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Faux sincerity, weasel words - the Spin King strikes again

OWoN: Be in no doubt we are going for him whenever a chance comes to bring him to Justice by shaming this nasty creep. GUILTY!!!!


Blair, left, struck a secret deal with US President George W Bush, right, over the planned invasion of Iraq


Faux sincerity. Weasel words. The Spin King strikes again: Michael Burleigh on Tony Blair's controversial Iraq war apology

  • Tony Blair relied on his Machiavellian spin doctor Alastair Campbell
  • As a result of his spin Blair took Britain to war five times in just six years
  • Blair struck a secret deal with George W Bush to support the Iraqi invasion
  • He then spent a year using spin and lies to secure Parliament's approval

Mail Online
By Michael Burleigh
25 October 2015

One of the most insidious aspects of Tony Blair’s governments was their cynical reliance on ‘spin’. This was personnified by his mendacious and Machiavellian Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, who, though unelected, was more powerful than most Cabinet ministers.

Spin served Blair particularly well in foreign policy as he took Britain to war five times in six years – more occasions than any other post-war prime minister.

Most shamefully, having already struck a secret deal with President George Bush, he embarked on a disgraceful year-long campaign of spin and lies to try to win parliamentary approval for the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003.


One of Tony Blair's biggest failings was his reliance on his mendacious Spin Doctor Alastair Campbell, left


This followed interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and an earlier involvement in Iraq – many of which plunged the world into chaos from which it still suffers.

Sadly, it seems that Blair’s addiction to spin remains undimmed as the perma-tanned multi-millionaire ex-Prime Minister travels the world in a private jet, advising squalid tyrants and looking for his next money-making venture.

How this sits happily on the conscience of a man who told us that he prayed when deciding whether or not to send British troops to Iraq, heaven only knows.

But we witnessed at the weekend another exercise in news-manipulation of which his old mucker Alastair Campbell would be very proud.

Blair has been aware for a long time of the broad thrust of any criticisms of him likely to be made in the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war – currently six years late and £10 million in the making.

For the ex-Labour PM and other figures expected to be criticised for their role have had plenty of opportunities for them and their lawyers to challenge and deflect imputations of culpability.

As the King of Spin, Blair grabbed the chance to try to exonerate himself – full in the knowledge that his reputation and political legacy risks forever being blighted by the widespread belief that he took Britain into an illegal war which resulted in the deaths of 179 British troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.


Blair, pictured, tried to exonerate himself on CNN from bringing Britain into an illegal war in Iraq





His latest performance – dressed up as a confessional – was in an interview with an ideologically-sympathetic American TV presenter who himself said, in 2003, that ‘any stirring of the [Iraqi] pot is good’.

W ell the pot was more than ‘stirred’. The Iraqi kitchen and house burned down and the fire spread to neighbouring Syria and Turkey. As a consequence, the power of the Iranian ayatollahs is at its zenith and Russia is exploiting the mess by sending its warplanes to the region. A vicious sectarian war threatens to engulf the entire Middle East, part of which is controlled by the IS death cult, the world’s first terror state.

Of course, not even an ‘apology’ is straightforward in the case of trained barrister Tony Blair, who once, without irony, described himself as ‘straight talking kinda guy’.

There was no reference in his CNN interview about the recent revelation that he had committed Britain to war in Iraq at least a month before he met Bush at his ranch in Texas in April 2002, where they are believed to have committed themselves to military action, though there were no witnesses.


Blair privately committed to war on the basis of Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction


Only last week, we learnt from a newly-unearthed memo from the then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, written a month earlier to Bush, that ‘on Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary…’

This means that Blair was privately committed to war, which belied his public position that he was going down the diplomatic route to try to avoid it, with the efforts of UN inspectors under Hans Blix to neutralise the supposed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ threat from Saddam.

The fact is – as we have subsequently learnt – that those ‘weapons of mass destruction did not exist.

Blair’s ingrained ability for media manipulation was also praised in the Powell memo. The Secretary of State told Bush that the British Prime Minister would ‘present to you the strategic, tactical and public affairs lines that he believes will strengthen global support for our common cause’.

Close examination of Blair’s supposed mea culpa to CNN shows that, essentially, he is only ‘apologising’ for the mistakes of others.


Blair used the CNN interview to apologise for the mistakes of others, and not those of his own making


For example: ‘I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong’. This adroitly shifts the blame squarely onto MI6 and GCHQ which gathered the intelligence on Saddam. Thus, scant blame is laid at the door of politicians such as himself who analysed it and then served up that notorious ‘dodgy dossier’ version to the public which he had demanded, replete with ‘proof’ that Saddam had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ capable of destroying British bases in Cyprus within 45 minutes of an order from the Iraqi leader.

The twisting of military of intelligence in this way is one of the worst things any democratic government can do. But it was just another day’s work for Blair and Campbell – adjusting any facts that ‘conflicted’ with their wishes.

It is not just in his analysis of the run-up to the war that Blair is now using such sleight of hand.

