History was made this morning as Sir John Chilcot’s long awaited report on the Iraq War was published, revealing that there was not a ‘justified’ reason for war in Iraq and that Blair knew an invasion would increase the threat of terrorism.
The Iraq Inquiry, also known as the Chilcot Report, is a 2.6 million word investigation into the Iraq War which is set to expose whether there was any real truth behind the alleged ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which were Britain’s gateway into the Iraq War, while also critiquing the lack of planning for a post Saddam Hussein Iraq.
179 British soldiers were killed during the Iraq war and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were murdered after Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq was put into action.
The report includes copious witness reports as well as 29 notes sent between Tony Blair and George Bush Jr. The inquiry will also prove or disprove whether the UK had assured the U.S. they would blindly follow them into Iraq no matter what.
The key questions the Chilcot Report seeks to answer are as follows:
- Why did Britain enter the war?
- Did Prime Minister Tony Blair misuse weapons of mass destruction knowledge?
- Was there a failure to think beyond the invasion of Iraq (the invasion of Iraq is thought to be key in the destabilisation of the Middle East and thus the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State)?
- And why didn’t British troops have enough equipment?
The full report, which is four times the length of Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace, will be published online, entirely free of charge, however the report will cost almost £800 to buy in hard copy.
Just a few moments ago, at 11am, Sir John Chilcot spoke live at a press conference broadcast live on Sky News, saying:
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.
[Tony Blair presented a case for war in 2003 with] a certainty which was not justified [based on] flawed intelligence.
The inquiry has not expressed a view on whether the decision to go to war was illegal…we have concluded that the circumstances under which it was decided that there was a legal basis for military action were far from satisfactory.
Blair also told George Bush that he would ‘be with him whatsoever’ eight months before the British invasion of Iraq.
— Guy Walters (@guywalters) July 6, 2016
Chilcot added that the chaos and turmoil which flooded Iraq following the invasion and in the aftermath of Britain’s departure from Iraq should have been foreseen.
Blair was warned that an invasion would increase the terror threat by al-Qaeda and other groups, and the Iraqi government’s arsenal passing into the hands of extremist groups.
It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged and they should have been.
After the invasion, the UK and the US became joint occupying powers…the UK struggled to have a decisive effect on policies. The government’s preparations failed to take account of the magnitude of the task.
The UK military operation in Iraq ended a very long way from success…military action in Iraq might have been necessary at some point but in March 2003 there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
The people of Iraq have suffered greatly.
Chilcot has steadily dismantled every one of the justifications given for war in 2003.
— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) July 6, 2016
Following the Chilcot Report release, speaking on behalf of all British Army victims, Roger Bacon, whose son was killed by an IED in 2005, said:
Never again must so many mistakes be allowed to sacrifice British lives and destroy a country to no end…good government and democracy must not be trampled over, particularly with such cost to British and foreign lives.
A mother of one of the victims added:
There is one terrorist that the world needs to be aware of and his name is Tony Blair, the world’s worst terrorist.
The invasion of Iraq resulted in the deaths of over 150,000 people with more than one million people displaced.
Tony Blair also released a statement following the Chilcot Report, saying:
The report should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit. Whether people agree or disagree with my decision to take military action against Saddam Hussein; I took it in good faith and in what I believed to be the best interests of the country.
I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse.
I will at the same time say why, nonetheless, I believe that it was better to remove Saddam Hussein and why I do not believe this is the cause of the terrorism we see today whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world.
To read the Chilcot Report in full click here.
David Cameron later made a speech following the release of the Chilcot Report at Prime Minister’s Questions.
In his speech he went in pretty lightly on Tony Blair to the surprise of many viewers, saying:
Whatever we learn from this conflict…this must never happen again.
We should not conclude that intervention is always wrong…there are times when it is right to intervene…and there may have been times in the recent past when we should have intervened.
[There is] no perfect plan for intervention.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, took a far more passionate approach, saying:
The decision to invade Iraq…divided this House and set the government of the day against the majority of the British people as well as global opinion.
[The Iraq War was] an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext.
Corbyn also claimed that the invasion of Iraq reaped devastating consequences on the country of Iraq, and ‘fostered a lethal sectarianism’ which spread terrorism across the Middle East – referring to the self-professed Islamic State’s attack on Sunday, claiming the birth of ISIS came as a result of the invasion of Iraq.
So after seven long years, the Chilcot Report is finally here.
And although the scars and scorched earth of Iraq and the Middle East will never be fully healed, and 179 British soldiers will never come home, let us just hope that nothing of this sort ever happens again.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.