While the Iraq Enquiry continues – Jack Straw is giving evidence this afternoon – there is genuine disquiet out there about the whole business of the war. There was clearly a move to war on Iraq well before the subject was debated in the House of Commons, the intelligence put before that debate was, to put it directly, laughable, and the apparent intention behind the invasion – régime change – is illegal according to the UN’s charter.
To the foregoing can be added the death toll among the civilian population, which even the most conservative estimates put at around 100,000. Other estimates range all the way through the million mark. And the country is still not in a universally peaceful state, though I’m told that a number of players in the petro-chemical industry are doing an increasing amount of business there.
Which comes back to the suggestion, made at the time of the invasion, that the real reason for the war was for Western economies to get their hands on Iraq’s oil reserves, in a move towards a measure of energy security. But no politician, past or present, is going to admit to that. In any case, following that Commons debate, there was a vote heavily in favour of the war: as usual in such circumstances, the conformist instinct is to military action, just as it was with Suez.
The sole substantial Parliamentary opposition came from the Lib Dems: on a BBC special, their then leader Charles Kennedy was sneeringly shouted down by Tory Alan Duncan, the Member for Sunbed South. Duncan hasn’t sounded quite so enthusiastic about the conflict recently, and he probably won’t be impacted by the Chilcot enquiry. But neither, I suspect, will anyone else.
To the victors the spoils, and the writing of the history: nothing much changes.