Boris Johnson’s sympathy isn’t worth much; his sentiments during his LBC interview this week were touching, but he does not have the conviction to back the campaign to see Tony Blair face justice for his crimes. Johnson does, however, offer an insight into Blair’s character which I have experienced first-hand – that Blair is slippery. The London mayor described him as “eel-like” and a “very adept and agile lawyer”. A prosecution for war crimes in Johnson’s words was “not going to happen”.
Currently a prosecution depends on one of two factors: its status before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or its status in domestic law. The ICC calls itself “an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes”. In all honesty I have no faith in the ICC bringing a conviction against Blair. The ICC has been accused of bias, and as being a tool of western imperialism, only punishing leaders from small states while ignoring crimes committed by richer and more powerful states. This sentiment has been expressed particularly by African leaders due to the disproportionate focus on their nations.
I believe our only hope of getting criminal charges brought against Blair lies at home. Yet we cannot rely on our current crop of politicians to do the right thing. They have no interest in seeing Blair face justice as it would bring more controversy to the current government on the world stage. Speaking of the Chilcot inquiry this week, David Cameron said: “It would be unreasonable to postpone it beyond the next election,” with his eyes clearly on the prize rather than a genuine interest in justice.
Personally, I would like to see Blair brought to account for his actions while he is alive. That will send a clear message to any future politicians, both in the UK and abroad, helping to avoid another illegal misguided foray and the loss of innocent lives. Between 500,000 and 1 million people have lost their lives in Iraq (depending on which reports you believe), and with sectarian violence showing no signs of slowing down, the death toll is still on the rise.
The sword of Damocles is hanging over Tony Blair’s head in the form of Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq inquiry report, which unsurprisingly has faced long delays. It is going to tell the story of, what is in my mind, the most catastrophic foreign policy decision since 1956, when former British prime minister Anthony Eden misled parliament and the British public and lied to the world during the Suez crisis. Eden and Blair share several similarities: both willing to sacrifice our troops and the innocent lives of civilians in the Middle East for oil, regime change and imperialist gain.
Even if Blair uses his “eel-like” powers to avoid prosecution, like so many rich and powerful people have done before him, he will not escape the history books. The voices that protect him will slowly fade and make way for a chorus of condemnation.
It is said that great men and women live forever. They live through the lives they’ve touched, and the things they’ve accomplished. I would say this is also true for people on the other side of this fence: the villains. History will show the extent of Blair’s failings, his perversions of the truth, his misleading of the world and the blood on his hands.