The Dispensable Jeremy Greenstock 69

I know from personal experience that Jeremy Greenstock is an unusually kind person. It was interesting to watch his evidence this morning, and I am particularly pleased that Sky gave us two hours of it uninterrupted.

Jeremy’s contention that the Iraq war was legal but not legitimate is an interesting attempt at nuance. I don’t buy it, but it illustrates that he was plainly very uncomfortable about the whole thing. I am not sure that even now he has really come to the terms with the fact that all he was involved in was a charade. Bush and Blair had decided to invade at Crawford, a full year before Jeremy’s painstaking crafting of fig leaf resolutions and attempts at consensus building. As Greenstock conceded, the military timetable had been decided and the diplomacy had to try to run ahead. When it stumbled, the invasion carried on regardless. Greenstock was ridden over.

I thought Jeremy’s attempts to convince himself rather than us that Britian’s “commitment to the diplomatic route” won friends and helped to build a consensus after the invasion, was a rather pathetic (in the true meaning) attempt to explain away his own futility.

There was one hilarious abandonment of logic when Jeremy said that he believed Iraq did have WMD, but they are still hidden. He offered two attempts at evidence for this. One was that they had a concealment committee. Well, if so, somone on the committee would have leaked post-invasion. The second was that some fighters had been buried in the sands, and revealed when the wind blew away the sand. He offered that as evidence that weapons can be concealed in the desert sands. Actually, Jeremy, it is evidence that they can’t.

But what was entirely plain is that Greenstock is much more sceptical of the Iraq War than the committee who were questioning him. The packing of the committee with confirmed war supporters (Greenstock at one point made what I believe was a sly dig about committee member Rod Lyne’s role at the time in question) makes the whole exercise futile, not least by limiting witnesses to answering non-sceptical questions. There was a priceless moment when Gilbert invited Greenstock to agree that the French and Russians only opposed the war from national and personal interests, and Greenstock declined to do so.

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69 thoughts on “The Dispensable Jeremy Greenstock

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  • David McCann

    I too watched Greenstock and was totally unconvinced by his argument. In fact I dont believe he really believed it himself!

    I read your analysis of the ‘impartiality’ of the members of the Chilcot enquiry, and have to say Im totally shocked at the way this has been manipulated by the Brown government. Not that it surprises me since I viewed the BBC Alba documentary’ Diomhair’, where Labour and Tory conspired to blacken the reputation of the Scottish Home rule movement. A brilliant peice of investigative journalism by George Rosie. It can be viewed at

    click on the resources button. BTW Craig, we would like to have you as a guest speaker at one of our future meetings in 2010. We meet in the Scottish Parliament. How about a visit the next time you are up here?

  • hello

    Interesting, this week vice-premier of Uzbekistan Mr Ganiev has visited London to participate in Uzbek British trade council meeting. In his report, which was leaked to independent parties, he is praising “willingness of the British” to cooperate with Uzbekistan.

  • Charles Crawford

    1 Not sure I follow your logic on Jeremy’s alleged non-logic.

    If weapons can be and are hidden in the desert, the fact that some such weapons may end up being found does not mean that all of them have been found.

    Likewise the fact that MWD have not been found in Iraq is not proof that none ever existed or that none were concealed.

    2 The distinction between Legal and Legitimate is real enough.

    Given the way international law operates, it may be that some countries get so exasperated by the illegal acts of another that they take matters in to their own hands (eg on self-defence grounds). Even if they can muster credible legal arguments that what they have done is lawful, the fact remains that without a Security Council Resolution to give them full formal legal but also political cover too (ie ‘legitimacy’), those countries who oppose the action will feel that they have a lot more weight behind them.

  • glenn

    Charles –

    1. Proving a negative is pretty difficult. Particularly when the investigators (Hans Blix at the time) are pulled out – by US. Read ‘Iraq Confidential’ by Scott Ritter (an earlier weapons inspector) sometime. Funnily enough, both were Republican poster-boys until they started providing reports which did not support war on the grounds of failing to adhere to weapons compliance.

