The effects of the illegal war on Iraq is still being felt in Iraq and Syria.
|Iraqi casualties of 2003 war and occupation|
John Chilcot has delivered a devastating critique of Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, with his long-awaited report concluding that Britain chose to join the US invasion before “peaceful options for disarmament” had been exhausted.
The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK’s decision to attack and occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war was a decision of “utmost gravity”. He described Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, as “undoubtedly a brutal dictator” who had repressed his own people and attacked his neighbours.
But Chilcot – whom Gordon Brown asked seven years ago to head an inquiry into the conflict – was withering about Blair’s choice to join the US invasion. Chilcot said: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
The report suggests that Blair’s self-belief was a major factor in the decision to go to war. In a section headed Lessons, Chilcot writes: “When the potential for military action arises, the government should not commit to a firm political objective before it is clear it can be achieved. Regular reassessment is essential.”
The report also bitterly criticises the way in which Blair made the case for Britain to go to war. It says the notorious dossier presented in September 2002 by Blair to the House of Commons did not support his claim that Iraq had a growing programme of chemical and biological weapons.
Chilcot’s report is more damning than expected and amounts to arguably the most scathing official verdict given on any modern British prime minister. His 2.6m-word, 12-volume report was released on Wednesday morning, together with a 145-page executive summary.
• There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
• The strategy of containment could have been adopted and continued for some time.
• The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMDs – were presented with a certainty that was not justified.
• Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam were wholly inadequate.
• The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
The Report of the Iraq Inquiry - The Executive Summary:
Full report can be found here: