When Tony Blair took the United Kingdom to war against Iraq little did he know that, in the final analysis, he would be derided by not only a great many people in the general public but also by the very institutions that he used in the endeavor. The report handed down by Sir John Chilcot, after seven years of investigation, into the taking of the UK to war against Iraq will now probably solidify Blair, alongside President George W Bush and Prime Minister John Howard of Australia position as mistaken, in-correct and with little or no justification.
Of the three men, it is Blair who will end up losing the most.
In essence the Chilcot report found that:
The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort
Military action might have been necessary later, but in March 2003, it said, there was no imminent threat from the then Iraq leader Saddam Hussein, the strategy of containment could have been adapted and continued for some time and the majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring
On 28 July 2002, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair assured US President George W Bush he would be with him "whatever". But in the letter, he pointed out that a US coalition for military action would need: Progress on the Middle East peace process, UN authority and a shift in public opinion in the UK, Europe, and among Arab leaders
udgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - or WMD - were presented with a certainty that was not justified
Intelligence had "not established beyond doubt" that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons
The Joint Intelligence Committee said Iraq has "continued to produce chemical and biological agents" and there had been "recent production". It said Iraq had the means to deliver chemical and biological weapons. But it did not say that Iraq had continued to produce weapons
Policy on the Iraq invasion was made on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments. It was not challenged, and should have been
he circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were "far from satisfactory"
The invasion began on 20 March 2003 but not until 13 March did then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith advise there was, on balance, a secure legal basis for military action. Apart from No 10's response to his letter on 14 March, no formal record was made of that decision and the precise grounds on which it was made remain unclear
The UK's actions undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN's Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. The UK government was claiming to act on behalf of the international community "to uphold the authority of the Security Council". But it knew it did not have a majority supporting its actions
In Cabinet, there was little questioning of Lord Goldsmith about his advice and no substantive discussion of the legal issues recorded
There was "little time" to properly prepare three military brigades for deployment in Iraq. The risks were neither "properly identified nor fully exposed" to ministers, resulting in "equipment shortfalls"
Between 2003 and 2009, UK forces in Iraq faced gaps in some key capability areas - including armoured vehicles, reconnaissance and intelligence assets and helicopter support
It was not sufficiently clear which person in the department within the Ministry of Defence had responsibility for identifying and articulating such gaps
Delays in providing adequate medium weight protected patrol vehicles and the failure to meet the needs of UK forces for reconnaissance and intelligence equipment and helicopters should not have been tolerated
Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were "wholly inadequate"
The government failed to achieve the stated objectives it had set itself in Iraq. More than 200 British citizens died as a result of the conflict. Iraqi people suffered greatly. By July 2009, at least 150,000 Iraqis had died, probably many more. More than one million were displaced
The chaos across the Middle East, it is fair to say, can, in some part, be linked to the fateful decision of the “Coalition of the Willing” to invade Iraq and bring down President Saddam Hussein. More to the point troops were sent into harm’s way with poor equipment and little in the way of tactical support and the plan for the aftermath was about as bad as a plan could have been.
Image: casualties of the Iraq War; EntreHub info-graphics
In essence the world is a lot more unsafe because of the decision made by Blair, Howard and Bush. It is a cautionary tale that we could learn from the leading candidate for the UN Secretary General’s role, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke. At the time Clarke was also asked to join the Coalition but refused to send combat troops because the invasion had not been sanctioned by the United Nations. If there is one lesson to be learnt from the experience it needs to be this – diplomacy first, warmongering second. The role of the UN should continue to be as one of prevention and diplomacy; military action should always be the last resort.
It’s now up to history to decide whether or not Blair, Bush and Howard are what many people have suggested in the past “warmongers”. This publication couldn’t possibly comment….
Content from the Iraq War Report, additional commentary from the BBC - additional data HERE
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