The Iraq Dossier by David Morley

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Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 3 March 2013
The schedulers at BBC Radio 4 have been extremely clever.  David Morley's play (based on the mountain of correspondence submitted to the various inquiries into the 2003 invasion of Iraq) was broadcast only three days after Dan Rebellato's trilogy Negative Signs of Progress.  In their various ways, both plays explored the ways in which opinion-formers in the West view the Middle East region, and how their prejudices often cause tragic mistakes affecting millions of people's lives.
In the case of The Iraq Dossier, we were shown how the report on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" was deliberately manipulated by various forces within government as a means of persuading MPs to vote for an invasion.  This was partly attributable to Prime Minister Tony Blair's hubris; having promised to release details of a dossier to the media, he could hardly go back on his word. But Morley's drama also suggested that many opinion-formers, including Alastair Campbell (Andrew Dunn) were simply looking for an excuse to go to war.  Not only would this confirm western military superiority, but it would do no harm to Labour's chances of being re-elected.  Self-interest prevailed; just like in the United States, where President George W. Bush viewed the Iraq campaign as a perfect opportunity to cement his place in world history as a great military leader.
As the drama unfolded, so the process of whitewashing the evidence became more and more intense.  Words were deliberately changed in the dossier - often without the knowledge of those entrusted with finding the so-called 'evidence' in the first place.  Dr. Brian Jones (Richard E. Grant), the Ministry of Defence's leading expert on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, became more and more concerned about what was happening, but his objections were steamrollered.  Both Blair and Campbell seemed more willing to listen to the self-interested posturings of John Scarlett (Anton Lesser), chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Scarlett's pretensions were abruptly exposed in a climactic scene when he was informed in so uncertain terms by members of Russian intelligence (Britain's allies in the "War on Terror") that the dossier contained little or no hard evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
While time has shown these allegations to be true (the dossier was deliberately "sexed up"), it seems that no one involved has actually been punished.  Blair tours the world as an 'expert' on Middle East affairs; Campbell has carved out a career as an author and commentator; while Scarlett was promoted. Those whistleblowers who exposed what was happening - such as Dr. David Kelly, as well as Jones himself - are no longer with us.  Meanwhile attitudes towards the Middle Eastern region have changed little, as Rebellato's dramas revealed.
Dirk Maggs' production was both compelling and frustrating, as it suggested how individuals were often chewed up and spat out by a governmental machine committed to violent conflict in the name of "democracy"