The Chilcot Report – a retrospective view into an unjust war
In the annals of “things we already knew but that are now official” a U.K. report has determined that ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair was not justified in sending Great Britain to war in Iraq. The Iraq Inquiry was chaired by ex-civil servant Sir John Chilcot, who made the point bluntly in a statement heralding the report’s long-awaited release: “the judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of a mass destruction (WMD) were presented with a certainty that was not justified. Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated”.
It was initially scheduled to last a year, but research on the involvement of the UK government of then Prime Minister Tony Blair in the invasion and war in Iraq has not been completed so far. It’s been seven long years of hard work carried out by a special commission composed of five members, and headed by John Chilcot himself, a former official of the British ministry for Northern Ireland.
The Chilcot report, so-called by the news media, consisting of more than 150,000 documents, with statements from more than 150 witnesses, including Blair himself, the then Foreign Minister Jack Straw and Defence’s Geoff Hoon, containing more than 2.6 million words, eagerly awaited, was ordered on June 15th, 2009 by former Prime Minster Gordon Brown, in power between 2007 and 2010, after intense pressure from either politicians or families of dead soldiers who lost their lives during conflict, and finally published on 6th July 2016, with Sir John Chilcot himself announcing the report's publication, more than seven years after it was announced. The cost of the investigation has exceeded ten million pounds, about 11.8 million euros, containing the correspondences that ex- Prime Minister Tony Blair had in those years with the then US President George Bush, a true bombshell document showing Blair preparing to act as spin doctor for Bush, and ready to obey the former US President (there was a “blood pact” between the two) by declaring himself ready to send troops of Her Majesty in Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Both the press and the British cartoonists described Blair as “Bush’s poodle”.
The document stated, in short, that “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted, that the United Kingdom and United States had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council, that the process of identifying the legal basis was "far from satisfactory", and that a war in 2003 was unnecessary.”
The first text published by the Mail on Sunday is an email classified " Secret / NOFORN " (secret / not to show to foreigners) sent by the then Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, in the form of " Memorandum for the President " to prepare the meeting that he had with Blair, from April 5th to 7th, at its Crawford ranch in Texas, where everything was then agreed. The pair spent long periods discussing Iraq without their advisers, leading to a strong suspicion that they privately made a secret deal to overthrow Saddam. Powell writes in the text that Blair "will be with us ", and assures former President that " the UK will follow our guide". Later that year, in September, as emerges from some documents declassified in the report, were memos in which Blair wrote Bush ”I will be with you, whatever”.
US Strategy to Involve U.K
A second email reveals how Bush resorted to spies in Blair's Labour Party to help the Prime Minister to manipulate public opinion in favor of war.
Blair has always denied that at that summit at the President’s Texan retreat had already granted the unquestioned backing of London to Washington, but these emails make him seem like a liar in front of the Chilcot commission. Publicly, Blair still claimed to be looking for diplomatic solution - in direct contrast to email revelations. Again, he told voters:” we’re not proposing military action”, in opposition to what the secret emails now reveal.
Bush and Blair had legitimate reasons to be concerned about Iraq. Saddam Hussein : was a mass murderer many times over; viciously attacked three neighboring countries; attempted multiple times to acquire weapons of mass destruction; was loathed by his own population for his cruelty; and failed to cooperate with UN-mandated weapons inspections. Multiple UN resolutions condemned Hussein’s leadership.
Documents obtained by the Mail on Sunday, are part of a batch of 30,000 "secret emails " which were received by the successor to Powell, and current candidate for the White House, Hillary Clinton, on her private server when she was US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.
Mr. Key, father of Lance Corporal Tom Keys who was killed in Iraq in 2003 at the age of 20, strongly criticized former Prime Minister as “Tony Blair should be dragged in shackles off to court as a war criminal”. He was a part of a group of 29 families who have issued a legal ultimatum to Sir John, pledging legal action unless the Chilcot Inquiry was not to be published this year, believing inquiries to be conducted in a reasonable time.
Trying to excuse
Blair was questioned twice by Chilcot, and has, only partially, apologized, pointing out that “the information provided by the secret services were false”. He issued an immediate and predictable response, in which he admitted that the intelligence was wrong and that the war itself was a disaster, but that he acted in good faith at the time, defending, de facto, the legality of intervention in Iraq. At one point, he asked journalist to “please stop saying that I was lying.”
Blair responded by saying: “I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever know or believe”. But the former Prime Minister insisted he made the right decision. “I believe it is better we took that decision. I acknowledge the mistakes and accept responsibility for them. As this report makes clear, there were no lies, there was no deceit”.
Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron says it was important to “really learn the lessons for the future”, and “sending our brave troops on to the battlefield without the right equipment was unacceptable”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says that war was “act of military aggression launched on a false pretence”. He apologized on behalf of the party, to Iraqis, to British soldiers and to “the millions of British citizens who feel our democracy was traduced and undermined by the way in which the decision to go to war was taken”. His heartfelt words continued by saying: “I would like to remember and honour the 179 British service men and women killed, and the thousands maimed and injured during the Iraq war and their families, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of the invasion and occupation launched by the US and UK governments 13 years ago”.
