by Chris Ames
In an article in the Telegraph that makes the case for intervention in Syria by citing the Rwandan Genocide Memorial, William Hague, who was at the forefront of Tory calls for an inquiry into Iraq, says:
Back in London, Sir John Chilcot is laboriously assembling a very different monument – the long overdue report on the handling of the Iraq war. There are other monuments to lives lost in Iraq, but this one will contain a small pile of ruined reputations rather than a large one of broken bodies, and we can expect it to teach us a very different point: that military interventions, even those that are well-intentioned and promoted by democratic political leaders, can go seriously wrong.
When it is finally published, the Chilcot report will be a document for those of us who have often supported military interventions to reflect on, and it will be a time to acknowledge that we were wrong about the invasion of Iraq. We relied too much on evidence that turned out to be flimsy, and let our most important ally, the United States, become exhausted when there were many other battles to fight.
The Telegraph headlines the article “I admit it – Iraq was a mistake”, which suggests that Hague is saying that the invasion – as opposed to the country – was a mistake.
The use of tenses here is interesting. Hague is both saying that he will admit he was wrong when the report comes out and saying now what he and others were wrong about. In doing so he joins the ranks of politicians who thinks he knows what the report will say. For example, he is assuming that the report will say that the invasion was well-intentioned and relied on evidence, as opposed to taking place on a cooked-up pretext.
Back on the subject of Syria, Hague asks:
So how can we know, the sceptic can justifiably ask, that in 10 years’ time we will not be waiting for a Chilcot-style inquiry into Syria, with the weighty monument to failed interventions growing taller still?
It’s a question that Hague puts forward in order to provide a positive answer but, in doing so, he again pre-empts Chilcot.
When will they learn?