His historical revisionism – if that’s not too fair a phrase for such an arch-manipulator of the truth – is on display again when dealing with the catastrophic failure to manage the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

Again, he shifts the blame from himself to the senior military figures responsible for planning the invasion and occupation, where for sure, there were errors aplenty.

How typical of Blair – who comes from the liberal Islington lawyer class which thinks it has a monopoly of life’s good intentions – to apologise for ‘our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.’ Note that he uses the word ‘our’ twice, rather than ‘my’. And, of course, he adds firmly: ‘But I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam.’


Blair said he finds it hard to apologise for the removal of Saddam, but is in denial about the cause of the chaos since in Iraq and the subsequent rise of ISIS and Al Qaeda


So, one moment we are offered an apparent mea culpa; but then it’s instantly followed up with a non-apology.

What’s more, by refusing to apologise for the removal of Saddam (which swiftly resulted in Iraq sliding into anarchy and Saddam’s Baathist henchmen joining the Al Qaeda terror organisation which launched attacks on Britain), he is in denial that it was Saddam’s ‘removal’ that was mainly responsible for the ensuing chaos.

On another front, Blair uses the CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria to try to neutralise the charge expected from Chilcot that he and George Bush bear responsibility for the rise of IS.

He says: ‘I think there are elements of truth in that. Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.’

This ranks as one of the understatements of the year.

Without doubt, IS is a direct result of an Iraqi political system that left many minority Sunnis feeling aggrieved after the majority Shia took over the country.

Forget Blair’s weaselly phrase ‘elements of truth’, it was the whole truth that the actions of Blair and Bush led to the establishment of IS.

This latest brazen exercise in spin from such a master of the dark arts as Tony Blair – using typical faux sincerity – is a chilling reminder of the deceit that lies behind much of modern politics.

But more specifically, it will never absolve Tony Blair for responsibility for the biggest foreign policy disaster of our times.

  • Michael Burleigh is author of Small Wars, Far Away Places

______________________________________________________________________


Call that an apology Mr, Blair? Army families' fury as ex-PM says he's sorry for mistakes of OTHER people over Iraq War

By Jack Doyle
and Larisa Brown

Tony Blair was last night accused of a ‘cynical spin operation’ after offering a feeble half-apology for the Iraq War.

Bereaved families and critics of the war said the former prime minister was ‘passing the buck’ after he offered a series of selective apologies for the conflict.

In an interview with US television, he said he apologised for the fact the intelligence on which the conflict was based was wrong.


Tony Blair, pictured, apologised on US television for the fact that pre-Iraq war intelligence was wrong


He also said sorry for ‘some of the mistakes in planning’ and for mistakes in handling the aftermath of the conflict. And he admitted that he had ‘some responsibility’ for the rise of Islamic State in Iraq in recent years.

But he continued to justify his actions, saying he found it hard to apologise for removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Parents of British soldiers who died in the conflict said he should apologise personally to them for their loss. Politicians who opposed the conflict accused him of ‘weasel words’.

His comments also prompted fears about the outcome of the Chilcot Inquiry into the war and whether it will uncover the truth.

Mr Blair, 62, has already received details of the criticisms he is expected to face from Sir John Chilcot’s marathon inquiry.

His intervention at this stage was seen as an attempt to counteract the report’s conclusions before they are published.


Reg Keys, pictured, whose son Lance Corporal Tom Keys was a military policeman killed in Iraq in 2003 by an angry mob said the former PM was the 'consummate master of spin' following his interview on CNN


Reg Keys, whose son Lance Corporal Tom Keys was a Royal Military Policeman killed by an Iraqi mob in 2003, called Mr Blair ‘the consummate master of spin’.

‘He is pre-empting the various angles of criticism when Chilcot comes out. He is laying the groundwork beforehand,’ he said.

‘He’s apologising for incorrect intelligence – well why didn’t he march over to MI5 and MI6 at the time and sack them? He’s pointing the finger now at intelligence chiefs, he’s passing the buck, the buck stops at No 10.

‘He’s shifting the blame and trying to lessen the impact on himself. The ultimate responsibility is with him. He made the case for war. Blair was the one spinning it.

‘If he’s going to apologise, can’t he find it in his heart to apologise for loss of life? He’s trying to soften the blow, not that I think it will be that hard hitting anyway, it will be diluted.’

Janice Procter, 53, whose son Private Michael Tench, 18, was killed by a roadside bomb in 2007, said: ‘Tony Blair is a liar and he should be tried for murder.


Rose Gentle, pictured beside her son Gordon's grave, who died in Iraq in 2004 said Tony Blair was to blame


‘This just shows the report will be a total whitewash and a complete cover-up with him shifting the blame on to other people.

‘How does he sleep at night? He couldn’t apologise to me in 2007. He should be made to face every single parent whose son died in the war. The fact we are having to still fight for the truth is beyond belief.’

Rose Gentle, whose son Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, died in the Iraq War in 2004, said: ‘That is not an apology, to me. He is the one who looked over every bit of information he was given. He was the PM who gave the go-ahead for us to go in. He is the one to blame.

‘I’ve been speaking to the families overnight and they are all really upset. It is certainly not an apology to us.

‘I think when we get the report a lot of questions will be left out. They have had such a long time to answer.’

Interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Mr Blair said: ‘I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong.

‘I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.’


Blair admitted the failure to see what would happen after Saddam's removal was 'our mistake'


Asked if Iraq was ‘the principal cause’ of the rise of Islamic State, he conceded: ‘I think there are elements of truth in that.’

He added: ‘Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.’

No date has yet been given for the release of the final conclusions of the Chilcot Inquiry, more than six years after it was set up.

The delays have been blamed on the time required to inform those who will be criticised and deal with their responses. Mr Blair has denied he is the source of the hold-up.

Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, said: ‘Nobody will be fooled by Tony Blair’s weasel words. [His] comments are plainly the start of a cynical spin operation ahead of the expected timetable announcement for publication of the Chilcot report.

‘Those who lost loved ones in Iraq and all those who protested against it deserve a full and frank account of the decisions which led to the invasion and, as Tony Blair now admits, also led to the rise of Daesh [Islamic State].’

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: ‘His partial acknowledgement that the military action against Saddam Hussein has made some contribution to instability in the Middle East will do nothing to change public opinion that his was a major error of judgment.

‘The inevitable truth is that Iraq is his legacy and it will be his epitaph.’

______________________________________________________________________


How self-serving interview seeks to shift the blame: JAMES SLACK deconstructs Tony Blair's spin


WHAT HE SAID: I can say that I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong.

WHY IT’S SPIN: Blair is seeking to shift blame for the dodgy dossiers and the lies told in the build-up to war on to the intelligence agencies. In other words, he is only ‘sorry’ for something that isn’t actually his fault. Yet he ignores the enormous pressure that Downing Street was putting on MI6 and the Joint Intelligence Committee to help him make the case for toppling Saddam – not to mention No 10’s own role in ‘sexing up’ the material.

The Butler Inquiry – though widely seen as a whitewash that let Blair off the hook – said the language in the Government’s dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction may have given the impression there was ‘fuller and firmer’ intelligence behind its judgments than was the case.

The conclusions in the dossier about Saddam’s threat also went to the ‘outer limits’ of the available intelligence, the inquiry said. Overall, more weight was put on the intelligence than it could bear.


Lord Butler's report, published in July 2004, pictured, was widely seen as a 'whitewash' but it did say that the Government's dossier on weapons of mass destruction had stretched the intelligence to its limit


WHAT HE SAID: I also apologise, by the way, for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.

WHY IT’S SPIN: A date for the publication of the Chilcot report is imminent. Blair is aware of the criticisms that Chilcot is planning to make because the Inquiry has already written to him to tell him.

Ever the master of the dark art of media manipulation, he is therefore apologising for the post-war anarchy in Iraq in advance, to try to take the sting out of Chilcot’s findings.

Yesterday, ex-home secretary Lord Blunkett revealed how Blair had put blind faith in the US being able to rebuild Iraq – a truly spectacular misjudgment.

WHAT HE SAID: There are elements of truth in that [the suggestion that the invasion of Iraq led to the rise of Islamic State]. Of course you can’t say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015 – but it is important to also realise that the Arab Spring which began in 2011 would have also had its impact.


A date for the publication of a report into the Iraqi invasion by Sir John Chilcot, pictured, is imminent. The report is expected to heavily criticise Blair, which may have prompted his CNN interview to 'spin' his own version


WHY IT’S SPIN: To deny that the post-invasion chaos in Iraq created the space for first Al Qaeda and now IS to turn Iraq into a hotbed for terrorism is impossible – a fact even Blair himself now belatedly concedes.

However, his mea culpa is swiftly followed by an attack on the West’s leaders for ‘doing nothing’ in Syria – which, he says, is where IS ‘actually came to prominence’. The implication is that Blair would have intervened to prevent this from happening.

On his actions in Iraq, versus the current bloodshed in Syria caused by the West’s failure to act, he arrogantly declares: ‘That’s a judgment of history I’m prepared to have.’

WHAT HE SAID: I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam.

WHY IT’S SPIN: Having pre-empted Chilcot on failures in planning and intelligence, we get to the truth of the matter: Blair is actually utterly unrepentant about a war that claimed the lives of 179 British servicemen and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

He even goads his critics by referring to removing Saddam as being ‘my crime’, before adding that the world is a better place now the tyrant is dead. Translation: You may think I’m a war criminal, I know I’m infallible.

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1 comment :

  1. Hitlary took a page out of Blair's playbook when she testified before Congressional committee last week apologizing...almost...for slaughter of Americans in Benghazi. She was sorry for what staff did or didn't do? Wasn't clear. So where is the FBI on their investigation? Will Hitlary be indicted soon? Rumor is NO because Obambi wants the thousand knives treatment of her, but nothing serious because it will expose what happened! Rumor is scenario was created for Ambassador to be KIDNAPPED and traded for blind Skeik! That's why even the meager security Ambassador had was not continued much less increased. That's why the stand down order not to send help. That's why invaders said when facing some gunfire as they arrived, "Morsi sent us!" When is anyone going to tell the truth and prosecute as appropriate? Until this happens, there will be much more of the same. No one cares???

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