Thursday, 7 July 2016
Who or what helped Blair at the time?
1. I learned history at school as a series of events that began, continued and ended. Before the event there were causes and after the event there were consequences. What's overlooked here is the possibility that things don't always or necessarily 'begin' or 'end' ; the 'causes' framework nearly always overlooks movements in the states of mind of populations unless that state of mind is directly reflected in action. Actions are 'causes' but flows in a population's states of mind are not, apparently.
2. We talk of the Iraq War as being an event with a beginning middle and end but the Iraq War for the UK began when Britain decided that the Middle East was part of its remit, at the very least from the time Britain started drawing up frontiers and bombing people there. The Iraq War hasn't ended. When the media ask if Blair or the US took into account the consequences or the aftermath of the war, this lets the US and the UK off the hook. The 'aftermath' is the war. Whether the war was to eliminate WMD and/or remove Saddam Hussein - there was (and this is always the case) no war without aftermath. The Project for the New American Century (and its followers) said the aftermath would be a new wave of democratic states in the Middle East (who would also be compliant to US rule). So they did 'plan'. It's just that their plans didn't pan out. And these plans are part of the war.
3. Another way there is no beginning, middle and end is the way the media handled it all. Imagine if a Chilcot committee examined what the main mass media outlets said about Iraq from 2000 to, let's say, 2010. Very few of us in the UK have ever been to Iraq. Where do we get our news from, how do we know what's going on? We rely on these outlets to tell us. So when we make a judgement to oppose or not oppose a war, it is largely based on what we read, watch and listen to as dished up by the mass media.
Let's have a fantasy-moment: imagine if the country had come to a standstill in the lead-up to the Iraq war. It really wouldn't have been possible for Blair et al to have gone ahead. I've seen reports which suggest that Blair was at the very least nervous about getting the House of Commons vote which in turn partly depended on how much against the war, was the British public as a whole.
The fact that we were millions is great. However, if we had been multimillions we might have stopped Britain joining in. The fact we were't multimillions is at least partly due to what the media were saying or doing.
So, what were they saying and doing? Mostly, they were justifying and echoing what Blair and Bush were telling the public as well as doing the job of vilifying and sneering at those of us who opposed, as if to say, 'Don't join that lot, they are secret admirers of Saddam...' etc etc.
This is part of history. It's part of how Blair was at that time a 'winner'. But, with all the focus on decisions made in Blair's head ('my judgement' etc) the flows of history, get marginalised. Prior to the war breaking out - and ever since - there's been a battle of ideas, battle of views, in which the main media have had a huge part to play.
I don't imagine that the BBC, ITV, Mirror, Sun, Observer, Times, Telegraph, say, will be running big self-examinations on 'what we said and when' and 'how we might have contributed to sending British soldiers to Iraq', and 'how we might have contributed to creating the bloodbath ever since'. Maybe they will. If you see any bit of honest self-examination like that, do let me know.
4. Weasel words about 'context' do appear, particularly in relation to 9/11. John Humphrys let Blair say on the Today programme this morning that we had to remember that 9/11 had happened only a few months earlier. Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Yet, when the war began I saw several polls which showed that people in the US and the UK thought that 'we' were going to find the people or get the people or do payback on the people who were responsible for 9/11. How did that come about? How come people were in that deluded state? Was there anything that politicians and the media said or did that encouraged that delusion? Or did people just draw that conclusion in error and really politicians and the media did their best to stop people thinking these things?