"I will be with you,
whatever," former British Prime Minister Tony
pledged to U.S. President
George Bush on
July 28, 2002.
That vow was made public
Tuesday in the damning
underscoring the investigation's conclusion:
The invasion of Iraq was
decided on well before all peaceful resolutions were
exhausted, proving - as critics have long-contended
- that the disastrous intervention was a war of
"In 2003, for the
first time since the Second World War, the
United Kingdom took part in an invasion and
full-scale occupation of a sovereign State. That
was a decision of the utmost gravity," said Sir
John Chilcot, in a
Tuesday presenting the findings of the 7-year
inquiry, which was established in 2009 by
then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown to address the
failures of the Iraq War.
"We have concluded,"
Chilcot continued, "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."
convenor (chairman) of the UK-based
Stop the War Coalition,
which led the popular movement against the Iraq
invasion, said the group,
"welcome[s] the fact
that this report is so damning but for us this is
not the end but the beginning. There must be legal
sanctions against Tony Blair and he should no longer
be considered fit for any office."
War of Choice
Among the report's findings
is that Blair ignored warnings over the gross
consequences of such action and deliberately overstated
"severity of the threat
posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD),"
which was largely used to justify the intervention.
The investigation outlines
the key moments in the lead-up to the invasion,
beginning with the attacks on September 11, 2001, after
which both Blair and Bush sought to contain Iraqi
Saddam Hussein, with the ideal result
being regime change.
"We now know that
the House was
misleading the run-up to the war
and the House must
now decide how to deal with it 13 years later,
just as all those
who took the decisions laid bare in the Chilcot
must face up to the consequences of their actions,
whatever they may be."
Blair initially pushed for
public support and UN backing for a military
In November 2002, the UN
Security Council agreed to
Resolution 1441, which gave
Iraq a final opportunity to disarm or face "serious
But, Chilcot said,
"President Bush decided
that inspections would not achieve the desired
result; the U.S. would take military action in early
By early January, Blair had
also concluded that "the likelihood was war," though the
parties failed to obtain a second resolution from the
Security Council or convince the other world powers,
"that peaceful options
to disarm Iraq had been exhausted and that military
action was therefore justified" - which led the
investigation to determine that "the UK was, in
fact, undermining the Security Council's authority"
by taking action.
As for the claims regarding
Iraq's WMD's and how they were presented to support the
case for action, Chilcot notes that in March 2003, Blair
declared before the House of Commons that he,
"judged the possibility
of terrorist groups in possession of WMD was 'a real
and present danger to Britain and its national
security' - and that the threat from Saddam
Hussein's arsenal could not be contained and posed a
clear danger to British citizens."
These claims were based on
advisement by the Joint Intelligence Committee.
"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," Chilcot
Very Special Relationship
The report goes on to blast
UK complicity and the,
"inadequacy of the U.S.'
plans" for military engagement, failures which
"continued to have an effect after the invasion."
He noted that,
"the risks of internal
strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its
interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida
activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified
before the invasion."
Not only did over 200
British citizens die as a result of the conflict,
"The invasion and
subsequent instability in Iraq had, by July 2009,
also resulted in the deaths of at least one hundred
and fifty thousand Iraqis - and probably many more -
most of them civilians.
More than a million people
were displaced. The people of Iraq have suffered
greatly," Chilcot stated.
"The UK military role in
Iraq ended a very long way from success," he added.
"It is an account of an intervention which went
badly wrong, with consequences to this day."
Among the lessons Chilcot
offered, is the importance of managing,
"relations with allies,
especially the U.S."
"Mr. Blair overestimated
his ability to influence U.S. decisions on Iraq. The
UK's relationship with the U.S. has proved strong
enough over time to bear the weight of honest
It does not require
unconditional support where our interests or
Above all, he concluded,
"the lesson is that all
aspects of any intervention need to be calculated,
debated and challenged with the utmost rigor."
Chilcot's damning indictment
of the former UK Prime Minister has been met with
outrage and calls for justice for the untold number of
victims of this "tragedy."
At the same time, many are
doubting that the inquiry, dismissed as an
"establishment" exercise, is unlikely to produce any
Indeed, as the Guardian's
Tuesday, the inquiry has,
"not referred any
matters to police for criminal investigation at any
stage in their work," according to a statement from
Scotland Yard, despite evidence that the invasion
may have amounted to a war crime.
Speaking in the House of
Commons on Tuesday, embattled Labour Party leader
Jeremy Corbyn, who at the time voted against the
war, blasted Blair for launching an "illegal" military
aggression based on "a false pretext."
"We now know that the
House was misled in the run-up to the war and the
House must now decide how to deal with it 13 years
later, just as all those who took the decisions laid
bare in the Chilcot report must face up to the
consequences of their actions, whatever they may
"Going to war with
planning and deep forethought.
I would call that
Amnesty International's UK
director Kate Allen said that the inquiry
confirmed what the rights group had long asserted.
"In the lead-up to the
Iraq invasion we warned that there could be terrible
consequences and tragically we were proved right,
with thousands of civilians killed and injured,
millions of people forced from their homes and the
whole country thrown into chaos," Allen said.
"At the time we had a
clear sense that politicians were intent on invading
Iraq at any cost and that they'd set out to use the
appalling human rights record of Saddam Hussein's
rule to help justify the decision to invade."
"It's a tragedy that
politicians and their advisers failed to properly
assess the human rights consequences of such a
massive military operation (including the horrible
sectarian violence it helped unleash)," she added,
"and it's also a tragedy that the horrors of Abu Ghraib and cases like Baha Mousa all followed."
Former British soldier and
war reporter Joe Glenton
wrote Tuesday that he has,
"little faith in an
establishment inquiry delivering the actionable
legal charges against senior politicians."