    We know that WMD did exist at one point because we sold them to Iraq, for use against Iran. Whether they still existed was in dispute, and in any case, that is not a legitimate reason in itself to attack another country.

    2. Self defense was never an issue, except in the minds of those naive enough to believe our government’s lies. After all, why would we put 1/4 million of our troops on his boarders, if we thought for even a moment Saddam Hussein had these fearsome WMD?

  • George Dutton


    It was known by the Iraqi scientific community and many in the higher echelons of the Iraqi army that Saddam Hussein had ALL WMD destroyed long,long before the war. To even think that the USA and UK intelligence services didn’t know is an impossibility.

    It has always trouble me greatly that after the war the USA offered large amounts of money to anyone who would come forward to tell them where the WMD was hidden, it was all for show. There must have been many that came forward to tell where it had ALL been destroyed as there indeed had been tons of the stuff supplied by the USA and by some european nations. To have moved ALL that WMD and have it destroyed would have involved a lot of people. I know a lot would have come forward and told all to collect that kind of money.I think some did and told what the USA and UK didn’t want told, they wished to try and keep the thought that it could still be hidden. I fear for the people who did come forward?.

    You should have a talk with Saddam Hussein’s chief nuclear scientist Jaffar Dhia Jaffar who gave an interview from Paris after the war…Very revealing.

    As I said …”To even think that the USA and UK intelligence services didn’t know is an impossibility.”

  • tony_opmoc

    And don’t you dare laugh at comparing Cheney With Prescott…

    Whilst obviously knowing that his Mate Tony Blair was taking it Up The Arse From George Bush (Or Vice Versa)

    You Should Have Invited Him To The Meeting With The Cunt Cheney

    Prescott Might Look a Bit Thick

    But He Knows How To Hit Cunts


  • Babor

    Craig – All the Blairites are complaining how this 3rd inquiry is superfluous and I agree because the people running the show are die-hard interventionists. Still, Blair is being slowly torn apart and there is a remote chance that he will be arrested one day a la Pinochet. I think people like Oliver Kamm and John Rentoul were desperate to see Blair elected as President of Europe not because they felt he would achieve anything but because it might have provided him some protection from prosecution. So the inquiry will conclude that everyone is too blame and Tony can go back to his incredible useful role in the Middle East glossing over Israeli war crimes (he is an expert after all) and trying to get Abbas to do Netanyahu’s dirty work. Wonderful.

  • technicolour

    Are there two tony-opmocs? One who seems quite sensible, and one who – well, see above. I know my own postings may not always be gems of clarity and relevance, but I wish the second one would stop.

    More importantly, I think the fact that the FCO could be bullied/blackmailed/fooled into going along with this is no real surprise, though a disaster. What are civil servants to do, when their government goes crazy, apart from strike/threaten to resign en masse? Does the FCO have a trade union? I don’t think it does.

    People I knew were quite excited when Labour first got in, and at the thought of implementing an ‘ethical foreign policy’, in fact. But then we are all living with that legacy.

    Does anyone know if Elizabeth Wilmshurst will testify? (apologies if anyone’s already asked this). I can’t find anything on the net.

  • dreoilin

    “But what was entirely plain is that Greenstock is much more sceptical of the Iraq War than the committee who were questioning him.”

    I was watching on Sky, and Tim Marshall commented more than once that Jeremy Greenstock was inviting the committee — almost putting it into their mouths — to ask him about X or Y, but that they were ignoring his blatant invitations. I started watching out for what Tim Marshall was suggesting, and yes, Greenstock was even saying, “if you were to ask me” (such and such) “but you haven’t”. And they continued not asking. Whatever about his beliefs that WMD were hidden (such rank nonsense) I fully believe that the committee were avoiding going where Greenstock was inviting them to go.

