionist narrative that has deformed those lessons. The historical record and, by the same token, the broader politics of Iraq can't cure themselves. Which is to say, history doesn't "tell" — it's told. How it's told is course-setting: Past is prologue. Past is premise. Inasmuch Blair "says that history will tell in the end what was right" (Shehadi), he's passed the buck to other public expert authorities, leaders and pundits, to clarify the operative contextual frame that's necessary to pick up his relevant yet inarticulate pile of data points, and sort, order, and evaluate them properly to set the record straight on the Iraq intervention. In turn, a clarified narrative is necessary to lay the proper foundation to "learn the right ... lessons from Iraq".




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