The Chilcot Report Into Iraq Has Been Published: Some Key Points
The Chilcot report into the 2003 invasion of Iraq was published earlier today after a 7 year long investigation. The document is made up of 12 volumes and contains 2.6 million words. Much of the interest from the public and those that served in the war (and the families who lost loved ones) centres around whether or not then Prime Minister Tony Blair lied to the British public during his push for war.
We now know that claims of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ turned out to be false, but was this a product of faith in bad intelligence, or a concerted effort to mislead?
Lara Prendergast over at The Spectator has summarised some key points from the report:
- The report concludes 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.
- It suggests that 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.
- The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – 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 Hussein were wholly inadequate. Blair ‘did not establish clear Ministerial oversight of US planning and preparation. He did not ensure that there was a flexible, realistic and fully resourced plan that integrated UK military and civilian contributions, and addressed the known risks.’
- The government failed to achieve its stated objectives. In the absence of a majority in support of military action, the report considers that the UK was, in fact, undermining the Security Council’s authority.
- Blair’s 24 September statement to the House of Commons contained judgements about Iraq’s capability that were presented ‘with a certainty that was not justified’.
- The Inquiry has not expressed a view on whether military action was legal, because that could only be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognised court. However, it concludes that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for military action were far from satisfactory.
The late Christopher Hitchens lost a lot of friends over his support for the Iraq war, but gave what I consider to be a compelling argument for the removal of Saddam Hussein whether WMDs existed or not:
As author Douglas Murray remarked of Hitchens’s arguments at the time:
“It must be said that many people do not agree with him [Hitchens] on the points he puts across, complaining that the justifications he gives were not those of the Bush or Blair administrations. And of course they are right, but Hitchens is not a spokesperson for the British or American governments and has (as all those of us who supported the war do) particular impetuses for his stance. Nevertheless, it does remain a source of concern that during a time of war a non-government source can provide more satisfactory explanations for government actions than government can”
The BBC have already published some of the Chilcot reactions from families and politicians here.
I think what isn’t uncertain however is how much of a disaster this war has been in both its execution and the legacy it has wrought. The body count, the torture, the current state of the region and a catastrophic failure to foresee the sectarian violence that followed.
I was 18 years old at the start of the invasion and I opposed the war. This was owed to a naive commitment to pacifism rather than anything resembling respectable insight (or sincere interest). I’ve since grown up to discover that the world is a scary place and that pacifism just won’t do if you wish to prevent scary people from getting their way.
Faced with the same decision today, would I be in favour of military action to oust Saddam? I truly do not know, but probably. Faced with the same decision today, but with the knowledge of how that military action would play out? Definitely not.
Those responsible for this war were not privileged with the gift of hindsight however and will have to live with the consequences of their actions. There will be more discussion and analysis in the coming days. I hope those desperate for answers receive them and that any wrongdoing is exposed to the full light of day.
I’d be interested in your thoughts in the comments section. Did you support the war? If so, how do you feel about it now? Please keep it civil.