    Such a self-satisfied and incurious group of so-called “investigators” I have rarely seen. I am fast losing interest, unless someone points me in the direction of a highly contentious and interesting interviewee in the coming days …

  • BenSix

    A month ago, Greenstock wrote that…

    The US and the UK famously came to grief when they tried too hard, when lacking proof, to be convincing about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Those of us closely involved on the UK side believed we were illustrating a case that was bound to turn out to be true when the final evidence was collected. But it never was; and we had to take the rap for anticipating the facts.

    It’s a shame this wasn’t mentioned.

  • resistor

    Champagne Charlie Crawford writes,

    ‘Likewise the fact that MWD have not been found in Iraq is not proof that none ever existed or that none were concealed.’

    Likewise the fact that fairies have not been found at the bottom of my garden is not proof that none ever existed or that none were concealed.

    How is it that weapons that before the war were only ’45 minutes’ away from being used, after the war became too difficult to find in six years of occupation?

    Occam’s razor suggest that ‘none ever existed’ and ‘that none were concealed’ in the run up to war.

  • Ruth

    I find these inquiries into government ‘incompetence’, corruption and misbehaviour endless. They appear as if something truthful might be discovered; they even allow a little truth to be revealed and then after that everything fizzles out. The public seem to be hoodwinked by the morsel of truth and then after all the fuss their interest wanes.

    In the Cash for Honours it all looked good when Yates launched his dawn raids. But after he’d finished strutting about nothing really happened.

    In the Diana inquest there was the revelation that Diana was very serious about Dodi. But that was the only grain of truth permitted.

    In all the inquiries into the misconduct of Customs & Excise we were allowed to know that there had been incompetency but the inquiries hid the real truth and never touched on the matter of where all the billions of ‘missing’ excise duty/VAT Customs went to.

    Another example is the huge attention in the media over Megrahi’s release. To me this was clearly orchestrated by the government to hype up public interest in the question of whether his release was right or wrong to take away from the real issue of whether the three judges made a corrupt decision to convict an innocent man. An inquiry would most surely have revealed this. The public have been fed bits of evidence that show Megrahi couldn’t have been the bomber. Now all will die down. In this case the evidence is so strong the Crown would have had a very hard job squirming out of it. so other means of manipulating the public had to be used.

  • writerman

    The core ‘myth’, of our type of world is that leaders are out to do good, though they make ‘mistakes’, like invading Iraq, they, like the rest of us, are only human too. This is a comforting and benign attitude. There is no conspiracy, only the great cock-up at work.

    But, over and over again? Surely if one makes the same type of ‘mistake’ time after time, decade after decade, century after century, there must be something fundamentally wrong with the way our rulers think and act? Are we really, honestly, supposed to believe that the British Empire was some kind of accident or mistake too? Imperialists by accident? I think this is pure bullshit.

    Obviously one doesn’t get far up the greasy pole of power in the UK if one thinks the system isn’t benign and our rulers civilized, compared to the bloodthirsty dogs that rule the rest of the world.

    Even Craig, despite his education, experience, intelligence, seems to put great store by the ‘niceness’ our rulers exhibit in public. It’s perfectly possible to be a ‘nice’ person in ones living-room over a nice cup of tea, and then, in another context, a bloody butcher of the innocent.

    For example, one of my ancestors was a truly lovely man, vast library, spoke and wrote Greek and Latin, a faithful husband, a wonderful father, went in for liberal reforms in Britain… However, at the same time he owned three sugar plantations in the West Indies where five hundred slaves, sweated their guts out, so he and his family, and I suppose me too, could enjoy a life of luxury in leafy Berkshire.

  • writerman

    Something else about ‘nice’ people involved, up to their nice collars and ties in despicable, criminal, acts; like a conspiracy to launch a war of unprovoked agression against a country that was defenceless and on its knees – Iraq – is that they really, these ‘nice’ and ‘civilized’ people, the cream of the crop, have no shame or sense of honour any more.

