DAVID WHITE on the main findings of the Chilcot Report, published today, into the circumstances which led to the disastrous second Iraq War
“I will be with you, whatever”: Tony Blair to George Bush in July 2002, months before the decision was made by the United States and Britain governments to invade Iraq
Sir John Chilcot’s report on the Iraq War, seven years in the gestation, turns out to be a coruscating indictment of the British Government’s actions, and in particular the actions of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, over the second Iraq War, which claimed the lives of 179 British service personnel and led to the deaths of an estimated 1 million Iraqis between 2003 and 2007, and is judged to have contributed to the continuing loss of life in the years since.
The 2-million word inquiry report finds:
- Blair agreed with US President George Bush months before the decision to invade Iraq that there had to be “regime change”.
- Britain chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted.
- The UK undermined the UN’s authority by going to war without a clear UN resolution allowing it.
- The circumstances in which the legal case for war was considered by the British Government were unsatisfactory.
- Blair’s Cabinet was not sufficiently involved in the decision-making.
- Judgements about the intelligence regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction were presented with a degree of certainty that was not justified.
- Post-invasion planning was inadequate.
Chilcot began his presentation this morning by referring to the continuing suffering in Iraq to this day, and in particular the recent terrible bombings. It’s beyond doubt that the invasion, and the chaos which followed, led to many hundreds of thousands of deaths, destabilised the region and contributed to the growth of ISIS.
Chilcot said he did “not agree that hindsight is required”. That is an important point as many predicted accurately what the consequences of war were likely to be. Millions marched in protest in London and other cities around the world to try to stop the war. Politicians such as Robin Cook, Charles Kennedy and Jeremy Corbyn called it right at the time.
By contrast the three MPs for Croydon at the time (Geraint Davies and Malcolm Wicks, Labour, and Richard Ottaway, Conservative) all voted in favour of the invasion.
Recent statements from Admiral Lord West, who as a former First Sea Lord can hardly be categorised as a peacenik leftie, have indicated that he was made aware, through military sources, of the need to prepare the Royal Navy for another war in the Gulf in 2002 – suggesting that the decision to go to war had already been made long before parliamentary discussions or efforts through the UN Security Council had been exhausted.
Extraordinarily, given the length of time Chilcot was compiling his report and West’s senior position within our armed forces at the time in questions, the Admiral was never invited to give evidence to the inquiry.
We now wait to see what the fallout from the inquiry will be. Whatever happens there are lessons to be learned about our political processes in Britain and the need for us not to be wholly subservient to the United States.
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