Lord Butler and others made very limited defenses of Blair, with many saying that “he exaggerated the reliability of intelligence but acted in good faith and did not lie”.
Voices from Northern Ireland
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said a lack of forward planning was responsible for many of the "terrible events" in Iraq. "Hopefully lessons have been learned," he added. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said it confirmed Sinn Féin's view that the war "was wrong, was not justified, and should have never occurred". "The role of the British intelligence services in the lead-up to the war will come as no surprise to nationalists and republicans," he said. Speaking in the House of Commons, SDLP MP Mark Durkan said there was a danger that the report would be turned into "a greywash". In a statement, Green Party leader Steven Agnew said that "Tony Blair has the blood of thousands on his hands, and he must be held accountable for a war which I believe was illegal".
On the other side of the ocean, ex-President George Bush defiantly insisted the decision to invade was the correct one. As a spokesperson said, “despite the intelligence failures and other mistakes he has acknowledged previously, Mr. Bush continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power”.
Irak speaks loud
The few who had seen brief reports from London on Iraqi television shrugged and pointed at the damage when asked what they made of what was effectively Britain’s mea culpa. “This is the reason for all this chaos”, said Bassam Jaber Abayati, a Karrada local. “They should have known better. They should have done this (apologized) earlier. The west should be accountable for all this misery”. A second local, Ahmed Ali said: “This is the result of the war. It’s all destroyed. What do you want me to say? If I had money I would not live in Iraq another day. I would go anywhere that would take me”. Col. Ahmed Hassan, a police officer attached to the interior ministry, said: ”There is no excuse for the decision to invade. It was an extermination war. This is not the terrorists behind this. It is states against us. This is what all Iraqis feel. There was a high level of engineering behind this and that is the job of countries”. Fadi Faris, from Amara, an area occupied by the British army, said: “it was a mistake of excuses. They found the worst two reasons to invade, weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorism, and they stuck to them”.
Sudan experts say Britain and U.S. must take moral responsibility for Iraq mess
The Chilcot report on the Iraq War in 2003 constituted an explicit confession of the mistakes made by Britain and the United States, which shall take moral responsibility for the post-invasion mess, Sudanese politicians, analysts and media professionals said last Thursday. "The report clearly recognized the mistakes made by London in alliance with Washington," Rabie Abdul-Atti, adviser to Sudan's information minister, told. He said the invasion started before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted and that the planning and preparations for post-war Iraq were wholly inadequate. In his opinion, the report did not go far enough, and that it should be followed by a correcting move -- backtracking the wrong polices and removing the impacts of the mistakes.
“The invasion into Iraq had huge negative effects that led to the disturbance of the new world order”, he said. “if Britain is ready to admit what it has committed, it must seek, with its ally the United States, to remove those effects.'
Abdul-Atti holds the United States and Britain responsible for the ongoing issues in the Middle East. "The emergence of extremist groups such as Daesh was a reaction to the invasion," he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State militant group.
Abdul-Rahim Al-Sunni, a Sudanese political analyst, said that after 13 years, Britain reaffirmed the intervention was neither legitimate nor justified. "This report is a complete condemnation of Britain and the United States, and they should take the moral and legal responsibility for their mistakes that have generated negative effects on the entire world," he said. In the meantime, Hassan al-Saouri, a political science professor at the University of Khartoum, said the report was not a condemnation of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "The report is a condemnation of Britain and its polices but not of Tony Blair because he was then representing the country and its government," al-Saouri said. In his opinion, the report reaffirmed the fact that Blair government had not exhausted the options for peaceful settlement, but had instead opted for an unjustified war. Al-Saouri predicted that there will be further consequences of the report on Britain and the United States.
"The report will trigger formation of investigation committees," he said. Al-Fateh Al-Sayed, former secretary general of the Sudanese Journalists Union, stressed the need for Britain to fix the damage caused by its alliance with the United States in the war against Iraq. "The entire world has been politically and economically affected by what happened in 2003, including the world financial crisis, the growing illegal migration and emergence of extremist groups," Al-Sayed said. "All these were the consequences of the Iraq War. "The investigation committee led by Chilcot was formed to consider British policy on Iraq from 2001 to 2009, including Britain's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War. The report said Britain "chose to join the invasion into Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted." According to the report, Britain's policy on Iraq at the time was built on false and inaccurate intelligence information.
Public takes to Twitter to react to historic Iraq war report
Media was not indifferent to the matter. The Chilcot affair had been trending nationwide for hours, as thousands of people took to Twitter to react to the long-awaited findings. Ahead of the report was being released, the hashtag #ChilcotLastLine was trending as many took to social media to come up with creative guesses as to what the last line of the report might be.
It should never be forgotten that a minimum of 120,000 people died as a direct result of the Iraq War, and that the United Kingdom contributed with a total of 45,000 soldiers, of whom 179 died. A spokesman for some of these servicemen and women’s families said their relatives “died unnecessarily and without just cause and purpose”. Both Blair and Bush’s images went out from this unpleasant situation with broken bones. Longly will politicians and historians talk about the mistakes the two leaders had been through.
Credits: Edward McCarey-the Baltimore Sun, Wikipedia, the Huffington Post, bbc.com