What’s Spanish for “Chilcot”?

Friday, July 8th, 2016

If you follow the news, you’ll be aware of the “Chilcot Report” (named after the British civil servant in charge of the seven-year investigation which led to it), released Wednesday (6 July 2016), which denounced then-English PM Tony Blair’s leading his country into participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein.

That report naturally gave rise to its greatest impact and public commentary in Great Britain itself – just what that country needed while it was still reeling from the “Leave” Brexit referendum vote. However, we know quite well that it was not British troops alone who stormed across the Iraqi border back in March of 2003. Rather, they were largely American forces, by far – which raises the question of whether there could be an analogous independent inquiry into that invasion over in the US.

(It’s quite an idle question, however, in view of President Obama’s “just move on” attitude towards the deeds of his predecessor. Frankly, this writer would gladly give up the prospect of any American “Chilcot”-type inquiry – the original seems to do fine in broad lines for US circumstances – if we could instead get some disclosure and prosecutions of US torture during that period.)

In any case, George W. Bush hasn’t gotten around to reading the Chilcot Report yet (was really never big on reading anyway). Now, there were also Australian troops in on the Iraq invasion, and the media there is now wondering whether that country now needs its own version of the investigation.

But what I want to write about here is Spain, where they are wondering the same thing, reports El País.

That “Trillo” is Federico Trillo, pictured there, who was Spain’s Defense Minister in 2003, and who seems to have been the easy, available target for Spanish journalists once “Chilcot Report” became a thing. (In other words, the Spanish Prime Minister at the time, José María Aznar, showed himself more skillful at knowing just when to get out of Dodge and make himself un-findable. But also: see below.)

But here’s the key fact: Spain was not involved militarily in the invasion of Iraq! Those quotes you see in the tweet are Trillo’s assurances that Spain “sent no combatants to Iraq,” in fact “never fired a shot at anyone”!

Now, it’s true that Spain’s Aznar was quite prominent at the time in backing what were George W. Bush’s clear intention to invade and depose Saddam. In particular, just before the invasion was launched, in mid-March 2003, there occurred a high-profile summit meeting on the Azores Islands (Portuguese territory) featuring Bush, Blair – and, yes, Aznar.

But he drew the line at sending troops – or at least that is what his Defense Minister, Trillo, now maintains. Frankly, even if there had been a surreptitious Spanish troop contingent there, it surely would not have had much practical, military affect. It’s only function would have been to demonstrate allied solidarity with what was going on – that is, precisely to have been known about! (If you want to be mean: just like the Spanish troops who fought for Nazi Germany on the Russian Front, although they were actually real, and said to be volunteers.)

Pity poor Federico Trillo – harassed about Chilcot and things he did or did not do back in 2003 when, by all accounts, he’s (basically) innocent – INNOCENT, I tell you! You might ask: “Well, isn’t he out of public life by now, so that he could just demand that the journalists leave him alone?” Sadly, no – in fact, he’s precisely Spain’s current ambassador to the UK!

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