    What happened to honour in England? What ever happened to resigning when one was caught lying in public life? It wouldn’t matter so much that the country was ruled over by a smiling, conceited, gang of corrupt criminals, on the make, let them fuck over England if they can get away with it. But to destroy another country on the other side of the world as well, slaughtering so many people for nothing, is beyond mere criminal behaviour, surely?

    We are not taking about fleecing the sheep for ones retirement, after all that’s what the system is all about, isn’t it? Here we are dealing with destruction and mass murder on a collosal scale. Literally rivers of blood and gore. And these ‘nice’ people get away with it. Surely this says something profound about our culture and institutions, that shouldn’t and cannot be ignored by any normal, decent, sentient being, who hasn’t been lobotomized or turned into a whore?

  • Ruth

    I think the myth writerman talks about is particularly evident in the UK where there is/has been? almost absolute faith that those ‘above’ us are out to act in our best interests. So it is quite easy for the state to carry out the most monstrous acts.

    I must say I have found people from the Continent far more realistic.

  • Brian E.

    I’ve never managed to discover exactly what is an “illegal war”. I always thought that any country had the right to declare war on any other country. If this illegality is because of our membership of the UN, that’s another good reason for withdrawing from this corrupt organisation.

    I can accept the argument that the war was not legitimate as it can be strongly argued that the action of our government may have ben legal, but that it hardly had overwhelming support of its citizens, which I believe has generally been the case in the past.

    I don’t think that it is Greenstock who is dispensable but the whole committee of enquiry.

  • MJ

    I suppoae Mr Crawford is technically correct: absence of proof is not proof of absence. The point at issue however is whether the UK/US governments genuinely believed Iraq had WMD or whether it was a premeditated lie.

    The fact that much of the key evidence given to the UN was subsequently proved to be fake and that the US happily parked several hundred thousand troops in neighbouring Kuwait weeks before the invasion strongly suggest the latter.

    The biggest surprise perhaps is that the US didn’t try to plant evidence of WMD after the invasion. Oh hang on – perhaps it did. I don’t recall the following report quite making it to the MSM…

  • Stokely

    Am beginning to wonder if Tony_Opmoc is some sort of computer generated entity that produces drivel to order for the purpose of eroding confidence in new comers to this site.

  • mike cobley

    Brian E – an illegal war is also known as a war of aggression, ie, where full military engagement takes place, an attack or invasion of another country which has neither attacked, nor threatened the attacker. Check out the Nurermberg on the definition of war of aggression.

  • mike cobley

    Flipping norah – my spelling is too bad for this time in the morning. Should have read ‘Nuremberg trials’, of course (slaps forehead).

  • Vronsky


    Aha! I think you might have a point. I always felt there was something vaguely familiar about the opmoc postings.

    There’s stuff about computer generated writing at, and you might particularly enjoy reading the ‘Further Last Words of Dutch Schultz’ linked on that page. Vintage opmoc!

  • ingo

    Taking example from our new EU president, I tried my first bit of Haiku on Sir Jeremy’s polished performance.

    ‘Ambassador Greenstock speaks, it sounds like rain off a ducks back, honest.’

  • lwtc247

    While I’m no fan of tony_opmoc’s more artistic comments, I am very thankful to him for his role in providing the videos of Craig at the HRSC a few months back.

    As for Greenstock and the rest of the ‘enquiry’ fandango it would be intersting to poll the following.


    1) Do you believe members of the inquiry are going to uncover the truth of the Iraq war?

    2) Do you believe the outcome will result in any change?

    3) Will people face prosecutuon based on the evidence given and findings obtained?

    4) Will the testimony offered be tested for veracity?

    5) Will the public do nothing once the inquiry finishes, no matter what it’s findings?

    Me? N,N,N,N,Y

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