Monday, August 03, 2009

The fallacy of hope

To judge from his performance last week, the inquiry's chairman is determined to pre-empt all the most obvious criticisms of his work. "The inquiry is not a court of law and nobody is on trial," he declared. "But I want to make something absolutely clear. This committee will not shy away from making criticism. If we find that mistakes were made, that there were issues which could have been dealt with better, we will say so frankly." The families of dead servicemen will be consulted, a technique of "victim justice" first deployed in the United States. This will also, in the spirit of the age, be a "wiki-inquiry", with a website inviting members of the public to chip in "if they think they have information relevant to our investigations".Many who take an interest in the Chilcot hearings and its eventual report will, I suspect, have one hope above all others: namely, that the committee will, finally, on behalf of the nation, the world, and the cosmos, nail Blair once and for all. It is never pleasant to dash anyone's dreams, but those who harbour such expectations should banish them now. Forget it: there is no way this lot are going to skewer the former Prime Minister.
I know, it must come as a disappointment, but Matthew d'Ancona surely is right; Blair will escape from the clutches of this inquiry, just as he did from the last one and just as he will from those that follow. I suppose we can hope for some compensation in the form of Sir John Chilcot, who clearly has fashioned himself as a Peter Cook characterisation of an Establishment figure ("But I want to make something absolutely clear. This committee will not shy away from making criticism.") and who, of course, is regarded as a safe pair of hands.

I suppose we might also assuage our melancholy by chipping in with information relevant to the inquiry's investigation. We might mention, for example, that everyone knew there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction and thus neither casus belli nor casus foederis. We might do so just in case the inquiry has forgotten that small point; these trifles are so easily lost with the passing of time. We might might mention that a senior MOD civil servant took his own life and many British servicepeople had theirs taken from them because of the outright lies perpetrated by Blair. I suppose it might make us feel a little better, for a while.

Or we could surrender to the rhythm of Miike Snow's Animal, to blot out the pain for a few minutes. Happy Monday.

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